Transit-Supportive Guidelines

Section 2.2 Creating Complete Streets

2.2.1 Complete Streets Planning Process

The design of streets should involve a comprehensive planning process, one that identifies the needs and balances the requirements of the full range of potential users within a community including users of all ages and abilities, pedestrians, cyclists, transit vehicles and motorists.

A transit-supportive environment enhances mobility not just for transit riders but for the full range of users within the catchment area of the transit system. Planning for complete streets is an important part of creating more transit-supportive environments. They help to enhance access to transit, facilitate the operation of transit vehicles and enhance connections for transit users between end stops, stations and local destinations. This is particularly relevant for those who may be unable to drive but still need to travel within and across their communities. By investing in complete streets, municipalities can support their transit system while enabling greater independence for the elderly and influencing future travel patterns of younger residents.

Establishing a network of streets that balance the needs of a full range of potential users requires consideration of users of all ages and abilities, pedestrians, cyclists, transit vehicles and motorists. In addition, the needs of nearby residents, businesses and other uses located nearby must also be considered. This necessitates a comprehensive process to consult with users, identifying their needs and respective design requirements along a street, adjusting standards where necessary and balancing design trade-offs where they exist. Not all streets will be the same and decisions regarding design features should reflect local user characteristics as well as long-term objectives for the street and surrounding areas.

The City of Charlotte’s Urban Street Design Guidelines identify a matrix of design elements and the impacts of each element on various users. While it is not a comprehensive consideration of all aspects of street design and the tradeoffs between elements, it assists design teams in considering a range of options when they face design issues in constrained environments (Case Study 03).

The City of Charlotte’s Urban Street Design Guidelines identify a matrix of design elements and the impacts of each element on various users. While it is not a comprehensive consideration of all aspects of street design and the tradeoffs between elements, it assists design teams in considering a range of options when they face design issues in constrained environments (Case Study 03).

Strategies Legend
Applicable Community Scale
Small Community icon Small
Mid-size Community icon Mid-size
Large Community icon Large
Big City icon Big City
Planning Scale
Site Planning icon Site
District Planning icon District
Municipal Planning icon Municipal
Regional Planning icon Regional
Green Action icon Green Action

Strategies:

process strategies

  1. Identify and develop a range of design elements and features aimed at facilitating movement by different users. These should promote a shift in travel behaviour based on the following passenger transportation hierarchy:
    • Trip avoidance or shortening, for example by encouraging a mix of uses
    • Active transportation such as walking or cycling
    • Transit
    • Ride-sharing, for example by carpool or vanpool
    • Carsharing and taxis
    • Single-occupant vehiclesRegional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Review existing street standards, such as speed limits and lane widths, to assess their impacts on all users, including children and the elderly, and revise them to reflect a more balanced user profile. Consider setting aside a set percentage of the rights-of-way for active transportation and public space.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  3. Work with local stakeholders to identify level of service criteria for all modes of transportation including walking and cycling.Municipal Planning icon
  4. Identify and document the benefits and trade-offs of different design approaches in relation to the impacts on various users to assist in decision making. This should include an evaluation of the level of service impacts on all modes.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  5. Review existing street planning processes and revise as necessary to integrate routine consideration of a full range of users. Codify circumstances where exceptions to the provision of design features intended to support different users are made, demonstrating how conflicts between users will be resolved.Municipal Planning icon

St. George Street running through the heart of the University of Toronto campus was rebalanced in 1997 through the addition of bike lanes and pedestrian-supportive paving treatments to create a street that better supports the many pedestrians and cyclists that use it daily.

St. George Street running through the heart of the University of Toronto campus was rebalanced in 1997 through the addition of bike lanes and pedestrian-supportive paving treatments to create a street that better supports the many pedestrians and cyclists that use it daily.

design strategies

  1. Design complete streets to reflect both the existing and planned land use, urban form and transportation contexts. Not all streets will be the same. Trade-offs between features should reflect the long-term objectives for the street and surrounding areas. Goods movement needs within the municipality, including both designated routes and access for local deliveries, should be considered along with passenger transportation needs where appropriate.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

evaluation

  1. Regularly evaluate design elements and street treatments implemented against performance standards related to factors such as safety, comfort or ease of use to ensure the achievement of complete streets.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

planning strategies

  1. Embed complete street planning policies within official plans and establish a planning process that ensures all users are considered in the design, refurbishment or reconstruction of existing and planned streets (Chapter 4). Coordinate street improvements between various city departments to expand the network of complete streets over time.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

2.2.2 Supporting Pedestrians

Streets should be designed with sidewalks and crossings that are comfortable to use, with frequent intersections and crossing points that provide multiple routing options and amenities that enhance the experience of walking to and from transit.

