Cornwall Separated Bike Lanes – Balsam to Arbutus

The City is doing a fantastic job improving Point Grey Road west of Trafalgar and the Burrard Cornwall intersection making them much safer and more comfortable for people of all ages to cycle on. These great facilities have the potential to encourage many people of all ages to cycle if there was a safe obvious direct connection between them. York may work well for commuters but it does not connect to Kits Beach nor will it appeal to people wanting to  enjoy the view.

The separated bike lanes on Burrard Bridge and Hornby Street are well designed and have the capacity to handle thousands more bicycle trips per day. Connecting them to the vastly improved cycling facilities along Point Grey Road with separated bike lanes along Cornwall is the best solution for ensuring the safe access to the Seaside Greenway west of Trafalgar.

According to ICBC collision reports, this is the most dangerous section of Cornwall. The staff presentation on the Seaside Greenway states that 28 of the 51 reported collisions (including dooring)  from 2008 to 2012 involving motor vehicles along Cornwall/Point Grey occurred on Cornwall East. Of the collisions on Cornwall East, the vast majority of them occurred from Balsam to Arbutus with the most dangerous intersection being Vine. As cycling traffic will likely increase on this section of Cornwall, the number of collisions will likely increase unless improvements are made even if some of the bicycle traffic is diverted to York. As bicycles can pick up some speed on this downhill stretch, it is especially important to provide separate paths for the safety of people walking and cycling.

With the plans for a bike path in the Kits Beach Park not looking good at all, now is the time to look for alternatives. With Point Grey Road down to two lanes of traffic further west, it is likely that four lanes of traffic are not needed between Balsam and Arbutus.

A two way separated bike lane could be created on the north side of the street by reallocating a lane of traffic on Cornwall from Balsam to Arbutus. In addition, the curb lane on the south side of the road could be made a bit wider perhaps reducing the risk of dooring. No trees would be lost and no green space in the park would be affected although some grass in the Cornwall right-of-way would be lost mainly to create parking bays.

Cornwall - Balsam to Yew - Tree

As there would still be three lanes of traffic, off-peak parking could still be maintained on the south side of the street. By allowing off-peak or 24 hour parking on the north side between Yew and Arbutus, the total number of parking spaces would be increased (9 more is a rough estimate) more than compensating for ones that are lost between Balsam and Yew.

Cornwall - Balsam to Yew - Parking

All the bus stops could be maintained so there would be minimal impact on transit users. By encouraging more people to cycle on the bike lane instead of the road and by enabling more people to cycle instead of drive, bus travel times could even be slightly improved.

Completing this badly needed connection will help ensure that lots of people will enjoy cycling along this route for both transportation and recreation. Without this connection, the number of people cycling along Point Grey will likely be significantly lower. There will also likely be more sidewalk cycling, people cycling in the road along Cornwall and more people cycling on the narrow shared paths in Kits Beach Park creating conflicts with pedestrians and motorists increasing the chances of pedestrians and cyclists being injured.

The section of Cornwall from Arbutus to Cypress is more challenging. Some options will be discussed in the next issue of WeCycle.

Please write City Council mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca thanking them for the improvements to Point Grey Road and the Burrard Cornwall intersection and encouraging them to make further improvements along Cornwall.

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Kits Beach Bike Path Safer for Everyone

Cycling is very popular. A recent BCCC poll found that 70% of adults cycle at least once a year. Bicycle paths along water and through parks are attractive places to cycle with 66% saying such paths  would encourage them to cycle more often. Separated paths are even more important for parents with children. A survey of people using the park, found that 42% of people cycle in the park and 93% thought that separated cycling and walking paths would be a good idea. The planned cycling path will only occupy around 3% of the total park space. As so many people cycle and walk in the park, this seems like a good use of this space.

Anyone who has cycled or walked along Kits Beach on a sunny summer day should realize that the current narrow shared path leaves much to be desired. Heading downhill from the Maritime Museum onto a path covered with sand dunes crowded with people more interested in looking at other people than lookout out for bikes can be quite dicy. Judging by the bicycles parked all over the place at Kits, many people already bike to the beach, pool, tennis courts and the basketball courts. The soon to be completed Seaside Greenway improvements west of Kits Beach will likely result in more people cycling on the Kits Beach path increasing conflicts if no action is taken.

With this in mind, the plans for the Seaside Greenway presented to the public earlier this year included bike paths through Kits Beach and Haddon Parks. After the parts of the Greenway on city streets were approved by council back in July, Park Board staff consulted the people using the parks on improvements for people walking and cycling. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority thought that separate paths for cycling and walking would improve safety.

Realizing that the path along the beach is very busy and a lot of people walk across it or stand and chat in it, the bike path was routed way from the beach, the basketball court and the playground to near Arbutus Street.

Some have suggested that people on bikes should use the road instead. While this might be fine for experienced adult cyclists, clearly this is not an good option for children and less experienced adults. In the summer, the roads near the beach are crowded with cars. Drivers are more focused on looking for parking or at the pretty people walking than children on bikes.

