- Harewood Signalized Intersection
- Better Lighting, Poor Bike Infrastructure
- Increasing Crossing Distances & Turning Lanes
- What SHOULD This Intersection Look Like?
Nanaimo has seen a slew of new infrastructure projects in recent months. As our city grows, the need for improved, accessible and equitable infrastructure grows as well. Growing communities need to consider the needs of both current and future residents as it plans infrastructure projects.
Harewood Signalized Intersection
Part of Nanaimo’s Fifth Street “Complete Streets” initiative was a signalized intersection to replace the existing four-way stop. Cycling and pedestrian improvements were also cited as key motivators1 of the project. The project wrapped up in November.
Completed Intersection at Fifth and Bruce Showing Unsafe Cycling Crossings (Strong Towns Nanaimo)
Better Lighting, Poor Bike Infrastructure
Unlike the old four-way stop, this new signalized intersection is better lit. Bike crossings were painted green to help cyclists stand out, but no substantial cyclist safety improvements were implemented. Despite what the City of Nanaimo states online, this improvement was meant for cars, not people. Paint is not infrastructure; instead of creating a Dutch-style junction2 where cyclists cross at-grade (safely separating pedestrians and cyclists from oncoming cars, Nanaimo opted for paint instead. This “improvement” instills a false sense of security in cyclists who mistakenly believe that paint will protect them from cars.3
Painted Bike Boxes Along Bruce Ave, Turning Left Onto Fifth (Strong Towns Nanaimo)
Increasing Crossing Distances & Turning Lanes
Nanaimo opted to create dedicated turning lanes for cars along Bruce. Crossing distances for pedestrians were increased to accommodate this. People who want to cross Bruce Ave are now exposed to conflicts with cars for longer periods of time.4 What’s worse is that drivers attempting to turn using the new dedicated turning lanes are in conflict with those crossing Fifth Street. It’s baffling that this kind of concession was made at the expense of those walking and cycling in Harewood, a community which punches well above its weight in terms of walking and cycling use.5
What SHOULD This Intersection Look Like?
It’s frustrating because Nanaimo staff has proven they know better than this. Metral Drive features a signalized four-way crossing with mode-separated bike crossings. Cars turning are physically separated by concrete up until the crossing itself.6
Render of Complete Street-Style Intersection on Metral Drive (City of Nanaimo)
Nanaimo’s own design and safety guidelines for Complete Streets projects note “minimize conflict between drivers and vulnerable road users by separating their intersection movements through space and also through time.” It’s disappointing that this intersection wasn’t given the same treatment as the one on Metral considering its success.
Nanaimo’s Own Complete Streets Guidelines Talking About Modal Safety (City of Nanaimo)
There’s hope that Nanaimo will improve upon this intersection when they begin work on the Bruce and Fifth Complete Streets projects, but only time will tell. As of right now, this portion of Fifth and Bruce is not a complete street.