The Dougall Tunnel – A few tweaks would make it even safer for Cyclists and Pedestrians

It took decades of advocacy, but cyclists and pedestrians travelling between South Windsor and Downtown are thrilled that there is finally a safe route that keeps them separated from vehicles speeding through the Dougall rail underpass.  The new infrastructure has a lot to recommend it, however there are a few issues that merit a closer look: 

  1. The pedestrian/cycle crossing at the new intersection at Ouellette Place
  2. Missing cycling infrastructure to connect the trail to the Eugenie bike lanes
  3. The pedestrian crossing at South Cameron
  4. Missing connection from the trail to the South Cameron bike lanes
  5. ‘Cyclists Dismount’ signs littering the trail
4 places that could be improved

1. The new intersection at Ouellette Place has made it safer for cars to enter into traffic from Dougall Avenue but it is still a dangerous hot spot for cyclists and walkers.  The pedestrian crossing light is refreshingly long, however, the vehicles turning on to Dougall from the northbound lane are only watching for cars in the southbound lane – not noticing that someone is waiting to cross on the crosswalk.

Vehicles continually drive through the crosswalk as people are crossing

2. There is no cycling infrastructure connecting the new trail to the Eugenie bike lanes.  Although it is a relatively short stretch, there is a high volume of traffic there and few riders will find it comfortable to ride there. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of the drivers on this stretch of road are concentrating on their upcoming merges and turns and not paying attention to vulnerable road users.

Biking from the north end of the Dougall Trail to the Eugenie bike lanes

3. The pedestrian crossing at South Cameron boasts large ‘Stop for Pedestrians’ signs and a bright new painted crosswalk. We crossed this section of roadway at the crosswalk 6 times and were forced back to the trail as a vehicle drove through the crossing without slowing down 5 times out of 6.  The problem here may not be poor design but dangerous, distracted drivers.

4. The connection from the trail to South Cameron bike lanes is poor. Although the bike lanes are quite close to the trail, they don’t actually connect.  This creates a situation where a cyclist is forced either up onto the sidewalk or into traffic at a potentially dangerous spot.

5. There are 5 ‘Cyclist Dismount’ signs each way on the 600 metres of trail between the tunnel and Grand Marais Road West.  Let that sink in a moment . . . a cyclist is expected to stop and get off their bicycle, and to walk beside it almost every 100 metres.  Not only is this a ludicrous expectation of cyclists, but it fails to conform to the Ontario Transportation Manual Book 18 guidelines. We will be devoting an entire post to this issue in the coming days.

The Dougall Tunnel and Trail are a wonderful step forward for pedestrians and cycling commuters –  providing a much safer and scenic ride through what once was a dark and dangerous bottleneck.  The improvements we’re recommending will make it that much safer.         

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