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Roads, Highways & Infrastructure

peopletalking

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^Looks like what is needed at Deerfoot & Beddington Tr. - a southbound to westbound ramp.

Is #3 on that list actually underway ?
(I haven’t been out to Cochrane in a while).
It’s definitely underway but only through downtown from 22 to the very start of the hill, my brother lives in cochrane and he has describe the construction as a shit show.
 

CalgaryTiger

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CBBarnett

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Here's a quick run down of the different options presented. Not sure which design I like the most...
Let's try to figure out what they will be recommending to the best guess available reviewing the "what we heard" report and why it'll increase car capacity.

As a reminder, there were 4 options:
  • Option 1 all modes underpass (3 lanes of cars, 1.6m sidewalks, 1.6m bicycle lane)
  • Option 2 - all modes underpass with enhanced public realm (3 lanes of cars, 2m sidewalks, 1.5m bicycle lane, 1.3m planters)
  • Option 3 - active travel underpass (no cars, 2.1m sidewalk, 2.5m pathway, some benches)
  • Option 4 - active travel underpass + park features (no cars, 3m sidewalk, 2.5m pathways, lots of park amenities)

What did they hear?
Here's a nice summary infographic provided of the feedback received from the public on this:

1654282076565.png


For reasons unknown, 6 items were identified as "key project priorities" identified by Calgarians. Note the first reference to vehicle mobility is only indirect as the 3rd most popular comment (e.g. support all modes accessibility) at 71% agree. The first direct reference that suggests vehicle mobility is a priority is at 49%, the only "priority" not above 50%. Not sure why we draw the line there (v. Top 3, Top 5, everything over 50%, everything over 40% etc.) seems arbitrary. Walk and wheel were the #1 and #2 priorities by a wide margin.

Ok so what? Vehicle capacity is obviously important to some people, even if its not number one. Let's look at the details. Here's what the "what we heard" report says and how the public actually responded as their favourite projects of the options:

1654282682372.png

Wait - so the project options discussed were actually ranked opposite to what the summary infographic implies. The respondents preferred the options that were the least car-oriented. This is contradictory to the statement that "the majority of respondents preferred all-modes underpass".

They even provide the breakdown by order of preference based on the asking the respondents to rank the options. I put the highest vote count for each design option in green and the second highest in red:

1654300460198.png

So what can we learn from this? Turns out that while an all-mode access was popular for some people, it also was by a wide margin the least most popular option, with respondents ranking Option 1 and 2 (vehicle access provided) as their 5th and 6th ranked preference over those that ranked it their 1st or 2nd by a factor of 2:1. Compare that to the pedestrian-focused options 3, 4a/b/c, which have far more 1st - 4th place options.

Finally let's look at the earlier released "public and city" priorities and see how they compare. This infographic outlines how the 4 options are aligned or less aligned to the priorities:

1654301796892.png


I want to pick on a few of these priorities:

Access to area for people who walk and wheel
Strangely all options score "more aligned with priority" for walking and wheeling, despite several options offering substantially better public realm and capacity. Perhaps too nit-picky for some - but as always with anti-pedestrian bias, it's the details that matter - if concept 1 or 2 were built with all moved and vehicle access, taking a look at how traffic signals and turning priorities are implements will inevitably decrease pedestrian accessibility over option 3 and 4 where there's no conflicts or turning movements for vehicles at all. So it's factually incorrect to score these the same.

Accessibility for all levels of mobility
I couldn't find how this is defined - option 4 (the park and recreation active transportation option) score highest, but it's really unclear why. Is it that a new park amenity in the area means people with limited mobility can better access because a park is physically closer? Is it amount of space devoted to individual modes? It's not clear.

Emergency Services access
Oh boy - lots to unpack here. Essentially the active travel underpasses less aligned because they can't fit fire trucks. Sure - but nothing stops us from designing an active travel underpass that can fit a fire truck. Police cars drive on the pathway system all the time. Further, fire truck already don't route through 11 Street because of the train interaction - underpasses at 8 Street and 14 Street are blocks away and have lived with that arranged for decades with no obvious issues. Even if that somehow caused slightly too long a response time, there's another fire station on the other side of the tracks at 8 Street and 4th Ave SW.

Connectivity for people who drive and take transit in the area
ARGH - these are not the same "people" and should be separate criteria. Firstly, this is the current transit situation on 11 Street. Notice anything?
1654303926833.png

There is no transit on 11 Street nor any plans I am aware of to get transit in the future. In fact, the main factor in the high pedestrian volumes are the pedestrians walking to 7th Avenue right now - so the active underpasses would improve the quality of their transit access not make it worse as is suggested! See my main previous rants about this for further content.

For drivers, yes they will lose access, but makes zero sense to just aggregate non-existing buses and existing drivers to one criteria to de-value the active modes underpasses.

Budget
Unsurprisingly, the all-modes options are most expensive. Again, the options as presented hide a ton of ways to save money. Even the all-modes intersections can go from 3 to 2 lanes. Sure, not as good but reduces the bridge span by a few metres. Compared to the current state it's a way better level of service. Why build it to 3 lanes? Because some traffic model tells us we should for traffic flow in 50 years? Why not build for pedestrian flow in 50 years then? What does our budget tell us we can afford to build?

In conclusion
What seems to have happened is the Calgary two-step: a general car-centric engineering bias distorting engagement results and the options even being consider + a long-standing city departmental bias towards overbuilding in the name of future-proofing that is inevitably car-centric. The results of the engagement clearly tell that the public prefers the active transportation options, but that has been obscured and watered-down to a feel good "the majority of respondents preferred all-modes underpass" statement because car access was lumped together in weird ways so that could be the majority outcome. What's the point of the engagement if we don't listen to it or interpret it honestly?