Traditionally, transit planning has focussed on how to most efficiently get people from point A to point B, but has not typically considered the quality of the experience at either end. As transit systems move towards attracting more commuters who take transit by choice, it will be increasingly important to factor in the pedestrian experience as part of a more holistic transit ridership strategy.

Pedestrians are all people on foot or moving at walking speed, including those who use mobility aids (wheelchairs, scooters etc.), those with strollers and buggies, and people with limited mobility. The majority of transit users are pedestrians at both ends of their trip, and therefore the ability to walk to and from a transit stop or station is an important consideration for any transit system. The establishment of a strong network of pedestrian-supportive streets within walking distance of public transit is fundamental for enhancing system access for transit users. Areas that have limited or poor pedestrian accommodations such as wide roadways with limited crossings, intersections that prioritize vehicular movement and sidewalks that are uncomfortable for users during hot summer and cold winter months can be barriers to pedestrians and discourage walking to and from the transit stop or station.

A pleasant pedestrian experience on routes to and from transit stations can help boost transit ridership.

A pleasant pedestrian experience on routes to and from transit stations can help boost transit ridership.

Strategies:

connections

  1. Provide sidewalks on both sides of all streets within a 400 m radius from transit stops and an 800 m radius from express stops or rapid transit stations. Evaluate pedestrian capacity on sidewalks with significant volumes using level of service metrics. Measures can be used to determine when to make improvements or reallocate space from other uses.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon

Trees, human-scaled lighting and seating create a pleasant pedestrian environment.

Trees, human-scaled lighting and seating create a pleasant pedestrian environment.

Street-related buildings can contribute to pedestrian comfort through the provision of canopies that can mitigate against the impacts of wind or weather.

Street-related buildings can contribute to pedestrian comfort through the provision of canopies that can mitigate against the impacts of wind or weather.

Special surface treatments such as along this street in Brighton alert drivers to pedestrian priority.

Special surface treatments such as along this street in Brighton alert drivers to pedestrian priority.

sidewalks

  1. Provide a broad pedestrian through zone with a suggested width of 1.8m or more to comfortably accommodate two people walking side by side on all principal pedestrian routes in nodes and corridors (see illustration below). Where feasible, locate the pedestrian through zone beyond the “splash zone” and incorporate an additional furnishing zone to accommodate bus shelters, waiting areas, landscaping and the potential for retail or commercial spill-out space. Appropriate widths and other features will vary, and should be determined in consultation with relevant geometric standards and guidelines.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Provide a broader pedestrian through zone, with a suggested width of 2.4m or more, in areas with high volumes of pedestrian traffic, such as pedestrian districts.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  3. Work with community representatives, including youth, the elderly and persons with disabilities, to identify key destinations and target sidewalk provision and other enhancements to better connect those areas.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

rural settlements

  1. In small towns or rural settlement areas where the provision of sidewalks may not be feasible, consider providing a paved shoulder linking major destinations in and around stop/station area. Appropriate widths and other features will vary, and should be determined in consultation with relevant geometric standards and guidelines.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning iconSmall Community icon

amenities

  1. Provide a range of pedestrian amenities (Guideline 3.4.3) to enhance pedestrian comfort and safety, including:
    • trees to provide shade during hot summer months and contribute to an attractive pedestrian environment;
    • furnishings such as benches and waste bins; and
    • attractive pedestrian-oriented lighting.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Coordinate the provision of pedestrian amenities with patterns of usage, concentrating amenities along key streets leading to and from stop or station areas or between key destinations.District Planning icon
  3. Street-related buildings can contribute to pedestrian amenity through the provision of canopies or elements designed to mitigate the impacts of wind or weather conditions.Site Planning icon
  4. Incorporate curb cuts at all pedestrian crossings to assist people with strollers, carts or mobility issues.Site Planning icon

Sidewalks on principal pedestrian routes within nodes and corridors should provide for broad pedestrian through zones, particularly in pedestrian districts. An additional furnishing zone to accommodate bus shelters and waiting areas, street trees, planters and the potential for retail or commercial spill-out space may also be required.

