Intersections for Everyone

NCDOT has an evolving, laudable “Complete Streets” policy.

The Department describes Complete Streets as, “North Carolina’s approach to interdependent, multi-modal transportation networks that safely accommodate access and travel for all users.”

Since I work for the regional business community — and that invariably means we are looking for scalability — I began thinking of smaller elements of Complete Streets.

When it comes to transportation, it doesn’t take long to find us thinking about the intersection, since that is where the largest capacity, delay, and safety challenges occur across all modes.

My friendly suggestion is to focus on what I am referring to as “Intersections for Everyone.”

This is a people-centric approach — which focuses on and prioritizes vulnerable users — but that does not mean it is an anti-car one.

At a basic level, an intersection for everyone is one that provides a positive travel experience for pedestrians with a broad range of ambulatory abilities.

This means shorter crossing distances, which reduces crossing time for vulnerable users, and it also means less delay for perpendicular through vehicles.

This means pedestrian crossing guidance for people who are blind or deaf.

It also means effective transit service in the vicinity.

And it means automobile users are not unduly delayed in their journey.

And it means a welcome streetscape for everyone.

As a practical matter, it means that you don’t widen the streets for more cars in most cases. It means you avoid putting in dedicated turn lanes in many cases, and the ones you do add are at tighter curve radii and perhaps gained by narrowing lane widths elsewhere.

It means that you might create a dedicated RED transit lane or a queue jump for buses – often by reallocating space from other uses at the intersection.

An intersection for everyone focuses on signal timing, phasing, and efficiency to reduce delay and stress for everyone. It means adding leading through intervals (LTI) to provide positive temporal protection for pedestrians without unduly delaying through travelers in vehicles or on bicycles.

This is an evolving concept – but I wanted to share you with my current thinking on it, and its potential to get the intersections “right” — and save time, money, and stress for all users as a result.

Let’s get moving,

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA executive director

RTA is the voice of the regional business community on transportation in the Research Triangle area.
RTA represents more than 100 leading businesses and 25 member chambers of commerce in central and eastern North Carolina.


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