Cycling Stories

The WiggleJune is bike month, so get ready for a long list of cycling-related links and ranks.

I hope everyone participated in Bike to Work Day and the Commuter Challenge – both of which are now over. Sorry for not posting earlier.

Waterloo – Bike Sharing program on the way (like Velib in Paris).

Winnipeg – Cyclists fight for space

Vancouver – Bike Survey – tell the city what you think.

And for everyone’s enjoyment, Stupider Bike Lanes

In Vancouver, the cycling issue is what to do about the Burrard Bridge. It’s been a hot topic in the news since it was revealed that widening side walks would cost $57 million (CBC). The reason sidewalk widening is being considered is right now an increasing number of cyclists and pedestrians are forced to share a small 2.6m wide sidewalk, which leads to very unsafe conditions for everyone, except maybe the people whizzing by in the 6 lanes devoted to cars. For a complete history of what prompted the move for sidewalk widening (which dates back to 2004 when a cyclist almost died) see Wikipedia.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on what the solution should be:
– Gordon Price wants a pedestrian bridge or passerelle.
– Peter Ladner (the man who helped kill the lane relation) thinks sidewalk widening is a wise a good idea, but thinks it can be done cheaper than $60 million.
– Many others, including cyclists, say slap down some paint and reallocate some of those traffic lanes.

On one side of the debate is the West Side car commuters (and the politicians who pander to them) who argue that losing lanes will only create gridlock. I have a few counter-arguments for that.

1) According to the City of Vancouver’s guidelines, “CityPlan puts walking, cycling, and transit ahead of cars to cut down on traffic congestion and improve the environment.” If we improve cycling conditions, more people will use cycling as a commuting option. Right now, cycling over the Burrard Bridge is a pretty intimidating experience.

2) The number of lanes on the bridge isn’t the bottleneck. It’s the traffic lights on either end that slow people down. My living room window overlooks the Burrard Bridge and I watch rush hour traffic every morning. Very rarely do the lanes back up even halfway down the bridge. I tried finding my webcam, because I wanted to create a time-lapse video to illustrate this point, but I think it’s in Winnipeg.

3) The Granville Bridge has lots of unused capacity and is only a few blocks away from the Burrard Street Bridge. If traffic did start to pile up with less lanes, drivers would just change their habbits and use that bridge more often, thereby lessening congestion.

Cycling Lanes on Burarrd BridgeIn my opinion the ideal solution would involve removing one or two lanes of traffic and creating bike lanes. If you only removed one lane, you could then create a middle lane that moved in the direction of rush hour (like on the Lions Gate Bridge) and either allow anyone to use it or save it for busses – allowing busses to by-pass any congestion that did build up.

The image is from the original engineering report (PDF) done in 2005.

The cost of reallocation lanes to cyclists would be around $1 million. You could then use the other $59 million to spend on other projects. You could even build a pedestrian bridge to Granville Island in addition to the cycling lanes on the bridge. Why both? Because they serve different audiences. The lanes on the bridge would be used by commuters and would serve to move cyclists off the sidewalks so that pedestrians feel safer on the Burrard Bridge. The pedestrian bridge to Granville Island would serve the recreational seawall crowd, and would serve to make Granville Island more accessible.

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