Use Lights, Wear Whites at Night

First of all, even with whites and lights, don’t assume drivers see you at night. They may, they may not for any number of reasons. Night lighting conditions are very challenging for the eyes of drivers and cyclists. One moment, the road can be pretty dark. The next, one can be blinded by headlights. It is not surprising that crash rates rise significantly at night. Its a good idea for both cyclists and drivers to slow down and travel defensively at night.

Studies have shown that while they are not perfect, lights do reduce the risk of cycling crashes both at night and during the day. The main issue with bike lights is that as they tend to be small, drivers may think the bike is further away than it actually is leading to slow reaction times. Several lights or larger lights with many LEDs are probably a good idea. But please, don’t use really bright lights that blind other people. There are even some lights designed to be pointed at the rider. I suspect this is a good idea.

White is the New Yellow

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Women with white jackets and black pants standout on car-free street in Copenhagen

Like many of you, I have some dirty yellow cycling jackets lying around. I haven’t worn them in years as they are rather ugly. Turns out that yellow and other bright colours, while being highly noticeable during the day, don’t fare as well at night. In darker conditions, our eyes perceive only in levels of black and white thus yellow and other bright colours appear as grey tones that can be similar to asphalt.

Yellow can particularly poor choice, especially in the rain. Yellowish orange street lights reflect off the wet streets resulting in yellow clothes being rather more effective at camouflage than letting drivers know you are there.

One article on cycling safety started off by with the experience of a running coach saying that she happened to notice a jogger only by the whites of her shoes. For some unknown reason the article proceeded to talk about lights, reflectors and bright clothing without even mentioning white.

White bikes, white fenders, whitewall tires, a white helmet, white shoes. The more white the better. Some other colours including black, red or green can also be helpful to provide contrast to the white helping to improve visibility in the daylight. A white top with dark pants would be a fine choice.

Reflecting on Reflective

Reflectors and reflective strips are either really effective or practically useless depend on the situation. As they reflect light directly back to its source, they are well suited for cycling on long straight flat country roads enabling drivers to see cyclists from several hundred metres away.

They are not of much help at all when cycling across intersections. By the time a driver can see the reflected light, it is likely too late to prevent a collision. Reflectors are also less effective with trucks as driver’s eyes are further away from the headlight than is the case with a car. People walking don’t have headlights so reflectors will not help them see you.

Reflectors bounce the light from the street lamp straight back to the street lamp and the light from the buildings straight back to the buildings. Definitely not helpful. White clothing or gear, on the other hand, will reflect some of that light from you to the driver’s eyes where it may do some good. Unfortunately, there are too many black, grey and blue cycling jackets with a couple of reflective stripes giving the illusion that they are useful for night riding.

So, while reflective clothing and reflectors can help, they are definitely no substitute for lights and white clothing.

Protected Bike Lanes Great for Pedestrian Safety

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A recent article by People for Bikes details how street improvements made while introducing protected bike lanes have also greatly improved pedestrian safety in New York City. On streets where protected bike lanes were added, traffic injuries, the vast majority of which are suffered by people walking, fell by 12 to 52 percent. While these safety improvements are not necessarily unique to protected bike lanes, it is the risks faced by cyclists at intersections that prompted the redesigns of the streets.

This reduction in injuries is due to the reduction in the number of lanes of traffic making crossing distances shorter, the introduction of turning lanes making traffic more predictable, dedicated signal phases protecting cyclists & pedestrians from turning vehicles and reduced weaving of traffic around cars stopped for pedestrians.

Ironically, it is these safety improvements such as the protected signal turning phases that some drivers complain about. What they forget is that it crashes that are the cause of the worst delays. Traffic can be tied up for hours if a death or serious injury occurs.

These improvements are in addition to the reductions in sidewalk cycling which is not safe for cyclists or pedestrians.

Given all the benefits of protected bike lanes, it is time that communities speed up their building of all ages and abilities cycling networks.

More at: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/it-turns-out-that-protected-bike-lanes-are-fantastic-for-walking-safety-too

 

Vote on Saturday Nov 15

Please vote. This is a critical election for the future of Vancouver.

From http://vancouver.ca/your-government/2014-municipal-election.aspx

Where to vote
You can cast your vote at any of about 120 voting stations around the city from 8:00am to 8:00pm on Saturday, November 15.

Find a voting location near you

What to bring to the polls
To vote on election day, bring your Voter Information Card to a voting station to make the voting process as quick and efficient as possible. If you are not on the voting list, you will need to show two pieces of identification and complete a voter registration form to be signed in front of an election official.

Policy Matters

This election, I voted for all the Vision candidates. This the first time in over 20 years I have not voted for any COPE or Green candidates. They lost me over their lack of support for the Broadway Subway and their campaigns that were based on attacks instead of workable solutions. I used to vote for one or two NPA people like Gordon Price and Peter Ladner. It is sad that they have abandoned forward thinking policies and instead focusing on forcing more speeding vehicles through communities with their poorly though out counterflow lanes idea.

For their strong leadership on cycling, I highly endorse Rob Wynen, Brent Granby, Geoff Meggs and Heather Deal. See below for more information.

For their (hopefully unsuccessful) attempts to using their opposition to the Kits Beach bike path for political gain, I strongly recommend NOT voting for  Stuart Mackinnon, Melissa de Genova, John Coupar and Anita Romaniuk.

