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

 

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SkyCycle: Would it Fly in Vancouver?

Riding along elevated bicycle highways passing over busy roads without having to stop. Imagine the Dunsmuir Viaduct without any motor vehicle traffic. A SkyCycle in Vancouver would be really wonderful. For the most part though, unlike London, there is typically space available near rail lines here making elevated paths on top of them unnecessary. Still, there are a few spots where elevated structures would make cycling a lot better.

Central Valley Greenway

A 750m elevated walking and cycling path from Grandview Hwy North and Clark to near the Home Depot over the False Creek rail yards was seriously considered a decade ago as part of the Central Valley Greenway. Unfortunately, it was killed for budget reasons leaving cyclists to contend with the 13% grade up to Clark by VCC and forcing them to cross two legs of the busy Clark and 6th intersection.

Since it follows the railway, the Central Valley Greenway has a lot fewer stop lights than parallel roads like Broadway and Lougheed Hwy. Last time I used it, I didn’t hit a red light between Caribou Road and Rupert Street. Little would be gained elevating this section. On the narrow section between Lillooet and Boundary, the SkyTrain is elevated leaving space on the ground for the Central Valley Greenway.

Portside Greenway

With the completion of the Powell Street Overpass this summer, the section of Powell Street between Clark Drive and Wall Street will be the only missing link in the Portside Greenway. An elevated path over the railyard in the Port is certainly one possible option. A less expensive solution would be to reallocate a lane of traffic on Powell Street to create a separated bike path.

Low Level Road

The new Low Level Road currently under construction in North Vancouver will include painted bike lanes on both sides of the road. However, with high vehicle speeds and lots of trucks, it will not be a great cycling route for people of all ages and abilities. On the north side, cyclists will be sandwiched between the traffic and a tall concrete retaining wall. Yikes! The Spirit Trail is the alternate route. Unfortunately it is much longer, very hilly and is further from the water.

A bicycle and pedestrian path over the rail yard would be a much better option. Hopefully they will built it soon once they realize that people really want bicycle paths separated from traffic that are flat and by the water.