Sidewalks on principal pedestrian routes within nodes and corridors should provide for broad pedestrian through zones, particularly in pedestrian districts. An additional furnishing zone to accommodate bus shelters and waiting areas, street trees, planters and the potential for retail or commercial spill-out space may also be required.

In older downtowns and main street settings, constrained rights-of-way may make it difficult to implement pedestrian improvements. When this occurs, trade-offs should be considered such as reduced lane widths which can expand the pedestrian through zone or small building setbacks at key intersections and station areas that can help to provide more generous pedestrian areas over time.

In older downtowns and main street settings, constrained rights-of-way may make it difficult to implement pedestrian improvements. When this occurs, trade-offs should be considered such as reduced lane widths which can expand the pedestrian through zone or small building setbacks at key intersections and station areas that can help to provide more generous pedestrian areas over time.

 

  1. Establish a regular maintenance schedule and prioritize snow removal in winter months along high traffic routes and key streets leading to and from transit stops or station areas.Municipal Planning icon
  2. Design all streets with frequent opportunities for safe crossing at a signalized intersection, stop sign or activated crossing.District Planning icon

Reducing curb radii to the minimum required to accommodate turning vehicles can help to reduce crossing distances for pedestrians.

Reducing curb radii to the minimum required to accommodate turning vehicles can help to reduce crossing distances for pedestrians.

Recommended Resources

Pedestrian- and Transit-Friendly Design: A Primer for Smart Growth (Ewing)

Pedestrian Design Guidelines (City of Portland)

World Class Streets: Remaking New York’s Public Realm (New York City Department of Transportation)

Planning and Design for Pedestrians and Cyclists (Vélo Québec)

Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines (Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code (Canadian Standards Association)

Geometric design guide for Canadian roads (Transportation Association of Canada)

Geometric design standards for Ontario highways (Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

Walk and Roll Peel (Peel Region)

Walk 21

intersections

  1. Design intersections to balance the needs of pedestrians and vehicles by:
    • avoiding using right-turn channels and turning lanes that enable higher vehicle speeds and increase crossing points;
    • maintaining the minimum curb radii required to accommodate turning vehicles, in order to reduce their speed and minimize crossing distances for pedestrians;
    • providing pedestrian refuge points when crossings exceed 15m in length; and
    • incorporating unique pavement treatments or markings that can alert drivers and indicate pedestrian priority.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. At signalized intersections with high pedestrian traffic, consider the use of a pedestrian priority phase to enable simultaneous pedestrian crossings in all directions.Site Planning iconLarge Community iconCity icon
  3. Ensure intersections are clear of unnecessary obstructions and provide clear sight-lines to adjacent streets so that pedestrians can spot approaching vehicles.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

pedestrian pathways

  1. Pedestrian pathways can be used to shorten walking distances between destinations or provide access through natural areas, infrastructure easements or open spaces. Where possible, paths should be wide enough, with a suggested width of 1.8 m or more, to allow persons with strollers, wheelchair users and others to pass while remaining on the pathway.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Multi-use trails intended to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists need to be wide enough and have clear sightlines to accommodate users moving at different speeds, and should be clearly marked. Recommended widths and other design features are provided in the Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

bridges and overpasses

  1. Design bridges and overpasses to accommodate all users, for example by providing a sidewalk on either side of the structure. Appropriate widths and other features should be determined in consultation with relevant geometric standards and guidelines.Site Planning icon
  2. Design bridges to enable pedestrians to see from one end to the other for safety. Integrate ramps into the structure and provide direct connections to adjacent sidewalks.Site Planning icon
  3. On busy overpasses, the provision of planted or structural buffers between the sidewalk and street can help to enhance the sense of safety for pedestrians.Site Planning icon

2.2.3 Supporting Cyclists

The design of streets should help support the establishment of an extensive cycling network, creating safe and convenient streets for cyclists that are linked with transit, minimize conflicts between cyclists and other modes of transportation and contain amenities to support cycling.

