Stanley Park Causeway Safety Improvements

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure just revealed its proposed plan to improve the safety of people cycling and walking along the Stanley Park Causeway.

The plan looks good in general and will be a big improvement over the current narrow sidewalks. While a wider path on the west side would be better, it would have impacted more trees.

Still, there are only two passing areas in the stretch south of the Park Drive exist. Another passing zone would improve safety and impact relatively few trees. As well, the proposed fence does have poles that are exposed. If a person cycling hits those at 50kph, the average downhill speed, a serious injury or fatality is likely. While there is a rub rail at the top, it will not prevent children or shorter adults from hitting the poles. As well, if someone sides on ice or leaves, they also could hit the poles at high speeds. At a minimum, the cables should be installed on the inside providing some protection from the poles. Also worth considering at fabrics designed to protect motorcyclists from hitting fence poles that would also protect cyclists.

As these changes involve Stanley Park, please email Vancouver Park Board PBcommissioners
@vancouver.ca
 supporting these badly needed safety improvements.

More information and a feedback form here.

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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

 

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

 

Burrard Cycle Tracks Worth Considering

The upgrades to the Burrard Cornwall intersection are almost finished. The improvements include separated bike lanes from the Bridge along Cornwall to Cypress and along Burrard south to 1st Avenue. These badly needed improvements are fantastic and will help encourage more people of all ages to ride bicycles both for daily trips and recreation.

Sewer, water and road construction work is scheduled on Burrard from 1st Avenue to 16th Avenue starting in 2015. This presents an idea opportunity for the City to improve Burrard Street for cycling and walking building upon the great work on Burrard Bridge and the Cornwall intersection.

Currently, Burrard south of 1st is a miserable place to cycle and walk. Typically, the narrow sidewalks are right next to the speeding traffic. In spite of the traffic, a significant number of brave souls still cycle on Burrard. For some trips, it is more direct than the alternatives plus there are many businesses and shops along it.

Cypress, the current bike route is not much better north of 4th Avenue. At Cornwall, there are almost 500 vehicles on Cypress in the afternoon peak hour. This around the maximum traffic volume acceptable over 24 hours for a road to be safely and comfortably accommodate cyclists of all ages. Many of vehicles are making turns that will cause conflicts and pose a danger to people cycling.

According to ICBC, both Burrard and Cypress have fairly high levels of cycling collisions. From 2008-2012, there was at least one collision at each intersection from 10th to Cornwall. In 2012, there were 7 collisions from 12th to 1st along Burrard while there were three on the same section of Cypress. In 2011, both streets had five each from 16th to 1st.

2011 Census Cycling Commuting Mode Share - City of Vancouver

2011 Census Cycling Commuting Mode Share – City of Vancouver

As shown in the map, the cycling mode share in areas served by Burrard, Pine and Cypress (6%-9%) is significantly lower than other areas (9%-15%) of Vancouver similar distances from downtown. Moreover, while cycling in the areas east of the Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lanes increased significantly from 2006 to 2011, areas to the south of the Hornby and Burrard Separated Bike Lanes did not increase over this period. This is likely due to the lower quality of the bike routes feeding Hornby and Burrard compared to Adanac Bikeway.When Burrard/Pine/Cypress are improved, it would be reasonable to expect cycling levels to increase to 10% to 15%.

Upgrading narrow local streets like Cypress and Pine to accommodate all ages cycling quite challenging. Either enough traffic needs to be diverted off it to reduce volumes to 300-500 vehicles per day or separated bike lanes need to be added. Especially with the diversions introduced with the York Bikeway, diverting traffic off Cypress may be difficult while maintaining basic access for residents and businesses. Furthermore, with the high turnover of customer parking, it may not be possible to reduce levels enough. To add separated bike lanes, parking would need to be stripped from one side of Cypress and the street would need to be converted to one way. Some residents and businesses won’t be too keen on this either.

Burrard, on the other hand, is wide enough to accommodate separated bike lanes while maintaining access and parking at least during off-peak hours. While the number of travel lanes between intersections would need to be reduced from three to two, right turn lanes would help maintain vehicle capacity near current levels.

Burrard - South Side of 4th

Possible lane configuration for Burrard just south of 4th Ave

One option worth considering is one-way separated bike lanes (cycle tracks), on both sides of Burrard from 1st Avenue to at least 10th Avenue. On two-way streets with a lot of cars turning at intersections and driveways on boths sides, cycle tracks can be safer than a two-way path on one side.

