It’s a little piece of traffic architecture I’ve seen dozens of times, but never really stopped to appreciate. Your own opinion of it may vary depending on whether you walk, bike, or drive, perhaps even more so if you live in the neighbourhood. I’m talking about the lovely curved garden at what would otherwise be the intersection of Kings and Blackwood, at the very tip of a very nice mid-urb neighbourhood between Cook and Hillside.
According to my new favourite website, TrafficCalming.org, this lovely structure is called a Diagonal Diverter, and is one of the many patterns available for traffic engineers wishing to control traffic volume and speed. The idea behind this diverter in particular is to slow traffic coming off Cook and Hillside, two major arteries in this part of town, and to discourage non-local traffic from using this residential neighbourhood as a shortcut. After being stuck in traffic heading up Hillside the other day, (a truck had stalled at the top of one of the two lanes), I really appreciated the benefit the diverter supplies. If through traffic were allowed here, these side streets would become clogged and noisy whenever congestion occurs on the hill.
TrafficCalming.org reports a 35% decrease in traffic volume on average when this structure is employed, a number I assume to be conservative in this case, what with Cook and Hillside so close by. Barring the costs of construction (which in this case have obviously been completed already) TrafficCalming only cites “circuitous routes for local residents and emergency services” as a drawback to diagonal diverters. Both sides of the divider have several routes for access, so I imagine this drawback is negligible as well.
It also doesn’t hurt to have the nice Victoria-style garden growing on top. When I walk through as a pedestrian it feels like the best crosswalk in the world. Always open to foot traffic, nice-smelling, colourful, etc. The handy through-paths make the diverter permeable to cyclists as well. As a matter of fact, cycling down Kings from the East side of Hillside is just a lot of fun the whole way down. There’s that great ramp leading down to Cook, the implied crosswalk to get to the other side, then straight through the diverter and down a long hill into Quadra Village. Just look at what fun these kids were having!
I haven’t been able to figure out when this diverter was constructed, but that’s probably because I still have a lot to learn about navigating the city’s map archives (incidentally, City of Victoria, if you need a volunteer or paid employee to help set up a GIS viewer for the municipality, let me know. Saanich has an excellent one and I’d love to see Victoria catch up in that department). Anyway, kudos to the planners who came up with this one. It is really a golden example of how a tiny piece of traffic architecture can make a big difference with few to no drawbacks.
Coming soon: I have a triple-threat record review. New (Polaris nominated) Patrick Watson album, new Dirty Projectors, and everyone’s new and future favourite band, Alabama Shakes. Later on I hope to do a post (or several) on Victoria’s new Official Community Plan. Stay tuned!