The Paths to Peace

Reducing Conflicts Between People Walking and Cycling

Our cities are quieter, healthier and more livable when we travel under our own power by walking or cycling. And, in general, are safer places for everyone as well. Still, with more people doing both, conflicts occur that can lead to injuries and in rare circumstances, death.Burrard Bridge

Sidewalk cycling is not allowed in most cases and can be dangerous for both those walking and cycling. Riding on the sidewalk opposite the flow of traffic is particularly unsafe due to left turning traffic. In Vancouver last year, it proved to be more dangerous for cyclists than pedestrians with both cycling fatalities last year involving sidewalk cycling. In the case of the tragedy on the Lions Gate Causeway, cyclists are required to use the sidewalk as cycling on the road is prohibited.

The two cycling related fatalities in the last decade have occurred when the pedestrian was crossing a road. In both cases, the causality was an older man. As is the case with motor vehicle crashes, we fare worse as we age. In the one on Main Street a few years ago, there was no indication that the cyclist was at fault. Still, a tragic incident reminding us all we need to slow down a bit and be careful on the road.

Unlike collisions involving motor vehicles, injuries crashes between cyclists and pedestrians and cyclists with other cyclists are not tracked in a systematic way making it difficult to know the extent of the problem. The Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment study which examined hundreds of injuries to cyclists in Vancouver and Toronto found that around 4% of cycling collisions involved pedestrians. By comparison, almost 70% involved motor vehicles.

The Provincial Government, TransLink and municipalities continue to make improvements that governments that reduce conflicts and make cycling and walking safer. Still, its a big province. There is a lot of work still to be done.

Many of the older bridges in the region have sidewalks and approaches that are simply too narrow for cyclists and pedestrians to share without conflicts happening. Fortunately, the Province is widening the sidewalks on Ironworkers Memorial Bridge as we speak. Improvements are still needed on the south approaches. The City of Vancouver is planning on improve Granville Bridge. One option is to build cycling and walking paths in the middle of the Bridge by reallocating a couple of lanes of traffic.

Separated bike lanes significantly reduce sidewalk cycling. On Dunsmuir and Hornby, they decreased by 80% following the completion of the bike lanes. Similar reductions have occurred in other cities following the introduction of separated bike lane. The Burrard Bridge separated bike lanes and the Burrard Cornwall intersection improvements make cycling and walking much nicer.

Shared paths have higher injury rates than separated paths. However, they can work fine when there are not that many people using them. When volumes are higher, over 200 people hour or so, conflicts increase due to cyclists passing pedestrians and slower cyclists. The best solution is to create separate walking and biking paths like those along newer sections of the Seaside Greenway in Vancouver. Unfortunately, the badly needed separated bike path in Kits Beach Park, which would have greatly reduced conflicts, was rejected.

Smooth paths are best for heels and wheels. Walking paths should be surfaced with smooth asphalt, saw-cut concrete or machine cut granite. People don’t like walking on bumpy surfaces and often will use the paved bike path next door. People also like to walk side by side. If the walking path is narrow or interrupted with obstacles like poles or benches, people will walk in the bike path. A perfect example of this is the path by the new convention centre where many people stroll in the bike path.

Paths should have clear sightlines giving cyclists plenty of time to react to people walking or cycling across the path. A parallel street with bike lanes or low levels of traffic can provide faster cyclists with another option.

There is an election coming up. A good idea to support candidates that campaign positive solutions that reduce conflicts and make our communities safer for everyone. Check out HUB’s Vote to Bike initiative!

For My 50th, Give Everyone the Gift of Cycling

I turn 50th this year. In lieu of presents, cake and gasp, even beer, please give everyone the gift of cycling by making a donation to or becoming a member of the British Columbia Cycling Coalition.

For half of that half a century, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of you to improve cycling around Vancouver and BC through HUB, BEST, Canada Bikes and the BCCC. Working with political leaders and staff in all levels of government, we have had many successes. From wider sidewalks on the Lions Gate Bridge and the Ironworks Bridge, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Path on the Canada Line Bridge, to the Central Valley Greenway. All told, these improvements total around $70 million.

While there are many reasons why I work to move cycling forward, what I find most rewarding is seeing more and more people cycling. Especially families with children.

Still, there is much to do. BC is a large province with great potential.