While transit is best suited for medium- to long-distance commutes, cycling as a mode of transportation can be very effective for shorter trips and can accommodate multiple stops in between. The combination of cycling and transit creates an opportunity for commuters to cover longer distances while allowing them to conveniently reach destinations that may be up to 5 km from a stop or station. This can greatly extend the reach of a transit system, providing a level of service that is comparable to that of the private automobile.

Streets that have been designed solely for motorized vehicles can be intimidating for cyclists, placing them in conflict with other vehicles and pedestrians. The creation of a network of cycling–friendly streets and supportive infrastructure leading to and from transit will help to support and encourage users who otherwise may find it difficult to reach transit, or conversely may want to cycle from transit to their final destination. This is particularly important in rural and suburban environments where densities are low, destinations are dispersed and vehicular speeds are high.

Establishing a range of cycling infrastructure within a 3 to 5 km radius of transit stations can help to extend the reach of a transit network.

Establishing a range of cycling infrastructure within a 3 to 5 km radius of transit stations can help to extend the reach of a transit network.

Strategies:

networks

  1. Coordinate the identification and layout of bicycle routes with transit planning to enhance connections to transit stops and station areas.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. Bicycle networks should comprise a range of cycling accommodations (see above) that together establish a continuous, interconnected network throughout and between settlement areas. Identify routes that are attractive to cyclists, with direct connections between major destinations, slower traffic speeds and volumes and/or limited grade changes.Municipal Planning icon
  3. Avoid gaps or jogs in routes and connect existing gaps between routes over time. Using contraflow bike lanes on one way streets, indicated by pavement markings and clear signs, can be an effective strategy to connect gaps in the bike network.Municipal Planning icon

A dedicated bike crossing in Stockholm enables through cyclists to pass while turning cyclists are provided a place to wait for the appropriate signal.

A dedicated bike crossing in Stockholm enables through cyclists to pass while turning cyclists are provided a place to wait for the appropriate signal.

Clear, standardized signage will direct cyclists on the safest routes to reach their destination. Signage indicating the route number as well as distances and directions to key locations within the network will assist cyclists.

Clear, standardized signage will direct cyclists on the safest routes to reach their destination. Signage indicating the route number as well as distances and directions to key locations within the network will assist cyclists.

A free bicycle pump at a transit station in Stockholm helps to support cyclists travelling to and from the station area.

A free bicycle pump at a transit station in Stockholm helps to support cyclists travelling to and from the station area.

bike ways

  1. Establish signed cycling routes leading to and from station areas within a 3 to 5 km radius of rapid or regional transit stations.
    • Where possible, these routes should be dedicated curb-side bike lanes or marked, shared curb lanes with sufficient width to accommodate both motor vehicles and cyclists. A wider bike lane should be provided when adjacent to curb side parking to allow cyclists to pass safely when drivers exit their vehicles. Wider lanes may be also necessary depending on the vehicle volumes and levels of truck traffic. Recommended widths are identified within the Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines.
    • Highlighting dedicated bike lanes with a solid colour may help to alert drivers of their existence and enhance user safety. Lanes should be coloured with durable, slip-resistant and reflective material to prevent sliding when wet and improve visibility.
    • In rural settlement areas, bike lanes can be created by modifying a paved shoulder to provide a signed bike lane along concession roads leading to and from stops and/or station areas. Appropriate widths and other features of the bike lane will vary with truck and general traffic volumes and speeds.Municipal Planning iconSmall Community icon
  2. Municipalities should work with local enforcement officials to ensure that parking and stopping restrictions in bike lanes are enforced.Municipal Planning icon
  3. In areas where there are high levels of vehicular traffic or speed limits, for example, over 60 km/hr, the provision of segregated cycling facilities should be considered. Segregation can be achieved in a number of different ways, using bollards, concrete islands, boulevards with medians or other methods to separate and protect cyclists. When choosing a treatment, considerations should include location of driveways, space for manoeuvring around hazards, ease of maintenance, and the safety of pedestrians.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

There are a range of options for facilitating enhanced bicycle access. Decisions around the appropriate form of cycling accommodation should be based on an understanding of existing and planned land use conditions, traffic levels, rights-of-way restrictions and local ridership characteristics.

