Seaside Greenway Well Under Way

IMG_1624

Even with the construction not complete, lots of people are enjoying cycling, walking and jogging along Point Grey Road giving us a small glimpse of what it will be like this summer once the separated bike lane is completed along Point Grey Road between Trafalger and Macdonald. As was the case with Burrard Bridge, Hornby Street and Dunsmuir, the traffic chaos that some predicted just did not happen.

The Burrard Cornwall intersection cycling and walking improvements are almost completed with only the bike path on the west side of Burrard left to pave. The York Bikeway is under construction and construction on the separated bike lane along Point Grey east of Macdonald should begin soon. Be careful if you check it out as there is active construction.

Without the speeding traffic, the birds, bikes and joggers now are just so noisy now!

A good idea to send a quick thank you to city council mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca thanking them and staff for the improvements to the Seaside Greenway.

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

York Bikeway Approved

Along with the Seaside Greenway along Point Grey Road, city council also approved the York Bikeway as an option for commuter cyclists to access Point Grey Road from the Burrard Bridge.

York Bikeway and Seaside Greenway - City of Van

York Bikeway and Seaside Greenway – City of Vancouver

As part of the project, York will get separated bike lanes from Chestnut to Maple. Along York, most of the stop signs will be reversed so that people cycling on York do not have to stop at every cross street. To reduce traffic, York will be alternating one way for motor vehicles on the blocks from Vine to Maple. In response to resident concerns regarding loss of parking, the final plans do not include bike lanes From Yew to Maple. The result is that there will not really be enough space to comfortably cycle when there is oncoming traffic.

Stephens will be closed to motor vehicle traffic and a bicycle pedestrian signal will be added at Point Grey and Stephens so that cyclists can safely connect to the Seaside Greenway along Point Grey.As part of the improvements to the Burrard Cornwall intersection that council just approved, there will be a bicycle path through Seaforth Park from Burrard and Cornwall to York at Chestnut.

The majority of cycling experts who addressed council recommended separated bike lanes on Cornwall over the York Bikeway as research indicates that people tend to prefer cycling routes that are flat, scenic and direct. As the safety concerns along Cornwall have not been addressed yet, if a large number of people chose to continue to cycle on Cornwall instead of York, high numbers cycling crashes will likely remain a serious problem. Sidewalk cycling was one of the main concerns of pedestrians and transit users and needs to be monitored to determine if it remains a problem.

While York is a relatively convenient option for eastbound cyclists as no additional crossings of Cornwall are required to access Burrard Bridge, it makes little sense for westbound cyclists to wait and cross busy Cornwall twice especially if they are going to Kits Beach or the Seaside Greenway. This will take more time and crossing Cornwall may actually expose them to greater risk than just cycling along Cornwall.

Councillor Carr acknowledged these concerns and put forward a motion to delay the approval of York pending further study. This motion was not approved. However, Council did direct staff to report back one year after completion of the Seaside Greenway and York Bikeway with any recommendations necessary adjustments so hopefully any unresolved safety issues will be addressed then.

More information:

Point Grey Road – Cornwall Avenue Greenway | City of Vancouver

Separated All Ages Bike Lanes Needed on Cornwall

Pt Grey Plans Safer for Residents Children Walkers Drivers & Cyclists

20130707-131756.jpg

Van and bush totally blocking view of driveway on busy Pt Grey

The City of Vancouver’s proposed Point Grey Cornwall Greenway improvements for Point Grey Road from Balsam to Jericho Beach will be much safer for everyone including drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, children and residents.

Although it is popular with some, on-street parking is dangerous especially for children. Removing parking, as proposed for some sections of Point Grey, can reduce all collisions by around 25%.

By providing safe space for people of all ages to ride bicycles, the planned improvements will reduce conflicts between people cycling, walking and driving making Point Grey safer, more enjoyable and less stressful for all.

Safer for Residents Exiting Driveways

20130707-132304.jpg

Parked Van Obscuring Car Driving by on Point Grey

Those who will likely benefit the most from the safety improvements are the residents along Point Grey, some of whom are opposing the plans. They will no longer have parked vehicles blocking their view of speeding traffic when they are pulling out of their driveways. When they are walking, there will be less risk of being run over by some else entering a driveway who didn’t see them walking on the sidewalk because of a parked van, SUV or truck.