We need cycle tracks along main streets so people can safely and comfortably cycle to shops, cafes, restaurants, offices and other businesses. More and more homes are being built along major streets. As well, in many cases, there are not convenient direct side streets nearby making separated bike lanes the only option. We are working with Streets for Everyone to secure funding for a pilot grassroots campaign on Commercial Drive that will serve as a model that can be used in communities around the Province.

We need safe connections between communities for locals and tourists. At least wide shoulders free of debris and preferable paths separated from high speed traffic.

We need to improve the Motor Vehicle Act or even better, replace it with a modern road users act that makes the safety of people cycling and walking the priority. Key changes include removing the requirement to ride single file allowing you to legally ride beside friends and families and a safe passing distance law.

We need improved standards for paths and roads ensuring that obstacles are not placed on or near bicycle paths, that fencing and railings do not cause crashes or serious injuries and that shoulders are wide, well maintained and kept clear of hazards.

We need improved and expanded education for people cycling driving. This October, in conjunction with the BCCC Conference in Victoria, thanks to a grant from the Capital Regional District, we are hosting a Bike Sense workshop to review educational material and plan the expansion and improvement of educational efforts.

We need increased funding for cycling. With a Federal election coming up next year and infrastructure spending a key election issue, we have the opportunity to ensure that improved cycling and walking networks receive the funding that is required so that every Canadian has the freedom to chose cycling or walking for recreation, transportation and vacation.

We need need to build stronger more organized cycling community across the Province to encourage leaders to make commitments to improve cycling and to provide the grassroots support they need when they show leadership in moving cycling.

We need your support to make this all happen. As the BCCC not a charity, we can’t issue tax receipts. However, that means we are not limited in the amount of money that we can and will devote for advocacy.

https://bccyclingcoalition.nationbuilder.com/donate

http://bccyclingcoalition.nationbuilder.com/membership

I look forward to continue working with you over the next 25 years making this beautiful province a great place for people of all ages to enjoy cycling.

Thank you for your great work and support.

Cheers

Richard

 

$45 Million for Cycling, Walking & Transit in Draft Capital Plan

Badly needed improvements for walking and cycling on the Granville and Cambie Bridges are along the projects including in the City of Vancouver in draft capital plan for 2015-2018. Also in the plan is a long overdue upgrade to the Burrard Pacific intersection. The total amount for new cycling, walking and transit totals $45 million over the four yours. As TransLink is responsible for the majority of transit funding, most of the $45 million will be devoted to cycling and walking.

The Granville Bridge is currently the worse in the city for cycling. Not surprisingly, the cycling commuting levels are much lower in the area south of the bridge than in other areas of Vancouver the same distance from Downtown. Making the Bridge safer should dramatically increase the number of people cycling to work.

Other cycling improvements listed are the completion of the Comox Helmcken Greenway and the upgrading of the Adanac, Ontario and 10th Avenue Bikeways so they are safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. For walking, the plan features pedestrian safety and public realm improvements in the Downtown Eastside, Marpole, Mount Pleasant and West End community plans.

Not mentioned are separated bike lanes on Commercial Drive which are on hold waiting for the completion of the Grandview Woodlands area plan. Also not included is the completion of the Portside Greenway nor separated bike lanes on Smithe/Nelson, a big network gap downtown.

The final plan will go before voters for approval this November following public consultation over the next few weeks and approval by council in the fall. What actually gets implemented will depend on the next council so make sure you support candidates who support cycling.

Never hurts to send a quick email to Mayor Gregor Robertson and Council mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca supporting investment in cycling and walking.
More info on the Capital Plan including public consultation: http://vancouver.ca/your-government/capital-plan.aspx

Bike Path on Powell Street Overpass to Open Soon

20140721-014802-6482563.jpg

The $50 million Powell Street Overpass, expected to be completed in early August, will have a separated bike path on the north side stretching from Hawks Avenue to Clark Drive. This will be a big improvement for cycling in this part of town. Unfortunately, there not yet a good cycling connection west of Clark. Vancouver’s Transportation Plan included a cycling connection from Clark to McLean but it is uncertain when it will be completed.

The  $105 million proposed for renewal of transportation infrastructure in the draft Capital Plan includes funding for the repair of Water Street. The renewal of Water Street will be the ideal opportunity to improve it for cycling by either adding cycle tracks or by closing the street to through commuter traffic. This along with improvements to Powell and Alexander, would complete the Portside Greenway giving residents and tourists a great connection to East Vancouver, Burnaby and the North Shore.

