Nanaimo has been developing its Complete Street Design Guideline while in parallel putting it into practice on the Metral Drive corridor, showcasing sustainable urban transportation design in the City. The guidelines set a high bar for all future street design, reallocating the right-of-way in an equitable manner and managing conflicts safely.
The immediate implementation of the guidelines on Metral Drive will demonstrate how such designs can contribute to community wellbeing by providing a safe environment that enables people to choose active and healthier travel options while also enhancing the streetscape. Metral Drive currently has varying levels of pedestrian provision from sidewalks to gravel shoulders and no cycling provisions. The inconsistencies are not conducive to attracting people out of their cars. Using the guidelines to develop the Metral Drive detailed design, the City will provide people, regardless of their age, income or physical ability, with safe travel options to the Woodgrove Centre, one of Nanaimo’s key mobility and economic hubs. While the guideline recommends best practice levels of space and separation, it also includes retrofit guidance and speaks to how similar outcomes can be achieved for lower costs or in constrained rights of way.
The guideline and Metral Drive design include many best practices, but most innovative is the adoption of Dutch design principles prioritizing active modes through design with continuous sidewalks and bike paths across local roads. While this old design technique is often used in Europe, we believe it has not been fully implemented in Canada.
To understand the value this would add to the Canadian context and confirm our belief that this technique has not been widely adopted, the team queried many well-respected planners, engineers, and advocates through twitter to try and find examples of such designs. It revealed nobody in Canada appears to be adopting such designs and Nanaimo aims to change that! Metral Drive will provide a Canadian showcase for Dutch-style intersections in Canada prioritizing the safety of our most vulnerable and will position Nanaimo as an example of best practice for all communities in Canada to reference.