Dedicated bike lanes adjacent to sidewalks such as this Stockholm example create a safer environment for cyclists and facilitate plowing during winter months.

Dedicated bike lanes adjacent to sidewalks such as this Stockholm example create a safer environment for cyclists and facilitate plowing during winter months.

Multi-use trails can be used to provide access through natural areas, infrastructure easements or open spaces.

Multi-use trails can be used to provide access through natural areas, infrastructure easements or open spaces.

Physically-separated curb-side bike lanes such as this example from Montreal create a safe and secure dedicated environment for cyclists along busy streets.

Physically-separated curb-side bike lanes such as this example from Montreal create a safe and secure dedicated environment for cyclists along busy streets.

Painted, curb-side bike lanes such as this example from New York create a highly visible space for cyclists along busy streets.

Painted, curb-side bike lanes such as this example from New York create a highly visible space for cyclists along busy streets.

Where lane widths permit, shared curb lanes can be marked with sharrows (a pavement marking that typically incorporates a bicycle symbol and two chevrons) to indicate a shared vehicular and bicycle traffic lane.

Where lane widths permit, shared curb lanes can be marked with sharrows (a pavement marking that typically incorporates a bicycle symbol and two chevrons) to indicate a shared vehicular and bicycle traffic lane.

Signed secondary cycling routes along local streets with lower traffic volumes are an excellent way of connecting local neighbourhoods and destinations with more dedicated cycling facilities.

Signed secondary cycling routes along local streets with lower traffic volumes are an excellent way of connecting local neighbourhoods and destinations with more dedicated cycling facilities.

secondary routes

  1. Provide multi-use trails that are wide enough to accommodate segregated pedestrian and cyclist traffic and extend them to connect with transit facilities. Recommended widths and other design features are provided in the Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. Create signed, secondary cycling routes, sometimes known as ‘bicycle boulevards’, along lower-volume streets leading to transit stops/stations. Bicycle boulevards are most successful where they offer a comparable alternative to larger roads in terms of travel time. This can be facilitated through measures such as cyclist activated signals at major intersections.Municipal Planning icon

Thunder Bay - Cycling Education

Educating motorists and cyclists on sharing the road and the proper and safe use of bikeways can help promote complete streets and support cyclist safety. Thunder Bay produced a brochure on shared and dedicated bike lanes as part of its launch of active transportation routes on the City’s streets.

Active Transportation Thunder Bay

The use of bike boxes at intersections, indicated by clear pavement markings, can help to minimize conflicts between turning vehicles and cyclists. Bike boxes should be implemented where no right turns on red are allowed and supported by public education.

The use of bike boxes at intersections, indicated by clear pavement markings, can help to minimize conflicts between turning vehicles and cyclists. Bike boxes should be implemented where no right turns on red are allowed and supported by public education.

Recommended Resources

Case Study: Cycling Facilities

Integrating Bicycling and Public Transport in North America (Pucher and Buehler)

Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines (Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

Breaking Barriers to Bicycling: Bicycle Lanes Best Practices and Pilot Treatments (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission)

Planning and Design for Pedestrians and Cyclists (Vélo Québec)

Urban Bikeway Design Guide (National Association of City Transportation Officials)

Fundamentals of Bicycle Boulevard Planning & Design (Initiative for Bicycle & Pedestrian Innovation)

materials & maintenance

  1. Construct cycling routes with smooth sturdy paving material such as asphalt or concrete. Establish a regular maintenance schedule, including snow clearance, to ensure that all routes are clear of snow, significant debris or damage year round.Site Planning icon

wayfinding

  1. Create or utilize a standardized palette of street signage indicating the location of cycling facilities and distances to key destinations to promote safety, wayfinding and legibility.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. Posting cycling directions to and from major destinations within a 3 to 5 km radius of transit stations can raise awareness of cycling to transit for non-cyclists.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  3. Post signage along major streets directing cyclists to more bike–friendly routes leading to transit stop or station areas.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  4. Include cycling routes, bike locker and station locations on transit maps to direct cyclists to transit facilities and support integrated transit/cycling trips.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

intersections

  1. The use of bike boxes at intersections, where appropriate, may help to alert drivers and minimize conflicts between turning vehicles and cyclists continuing through the intersection.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. The use of cyclist-activated crossing signals can enhance crossing points for cyclists by reducing rights-of-way confusion.Site Planning icon

