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General Road and Highway Discussion
(08-03-2017, 08:18 AM)SammyOES2 Wrote: Also, include data.

I read a bunch of what you guys claim on this forum as absolute fact and am often pretty skeptical (although in this case, I think you're probably right).  Ideally, if you're claiming a lane is unnecessary you'd have both traffic/usage data and cost data to back that up.  I realize its not often possible, but in most cases you're making claims about extra capacity based on overall (24/7) cost/benefit of the road to people that mostly use the road at peak times.  So they're skeptical of your claim because it doesn't match up with their anecdotal evidence.

Some of this is fact based, i.e., traffic volumes on Belmont do not justify 4 lanes.  City staff often have this data.  I think it's true, but I don't know for sure.  I do know other roads, Weber for instance, just barely justifies 4 lanes, as does Lexington, and because of vocal opposition the decision to compromise safety in favour of a few seconds drive time for 2 hours a day was made.  That's more a value judgement.  Then there are design issues.  There are plenty of resources showing that 3.6 meter lanes are more dangerous than 3.3 or 3 meter lanes.  But still, we build 3.6 meter lanes because that's what the designs have used before and that's what engineers sign off on.  Then there are pure value judgements.  We should not build roads that have vast unused capacity and compromise health, safety, lived environment, for 22 hours of the day just to satisfy the 2 hours a day that we have congestion, and certainly not if those roads front on people's homes.  Then there are efficiency arguments, more lanes at intersections are better etc.

But when it comes right down too it, this is why Belmont grinds my gears so much, every single argument above applies.  I'm quite certain it doesn't have enough traffic (again, I only have my personal observations), a road of that type should never be built that way, and efficiency wise, it is that wide because it was intended to be a major through road (connecting to Homer Watson via paving over several environmentally sensitive areas) that never (and will never) happen, so it's a waste to keep it so wide for a plan that is no longer happening.   (For that matter, the northern stub of Homer Watson also applies).
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Here is the staff report mentioned above. Not much of interest other than maybe the cost ($3.88M).

Traffic volumes (AADT) from CoK are available here: http://app.kitchener.ca/opendata/ds_deta...x?dsid=119

The counts of 10,000 vehicles per day for this section are from 2003. I would hope staff had more recent (and hourly) data to base their decision on. Even based on that old number and anecdotal evidence/personal experience in terms of peak usage, I'm pretty comfortable suggesting a two lane street would handle current traffic and would be beneficial both for nearby residents and in terms of construction and maintenance costs.
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You have enough there for quite a good op-ed that stands a chance of getting a few readers to consider the waste that we tolerate around here with overbuilt roads.

I agree that most of these things are value judgments, and the problem is that data won’t mean a lot to the typical rate payer. For instance, since you brought up Weber, I can tell you that last year most of Weber Street West carried a lot fewer than 20,000 vehicles on average per day. That doesn’t justify its configuration, but we paid a tonne the other year to have it widened, and tore down houses to have it widened. But, if the average rate payer were to see the number 20,000, maybe that just seems like a big number.

There’s no such problem with Belmont, though. It would be obvious to most people who have driven or walked it that it doesn’t need to be that wide. You can now say that it gets barely half of Weber’s traffic volume, but we’re spending in excess of $3 million to keep it that wide, with the ongoing maintenance costs that requires, for no reason except that’s the way it is now, and City staff didn’t take the time to think about whether there was an opportunity for costs savings.
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(08-03-2017, 10:24 AM)MidTowner Wrote: You have enough there for quite a good op-ed that stands a chance of getting a few readers to consider the waste that we tolerate around here with overbuilt roads.

I agree that most of these things are value judgments, and the problem is that data won’t mean a lot to the typical rate payer. For instance, since you brought up Weber, I can tell you that last year most of Weber Street West carried a lot fewer than 20,000 vehicles on average per day. That doesn’t justify its configuration, but we paid a tonne the other year to have it widened, and tore down houses to have it widened. But, if the average rate payer were to see the number 20,000, maybe that just seems like a big number.

There’s no such problem with Belmont, though. It would be obvious to most people who have driven or walked it that it doesn’t need to be that wide. You can now say that it gets barely half of Weber’s traffic volume, but we’re spending in excess of $3 million to keep it that wide, with the ongoing maintenance costs that requires, for no reason except that’s the way it is now, and City staff didn’t take the time to think about whether there was an opportunity for costs savings.

I agree, it shouldn’t be that hard to make the case, even to people who are more enthusiastic about car traffic, that Belmont is inappropriately designed. Weber would be harder.

