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Commuting trends: transit vs driving vs ...
#31
I would really love it if we could take a map and create layers, and go from showing only the extreme high grade options (segregated bike lane), and adding ones on down the list (off-road paved trail, MUT, bike lane, road with 40kph limit, road with sharrow, etc), so that we could see how different perceptions of safety become perceptions of what network is/isn't usable.
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#32
(12-01-2017, 01:40 PM)MidTowner Wrote: ....

The City of Kitchener did have a map of smaller streets it identified as good for cycling. I have no idea what the criteria for a street’s inclusion were.

I'm not sure that had any more reason to it than "not a arterial road + if we list it as a road we can make a "network" out of them".
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#33
(12-01-2017, 01:03 PM)tomh009 Wrote: Downsizing a significant percentage of (non-arterial) residential streets is probably a non-starter even in the medium-long term.  Maybe someday, but for now the combination of costs and resident resistance would surely kill any such initiative.

...

There are other issues too, like fire departments refuse to allow narrower streets for various uncompelling reasons.

But some of our streets are just ridiculous.  Blue springs dr. is a good example.  It's basically a dead end driveway for a couple of condo buildings, and it has parking on one side, yet it's about 3-4 lanes wide with no markings.  How much money is spent to pave such a road, and how much environmental damage occurs because of the wide paved surface.  For what benefit? Such a waste.
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#34
(12-01-2017, 02:57 PM)danbrotherston Wrote: But some of our streets are just ridiculous.  Blue springs dr. is a good example.  It's basically a dead end driveway for a couple of condo buildings, and it has parking on one side, yet it's about 3-4 lanes wide with no markings.  How much money is spent to pave such a road, and how much environmental damage occurs because of the wide paved surface.  For what benefit? Such a waste.

Absolutely. I don't know the history of Blue Springs Dr, but it's possible that it's like Benton St, it was intended to be an arterial road to somewhere, but the plans got cancelled sometime in the past (but after the first stretch was already paved four lanes wide). King St E, entering the city from Hwy 8, would be another such example.
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#35
(12-01-2017, 01:40 PM)MidTowner Wrote: I meant data about people’s preferences. We can look at traffic data for a street and make educated guesses about whether most people would be comfortable riding on a street with that volume of traffic, but it’s still a guess.

If your employer is on Weber Street, you really do have to ride on Weber Street to get there, if only for a short distance. I guess the exception would be those workplaces with a smaller street or trail behind (I wonder how many Manulife employees in Waterloo commute by bicycle?). But it’s going to get quickly complicated to try to figure out the back way to get to every major or minor employer in the region. Most are located on arterials because they want people to be able to get to them. Those arterials are by and large overbuilt, and could accommodate protected bike paths. Doing so would provide an immediate safe route for many commuters.

Yes, I agree, understanding what would drive potential casual bicycle commuters' decisions would be important as well. But they likely would not be able to say "a road less than 5m wide and fewer than 200 cars per day" or other specific criteria.

Urban employers should be easier than the ones on major arterial roads, as the downtown side streets are usually more reasonable and the next intersection is usually not far. So that could be a first target, to enable people to get to those.
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#36
(12-01-2017, 01:03 PM)tomh009 Wrote: Downsizing a significant percentage of (non-arterial) residential streets is probably a non-starter even in the medium-long term.  Maybe someday, but for now the combination of costs and resident resistance would surely kill any such initiative.

We do have traffic data for city streets.  I think I might want to do some data exploration over the holidays to see whether there is another way.  Even if your employer is on Weber St, for example, doesn't mean that you need to ride on Weber to get there, if there are other good alternatives.  As an existing example, I can ride on Iron Horse Trail rather than on Park or Courtland.  A little bit less direct if my employer is on one of those streets, but not that far out of the way.  Non-arterial neighbourhood streets could nicely complement a decent trail network.

Right-sizing of roads might be more palatable if it is framed the right way.

If framed as a fiscal argument, that narrowing streets saves the tax dollars through lower infrastructure costs, both capital and operational, and lower costs environmentally, socially (health care costs, etc.) could be a convincing argument to some councillors (and the general public). It could be a way of narrowing the infrastructure deficit while simultaneously enhancing the infrastructure for all users. In the end, if it results in better infrastructure for all does it matter what reasoning and arguments got us to that ultimate goal?