amenities

  1. The provision of bike racks, lockers and cycling amenities such as air pumps and drinking fountains at key destinations along a cycling route can help to support travel to and from station areas and facilitate quick convenience stops. This can be implemented through private-sector partnerships and development agreements, streetscape improvement programs or during the upgrade of transit facilities.Site Planning icon
  2. Enhance cyclist safety and prevent falls resulting from bicycle tires catching in grooves or gaps in the route by upgrading railway crossings and using drainage grates with narrow gaps, arranged perpendicular to the curb.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  3. Establish minimum bike parking requirements in zoning by-laws that outline requirements for different uses. Establish standards for the amount of bike parking and provision of other amenities which relate to development type, size and/or number of vehicle parking spaces. Generally, retail or commercial uses will require more short-term parking, while office and residential uses will require more secure facilities.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

2.2.4 Accommodating Buses in Mixed Traffic

Working within an understanding of the planned local and regional transit network, arterials and collectors should be designed to accommodate transit vehicles in a manner that enhances efficiency and ease of use while balancing the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorized vehicles.

For the majority of regions and municipalities, transit is accommodated on the streets, within a limited rights-of-way that is shared by other users. The way in which these streets are designed can have a significant impact on the operation of vehicles, enabling efficient travel, enhancing boarding conditions for passengers, minimizing conflicts with other users and enabling the provision of higher order transit in dedicated corridors over time.

Given the higher number of users per vehicle, it makes sense to provide both room and priority for transit vehicles within a street. Small streets that aren’t designed to accommodate transit and streets that accommodate transit as an afterthought can result in increased travel time, poor user experience and safety issues.

A contraflow lane in west London, permits buses to travel along a consistent linear route north and south through the city.

A contraflow lane in west London, permits buses to travel along a consistent linear route north and south through the city.

Strategies:

physical design

  1. Design designated transit routes to accommodate transit by providing limited grade changes, adequate lane widths and turning radii. Design standards should balance the needs of other users such as pedestrians and cyclists, for example by incorporating minimum turning radii at intersections and adequate space for cyclists within the rights-of-way.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon
  2. Ensure roads being used as bus routes conform to design standards for local collector roads, which govern surface and subsurface materials and depths.Site Planning icon
  3. Avoid one-way street systems that result in looped transit service. These can be confusing and inconvenient for transit users. Where this is an issue, consider the conversion of the street from a one-way to two-way street or the provision of a contraflow lane. Contraflow lanes can be effective for express buses with no stops in the contraflow lane, short distances without stops used to connect route gaps, or on roads with traffic islands to accommodate stops.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  4. The use of bus bays should be carefully considered depending on the circumstances. Bus bays can interfere with cyclists, result in increased street widths, which affects pedestrian crossings, and can make it difficult for buses to re-enter traffic in congested conditions. Installation of bus bays may be appropriate under the following circumstances:
    • Locations that are major trip generators where the bus could be stopped for a significant amount of time to load and unload passengers
    • Locations where there are specific safety and capacity concerns with the bus being stopped in a traffic lane.
    • At large scale arterials considering BRT service.
    Far side stops at intersections are preferred, supported by queue jump lanes for transit vehicles and signal priority where possible.Site Planning icon

Contraflow lanes on one-way streets can help to provide efficient service along transit corridors that is easy to understand for users.

Contraflow lanes on one-way streets can help to provide efficient service along transit corridors that is easy to understand for users.

Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires drivers to yield the right-of-way to buses leaving bus bays to merge with traffic. However, buses can still experience difficulty re-entering traffic from the bus bay when traffic is backed up.

Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires drivers to yield the right-of-way to buses leaving bus bays to merge with traffic. However, buses can still experience difficulty re-entering traffic from the bus bay when traffic is backed up.

Recommended Resources

Transit-Friendly Streets: Design and Traffic Management Strategies to Support Livable Communities (Transportation Research Board)

Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads (Transportation Association of Canada)

Geometric Design Standards for Ontario Highways (Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines (Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

safety for cyclists

  1. When transit vehicles will be sharing the street with cyclists, provide a curb lane wide enough to allow buses to pass cyclists safely. The appropriate lane width will vary depending on truck and general traffic volumes and speeds. Suggested widths are identified within the Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines.Site Planning icon

2.2.5 Transit Priority Measures

Transit priority measures aimed at improving the attractiveness of transit should seek to enhance travel times and reliability without infringing on pedestrians, cyclists and other users of the street.

