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Kelowna motorists and cyclists encouraged to think inside the box
The first on-street "bike box" in Kelowna has been installed at the intersection of Richter Street and Sutherland Avenue.
Bike boxes are used at intersections to designate a space for cyclists to wait at red lights and safely clear the intersection ahead of cars.
The bike box is indicated by a square green area and bike symbol on the pavement in front of the white vehicle stop line. The intersection of Richter and Sutherland was outfitted with the new markings earlier this week, and a second intersection, at Bernard Avenue and Richter Street, is expected to be completed this fall. While the markings are new in Kelowna, they are common in other cycling communities such as Vancouver, Surrey, Edmonton and Ottawa.
“It might take people some time to learn about them and adjust to the new arrangement, but we want people to ‘get behind the box’ and help make our streets safer for cyclists and other roadway users” said Mahesh Tripathi, traffic engineering technician with the city.
The new bike boxes will change how drivers and cyclists navigate through the intersection at Richter and Sutherland. Motorists must stop behind the green bike box on red lights. Right turns on red will not be permitted at intersections with bike boxes.
Cyclists will move into the green bike box on a red light, providing riders with a safer position to turn left.
When the light turns green, motorists and cyclists may move through the intersection as usual, with cyclists going first. Motorists turning right on a green will follow regular traffic rules by signalling and watching for cyclists to the right, the same as with any curb-side bike lane.
Along with bike boxes, new technology is being tested on traffic signals to detect cyclists.
“Our existing video detection system is only programmed to detect vehicles waiting at a red light,” said Atif Khan, traffic signals and systems supervisor with the city.
“We are testing new software that will also detect cyclists waiting at the intersection. This technology, paired with the green bike boxes, will make it a lot more convenient, faster and safer for cyclists to travel.”
Motorists are being advised to always drive aware of what and who is around them and share the road with cyclists.
The city says bike boxes significantly increase the visibility of cyclists at intersections, helping to avoid collisions and improving road safety for everyone.
"If everyone is predictable and abides by traffic rules, it significantly reduces the risk of an accident," said Tripathi.
"We're going to see more residents taking to the streets by bicycle as well as more pedestrians as our city and region continue to grow. When everyone is aware of others, we all make it to and from our destinations safely.”
Resources on cycling road markings and signals are available at kelowna.ca/transportation, under the cycling section.
For more information on cycling initiatives in the Central Okanagan, go to smartTRIPS.ca.