A good idea to let the candidates in the upcoming election know that completing the Portside Greenway is a priority.

$131 Million Over 10 Years for Cycling!

On June 12, the Mayors Council release their Regional Transportation Investments, A Vision for Metro Vancouver which includes a 30 year vision and a 10-year investment program.  The 10-year program  includes significant investment in transit, cycling, walking and roads throughout the region.
The Vision calls for funding for a 2,700km network high quality bikeways including 300km of traffic-separated routes to help make cycling a real transportation option for people of all ages and abilities. The proposed investment in cycling network/routes and secure bicycle parking total $131 million over ten years, reaching $16.5 million per annum by Year 6. The $131 million consists of:
  • $96.7M – Regional Cycling Routes (not TransLink-Owned) ($11.9M/year by year 6)
  • $34.4M – TransLink-Owned Routes and Parking at TransLink Facilities ($4.6M/year by year 6)

In addition:

  • The proposed new four lane Pattullo Bridge will include high quality cycling and walking facilities.
  • Funding from the Capital for Minor Major Road Network (MRN) Upgrades  program ($200 million over 10 years) can also be used for cycling and pedestrian projects.
  • Improving pedestrian access to transit ($5M capital per annum by Year 6), $35.0 million

PROGRAM: INVESTMENT IN BIKEWAYS

This program would provide funding and cost-sharing to support complete the region’s bikeway network as envisioned in the Regional Cycling Strategy over a time frame of about 20 years. In the first 10 years, this program would add to the existing bikeway network up to:

  • 300 km of traffic-protected bikeways on major streets in Urban Centres, such as on-street cycle tracks with physical separation from traffic or off-street paths;
  • 2,400 km of designated bikeways, such as marked bike lanes or neighbourhood street bikeways with bicycle-permeable traffic calming.

One of the actions identified in the Regional Cycling Strategy is to define and implement the Major Bikeway Network (MBN) of high quality regionally significant routes that parallel and connect to the rapid transit system and regional gateways. These routes should be traffic-protected to the extent possible. Examples of specific projects that could be designated as part of the MBN are outlined below, including upgrading the BC Parkway and completing the Central Valley Greenway, North Shore Spirit Trail, Evergreen Bikeway, and routes South of Fraser to parallel future rapid transit lines.This program would augment the existing Bicycle Infrastructure Capital-Cost Sharing (BICCS) program to provide cost-share funding to support an additional 300 km of traffic-protected bikeways and 2,400 of designated bikeways throughout the region, as identified by municipal transportation and cycling plans.

Facilities would generally be constructed on a cost share basis with municipalities, but the cost share amount may vary depending on facility type and regional priority.

  • Cost share funding would be ramped up over the first 5 years of the plan to ensure sufficient time to build matching funds into municipal capital plans.
  • TransLink-owned assets would be funded at 100%.
  • Regional priorities such as traffic-protected bikeways in Urban Centres and key links on the MBN would be cost-shared at up to 75%.
  • All other municipal bikeways would be eligible for cost-sharing at 50%.

If we do nothing, walking, cycling and transit will only account for 27% of trips by 2045, far short of the target of 50%. The Plan will get us to 36%. It is a great start, but much more will need to be done though to met regional targets. Lets get this plan moving forward then work on meeting the 2045 targets.

The Mayors preferred choice, was for the Province to help fund the improvements through a portion of the existing Carbon Tax collected in the region then shifting to mobility pricing at some point in the future. This would increase the effectiveness of the Carbon Tax by providing more people with better sustainable transportation options. Now, the Carbon Tax revenue was used to cut taxes so essentially this funding would have come out of general revenue. The Province is projecting surpluses of hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. There is a strong case to use some of this to help improve transit, cycling and walking. Ontario Premier Wynne, who just scored a dramatic election win, is doing exactly that by investing $15 billion in transit around the the Toronto area in the next ten years.

Unfortunately, the Province quickly reject using the revenue from the existing Carbon Tax but left the door open to an additional Carbon Tax which, according to Premier Clark’s election platform, would have to be approved by the public in a referendum.

