Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 15th, 2008 at 3:40 pm
Machado presented ideas for changes to
the dangerous the Broadway/Williams
intersection last night.
(Photos � J. Maus)
The Office of Transportation has struggled for years to figure out how to safely manage bike and car traffic flow at the intersection of Broadway and Williams.
Following two fatalities due to right-hooks last fall, PDOT placed the intersection on a list of the 14 most dangerous in the city and initially planned to install a bike box. However, after further study of the intersection, it was determined that a bike box would not be a good solution at this location.
Further analysis (presented by PDOT back in March) showed that a separate traffic signal phase for bikes and for cars might be the best solution, but no plans had been confirmed and a fix was still needed.
Broadway and Williams on September 25th helped
put pressure on PDOT to improve the intersection.
(Photo: Carl Larson)
Then, just a few weeks ago, a potentially tragic right-hook collision occurred at this intersection. After a report surfaced about that crash, many community members emailed and called the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) urging them to advocate for something to be done.
The BTA contacted PDOT and now the intersection is once again a hot topic and it seems like a solution is finally imminent.
The City’s head traffic engineer Rob Burchfield, along with PDOT traffic operations specialist Matthew Machado, presented their latest ideas for how to tackle this issue at the Bicycle Advisory Committee last night.
Here are the three design options that are currently being considered:
This option would add a separate bicycle signal phase (meaning bikes would have their very own signal), the bike lane would be moved curbside (it is currently between two car lanes, one of which can turn right), and the two motor vehicle lanes would become right-turn only. They might also add an advance stop bar to the right-turning auto lanes.
Burchfield says they’re very concerned about two things with this option; compliance of motor vehicles with the no right turn on red, and with bicyclists who might not comply with a red light. With about 1,200 cars per hour turning right onto the freeway at this location, Burchfield cautioned that, “You would not want to run that signal.”
This option would install a bike-only “scramble” signal at Victoria Street that would direct bikes from the curbside bike lane across the intersection. At Broadway/Williams, the bike lane would be to the left of both of the right-turn only lanes.
This intersection is just two blocks further east of Victoria. A new signal is planned at this intersection (due to a new Streetcar platform that’s coming) so the idea would be to add a bike-only “scramble” signal that would function similar to the option above.
A concern voiced about this option is that it would put bicyclists in the middle of multiple lanes of motor vehicle traffic for three long blocks — not a comfortable position for all cyclists.
What about bike traffic that wants to go north on Williams from Broadway (as opposed to continuing west on Broadway)? They would operate in the motor vehicle lane and Burchfield said it’s feasible that sharrows could be installed in the motor vehicle lanes to facilitate that.
Fresh off a trip to Copenhagen and Amsterdam last week, traffic engineer Burchfield said he thinks the Williams Signal Option would be the “most comfortable” for bikes (once a few details are ironed out). But, he added, it would mean that bicyclists would face longer and more frequent delays.
A subcommittee of the Bicycle Advisory Committee is meeting to discuss this project and the plan is to report back next month. Burchfield says funding is available and construction could start once a design is decided on.
UPDATE: A few commenters have asked why removing one of the right-turn lanes on Broadway is not an option. I asked the same question of Rob Burchfield at the meeting on Tuesday night. Below is a recording of his answer:
Link to MP3