There are hundreds of thousands of intersections in California, but less than 30 of them are protected and none of those protected intersections are located in the Central Valley. Looking to change that, the City of Visalia plans to make the first one in the area and add even more to the list after they hear from community members.
A protected intersection is specially designed to maintain physical separation between different modes of transportation. This means that drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians have dedicated paths and are protected with enhanced safety measures and other benefits.
In fact, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, states that the protected intersection design “can reduce the likelihood of highspeed vehicle turns, improve sightlines, and dramatically reduce the distance and time during which people on bikes are exposed to conflicts.”
Some of the most prominent and distinctive features of protected intersections are corner islands that protect the bike lane and tighten turns for vehicles, setbacks that ensure bikes are more visible for drivers who are turning, pedestrian islands that improve visibility and reduce time needed for pedestrians to cross, and distinct zones for all modes of transportation to wait for their turn to cross the intersection.
The closest protected intersections to Visalia are the two that have been constructed in San Luis Obispo. Since this would be a new street feature within Visalia and surrounding communities, the City of Visalia has launched a survey so residents can share their opinions and have a say in how transportation evolves in their community.
“Like most things that are new and different, the application needs to be done carefully by taking local input into consideration,” said City of Visalia Civil Engineer, Diego Corvera. “That public feedback is critical to the engineering process to ensure we are capturing local concerns and context in our designs. It is also very important to make sure that the public understands the engineering behind their publicly funded streets and the reason for certain design elements.”
The survey is available in both English and Spanish at www.bit.ly/
Once the survey closes, the City of Visalia will use the data collected to make informed decisions regarding the construction of the first protected intersection with raised corner islands not only in Visalia, but in the Central Valley: Riggin Ave. and Giddings St. in northeast Visalia.
Riggin and Giddings was chosen to be a protected intersection due to its proximity to an elementary school, Riverway Sports Park, and shopping destinations, but primarily because of its location in the second section of the Riggin Widening Project. (For more information on the Riggin Widening Project, visit www.visalia.city/
Whenever a widening project occurs, it offers engineers the opportunity to reconfigure roadway striping or improve traffic patterns. What makes the second section of the Riggin Widening Project (Mooney Blvd. to Conyer St.) even more attractive for a protected intersection is that a local frontage road was already planned to further protect different modes of transportation along Riggin.
The addition of the frontage road makes for ideal conditions to efficiently and cost-effectively transform the intersection to a protected design. Construction for Section 2 of the Riggin Widening Project is expected to start in early 2024, so feedback on making that transformation as part of the project is crucial before work begins.
Although the current survey focuses on a protected intersection at Riggin and Giddings, the City of Visalia will be utilizing the data collected to consider adding more protected intersections throughout the city.
Similar to Riggin and Giddings being part of a widening project, the intersection of County Center and Ferguson was also selected for consideration due to its location being part of a rehabilitation project as well as its proximity to an elementary school and multi-use trail. However, this location will only have striped corner islands versus the raised corner islands proposed at Riggin and Giddings.
“We will be able to collect better data at these two locations to then decide if intersections with more traffic in the city are a good fit for this new design,” added Corvera. “It’s an exciting project because protected intersections may also give students, parents, and community members the confidence to travel by bicycle or other non-vehicular modes for some of their trips…in turn reducing the number of vehicles on the road and improving overall safety, traffic congestion, and air quality across the city in the long term.”
To be part of this project, Visalians are encouraged to share their feedback by taking the city’s survey before November 10. For more information on protected intersections in Visalia, visit www.visalia.city/
If community members have questions or would like more information, Corvera can be reached at (559) 713-4209 or [email protected].