Take Action

Please contact Premier Clark, premier@gov.bc.ca, encouraging the Province to provide more funding for transit, cycling and walking in Metro Vancouver. A good idea to copy Hon. Todd Stone, Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca, Claire.Trevena.MLA@leg.bc. ca, your MLA (Find your MLA here) and the Mayors Council, mayorscouncil@translink.ca.

Support GetOnBoard BC, the coalition leading the charge for more transit funding: http://www.getonboardbc.ca

More Info

http://mayorscouncil.ca

Mayors’ Council Approves New Transportation Plan & Funding Recommendation | HUB

Increased Regional Investment in All Ages Cycling Networks Badly Needed | Richard Campbell

 

Increased Regional Investment in All Ages Cycling Networks Badly Needed

TransLink, the Federal & Provincial Government, Burnaby, New West and Vancouver Provided Funding for the Central Valley Greenway

TransLink, the Federal & Provincial Government, Burnaby, New West and Vancouver Provided Funding for the Central Valley Greenway

Cycling is a transportation bargain for both individuals and government. Compared to the billions for a new bridge or transit line, bike paths are really inexpensive. Still, it is not free. High quality cycling facilities separated from traffic do cost money. The cycling and walking path on the Canada Line bridge cost $10 million. At least $40 million has been invested in the Central Valley Greenway and more is needed for upgrades.

The Burrard Cornwall improvements were $6 million.  Until people of all ages and abilities can easily travel to anywhere from anywhere on a network of connected bike paths, separated lanes or low traffic streets, the bike routes already built will not be used as well as they could be by residents and tourists. Short sections of bike paths that vanish at busy intersection or don’t connect with major destinations will attract few people.

TransLink Provided all the funding for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Path on the Canada Line Bridge

TransLink Provided all the funding for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Path on the Canada Line Bridge

Rough estimates put the cost of creating all ages and abilities networks in communities around the region at nearly $1 billion. A fair amount of money but only third of the cost of Port Mann/Highway 1 Project and the proposed new Massey Crossing.

Currently, TransLink’s budget only contains around $2 million per year for cycling. Even when this money is matched by municipalities, it is nowhere near enough to complete the cycling network within our lifetimes.

TransLink’s Regional Transportation Strategy Strategic Framework States: “For decades, the region has called for priority for walking and cycling, but the level of investment has not always reflected that commitment. Early and significant investment will now be required to complete walkway and bikeway networks with a particular focus on traffic-protected bikeways in Urban Centres and other areas of high cycling potential.”

Cycling friendly jurisdictions spend much more on cycling. For example, the Netherlands invests around $40 per person per year or $100 million per year. As many of the benefits of cycling including health care costs savings and cycling tourism accrue to the Federal and Provincial Governments, they should provide matching funding for cycling as well. A regional contribution of around $34 million per year would be reasonable.

The good news is that many of the cycling and walking routes to transit stations are also important links in the regional cycling network. The BC Parkway, which needs a lot of work, provides cycling and walking access to many Expo Line stations in Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver. The badly needed connection along United Blvd will connect Coquitlam and PoCo to Braid Station.

Improving these connections should prove to be a great investment for TransLink and the region. By enabling more people to walk and cycle to transit, ridership revenue will increase. And, there will be more space on buses for those who can’t or choose not to cycle.

Cycling can ease demand on busy transit routes delaying the need for costly upgrades enabling funding to be used on other transit priorities. For example, improvements to the BC Parkway, Central Valley Greenway and other routes connecting East Van to Downtown could relieve demand on the busiest section of the Expo Line. London is planning on investing billions in cycling to reduce crowding on the Tube. They are even naming the bike routes after the transits lines they parallel.

The Mayors Council is currently drafting a regional transportation plan which will likely form the basis of the transportation package in the upcoming referendum. Please email the Mayors Council, mayorscouncil@translink.ca, and your Mayor and Council encouraging them to support more regional funding for cycling and walking networks ($34 million per year) to supported by increased funding for cycling education and promotion ($3 million per year would be great). List improvements that are needed in your area to highlight where the regional funding is needed. A good idea to  copy Hon. Todd Stone, Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca, Claire.Trevena.MLA@leg.bc. ca, and your MLA (Find your MLA here). More on the BCCC’s funding recommendations to the Provincial Government here.