I tried to quantify this once using open data from the region and did a quick calculation (I am less confident in the tax savings calculations), but I don't know how good of an estimate it is. Feel free to contribute and edit as needed:

-The region owns about 714km of paved road representing about 1,751 lane kilometres.
-The total area of those roads, including paved shoulders, is 9.9km2 (imagine nothing but asphalt stretching from Fisher-Hallman to Weber and Erb to Victoria).
-Excluding the shoulder areas, and assuming a regional standard lane width of 3.65m, the total “driving area” of regional roads is 6.3km2 (underestimate).
-Meaning, that for every 10cm reduction in lane widths the region would have 0.175 km2 or 2.8 per cent less driving space to maintain (operating and capital).
-As of 2016, the Region of Waterloo’s total cost (operating and capital including amortization) to maintain paved roads was $32,568 per lane kilometre (I assume this includes the paved shoulders)
-Assuming a regional standard lane width of 3.65m that means it costs $8.92 per square metre to build and operate our roads.
-Therefore, for every 10cm reduction in lane widths the region would save $1,562,548 per year (so reducing lane widths by 30cm would save $4,687,644.36)
-Note that a 30cm reduction in lane widths would still leave lanes that were 3.35m wide which is 10cm larger than maximum in much of Europe (3.25m) and the regional minimum standard (3.25m)

-Reduced lane widths across regional roads could lower taxes or free up tax dollars for other purposes by 0.33 (10cm reduction) to 0.98 per cent (30cm reduction).
-By comparison the total tax increase for regional services (excluding police) was 2.31 per cent in 2017, 2.29 per cent in 2016, and 2.00 per cent in 2015.
-In other words, 23 to 49 per cent of the average annual tax increase each year goes to maintaining overly wide and unsafe lane widths.

Addition savings could be obtained if, when rebuilt, roads were made narrower by:
-eliminate on-street parking on arterials (e.g. Queen’s Blvd, Union Blvd)
-reduced on-street parking on residential side streets (basically any street that is wider than two travel lanes and especially those with parking on both sides and two car widths (four lanes total e.g. Forest Hill Dr.)).
-excess lane capacity were removed from roads such as Belmont Ave, Queen’s Blvd, Union Blvd, Home Watson Blvd, or Avon Pl, etc.
-and bike lanes were built as part of the boulevard and not the roadway.

Again, this is likely an underestimate because,
-This only includes Region of Waterloo owned roads; the majority of the street network is city and township owned (see below for a rough estimate of all roads, not just region).
-It assumes driving lanes are smaller than they actually are (many are >3.65m).

A rough(er) estimate for all roads (not just regional):
-For every 10cm reduction in lane widths the region, cities, and townships would have an estimated annual savings of 643,862m2 x $8.92/m2 =  $5,743,249 (30cm =  $17,216,716.19).
Everyone move to the back of the bus and we all get home faster.
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#37
Numbers look huge when you look at ALL roads. But that's not really a calculation of what we would save if we narrowed all lanes by 10cm, it's a calculation of what we would save if all lanes were 10cm narrower. You are comparing the end state, not the net effect of making the change, as making the change also requires an investment.

And it is surely not palatable if you say "we're going to narrow all the streets over the next 10 years", you will get endless arguments about the math and other perceived lost benefits. I cannot believe that you would win this argument today. Maybe after we have been dieting roads for 5-10 years, but not today.

But if you were to do this when only when each street needs to be repaved, what would be the net cost -- or the savings? I think you would save some (less new pavement, less new pavement in another 30 years, possibly less salt/plowing) but also have some incremental cost (rip out existing curbs, build new curbs, rebuild boulevard lawns, rebuild driveways). Can you calculate that? If that shows a significant savings, you have a much better argument.
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#38
I don't doubt there is a flaw in my logic or calculations; it was just meant to provoke thought and discussion.

Maybe it was the way I phrase "savings" that is confusing.

It is actually the "additional ongoing expense" of those 10cm of road, every and every year (and that's not even accounting for inflation) is $1,562,548.

I would never envision that it would happen over night that all lanes would be 10cm narrower, but if with each reconstruction project or each new project (the region is expected to build 330 new km of road by 2026) a new standard was applied the amount of additional expense would be reduced.

I'll leave the more advanced logic and calculations to TriTag or someone with a bigger napkin to scribble upon.

Also, public opinion might not be as strong as you think. The region's budget survey found that 23% of respondents strongly agreed that roads were a good value for money, but 31% strongly agreed that transit was good value for money. Similarly, 46% of respondents would not be willing to pay more taxes for roads (44% of respondents would not be willing to pay more taxes for roads, but 55% of that 44% don't ever use transit - so 28%).
Everyone move to the back of the bus and we all get home faster.
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#39
(12-02-2017, 09:02 PM)Pheidippides Wrote: I don't doubt there is a flaw in my logic or calculations; it was just meant to provoke thought and discussion.

Maybe it was the way I phrase "savings" that is confusing.

It is actually the "additional ongoing expense" of those 10cm of road, every and every year (and that's not even accounting for inflation) is $1,562,548.

I would never envision that it would happen over night that all lanes would be 10cm narrower, but if with each reconstruction project or each new project (the region is expected to build 330 new km of road by 2026) a new standard was applied the amount of additional expense would be reduced.

I'll leave the more advanced logic and calculations to TriTag or someone with a bigger napkin to scribble upon.

