The City of Vancouver has released its proposed improvements for cycling and walking on the Point Grey Cornwall Corridor.
The good news is that the plans includes an upgrade of Burrard Cornwall intersection with separated bike lanes west to Cypress and separated bike lanes on Point Grey between Balsam and Macdonald. An option including closing Point Grey between MacDonald and Alma to motor vehicles would also be great for cyclists of all ages. I’m particularly pleased with the proposed closure of Chestnut at Burrard to motor vehicles. The Park Board will be planning improvements in Kits Beach Park that could include a bike path from Balsam to Arbutus along Cornwall.
The bad news is that absolutely no improvements are planned on the section of Cornwall from Arbutus to Burrard either for all the people that current cycle on Cornwall or for all the people of all ages that will be attracted to the separated lanes east of Balsam. Instead, they are proposing to detour cyclists to York Street and upgrading York with some traffic calming and separated bike lanes by the school. Problem is that the hill on York is much longer than Cornwall and York does not have the lovely views of the oceans and mountains. In spite of the fact that York has much less traffic than Cornwall, many more people currently choose to cycle on Cornwall. Diverting cyclists up hilly routes really has not worked here or anywhere else in the world. It certainly did not work for the Seaside Bikeway that routed cyclists up Trafalgar then along York for a bit.
Please write Mayor Gregor Robertson and Council <firstname.lastname@example.org> supporting separated bike lanes on Cornwall and the improvements along Pt Grey. Tell them about your experiences along Cornwall and what the improvements would mean for your family, friends and community.
Please also sign HUB’s petition.
Cornwall has all the elements of a great bicycle route. It is very scenic with great views of the mountains and ocean, relatively flat and has popular cycling destinations including Kits Beach and Kits Pool. It is far more popular than other streets in the area in spite of high levels of speeding traffic. With separated bike lanes, it will become one of the most popular bicycle routes in the city for commuters to Downtown and UBC as well as residents and tourists looking for a great ride on a sunny day.Cornwall will build upon the success of Burrard Bridge, Dunsmuir and Hornby providing people of all ages with a great cycling experience from Chinatown to Jericho Beach and beyond. Such great bicycle routes are critical to provide people with affordable transportation choices. Cycling to work in Vancouver east of Dunsmuir has increased by 40% since the opening of the separated bike lanes. Such bold initiatives are required for the city to meet its transportation and Greenest City goals. Separated bike lanes on Cornwall as the first project since the completion of the Transportation Plan will ensure that there is positive momentum to move the plan forward.People in cars who are considering cycling will see happy people like them cycling along Cornwall with their families. They will be tempted to give it a try themselves. Tourists will be easily able to find their way to and from Burrard Bridge and the Beaches without maps or signage that they likely will miss. The cafes and restaurants will be happy to have all these stomachs on wheels cycling near their front doors. If experience elsewhere holds here, these businesses will want bike sharing stations close by.
Less Stress and Conflict
Separated bike lanes decrease conflicts between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians making travelling around the city more pleasant and less stressful for everyone.
People driving may get frustrated being stuck behind a slower moving cyclist or they may worry about hitting a cyclist. Switching lanes to pass cyclists increases the risk of collisions as well in addition to creating more congestion.
Dramatically Less Sidewalk Cycling, Better Pedestrian Environment
One of the main concerns of pedestrians and transit users on Cornwall is sidewalk cycling. There is strong evidence for Hornby and elsewhere that separated bike lanes along a street dramatically reduces sidewalk cycling. Separated bike lanes on Cornwall will also make walking much more pleasant by increasing the distance between the sidewalk and the fast-moving traffic especially on the narrow section between Maple and Arbutus
Travel times will likely decrease for everyone in off-peak hours due to people cycling instead of driving and fewer people cycling on the road slowing down buses. This transit time reduction benefit will be greatest on the hot summer days when congestion is worse due to beach traffic. Beach weather is great cycling weather. Overall, this could even result in faster transit times on average. This is also when aggressive beach traffic is likely to be on York looking for parking.
Safer for Everyone
Separated bike lanes also tend to reduce collisions and injures among all road users. On Hornby, the reduction in collisions was 20%. In NYC, the reduction in collisions was 33.60% and injuries was 26.4% http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2011_columbus_assessment.pdf. On Cornwall/Pt Grey-Burrard to MacDonald, from 2005-2009, there was an average of 106.6 collisions and 38.8 injuries per year.
While not ideal, increased congestion does reduce motor vehicle speeds decreasing the severity of collisions.
Both collisions and injuries have significant time costs on both traffic and transit. It is estimated that 25% of congestion is caused by collisions. The time cost is much greater on those involved in the collisions. Hundreds of hours can be spent dealing with the impacts of collisions and injuries. I suspect when people are made aware of the impacts and give a choice, many would prefer longer travel times.
The longer downhill sections on York will likely increase cyclist speed increasing the chances and severity of cycling collisions.
I also looking at traffic count data on VanMap and there appeared to be between 20%-30% more motor vehicles crossing intersections with York than Cornwall. This could mean there is an increased likelihood of cycling collisions on York although the streets and the treatment are totally different so this would be hard to say for sure without more research. Motor vehicles are also heading down very steep hills crossing much of York. This could also increase the risk and severity of cycling collisions.
If people switch from driving to cycling, there may be reduced congestion other places in the city which might benefit transit travel times. Research indicates that even small reductions in motor vehicle traffic (3%) can have a significant impact on congestion.
Meeting Transportation Targets
While increased transit trip times due to congestion are not great, they will most likely not negatively impact the City’s transportation goals as motor vehicle travel times are similarly impacted. If anything, both the increased motor vehicle and transit travel times will encourage more cycling and walking helping the city to met its ambitious transportation targets. Indeed, many measures all around the city to increase pedestrian and cyclist safety and reduce travel times will almost certainly increase transit and motor vehicle travel times. I suspect it will be impossible for the city to meet its transportation and Greenest City targets without such measures.
- Find out more about the project
- Write Mayor Gregor Robertson and Council <email@example.com>
- Please also Sign HUB’s petition
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Modified June 8, 2013 – Removed open house info, fixed some grammar problems.