Improving Cycling Safety On the Ground: Edmonton’s Approach to Conducting Bicycle-Specific In-Service Road Safety Review

Author(s): Sarah Freigang, Brian Patterson

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted):

5C - Freigang and Patterson


Cycling is an important and growing form of transportation in Edmonton for both commuting and recreational purposes. In 2011, the Canadian National Household Survey found that cycling accounted for 1.4% of trips to work in the City – an increase from 1.1% of all trips to work in 2006.

The City of Edmonton recognizes the importance of cycling as part of a multi-modal transportation system and is committed to providing safe, comfortable, and well-connected bicycle facilities for both residents and visitors. The City of Edmonton updated and approved a Bicycle Transportation Plan to guide the installation of bicycle infrastructure within the City in 2009. Since then, the City has implemented many of the recommendations of the 2009 Bicycle Transportation Plan. Between 2010 and 2013, the City installed over 65 kilometres of on-street bicycle routes.

The City of Edmonton has been monitoring the performance of the bicycle network on an on-going basis in recent years, including conducting bicycle counts and motor vehicle speed and volume surveys on bicycle routes; assessing bicycle–motor vehicle conflicts and behaviour; and reviewing intersection signal timings and operations. The City has also conducted additional surveys, including focus groups, to gain an understanding of local cycling characteristics.

The City of Edmonton recently undertook a comprehensive assessment of several recently implemented on-street bicycle facilities. The purpose of this study was to conduct an independent in-service review of three recently implemented on-street bicycle corridors: 95 Avenue NW, 106 Street NW, and 40 Avenue NW. An in-service road safety review is a process for systematically assessing the safety of an existing road, based on road safety engineering principles, and undertaken from the road users’ perspective.

In particular, the independent bicycle route in-service road safety review was conducted to provide a comprehensive analysis of specific on-street bicycle facilities located within the City of Edmonton. This included a review of these facilities to assess their safety performance and to determine if these routes are successfully meeting their intended needs, not only for cyclists but for all road users. This study included a comprehensive review of collision data, a geometric review of the facility design, a review of stakeholder input and human factors, as well as a review of traffic operations. This also included in-depth site observations of all three corridors – on bicycles, on foot, and in vehicles, and at various times of day – to experience the corridors from a user perspective. This review allowed the project team to identify any elements which may have a negative safety impact on the safety performance of each facility, and to provide a comprehensive package of recommended mitigation measures for consideration by the City of Edmonton, including critical improvements, including classification of all recommendations as “required”, “recommended”, or “optional:.

Although in-service road safety reviews are common in many Canadian cities, this study was unique by explicitly focusing on bicycle facilities and considering the unique needs and interests of cyclists to ensure the facilities are safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. There are many unique aspects to cyclists which must be considered in a unique approach to an in-service road safety review and this presentation will provide lessons learned to other Canadian communities wanting to improve the safety and operational performance of bicycle facilities.