Personally I think there should be hardly any 4-lane roads in the Region; but as a matter of realpolitik, I can accept that Weber and a few other roads have four lanes. By contrast, it really is absurd that roads like Belmont and (formerly) Davenport and even Keats Way are built as four-lane roads (Keats Way detail: I am not aware that it was ever painted as four lanes, but I’m pretty sure it’s wide enough for four lanes, or very close to it).
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I think the real problem is that few people bother to think past the "more lanes is always better" mindset that existed in the 60s. So they'll oppose fewer lanes almost reflexively, even if it's justified. This happened with every other road diet in the region, to the point that people were screaming about the sky falling.
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(08-02-2017, 06:17 PM)danbrotherston Wrote: Thank for the clarification.  The crossing island is basically the thing that's required to make this not the stupidest thing of all time.  Merely business as stupid usual.  The road is stupidly overbuilt, but in the future, paint might be able to fix that.

Of course, it would be far more meaningful if Queen is also improved, and would have been even more so if Highland had been improved as well, but that ship has sailed.

Queens from Belmont to Westmount is scheduled to be reconstructed in 2023. It's not too early to advocate for a road diet and pedestrian island for the trail crossing.
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(08-03-2017, 11:36 AM)danbrotherston Wrote: I think the real problem is that few people bother to think past the "more lanes is always better" mindset that existed in the 60s.  So they'll oppose fewer lanes almost reflexively, even if it's justified.  This happened with every other road diet in the region, to the point that people were screaming about the sky falling.

I wonder if it would help to sell it as intersection improvements rather than lane reductions.

With any transportation construction project, how good it is will depend on all sorts of details about exactly what gets built. And this is true no matter ones priorities: somebody who wants more car capacity should be unhappy if they get more lanes but intersections are still jammed up, somebody who wants better transit will be unhappy if the exact location of the bus stop makes it hard to board and difficult for the bus to navigate traffic, and somebody who cares about bicycle infrastructure will be unhappy with bicycle lanes that interact poorly with fast-moving traffic.

So the one-line “this is what we’re doing” is really just a marketing slogan, and it should be chosen to be both accurate and sell the positives (to all the relevant constituencies) of the proposed project.
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(08-03-2017, 01:04 PM)ijmorlan Wrote:
(08-03-2017, 11:36 AM)danbrotherston Wrote: I think the real problem is that few people bother to think past the "more lanes is always better" mindset that existed in the 60s.  So they'll oppose fewer lanes almost reflexively, even if it's justified.  This happened with every other road diet in the region, to the point that people were screaming about the sky falling.

I wonder if it would help to sell it as intersection improvements rather than lane reductions.

With any transportation construction project, how good it is will depend on all sorts of details about exactly what gets built. And this is true no matter ones priorities: somebody who wants more car capacity should be unhappy if they get more lanes but intersections are still jammed up, somebody who wants better transit will be unhappy if the exact location of the bus stop makes it hard to board and difficult for the bus to navigate traffic, and somebody who cares about bicycle infrastructure will be unhappy with bicycle lanes that interact poorly with fast-moving traffic.

So the one-line “this is what we’re doing” is really just a marketing slogan, and it should be chosen to be both accurate and sell the positives (to all the relevant constituencies) of the proposed project.

This is assuming that a) the city controls the message, and b) people think carefully about things.  So many ways this can get lost.  Even just your example, if intersection improvements were emphasized, the media may still report it as "Losing two lanes on Belmont", or worse, and most likely "bikes vs. cars, bikes are stealing your lanes"....but even if the newspaper reported it sanely, people are just as likely to read that headline into it.  They're unlikely to really understand that congestion occurs at the intersections, people don't think too deeply about this.  It's very hard to force them to understand, even harder when they're emotional and angry about it.

Again, this is exactly what happened with Davenport.  A road which was rebuilt into a vastly better road, with better traffic flow, better bike infra, and a more pleasant streetscape, people freaked out about it because the only thing they heard was that they were taking away 2 lanes.  And the city sold this hard as an improvement (because it was).  

As for "what is built"...you're absolutely right, and I have found no way to overcome this issue.  I'm so frustrated by seeing bad designs get built.  I mean, what miracle of nature would it take for us to pave flush curbs when putting an (unnecessary) curb in at a trail entrance.  Brand new curb built on the IHT has a 1 inch lip for no reason except to make the trail more unpleasant for road cyclists and mothers with strollers (and frankly dangerous for those with a mobility device, or skateboard).  But I've found no room from anyone anywhere in the government to give feedback on detailed design issues of any kind.  Very frustrating.
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Someone's had a bit of fun with the "?" Information sign leading into Waterloo, just North of Union on King.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr">LOL! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/wrLRT?src=hash">#wrLRT</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KWawesome?src=hash">#KWawesome</a> <a href="https://t.co/YaEm7gK9tp">pic.twitter.com/YaEm7gK9tp</a></p>&mdash; Iain Hendry (@Canardiain) <a href="https://twitter.com/Canardiain/status/893232493721202688">August 3, 2017</a></blockquote>
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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(08-03-2017, 01:38 PM)danbrotherston Wrote:
(08-03-2017, 01:04 PM)ijmorlan Wrote: I wonder if it would help to sell it as intersection improvements rather than lane reductions.

