Sunday 23 September 2012

Rasen am Ring 2012: Ring Rad Weg Options Survey.

As part of the Rasen am Ring 2012 event (where part of the Ring is turned into a car free zone and 1000 sqm of grass turf is laid down on the central main road), I did a Ring Rad Weg Options survey in cooperation with and help from Argus and IGF.

I was not really prepared for how difficult this would actually be. Getting people to take part in surveys is a hard job and I was annoyed by the amount of people who answered in English "Sorry I do not Speak German" and walked off.  Bloody foreigners.

However I employed some child labour and Max and Tony did a fantastic job explaining traffic concepts to passers by and collecting their votes.

We tried to get a fair cross section of the population but I have to confess cyclists where much more interested in the Ring Rad Weg and the cyclist / pedestrian conflict problems. However we had tourists / residents / pedestrians and some interesting responses and discussions...  Due to the nature of this survey you did have to have a conversation with people for between 5 mins and 40 mins to get a response.  However I was totally surprised about how positive each respondent was and how interested they were in the solutions.

The question was:

"Zur Zeit gibt es große Konflikte zwischen den Verkehrsteilnehmern am Ring. Wie sollte man den öffentlichen Raum “Ring” gestalten?"
(There is a lot of conflict between road users on the Ring. How should the Ring public space be used?)

Here are the results:

Option 1:
1 Vote.
Die Ist-situation soll bleiben.
(Current design.)

Option 2:
10 Votes.
Der jetzige Radweg soll mit roter Farbe klar markiert werden.
(Clearly marked cycle path.)

Option 3:
42 Votes. 
Es soll einen durchgehenden Radweg auf der Nebenfahrbahn geben.
(Cycle path on the side streets.)

Option 4:
6 Votes.
Es soll einen durchgehenden Radweg auf einer Fahrbahn des Ringes geben.
(A bidirectional cycle path on the main road.)

Option 5:
4 Votes.
Der Ring soll in beide Richtungen befahrbar sein.
(One direction cycle paths on main road.)

Option 6:
11 Votes.
Die verkehrsberuhigte Nebenfahrbahn soll auch für Radfahere benützbar sein.
(Integration of bicycle traffic with traffic reduced and calmed side roads.)

Option 7:
84 Votes.
Der Ring soll autofrei sein - wie die Prater Hauptallee.
(Car free zone like the Prater Hauptallee).

At the end of a long conversation the one person who voted for the current situation admitted he was not too happy with it but did not know which was the best solution.  The rest 157 voted for change.  A lot of people would have liked 2 votes.  One for what the want (often option 7) and one vote for what they thought was realistic. 

I am very happy because the result of this survey is that 158 people realized that pedestrian / cyclist conflict is not just a problem of behavior it is also a design problem to some extent.  Even new and improved designs are unsatisfactory. 

I think you will never remove 100% of conflict but it is maybe time for the City of Vienna to concentrate of the quality of the road infrastructure for all users.

A big thanks goes to everyone that took the time to answer this survey and the help I got setting it up.

Thursday 20 September 2012

Ring Rad Weg: Heldentor: Again...

A quick stop at the now infamous junction on the way home and some really good discussion on the web  leads me to this Heldentor design revision. In my original there was no way to cross the Ring to the outer side. So how would the Dutch design such a crossing?

Here is a plan view of the current situation followed by my attempt at guessing how this would be handled in Holland:

There are many option for solving this and a lot depends on the chosen concept of the Ring Rad Weg but I will go for a solution that is as close to what is there now as possible without the shared high density pedestrian and bicycle footpath.

A quick observation of the traffic here  reveals that the overriding dominant road user here is the pedestrian.  There is little crossing cycle traffic and not much turning motor traffic.  Going with an Option 3 solution would mean integrating the Cycle path with the junction is very difficult.  However due to the very low amount of cycle traffic trying to cross the central road here the cycle crossing can be a small bidirectional cycle path.  There is huge amounts of room here so this could be totally away from the dominant pedestrian crossing traffic.  The fast moving 3 lane motor traffic just needs to be moved back a few meters and bikes can cross on their red light phase in front of them.

