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!

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$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