According to ICBC data, the intersection at Pender Street and Abbott Street is one of Vancouver’s hot spots for collisions between vehicles and people walking and cycling. To understand why, in August 2015 Slow Streets conducted public space observations at the intersection to determine how people are getting there and how they are interacting at the intersection. Overall, we observed over 3,500 people walking and cycling, and over 1,400 vehicles.
People walking and cycling account for 49% of all people moving through the intersection. Slow Streets found that the wide crossing distance (17 meters) and short traffic light timing (13 seconds) are main factors in creating a dangerous intersection for people walking and cycling. After documenting the walking speeds of all ages and abilities crossing Pender St., it was determined that only 16% of people can cross Pender St. within the minimum legal traffic light timing. This is in spite of people walking accounting for 65% of all people moving North-South along Abbott St., which is on average 28% more people per hour than the number of people driving East-West.
When you examine the vehicular traffic, only 17% of vehicular traffic on Pender St. is left turning. Meanwhile only one third of the available vehicular capacity is being used on the remaining 3 lanes on Pender St. Therefore to improve safety, Slow Streets proposes reallocating the 3-meter left turning lanes for curb extensions on Pender St. using 1.5 meter floating medians. This will not only reduce the Pender St. crossing distance from 17 to 14 meters but it will protect both people walking and cycling from vehicular traffic. Reducing the crossing distance will change the number of people walking that can successfully cross Pender St. within the legal traffic light timing from 16% to 50%.
At Slow Streets we believe in a safe and inclusive travel environment for everyone. Our report Intersection Repair: Pender St. & Abbott St. demonstrates how cities can make a safer street for everyone by simply reallocating street space in a more efficient and equitable way.