Less Aggressive Driving and Speeding

According to the proposal, Point Grey between Trafalgar and Macdonald would be reduced to one lane in each direction. This will reduce speeding aggressive driving such as passing on the right and other lane changes. Around 4% of motor vehicle crashes occur during lane changes and merges. The road will be safer for people driving, walking, cycling and exiting their driveways.

Sidewalk Cycling

20130709-001255.jpg

Parent Cycling with Child on Pt Grey Sidewalk

Sidewalk cycling is not safe for pedestrians or cyclists. It is one of the main concerns of pedestrians and transit users along Cornwall and Point Grey and is not allowed under the Motor Vehicle Act. The sidewalks are way too narrow for cyclists and pedestrians to safely share. That said, it is hard to fault people with children for not wanting to cycle on the road with the speeding traffic. Sidewalk cycling has decreased by 80% on Hornby since the opening of the separated bike lanes. A similar decrease should occur along Point Grey as well.

Less Driving Makes Cities Safer for All

The proposed Pt Grey improvements will increase the number of people choosing to walk and cycle instead of driving. Thus, the total vehicle kilometres travelled during a year will decrease resulting in fewer collisions, injuries and fatalities to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

The Netherlands, for instance, annually has 5.6 fatalities per billion kilometres while Canada has 8.2 fatalities per billion kilometres, 1.6 times the rate. However, the chanced of dying in a motor vehicle crash in the Netherlands are significantly less with 3.9 fatalities per 100,000 people verses 9.2 per 100,000 people in Canada, 2.6 times the rate. The difference is obviously the people in the Netherlands drive less.

Commuters on Dunsmuir

Commuters on Dunsmuir

As a result of the Dunsmuir separated bike lanes and other improvements, cycling to work is up by 40% in areas east of Dunsmuir in Vancouver. An addition 530 people are cycling to work in this part of the city. This does not include people cycling for other reasons. The increases will likely be similar for Kits and Point Grey as Pt Grey Rd and Cornwall are the missing links in the all ages and abilities cycling network connecting residents to places of work downtown.

The Point Grey Cornwall Greenway will also be very popular in the summer with many people using it to get the beaches, parks and events like the Folk Festival, again reducing the amount of driving during the times when there is the most traffic congestion on Pt Grey and Cornwall.

Cycling Safety

As shown in the chart below from Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment study, separated bike lanes (cycle tracks) and residential streets with traffic diverters calmed streets as proposed for Point Grey have been proven in Vancouver and other cities to be safer people cycling. These facilities are also likely to attract more people of all ages and abilities to cycling.

Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment study. M A Harris et al.

While it is fine to state how safe a type of cycling facility is, it is important to evaluate it along a proposed route to determine if it will be a safe option.

Point Grey Has No Busy Intersections

20130710-151648.jpg

Little Ones on Hornby with Mom Watching from Sidewalk

Around 50% of cycling crashes occur at intersections, so routes that have few busy intersections will be safer. Point Grey has very few intersections that cyclists will have to cross so it should prove to be pretty safe.

Driveways can also be a problem for cyclists but it is important to note that residential driveways do not generate much traffic so the risk is much less than even low volume intersections. A single family house generates around 10 trips per day. There are 14 driveways accessing 15 houses on Pt Grey from Balsam to Trafalgar. This would generate around 150 trips per day. There is one townhouse with a driveway. Townhouses generate around 6 trips per day so the 8 units would generate around 48 trips a day. From Trafalgar to just passed Macdonald, there are 10 driveways serving 13 houses generating around 100 trips per day. So the total from Balsam to Macdonald would be almost 300. This is far less traffic than most residential streets and the parkades downtown accessed from Hornby generate. Given that these residential street intersections in Vancouver and driveways across Hornby cause few collisions, these driveways along Point Grey should prove to be a low risk to cyclists.