With any transportation construction project, how good it is will depend on all sorts of details about exactly what gets built. And this is true no matter ones priorities: somebody who wants more car capacity should be unhappy if they get more lanes but intersections are still jammed up, somebody who wants better transit will be unhappy if the exact location of the bus stop makes it hard to board and difficult for the bus to navigate traffic, and somebody who cares about bicycle infrastructure will be unhappy with bicycle lanes that interact poorly with fast-moving traffic.

So the one-line “this is what we’re doing” is really just a marketing slogan, and it should be chosen to be both accurate and sell the positives (to all the relevant constituencies) of the proposed project.

This is assuming that a) the city controls the message, and b) people think carefully about things.  So many ways this can get lost.  Even just your example, if intersection improvements were emphasized, the media may still report it as "Losing two lanes on Belmont", or worse, and most likely "bikes vs. cars, bikes are stealing your lanes"....but even if the newspaper reported it sanely, people are just as likely to read that headline into it.  They're unlikely to really understand that congestion occurs at the intersections, people don't think too deeply about this.  It's very hard to force them to understand, even harder when they're emotional and angry about it.

Again, this is exactly what happened with Davenport.  A road which was rebuilt into a vastly better road, with better traffic flow, better bike infra, and a more pleasant streetscape, people freaked out about it because the only thing they heard was that they were taking away 2 lanes.  And the city sold this hard as an improvement (because it was).  

As for "what is built"...you're absolutely right, and I have found no way to overcome this issue.  I'm so frustrated by seeing bad designs get built.  I mean, what miracle of nature would it take for us to pave flush curbs when putting an (unnecessary) curb in at a trail entrance.  Brand new curb built on the IHT has a 1 inch lip for no reason except to make the trail more unpleasant for road cyclists and mothers with strollers (and frankly dangerous for those with a mobility device, or skateboard).  But I've found no room from anyone anywhere in the government to give feedback on detailed design issues of any kind.  Very frustrating.

I agree it’s difficult. One question about that IHT problem: is it possible the final coat of asphalt just hasn’t gone down? I don’t actually know exactly what location you are referring to so I can’t tell if my question actually makes sense.

My idea on the publicity may not really work. But my idea is to try to get out ahead of the story with a set of headline improvements that most people will see as improvements. Let those who come to the public meetings notice that lanes are being strategically removed where they are not needed. By contrast, I think I recall the city specifically advertising the Davenport changes as a road diet. I would emphasize the more pleasant environment, removal of bicycles from the general traffic lanes, and more distinct pedestrian crossing facilities. Get that message out in the media first.

On the other hand, the Davenport changes went through successfully. By contrast, it doesn’t appear Kitchener even tried with Belmont — they just flushed the money without bothering to review the design at all (other than repainting to provide a left- rather than right-turn lane at Victoria). So maybe the problem isn’t so much what happens when plans hit the media (some noisy opposition, but often still a good plan in the end) as what happens when the city just doesn’t bother.

Hmmm, I wonder what the overlap is between those who would complain about almost any lane removal and those who would complain about any roundabout installation. Both are unreasonable positions but is there a large overlap?
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(08-03-2017, 10:24 AM)MidTowner Wrote: For instance, since you brought up Weber, I can tell you that last year most of Weber Street West carried a lot fewer than 20,000 vehicles on average per day. That doesn’t justify its configuration, but we paid a tonne the other year to have it widened, and tore down houses to have it widened. But, if the average rate payer were to see the number 20,000, maybe that just seems like a big number.

Depends on how one defines "most".  Downtown Kitchener sees about 25,000 cars/day on Weber St, in Waterloo it's in the 30-40,000 range, as of 2015. 
http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/gettin...ations.pdf

And those numbers will have increased with the addition of the LRT tracks tp (and resulting narrowing of) King St.

As little as I drive these days, I recognize that we need somewhere for cars to drive, too.
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Here's the state of the King St. Reconstruction - this section, I believe, was the bit that was supposed to have opened a few weeks ago.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">King St. Reconstruction progress in <a href="https://twitter.com/UpTownWaterloo">@UpTownWaterloo</a>. Cc: <a href="https://twitter.com/WRConnected">@WRConnected</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/TriTAG">@TriTAG</a> <a href="https://t.co/WNQ05Xf46F">pic.twitter.com/WNQ05Xf46F</a></p>&mdash; Iain Hendry (@Canardiain) <a href="https://twitter.com/Canardiain/status/893876918411513861">August 5, 2017</a></blockquote>
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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The region is expropriating parts of 85 properties for the widening of the central section of Ottawa St, one of which is a Ray of Hope property.

https://www.kitchenerpost.ca/news-story/...-location/
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Where's the uproar over the destruction and horrific consequences of these 85 expropriations, akin to what Doug Craig, Cambridge councillors, and Cambridge residents put forth over the proposed ION phase 2 through Preston?
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I take it you've never been on that stretch of Ottawa St .... Wink
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