More Information

Cycling Recommendations for New Metro Vancouver Transportation Plan and Funding | HUB: Your Cycling Connection

 

Burrard Cycle Tracks Worth Considering

The upgrades to the Burrard Cornwall intersection are almost finished. The improvements include separated bike lanes from the Bridge along Cornwall to Cypress and along Burrard south to 1st Avenue. These badly needed improvements are fantastic and will help encourage more people of all ages to ride bicycles both for daily trips and recreation.

Sewer, water and road construction work is scheduled on Burrard from 1st Avenue to 16th Avenue starting in 2015. This presents an idea opportunity for the City to improve Burrard Street for cycling and walking building upon the great work on Burrard Bridge and the Cornwall intersection.

Currently, Burrard south of 1st is a miserable place to cycle and walk. Typically, the narrow sidewalks are right next to the speeding traffic. In spite of the traffic, a significant number of brave souls still cycle on Burrard. For some trips, it is more direct than the alternatives plus there are many businesses and shops along it.

Cypress, the current bike route is not much better north of 4th Avenue. At Cornwall, there are almost 500 vehicles on Cypress in the afternoon peak hour. This around the maximum traffic volume acceptable over 24 hours for a road to be safely and comfortably accommodate cyclists of all ages. Many of vehicles are making turns that will cause conflicts and pose a danger to people cycling.

According to ICBC, both Burrard and Cypress have fairly high levels of cycling collisions. From 2008-2012, there was at least one collision at each intersection from 10th to Cornwall. In 2012, there were 7 collisions from 12th to 1st along Burrard while there were three on the same section of Cypress. In 2011, both streets had five each from 16th to 1st.

2011 Census Cycling Commuting Mode Share - City of Vancouver

2011 Census Cycling Commuting Mode Share – City of Vancouver

As shown in the map, the cycling mode share in areas served by Burrard, Pine and Cypress (6%-9%) is significantly lower than other areas (9%-15%) of Vancouver similar distances from downtown. Moreover, while cycling in the areas east of the Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lanes increased significantly from 2006 to 2011, areas to the south of the Hornby and Burrard Separated Bike Lanes did not increase over this period. This is likely due to the lower quality of the bike routes feeding Hornby and Burrard compared to Adanac Bikeway.When Burrard/Pine/Cypress are improved, it would be reasonable to expect cycling levels to increase to 10% to 15%.

Upgrading narrow local streets like Cypress and Pine to accommodate all ages cycling quite challenging. Either enough traffic needs to be diverted off it to reduce volumes to 300-500 vehicles per day or separated bike lanes need to be added. Especially with the diversions introduced with the York Bikeway, diverting traffic off Cypress may be difficult while maintaining basic access for residents and businesses. Furthermore, with the high turnover of customer parking, it may not be possible to reduce levels enough. To add separated bike lanes, parking would need to be stripped from one side of Cypress and the street would need to be converted to one way. Some residents and businesses won’t be too keen on this either.

Burrard, on the other hand, is wide enough to accommodate separated bike lanes while maintaining access and parking at least during off-peak hours. While the number of travel lanes between intersections would need to be reduced from three to two, right turn lanes would help maintain vehicle capacity near current levels.

Burrard - South Side of 4th

Possible lane configuration for Burrard just south of 4th Ave

One option worth considering is one-way separated bike lanes (cycle tracks), on both sides of Burrard from 1st Avenue to at least 10th Avenue. On two-way streets with a lot of cars turning at intersections and driveways on boths sides, cycle tracks can be safer than a two-way path on one side.

Burrard - South Side of 5th

Possible lane configuration for Burrard just south of 5th Ave. On-street parking could be allowed evenings, weekends and off-peak weekdays.

Burrard provides obvious direct connections to Burrard Bridge. Using either Cypress or Pine will result in cycling longer for some trips and may involve crossing busy Burrard more times. People that drive who are considering cycling will know that Burrard is a bicycle route. They may never realize that side streets like Cypress are bike routes.

Having the cycle track between the traffic and the sidewalk will make Burrard much more pleasant to walk along. And, as with the case with Hornby, collisions will likely be reduced making the street safer for everyone, including people in cars. The City should quickly study options for improving Burrard, Pine and Cypress to determine the best options before the planned work starts on Burrard.

Take Action A good idea to write Mayor and Council, mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca, thanking them for the Burrard Cornwall intersection improvements and encourage them to make Burrard, Cypress and Pine better for all ages cycling.