I have had an ongoing discussion with Ramsey County Engineer Joey Lundquist regarding the Hodgson project. As part of this conversation we’ve discussed a safe route to school (Chippewa Middle School) for a young girl living on Floral Ct in Shoreview. With the addition of two refuge islands here is her ‘safe’ route to school.
Something I neglected to mention is that a properly designed refuge island should increase driver attention. This is typically done by narrowing the motorway lane by the refuge with both curbs and whatever reinforcement is used to protect people waiting in the refuge. This island design does not do that.
So your and by extension Nicole’s and Cory’s recommended safe route to school (and DQ and friend’s houses and extra-activities) for Isabelle and her friends then is:
1) Ride on the sidewalk to one of the refuge crossings. They will be sharing this sidewalk with adults and children walking, pushing baby strollers and using assistive devices such as walkers or canes.
There is a high probability that one or more of them will be riding e-bikes capable of being powered to 20 MPH on these sidewalks.
2) Cross at an Unprotected Refuge. Cross the northbound lane of traffic to the unprotected refuge (example below). Wait in the refuge until it is clear to cross the southbound lane. Note that these children may be standing there for several minutes and sometimes in the dark, rain, fog or snow. They will be sandwiched between traffic going 50+ MPH just inches away from them.
The example refuge you provided, like others in Ramsey County provides zero protection from inattentive drivers, drivers wanting to pass other drivers, drivers who cannot see the refuge clearly due to rain, fog or snow, or drivers who’ve lost control due to rain, ice or snow.
One of the most basic tenets of pedestrian, bicycle and disabled safety is that anywhere they can be, so can or should a reinforced barrier such as a concrete filled steel bollard, k-rail, or concrete planter. If there is too much risk in installing concrete barriers, then there is too much risk to put a child there.
This refuge may actually increase danger if it provides a false sense of security.
In addition; the example refuge appears quite narrow and the crossing distance quite long. A refuge should also have sharp curbs facing drivers that channel them in such a way that extended mirrors are not a danger to people waiting in the refuge or waiting to cross. It is safest for crossings to be placed away from the radius for both shorter crossing distance and better attention from drivers. It should include sharks teeth to make it clear to everyone who has right-of-way (I presume motor traffic will have ROW and ped/bike given teeth).
3) Ride contra-flow on the sub-standard MUT/Bikeway. MNDOT calls for a MUT/Bikeway such as this to be at least 10’ wide as do most countries that still allow mixed-use (an increasing number will no longer allow mixed use in built-up areas as they have proven dangerous and uncomfortable). This is two-way and includes mixed pedestrian (3 MPH) and bicycle/disabled (9-13 MPH or 20 MPH w/ e-bikes) traffic.
This MUT/Bikeway has about half of users (all of those heading northbound such as Isabelle and her friends) riding contra-flow to traffic which is quite dangerous at driveway and side road junctions as many drivers look only to their left for approaching vehicles that are a threat to them and do not look to their right for bicycle riders they might kill.
Both of these have been problems on the 10’ bi-directional MUT/Bikeway north of 96 (as have complaints of children riding on the sidewalk). The area of this project has 3-4 times the population density of the area north of 96 and so presumably 3-4 times the walking, bicycle and disabled traffic.