Burrard - South Side of 5th

Possible lane configuration for Burrard just south of 5th Ave. On-street parking could be allowed evenings, weekends and off-peak weekdays.

Burrard provides obvious direct connections to Burrard Bridge. Using either Cypress or Pine will result in cycling longer for some trips and may involve crossing busy Burrard more times. People that drive who are considering cycling will know that Burrard is a bicycle route. They may never realize that side streets like Cypress are bike routes.

Having the cycle track between the traffic and the sidewalk will make Burrard much more pleasant to walk along. And, as with the case with Hornby, collisions will likely be reduced making the street safer for everyone, including people in cars. The City should quickly study options for improving Burrard, Pine and Cypress to determine the best options before the planned work starts on Burrard.

Take Action A good idea to write Mayor and Council, mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca, thanking them for the Burrard Cornwall intersection improvements and encourage them to make Burrard, Cypress and Pine better for all ages cycling.

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.

Kits Beach for All

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Cycling is one of the most popular forms of recreation enjoyed by residents and visitors of all ages. By Science World, over 5,000 people cycle past on a nice day. As with all the paths by the water, many people cycle along Kits Beach with their children. Sadly, with even neighbourhood streets having fast moving traffic, these paths are the only places many feel safe cycling with their families.

With the Seaside Greenway improvements further west along Point Grey Road due to be finished soon, most likely many more people will want to cycle and walk along Kits Beach making the path even more crowded. The rough path worn in the grass is a clear sign more space is needed.

Sharing the narrow path along the beach and through Haddon Park is not great for people walking or cycling. When passing, riders should let walkers know by ringing their bell or with their voice. But when there are so many people walking and cycling, the constant bell ringing and “on your lefts” can be very annoying for everyone. People also like to walk side by side chatting in groups of 3 or 4. That just is not feasible sharing a narrow path.

A separate bike path will make the park more enjoyable and safe for many people. Two decades ago, a separate bike path was build by Sunset Beach and English Bay. This is a solution that we know works.

It is people that make an urban park. Many of those people enjoy activities on paved and cement surfaces. Yes, grass would look nicer than the tennis or basketball courts but without the tennis and basketball players Kits would not be the same. It would lose part of what makes it exciting, vibrant and attracted; people.

The 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.

The City’s Physical Activity Survey found that 20% of adults cycled on a regular basis, 5% played tennis. Basketball did not make the top 18. For children, biking was at 10% while basketball was at 16%. Tennis did not make the top 21. Surely if space can be made for these activities, the same can be done for cycling.

I’m one of the lucky ones who live near the beach walking down there pretty much everyday. Most people are not so fortunately. Given that only so much parking near Kits Beach, cycling is one of the only options that many people can realistically use to get to the beach. Judging by the large number of bikes at the beach, many people do just that. More people cycling instead of also decreases the impact on the neighbourhood and the chances of people driving, walking or cycling getting injured in a crash.

There are many options to significantly or reduce the net amount of grass lost in the park. Part of the path could be placed on Cornwall or Arbutus Streets. Parking space in the park can be reclaimed. Some of the existing paths can be narrowed or reclaimed as greenspace.

Over at Sunset Beach, more and more of the parking lot gets reclaimed for other activities as time goes by. Part of the Kits north parking lot would make a great picnic area. It is nice and flat and close to the beach. Maybe it is possible to redesign the larger south parking lot to fit the same number of cars in less space.

While sadly, it is impossible to be sure how Harvey Haddon, the philanthropist who generously donated the park to the people of Vancouver, would have felt about the bike path. The deed does state that improvements can be made for people to enjoy recreational activities safely while keeping it as close to a natural state as possible. Who knows for sure but it is indeed possible if he could witness all the families cycling along the water around, that he would approve such a path.

So, instead of lawsuits, it would be great if everyone including Park Board, the City of Vancouver, beach user groups and area residents sat down to work on solutions. Lets make Kits Beach great for everyone walking, cycling, jogging, playing tennis, shooting hoops, picnicking, swinging, climbing or just enjoying the view.

Please write City Council mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca and Park Board PBcommissioners
@vancouver.ca
 encouraging them to find a solution.