As for the city departments bias for overbuilding - transit and fire supports a grade-separated all modes access because then they have the option: future-proofing. Future-proofing always sounds great, people love it. "build it right the first time" talk is well received. However, repeatedly future-proofing is used as an expensive and un-strategic crutch to overbuild everything car-oriented.

If emergency services and transit access was so important to future-proof and build "right" why not just have a fire and transit only option as one of the four to consider? Further, if emergency and transit access was so important, why not permanently take a lane on 14 Street or 8 Street underpasses for emergency and transit access? The reason is neither the emergency groups or Calgary transit can actually demonstrate the value on their own, just a vague "nice to have in the future, I am sure we will use it".

And like all systems with car-oriented bias; the "need" for emergency or transit access is actually a conditional need - we love future-proofing transit and emergency access (conditional on not decreasing existing or future car capacity). Therefore in practice the "need" is actually to increase vehicle capacity, not improve transit or emergency access.

Behind the scenes, there's more car-centric bias informing these results. If the traffic models used to predict congestion say we really need a vehicular underpass in the future as so we should future-proof by building one now, I can bet the growth rate of pedestrians will forever exceed the growth rate of cars on 11 Street. What would a future-proofed underpass that prioritized increasing pedestrianization over the next 50 to 100 years look like? Why do we only future proof some parts of the design but not others? Any future-proofed pedestrian underpass should have wider sidewalks than any of the options.

TL;DR - public engagement clearly demonstrated a preference for active transportation underpass. To meet that documented demand, we seem likely to build the more expensive option that will be an over-built, 3 lane all modes underpass. I hope I am wrong when the final design is released.

EDIT: some minor grammar changes.
 
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darwink

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1654282682372.png

Wait - so the project options discussed were actually ranked opposite to what the summary infographic implies. The respondents preferred the options that were the least car-oriented. This is contradictory to the statement that "the majority of respondents preferred all-modes underpass".
The weighted average is useless. A chart crime at best.
All modes = 126, active = 141. And they didn’t tease out those who prefer what do to cost.

I’d also have added a ‘do nothing’ option until it is at risk of closure, and a ‘do nothing even if closed.’

End of the day, this crossing serves 10,000 people+ a day and just over 250 replied. What a failure. If the biking community hadn’t pushed the survey on social I wonder what the results would have been. Really shows how a community that’s organized can tilt these. Imagine if Mt Royal community association was engaged on this instead of on enforcing their restrictive covenant against a potential block end townhouse at the time.
 

lemongrab

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The weighted average is useless. A chart crime at best.
All modes = 126, active = 141. And they didn’t tease out those who prefer what do to cost.

I’d also have added a ‘do nothing’ option until it is at risk of closure, and a ‘do nothing even if closed.’

End of the day, this crossing serves 10,000 people+ a day and just over 250 replied. What a failure. If the biking community hadn’t pushed the survey on social I wonder what the results would have been. Really shows how a community that’s organized can tilt these. Imagine if Mt Royal community association was engaged on this instead of on enforcing their restrictive covenant against a potential block end townhouse at the time.

I think it's actually 174 active to 126 all modes if you include option 3.

Do nothing is interesting...as would be a simple pedestrian overpass, which I presume is also a fair bit cheaper?
 

CBBarnett

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The weighted average is useless. A chart crime at best.
All modes = 126, active = 141. And they didn’t tease out those who prefer what do to cost.

I’d also have added a ‘do nothing’ option until it is at risk of closure, and a ‘do nothing even if closed.’

End of the day, this crossing serves 10,000 people+ a day and just over 250 replied. What a failure. If the biking community hadn’t pushed the survey on social I wonder what the results would have been. Really shows how a community that’s organized can tilt these. Imagine if Mt Royal community association was engaged on this instead of on enforcing their restrictive covenant against a potential block end townhouse at the time.
This is partly the point I was trying to make - the engagement results were ignored. Sure, it can be argued that the results were biased or inconclusive - but that's not what they are telling us to justify their decision. They are saying the results favour the all-modes option which was not true from the feedback they did receive.

So if we don't listen to engagement - whether for good or bad reasons - what do we listen to?

It's these other far murkier practices that bias the status quo, and over-building of car infrastructure everywhere with little demonstrative need in all contexts and sidewalks in almost no contexts. Given the location of 11 Street and it's trajectory of the neighbourhoods around this is a big mistake and missed opportunity as it's a pedestrian-heavy area today and will likely increasingly be one in the decades to come.

Engagement for all it's faults is pretty much the only visible process that occasionally challenges the status quo and this murky practice that leads to more of the same car-orientation.
 

darwink

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I think it's actually 174 active to 126 all modes if you include option 3.

Do nothing is interesting...as would be a simple pedestrian overpass, which I presume is also a fair bit cheaper?
Overpasses need to be as high as the LRT in Sunalta over the tracks. 14m or somesuch?
 

artvandelay

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I would vote "do nothing unless CP decides to close the crossing."

Would get much better ROI by spending this capital to provide an underpass where there is no current link across the tracks - eg. 7th Street SW or 8th Street SE.
 

lemongrab

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Overpasses need to be as high as the LRT in Sunalta over the tracks. 14m or somesuch?
That makes sense. I wonder if a pedestrian only level crossing would still be possible? CP probably wouldn't like that amount of foot traffic, but there are already at least 3 ped crossings between there and Edworthy...
 

outoftheice

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