Speed bump type traffic calming and road norrowing could be used to slow and calm the traffic on the inner side and outer side streets to a level where the light regulated crossings could be removed.  Then you would only need traffic light control to allow the taxis, horse drawn carridges and tourist coaches to join the 3 lane central motorway.  Giving them stacking space to do this without constant conflict from bikes and pedestrians would make this task easier and lead to less mistakes and the resulting injuries.  On this motorway red phase, pedestrains and cyclists could cross without having to conflict with each other.

I hope the above concept could reduce the conflict for all road users and be for more convenient to use, but frankly anything would be better than the new and improved design.

UPDATE 1.10.2012

I am very happy to announce that the city of Vienna will review this junction so I have tidied up my sketch above to hopefully make it a bit clearer. The above is what I think the Dutch would do but it is far from a finished design.  I hope it is enough to indicate how this junction could be designed if pedestrians and cyclists are treated as road users. I hope they do not listen to me but someone qualified from Holland that has some experience creating good solutions, because until they do I have a feeling I will be writing a lot more about this junction.

It has also been pointed out that there is no such thing as Heldentor the correct name is Burgtor.  Sorry for confusion.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Ring Rad Weg: Heldentor: New and improved?

I wrote about the Heldentor Junction in an earlier post.  Maybe the City of Vienna read this blog and have redesigned and changed this junction at great expense to Austrian the tax payer.

The Key problems (as I see them) with the old version pictured below are:

"The not very visible painted on cycle path swings into the pedestrian crossing in order to share the traffic light. The pedestrians normally have no idea they are on a cycle path until a bike slaloms through them.  The red light is not very well respected and often jumped because a lot of the time it is frankly not worth taking seriously."

My suggestion was a road narrowing and large central island combined with un-bundling the conflict at the junction and providing stacking space for motor vehicles to enter and leave, and the removal of the traffic light.  This is my guess at what the Dutch would do.  So what did Vienna do?

They have done the opposite for reasons I do not understand.

How well does this work reducing the pedestrian / cyclist conflict and improving the sight lines for car drivers?

You decide while I have a little cry.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Ring Rad Weg Options

The Ring Rad Weg is a very busy road for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and motorists.  There are huge pedestrian / cyclist conflict problems and a lot of cyclists are unsatisfied with the current slalom through living gate poles.  There is a growing realisation that design change is needed and public opinion is growing in support of relocation of space from cars to people.

Here is my attempt to propose some Ring design concepts and to start the discussion of the pros and cons for each.  You can vote for your preferred choice in the poll and please leave any comments you have.

I have taken a typical section of the Ring (Burgring - Opernring) that illustrates the kind of side street and 3 lane pedestrian configuration that is common.  I am only attempting to illustrate the basic concept here not the detail of each junction or section.

Option 1: Current design.

Option 2: Clearly marked cycle path.

Option 3: Cycle path on the side streets.

Option 4: A bidirectional cycle path on the main road.

Option 5: One direction cycle paths on main road.

Option 6: Integration of bicycle traffic with traffic reduced and calmed side roads.

Option 7: Car free zone (like the Prater Hauptallee).

Friday 7 September 2012

How to CROWize Burggasse

There have been some alterations to the junction of Burggasse by the MQ.  There are calls for a bike box to be installed however there is no way an 8 year old child should be encouraged to cycle in the middle of this junction.  Even confident adult cyclists would not find this in any way a pleasant experience.

Assuming we can not provide separate route for bikes or change the traffic patterns and we must have a solution for bikes here what would it look like if the Dutch did it?

We have a big junction with through roads and tram lines running through the middle of it.  Separation with traffic control or grade separation is required for this type of situation. Using traffic control lights would fit best here as they are already installed and it would require minimal changes and space compared to grade separation.  The junction could look something like this.

This does not remove any pedestrian or car space but uses the existing space as per the explanation in this video.

The Traffic lights can be used to TCS (Traffic Control Separate) so that conflict is minimal. The sequence could look like this.

Where the lines cross there is conflict.  So pedestrians and bikes have some conflict. Right turning cars also have some conflict with bikes and pedestrians.  By increasing the number of light phases this conflict can be eliminated but this also reduces the capacity of the junction. So a compromise is needed. This is just a simple 2 phase sequence that does not allow some motor traffic turns.  More complex sequences and traffic routing would have to be used to optimise this but I hope this is enough to demonstrate the principle.