Transit priority measures aim to improve transit travel times and enable the delivery of a more consistent level of transit service by providing priority to transit vehicles within the street rights-of-way. Transit priority is typically achieved through either the provision of exclusive lanes within the street or through a range of design interventions aimed at prioritizing transit operations where conflicts with other vehicles typically occur.

Given the higher number of users per vehicle, it makes sense to provide priority for transit vehicles within a street. The increased speed and reliability that transit priority measures can provide is an important strategy towards growing transit ridership and increasing modal split. In keeping with the principle of complete streets (Guideline 2.2.1) however, in a limited rights-of-way, these priority measures should be balanced against the potential impacts on users of the street, particularly pedestrians and cyclists who may be adversely affected.

Effective transit priority measures can result in a higher transit modal split. Where there is a potential shift of mode choice to transit, regions and municipalities could consider accepting higher volume to capacity ratios on their roadways. For example, where a typical volume to capacity ratio is 0.80 – 0.90, a level of service approaching 1.0 could be considered after implementing transit priority measures.

Queue jump lanes with signal priority can speed up transit vehicle flow at congested intersections.

Queue jump lanes with signal priority can speed up transit vehicle flow at congested intersections.

Strategies:

physical design

  1. High occupancy vehicle (HOV) or reserved transit lanes can enhance the efficiency and reliability of transit in congested urban settings. They can be implemented in a number of ways including:
    • on a paved widened median along a highway;
    • as either full-time or restricted to only peak traffic periods;
    • as a reversible median lane that changes direction according to peak traffic flow;
    • as reserved bus lanes or as mixed transit, cycling and multiple occupant vehicle lanes in downtown urban settings; or
    • through special signage and markings in existing curb lanes.
    HOV lane implementation requires careful study to demonstrate sufficient demand, particularly if lane conversion is being considered.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Effective enforcement is critical to the success of maintaining HOV and reserved bus lane priority and can be accomplished on a spot check basis or through camera technologies.Municipal Planning icon
  3. Reserved bus lanes can provide a higher level of priority and more predictable traffic flow for transit buses than HOV lanes, and accommodate transit stops if located in the right hand lane.Large Community iconBig City icon
  4. Where HOV lanes are intended for use by multiple occupant vehicles and cyclists, provide a curb lane wide enough to allow buses to pass cyclists safely. Suggested widths are identified within the Ontario Bikeways Planning and Design Guidelines.Municipal Planning icon

Bus-bulbs, such as this example in Portland, speed up boarding times while providing additional space in waiting areas.

Bus-bulbs, such as this example in Portland, speed up boarding times while providing additional space in waiting areas.

signal priority

  1. Adapting and providing priority traffic signals so that they are responsive to transit vehicles can speed up travel times on routes where congestion is anticipated and minimize delays (Guideline 3.1.3).Municipal Planning icon
  2. Identify intersections where transit vehicle delays are anticipated. The integration of queue jump lanes with signal priority at these locations can help to speed up travel times.Municipal Planning icon

street parking

  1. In limited rights-of-way where street parking creates friction with bus and cycle use, time-sensitive, restricted parking during peak hours can help to free up the flow of traffic supporting more efficient travel by buses, cyclists and motorized vehicles.District Planning icon
  2. Where street parking is provided, bus-bulbs can help to facilitate passenger loading and create space for passenger amenities.District Planning icon

dedicated transitways

  1. Design dedicated transit ways as integral streetscape elements that contribute to the image and character of the street.District Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon
  2. Encourage the integration of landscaping within dedicated right- of-ways to enhance the character and quality of the street for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.District Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon
  3. Make provision for both formalized and informal street crossings along dedicated transit-ways. Restricting crossings in mixed-use settings can disrupt local businesses and lead to dangerous situations as people attempt to bypass barriers.District Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon

planning strategies

  1. When protecting rights-of-way for future arterials, consider the eventuality of incorporating transit/HOV lanes.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

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