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Provisions for soft modes

Aalborg

Aalborg’s old harbour is re-developing into a new urban area. It is designed to create a safe and secure environment for soft modes of transport.

Redeveloped area on Østerbro
Implementing sustainable mobility

Areas around Aalborg’s waterfront are currently being re-developed as a leisure area. The city wants to avoid that this development comes with an increase in car traffic and would like the waterfront to be characterised by cycling and walking. The city narrowed the main road between the city centre and the waterfront from four down to two lanes.

In the Østerbro area, which is in front of the cultural hub “Nordkraft” close to the habour front, the city of Aalborg has established an area of shared space to provide for soft modes.

The redesign of the area is expected to contribute to general traffic safety in the area and to ensure a better environment for particularly vulnerable citizens such as the elderly, disabled people and children. The main objectives of the measure are to:

  • Increase the use of soft modes;
  • Reduce car traffic; and
  • Reduce the number of accidents.

Aalborg has the goal to reduce the number of accidents that result in injuries or worse by 40 percent by 2012 compared to 2005 levels.  Bicycle accidents currently account for 30 percent of accidents in the project area, which is above city average. If the increasing number of cyclists is to be sustained, this safety issue will need to be addressed and this measure is foreseen to make a significant contribution towards this end. It is also seen as an important element to build strong links between the city centre and the new part of town as it will facilitate pedestrian movement between the two areas.

How did the measure progress?

The area is shared by cars and cyclists and an area is allocated to pedestrians. Since it is a shared space, the areas are not separated by kerbs but instead marked out by different kinds of pavement. This is done to make motorists aware of other road users and hence lower their speed.

Several features are part of the redevelopment of the area into an area with provision for soft modes. In general the overall objective of the project is to make the road a shared space, which means that there is no physical separation between the different modes of transport and no signals. Instead an integrated, people-oriented understanding of public space is strived for.

The project was finished in June 2011. The following specific features are part of the project

  • Removal of traffic lights: The traffic lights at the intersection Østerbro/ Kjellerupsgade have been removed. This has been done to secure a consistency within the shared space and to ensure that in all parts of the road, the road users have to pay attention to each other.
  • Road width: The road is designed to be only 6.25 metres wide which is to secure a low speed in the area. The road is not wide enough for cars and buses to overtake cyclists and therefore they have to lower their speed and stay behind them. This should also contribute to the cyclists’ traffic safety.
  • 30 km/h zone: In the entire shared space area, the speed limit is 30 km/h whereas in the surrounding areas the speed limit is 50 km/h. This is to heighten traffic safety for the vulnerable road user.
  • Different kinds of pavement: Different kinds of pavement are used to reserve areas for pedestrians, cars and bicycles.
  • Design: Different kinds of design elements like trees, light bollards, two watches, and painted pavement have been implemented.
What were the outcomes of the measure?

The measure has been evaluated through traffic counts, registration of accidents and through an attitude among cyclists and pedestrians using the area. Results of the evaluation show that:

  • The number of vehicles at the street has increased with nearly 13% as expected due to the changed use of the harbour front, especially Nordkraft. However, the average speed level in the area has decreased by 3,1 km/h and the 85% quartile has decreased by 5,8 km/h. The decrease in speed level indicates that the redevelopment has had the intended positive effect on the speed levels and thus on traffic safety.
  • The number of cyclists in a normal weekday counted in May 2010 before the reconstruction of the street was 3400 cyclists. After the reconstruction in September 2011 the number of cyclist was 3050 cyclists, and in September 2012 the daily number of cyclists was 2350. This indicates a decrease in the number of cyclists. The redevelopment of the area had as a consequence that dedicated cycle lanes were removed and cycling were integrated in the shared space traffic, including the growing numbers pedestrians in the area. These changes have in fact caused that the cyclist feel less safe than before. As a consequence some of the cyclists now prefer alternative routes.
  • In the survey, most of the respondents are young cyclists and frequent users of the area. In general, most respondents (82 %) are satisfied or very satisfied with the area. The respondents think it is safe for pedestrians to travel in the area (80 %) while they regard it as rather unsafe for cyclists (44 %). It is remarkable that a high share of the respondents (48 %) state that the shared space is not functioning very well.
  • The number of accidents registered in a year after the end of the construction work is lower than expected, both outsides the rebuild area, and none accidents with pedestrians or cyclists is registered. However, there are statistically uncertainties related to this short time, and even though the results indicates a positive effect on the safety, no firm conclusions on the effect can be given.

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