Separate bike paths along the water have been very successful in Vancouver at reducing conflicts between people cycling and walking including fifteen years ago along English Bay and Sunset Beach. Fifteen years from now, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

Some opponents try to paint this bike path as a high-speed highway where speeding cyclists will endanger other park users. The reality is that the path will be mostly used by residents and visitors cycling responsibly with their families enjoying the spectacular scenery. The vast majority of people on bikes are careful not wanting risk injury to themselves or other people. Those who want to ride fast will continue to ride on the road. Yes, like with any form of transportation, a few people on bikes behave recklessly but it really unfair to punish everyone else on bikes for the actions of a few.

There are bike paths in parks around Vancouver and the world that pass by playgrounds and picnic areas without any major safety issues that I am aware of. The path will be further away from the playground than the current path that cycling is allowed on. It is hard to see how this path in anyway will endanger children or anyone else in the park.

The bike path will also take the long route around the hill creating a more gradual downhill slope helping to minimizing the speed of bicycles further improving safety for everyone.

Fortunately, on October 7, Park Board approved the bike path and pedestrian improvement to Kitsilano and Haddon Parks. Commissioners Constance Barnes, Sarah Blyth Aaron Jasper and Trevor Loke voted in favour of the bike path. Commissioners John Coupar and Melissa De Genova voted against the bike path. Commissioner Niki Sharma was not present.

Take Action

A good idea to send a quick thank you to Park Board, PBcommissioners@vancouver.ca in support of the cycling and walking improvements in Kitsilano and Haddon Parks.

More Info

Seaside Greenway Improvements – Park Board Report

In the Media

Park board chair says bike path painted at Kits Beach is made up | Georgia Straight

Bike lane at Kits Beach won’t destroy the world | Georgia Straight

Kits bike path route not yet finalized – Commissioner says path might be tweaked

Park board chair responds to Kitsilano Beach Park bike path controversy | Georgia Straight

Committee will address rumours over Kits Beach bike lane – Misconceptions include trees being cut down

Pete McMartin: Over-the-top reaction to Kitsilano bike lane marks disturbing trend

SEEN IN VANCOUVER #471 | Bike Lanes, Or The Fascist Nightmare Destroying Kitsilano : Scout Magazine

Kudos and Kvetches: Kits Bike Lanes and Other Important Complaints

POLL: Do you support the new bike and pedestrian path linking Hadden and Kits Beach parks?

Over the Top Anti-Bike Rhetoric Done Well

Taking two-wheeled demons and the hellions who ride them to task – Blogs – Vancouver Courier

The Classic! Video – Death by Bicycle — Dorothy Rabinowitz on New York City’s new bike-share program

Everyone Will Enjoy $300 Million Pt Grey Views

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Thanks to the vision and leadership of previous generations, the people of Vancouver today are able to enjoy the many parks along our waterfront. These parks make Vancouver a wonderful city to live in and visit. A hundred years ago, the water was lined with private houses leaving the public with limited access to the water. Over the decades, these houses were acquired by the city and converted to parks. This task was completed years ago along English Bay. Today these parks are on land worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Along Point Grey, some properties were purchased but the prices started really going up so we essentially gave up. Today, by my quick estimated, the parks lining Point Grey Road would cost around $300 million to acquire. Currently, these parks are rather isolated and difficult to access. Point Grey is not very safe to cycle on nor very pleasant to cycle, walk or run along. Certainly not a pleasant or even safe family outing. There is little free parking so people can’t easily drive there either. The noise of the speeding traffic makes the parks less enjoyable to spend time in. People driving and cycling by would likely get harassed and honked at if they tried to slow down to enjoy the view. Certainly, the we are not able to get fully value of this gift from previous generations with Pt Grey as a commuter route.

Point Grey Cornwall Greenway proposal to divert commuter traffic off Pt Grey making the street much more comfortable to cycle, walk and run along will give far more people access to these parks. People walking and cycling will be able to enjoy the $300 million views from the parks as they pass by or stop to relax, picnic or enjoy a sunset. To get there by transit, people can jump off the bus at Macdonald and Pt Grey.

While the Sun’s headline screams Vancouver’s Point Grey Road set to become a ‘park for the rich’ with new plan restricting traffic, the reality is anyone rich enough to afford a bike, a pair of shoes or a $2.75 bus fare will be able to enjoy the new Point Grey Road. According to a recent survey by the BCCC, almost 80% of people own or have access to a bicycle. Pretty sure nowhere 80% of people in B.C. are rich. For those without a bicycle, there is Vancouver’s new bike sharing system where using the bikes will only cost $5 a day and $95 a year, hardly a fortune. For those who can’t ride a bicycle, separated bike lanes are proving popular with people propelled by power wheelchairs, e-bikes and mobility scooters.

With only 50 or so homes along the Point Grey waterfront, not even most millionaire can buy a piece of the view. With the Point Grey Cornwall Greenway, everyone will be able to enjoy the fantastic $300 million views!

Take Action

So, please encourage the City of Vancouver to build the Point Grey Cornwall Greenway now and speed up the implementation of other badly needed all ages and abilities cycling and walking improvements. Lets realize the health, safety, environmental, social and economic benefits of as soon as possible! Tell them the problems that you have experienced along Point Grey & Cornwall and let them know what the Point Grey Cornwall Greenway would mean to you, your family and community.

More on Point Grey Cornwall

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