Copenhagen: transit platform and bike lane

Copenhagen bus platform

One of the tricky aspects of the planned pedestrian and transit improvements to Roncesvalles is the TTC’s desire to put transit-boarding platforms right beside the streetcar tracks to enable fully accessible boarding by wheelchairs (not to mention baby strollers and anyone with mobility difficulties) when their new low-platform cars come into service. The problem is that this doesn’t leave enough room for bikes to go by safely on the road, because the platforms squeeze them too close to the dangerous tracks (when there’s a streetcar boarding, of course, bikes wouldn’t be passing anyway, because that’s not supposed to happen …).

The city is trying to design a system for providing a way for bikes to get by without getting tangled up with people waiting for the streetcar. So I was interested, while I was in Copenhagen earlier this summer, to see that they had worked out a quick-and-dirty way of making this work. On a street called Norrebrogade where they took out a lane of traffic, they made a simple asphalt transit platform, and routed the bike lane behind it. You can see in the photo above that the bus stop sign is still where it used to be, on the sidewalk. But people can just wait on the new platform while bikes go behind them. The bike path behind the platform is raised so that the trip to the platform is level, but it’s pretty clear to everyone which part is platform and which part is bike lane. I don’t know if they’re planning on making these a little more developed in the future.

This particular solution might not be feasible on Roncesvalles because there might not be enough space and because part of the point of the project is to expand sidewalk space at corners. As well, given it’s an “improvement” project, I would expect whatever they put on the new Roncesvalles to look better. But it does show that there are often simple solutions to these problems. You can see in the pic below that cyclists are warned of the shift in direction and/or the change in grade by blue paint on the road.

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8 comments

  1. It would not be simpler to keep the boarding platform on the bike lane, level with the sidewalk, and just slope a little bit the short edges of the boarding platform, like a speed bump with less slope ?

  2. you neednt go as far as copenhagen to see solutions:

    montreal has these elevated platforms in their bike lanes things all over the place.

  3. Thanks for this, Dylan!

    Nick W. and Christian are correct. The plan is for transit riders to board the streetcar from a raised bike path running alongside the widened sidewalk. If the raised bike paths are graded properly, the ride should be perfectly smooth for cyclists. You can read a more detailed description here: http://www.roncesvallesvillage.ca/?p=434

    The advantage of the Roncesvalles concept over the Copenhagen example is that the transit waiting area would not be in the middle of the road, cut off from the main sidewalk. Instead, the waiting area would be multi-use, remaining as part of a widened sidewalk. The Copenhagen example shows a very narrow sidewalk, and it seems a shame that two metres or so of space have been cut off, unusable by pedestrians. Similarly, there is a Portland example in the Roncy Environmental Assessment report that also cuts off a substantial amount of space.

    There remains the question of ensuring that the final design is coherent, attractive and safe for all users. I understand that the City is planning community consultations in the late summer or early fall to discuss the transit platforms and other Roncesvalles design issues(a previously-scheduled meeting was cancelled due to the strike), and the BIA hopes for high levels of public participation, especially from those knowledgeable about clever road-sharing ideas used in Copenhagen or elsewhere.

  4. Interesting idea of putting bicycle racks at the end of the bicycle by-pass, forcing the bicyclists to slow down again when they merge back into traffic. The ramp up to the by-pass would be the first slow-down for the bicyclists.

  5. Um, wouldn’t it be easier (and cheaper) just to pull up next to the already existing sidewalk?

    That way, cars could at least go around while the bus loads. Bikes have to wait either way.

  6. John Bowker > that’s a great article you refer to, thanks. I agree with the idea that in the proposed Roncesvalles solution, the raised part beside the streetcar stop needs to be presented as a traffic lane for bikes that happens to be level with the sidewalk so transit riders can cross when it’s time to board, rather than as a transit platform. I think that clarifies the potential confusion – my concern, as with many others, was that transit riders would end up standing on this space and get entangled with cyclists.

    If they can get it to work, this Roncesvalles solution is certainly more efficient in terms of use of space than the Copenhagen solution, since it allows some widening of the sidewalk at the same time.

  7. @skube: when buses have to pull into and out of the curb lane to pick up passengers ( in order to avoid inconveniencing motorists), two things happen:

    -the bus lurches around as it shifts lanes, resulting in rider discomfort
    -the bus inevitably has some delay merging back into traffic (no matter how kind/law-abiding the passing motorists in the travel lane); for each stop this delay is small, but over the course of a longer route, it adds up

    Note also that this solution avoids the problem of illegal parking in bus stop zones and makes it possible for trams and buses to use the same stop/platform.

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