Also, public opinion might not be as strong as you think. The region's budget survey found that 23% of respondents strongly agreed that roads were a good value for money, but 31% strongly agreed that transit was good value for money. Similarly, 46% of respondents would not be willing to pay more taxes for roads (44% of respondents would not be willing to pay more taxes for roads, but 55% of that 44% don't ever use transit - so 28%).

I agree that it would be great to have a more detailed study done along the same general lines as your post.

You’re right that in actual application it would be a marginal effect, where each new project would save a little bit, and over time the road network would become less unaffordable. Eventually it adds up. At some point we started buying accessible buses. At first, it didn’t help much at all, because the few we had would show up randomly. Before long though they could promise that certain routes would always be served by accessible vehicles. And of course now the entire fleet is accessible and the LRT system has been built from the beginning to be almost entirely accessible (the only exceptions of which I am aware are a few stations with missing exits, where people with good mobility will be able to use the exits even though they aren’t really there, but people in wheelchairs will be out of luck).

I think with proper framing it could be quite successful. Would probably be good to simultaneously look at smaller fire vehicles, as I understand them to be one driver of excessive road width (and they have the trump card of “safety”, even though your point is that wide roads are unsafe in their own ways).
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#40
(12-02-2017, 10:09 PM)ijmorlan Wrote: You’re right that in actual application it would be a marginal effect, where each new project would save a little bit, and over time the road network would become less unaffordable. (...)

I think with proper framing it could be quite successful. Would probably be good to simultaneously look at smaller fire vehicles, as I understand them to be one driver of excessive road width (and they have the trump card of “safety”, even though your point is that wide roads are unsafe in their own ways).

Now, who has the information and can do the back-of-the-envelope calculation for reducing lane widths for 1km of street, assuming that the street is due for repaving anyway? Or knows someone who can?
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#41
I think it is still too early for me to understand the question, but here is an attempt.

The costs (2016) are broken down this way:
Winter maintenance = $4,322 per lane km or $1.22 per m2 (assuming 3.65m lane width)
Total maintenance cost = $19,138 per lane km or $5.24 per m2 (assuming 3.65m lane width)
Total cost (including amortization, disposal, capital, maintenance) = $32,568 per lane km or $8.92 per m2 (assuming 3.65m lane width)

That would imply that the non-maintenance costs (capital, amortization, and disposal) are $13,430 ($32,568 - $19,138) per lane kilometer or $3.68 per m2.

A 1km stretch of 2 lanes of traffic (1 in each direction), each 3.65m wide, has an area of 7,300m2.
A 1km stretch of 2 lanes of traffic (1 in each direction), each 3.55m wide, has an area of 7,100m2.

A difference of 200m2 for every 10cm lane width reduction.

Not accounting for any inflation then...

Each year, the total cost of the original road is $65,136.
Each year, the total cost of the narrowed road is $63,351.
A difference of $1,785.

Each year, the total maintenance costs of the original road is $38,276.
Each year, the total maintenance costs of the narrowed road is $37,227.
A difference of $1,049.

Each year, the total winter maintenance costs of the original road is $8,644.
Each year, the total winter maintenance costs of the narrowed road is $8,407.
A difference of $237.

Each year, the total non-maintenance costs of the original road is $26,860.
Each year, the total non-maintenance costs of the narrowed road is $26,124.
A difference of $736.
Everyone move to the back of the bus and we all get home faster.
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#42
Not sure winter maintenance would really go down, the plows have wings and the cost of clearing one lane or a lane and a half is the same.
Road maintenance probably the same thing is a lt of it is directed towards potholes etc.
I'm not sure how much road maintenance includes redoing curbs at the same time meaning shrinking the road would cost more to do the reduction.
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#43
Valid points.

Also, much of the regional road network (>60%) is rural and does not have curbs.
Everyone move to the back of the bus and we all get home faster.
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#44
the roads out there shouldn't be reduced, the difference between the road and the ditch isn't much in the winter and is driven by oversized tractors/farm machinery
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#45
(12-03-2017, 08:54 AM)Pheidippides Wrote: I think it is still too early for me to understand the question, but here is an attempt.

The costs (2016) are broken down this way:
Winter maintenance = $4,322 per lane km or $1.22 per m2 (assuming 3.65m lane width)
Total maintenance cost = $19,138 per lane km or $5.24 per m2 (assuming 3.65m lane width)
Total cost (including amortization, disposal, capital, maintenance) = $32,568 per lane km or $8.92 per m2 (assuming 3.65m lane width)
(...)
Each year, the total non-maintenance costs of the original road is $26,860.
Each year, the total non-maintenance costs of the narrowed road is $26,124.
A difference of $736.

Right.  But what is the incremental cost of rebuilding the street as a narrower one?  That's the up-front cost, which would eventually be paid back in maintenance savings.
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