Thursday, October 25, 2012

Designing Cities: National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Conference

I have been fortunate to be asked to speak at this conference in New York City. The NYC Department of Transportation has done some impressive things to remake the streets; reclaiming them from people driving through the communities where people live, work, and play. Part of the reclamation is considering the needs of people on bicycles and pedestrians more holistically and there some great sessions on this topic today. 

The session where I presented was on Traffic Signals: Integrating Time & Space. We had four great speakers (Ryan Russo, NYCDOT, Jamie Parks, City of Oakland, Jeffrey Rosenblum, Cambridge, MA & myself). Ryan started out with some high level applications and mentioned that is is "just as important to think about signal timing as it is the geometry (pretty heady stuff from a planner). He cited the issues of a turn lane being on the "wrong side" (left side bike on left side of left turn lane) of a bike lane is illegal in MUTCD. He also described one of the elements they strive for us a 60-second cycle length combined with a double cycle length. They also use gating (he called it feathering to reduce the traffic hitting the bottleneck, arriving early). Good strategies that engineers have forgotten over time because we think a lot about actuated control and how it should work. 

Finally, he gave examples of leading pedestrian intervals, split LPIs where they hold just the turning movement red (exclusive turn signal movements only) and split phasing for the intersection. 

An example of a left side bike lane with a bike box for
right turns to cross in front of vehicle traffic.

NYC has creatively reclaimed public space from the auto by using
bollards (plastic wands, cones, etc) and potted trees/plants).
They have added paint with texture as well to provide a visual clue.

NYC Bus only often comes with red tint or paint to clearly delineate
the expectations for motorists. It worked well.  

Green bike lanes to provide clear direction for pedestrians and parking areas.


briandavispdx said...

I've really been enjoying you updates from this conference on twitter and now seems like a great conference!

Have you thought about using LPI's in Portland? When I was living in DC, I really liked them as a ped as they allowed me to get into the crosswalk before the aggressive DC drivers could try to turn in front of me. What's struck me my last few trips to DC is that now that they've built some real bike infrastructure, there seems to be benefit from LPI's for bikes as well, particularly on the 15th Street cycle track where bikes follow the ped signals. The flip side is that cycle lengths in DC tend to be longer in DC which I'd think would increase the utility of a LPI and reduce the amount of lost time for vehicles. I'd be curious to know more about how this works with the 60 second cycle lengths.

Sandra Johnson said...

I really like your blog. I really appreciate the good quality content you are posting here for free. I was looking to buy an cones and bollards for measurment but was looking for all the characteristics. Thanks for sharing all the information with us.