A realignment of the tourist-heavy Humboldt and Government intersection as part of bike-lane work will see the city introduce a full-fledged scramble crosswalk.
With a scramble crosswalk, motor-vehicle traffic is stopped in all directions while pedestrians get their own signal phase and are allowed to cross in any direction including diagonally across the intersection.
“We’re going to blow out the intersection and square the intersection,” said Brad Dellebuur, city assistant director of transportation. “So you’ll come around the corner on Wharf Street and you’ll be able to go straight through on Humboldt toward Douglas.”
The intersection has the tourism information centre on one of its corners and the Empress Hotel on another.
An existing traffic island will be removed and the configuration will be turned into a standard four-way intersection. Under the current setup, there are six pedestrian crossings.
“Because we’re adding a cycling phase and we’re changing how traffic moves through the intersection, when we looked at all of the movements that we need to accommodate there, it actually simplifies things to have a separate phase for pedestrians,” Dellebuur said.
There is a version of a scramble crossing at the View and Government T-intersection, where lights go red for traffic and signals green for pedestrians.
In the 1960s, the city had a scramble intersection at Yates and Douglas.
The city opened the first leg of the cycling network — a two-way bike lane on Pandora Avenue between Cook and Wharf streets in April 2017, at a cost of $3.4 million. The second leg on Fort Street between Cook and Wharf opened in May at a cost of $3.27 million.
Underground work has been underway for about a month on the next phase — a two-way separated lane to run along Wharf between Pandora and Douglas at Humboldt.
The Wharf-Humboldt connection will link the Pandora and Fort legs and tie into the Galloping Goose via the Johnson Street Bridge.
Plans call for a separated bike lane to continue along Humboldt to what is now a five-corner intersection at Douglas, Humboldt and Burdett Avenue. That intersection is to be reconfigured into a four-way corner as Humboldt will be blocked off to motor vehicle traffic on the east side of Douglas.
Cycling lanes are to continue on Humboldt east of Douglas to Vancouver Street but not as a separated bike lane but instead as a shared roadway. Under the shared roadway concept motor vehicle traffic is reduced through a variety of measures to between 1,000 and 1,500 vehicles a day so that cyclists of all ages and abilities can safely share the roadway with other traffic.
“You just share the road because the closure and Humboldt and Douglas will drop the traffic volumes on the rest of the Humboldt Street corridor. So it will be suitable for riding in a share condition like you would on a quieter local street,” Dellebuur said.
The city is consulting on what approaches to take for bike lanes on Vancouver Street, from Bay Street to Dallas Road.