Conflicts among drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians lead to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries each year. Transportation researchers want to solve the problem by redesigning intersections so that all kinds of traffic have their place, and can keep an eye on one another.

Robert Brydia, a senior researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, says the Netherlands, where bike ridership is high, is an innovator in designing intersections that support cars, bikes and pedestrians. Brydia and his team have built what’s called a ‘Dutch junction’ on the A&M campus to demonstrate the concept.

“In a typical intersection … you tend to have a lot of interactions between bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles,” Brydia says. “[A Dutch junction] intersection tries to delineate those paths more than has been done previously, and tries to eliminate the conflict points between motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Though the layout of a Dutch junction is slightly altered, it’s the way cyclists and pedestrians interact with cars that’s really unusual.

“In a typical intersection, the stop bars for vehicles are very close to the intersection. So in a Dutch junction, you pull those stop bars back a little bit,” Brydia says. “Let’s say you pull them back ten feet. It doesn’t really effect the delay or anything through the intersection – a car can cover 10 feet from a stop fairly quickly, but what that does is it allows the pedestrians and bicyclists to move up into that area in front of the driver and off to the right at any given approach leg, and make them much more visible.”

Cyclists move through the intersection differently, too.

“The other part of the Dutch junction is that we create islands and special pathways [for] pedestrians and bicyclists to keep them in front of the view of the driver at all times,” Brydia says. “And finally, we ask bicyclists not to make left turns going straight across the intersection from the vehicle lane. We ask them to follow a route where you go across the intersection in full view of the motorist and make a left turn on the other side of the intersection.”

Written by Shelly Brisbin.

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