As far as COPE goes, according to the polls, none of the candidates are even close to being elected. I don’t really know much about most of their candidates. It is sad that COPE chose not to work with Vision this time and the results will reflect that lack of cooperation.
It will be a close election. The real choice is between Vision and the NPA. It is pretty clear that Vision is the better choice.

Cycling

As far as cycling goes, Vision has a good record of making improvements that have been in the plans for years although they have slowed down a bit last term implementing only one major cycling project, the completion of the Seaside Greenway in 3 years. The other big improvement was Burrard Cornwall, which is now could the best intersection in North America. There were several other cycling projects in the new transportation plan that were supposed to be implement by now. Although, to be fair, these were big projects. However, to meet our transportation and GHG emissions reduction targets, the pace really needs to be picked up.

Vision is willing to show leadership on issues like cycling, where, while there is angry opposition, the polling shows that the majority of people support these improvements.

For council, the Greens have a good cycling policy including separated bike lanes on streets like Commercial and Main although I am concerned they might not get much done due to endless consultation. So, considering cycling only, they would be worth supporting.
As far as the NPA goes, their cycling policy is weak and they are promising to “review” and possibly rip out Pt Grey. Sadly, COPE is promising a review as well. The NPA is also promising counterflow lanes which, even if they were practical, could add 30% more traffic to already busy city streets making our roads more dangerous for people walking, cycling and driving.

Broadway Subway

However, I didn’t vote for the Greens or COPE mainly due to their opposition to the Broadway subway. Their opposition and statements simply tells me that they just don’t understand transit and good urban planning. The information is out there. It is surprising that they have either not read it or are ignoring it. The study including the numbers below is here.
LaPointe’s point that he gets along better with the current Federal Government and thus is more likely to get money for transit is rather moot. By the time the funding for Broadway is really needed, there will likely be a new Federal Government that Vision is friendly with. Even if that is not the case, Prime Minister Harper is intent on wasted funds on reckless tax cuts that should be used for transit and other priorities leaving little for transit. The Liberals as well as the NDP have promised to reverse the irresponsible tax cuts and invest more in transit. Even if Harper did have the funds available, it is pretty clear that decisions of his government are mainly made on the basis of what will give them enough votes in key ridings that they need to win the election. Being a “friend” I suspect is of little value.

Reduced Demand on Busiest Section of Expo Line

As it extends the Millennium Line to Cambie making it easier for Millennium Line riders to transfer to the Canada Line downtown at Cambie, the Broadway is projected to reduce demand on the busiest section of the Expo Line by around 4,000 ppdph likely delaying the need to purchase more vehicles for the Expo Line, reducing pass-ups, delaying the need for costly upgrades and delaying the Expo Line from reaching capacity.

More Transit Use, Less Driving, Safer Streets, Less Pollution

2041 Forecast Peak Load (passengers per hour per direction, pphpd) of Broadway Subway to UBC is 12,500. And that will only be 15 years after completion. They should really be doing 30 year projections. No way LRT will have enough capacity unless train frequency is increased to the point that it really disrupts north south bus and pedestrian traffic and or slows down service along Broadway.

It is projected that the subway will attract 54,000 new transit trips per day by 2041 compared to only 11,000 for LRT. Over 30 years, the result will be a 2.3 billion reduction in vehicle kilometres travel for the Subway compared to only 1 billion for LRT. Even taking construction into account, the total GHG emissions reductions over 30 years for the Subway will be 335,000 tonnes for the Subway verses

Wider Sidewalks and Protected Bike Lanes 

Approved Improvements for Eglington

Underground transit on Broadway is a huge opportunity to transform the street making a great place to walk, cycle and enjoy public space. Possibilities include separated bike lanes and wider sidewalks
For an example of what Broadway could look like with transit underground, check out Eglington in Toronto where the rapid transit will be underground for 10km in the urban portion of the street creating space for protected bike lanes. Of note, the protected bike lanes were enforced by BIAs

Strong Endorsements

As already mentioned, I voted for and recommend all the Vision candidates. I’m convinced they will continue to make the improvements that we need in the city. I know Rob WynenBrent Granby and Geoff Meggs the best and strongly recommend them for their efforts to improve cycling as well as Heather Deal, who took a real lot of flack as the lead on Point Grey.
Rob Wynen who is running for relocation to School Board has been a strong support of cycling for years. I meet him when we were both volunteering with BEST 15 years ago. He was a key member of the Friends of Burrard Bridge that successfully advocated for the successful Burrard Bridge separated bike lanes.
Brent Granby has been supporting cycling improvements for years as well. He also was very active on Burrard Bridge.
Geoff Meggs did a great job of working for cycling improvements especially last term. He was a key on the Dunsmuir and Hornby separated bike lanes talking with a lot of businesses and stakeholders helping to address concerns that they had. He is very hard working, really understands complicated issues and listens to and helps resolve people’s concerns. Exactly the type of person we need on city council.

Who Not to Vote For

I definitely won’t be supporting Stuart Mackinnon, Melissa de Genova, John Coupar and Anita Romaniuk because of their opposition to the bike path at Kits Beach. Stuart especially is clearly trying to use this divisive issue for political advantage by attacking and using over the top rhetoric:
Hypocritically, both him and the other Green Party candidate (and the NPA) strongly support new pools in parks that will likely violate their no net loss of green space policy which was their excuse for opposing the bike path. A lot of concrete is required for pools which is another excuse that Stuart gives for opposing bike paths. While I don’t think pools should be a huge priority, I certainly would not oppose them. Some people like them. We need to be supportive of activities that others want to do in parks.

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

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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.