An opponent of the Point Grey Cornwall Greenway has claimed that that separated bike lanes are more dangerous based on ICBC collision data. However, what is not mentioned is that the majority of these collisions are at the intersection of Burrard and Pacific. Upon examining collisions in ICBC’s map, it becomes clear that the Hornby and Dunsmuir separated bike lanes are rather safe compared to other routes like Burrard Street. Hornby performs better than Dunsmuir perhaps because busy right turns across it are signalized. Both appear to be as safe or safer than many of the residential street bikeways around the city.

Even the comparison between the separated bike lanes downtown and Point Grey is not really valid. The separated bike lanes downtown have hundreds of thousands of vehicles crossing them per day and even then, the crash rates are not that large. As detailed above, Point Grey will only have a few hundred per day crossing the section between Balsam and Macdonald so the risk due to intersections (there are none) and driveways is much much less.

For the section of Point Grey between Macdonald and Alma, the Portside Greenway along Wall St is a good comparison should option 2a, diverting the traffic off Point Grey, be chosen. Wall is along the waterfront so it has no streets crossing it. It also has houses on the north side with driveways. The driveways likely have more vehicles accessing them as there are a few apartment buildings on Wall. Wall Street no cycling collisions reported from 2008 through 2012 perhaps the only bicycle route in the City to hold that distinction. This bodes well for the safety of this section of Point Grey.

Point Grey has Fewer Cyclist Crashes than 3rd Avenue

20130709-001422.jpg

Family Cycling Along Pt Grey

The current Seaside Route along 3rd Avenue is less than ideal. It is narrow with parked cars on both sides creating a risk of dooring. There is little room for cyclists to get by on-coming vehicles making riding more stressful and less comfortable. Cyclists also have to cross busy Macdonald and Alma Streets. The access to 3rd Ave from the east is hilly, indirect and not obvious so people are less likely to chose it or even find it at all. The current Seaside route from Trafalgar to Jericho has cyclists crossing 18 intersections. The proposed route on Pt Grey will have cyclists crossing only one intersection, Alma. As around 50% of cycling collisions occur at intersections, Pt Grey will be a safer option.

From Macdonald to Jericho during 2007-2011 according to ICBC stats compiled by the city, there were two cycling collisions on Pt Grey Rd and four on 3rd Ave. So, even with the higher levels of automobile traffic, Pt Grey had fewer collisions. With the planned traffic diversion, traffic calming measures and separated bike lanes from Alma west, Pt Grey should be pretty safe for people of all ages to cycle on.

Point Grey Safer Option than 1st Avenue

Some people have suggested using 1st Avenue as the bicycle route west of Balaclava with a path on the south side of Pt Grey between Macdonald and Balaclava leaving Pt Grey still open to high levels of speeding traffic. This proposal has many of the problems that 3rd currently has. Cyclists would have to cross busy Pt Grey at Macdonald then cross busy Alma and then cross Pt Grey again at Wallace. Cyclists would have to face 10 intersections on 1st instead of only one on Pt Grey dramatically increasing the risk of injury. 1st is hillier than Pt Grey and is much less scenic making it a route that cyclists are not very likely to chose. While 1st looks like a direct route on the map, the hill and all the intersections would make it a slower, less efficient and more dangerous route than Pt Grey.

Hills are More Dangerous

Research has found cycling downhill to be more dangerous than cycling on flatter routes. Pt Grey is a much flatter route than any other options including the current Seaside route on Trafalgar, York, Stephens and 3rd.

On-street Parking is Dangerous for Everyone

Pedestrians

European priorities for pedestrian safety,European Transport Safety Council page 13

Invisibility Pedestrians can be difficult to see: They are small compared to a car, and can be hidden by one. At night the problem is more severe. A parked car is the most commonly cited source of obstruction.

Parked cars are a traffic hazard for pedestrians, particularly children. Research has shown that prohibiting on-street parking improves safety. The number of accidents is reduced by about 25% in streets where on-street parking is prohibited.

From European Commission, Directorate-General Transport and Energy, page 16

Pedestrian crashes often occur when people are trying to cross the street on links outside pedestrian crossings or where no pedestrian crossings exist. One of the causes is the driver’s difficulty in perceiving pedestrians because of darkness and/or parked cars. In the United Kingdom, nearly 90% of the injuries to older pedestrians which are caused by motor vehicles happen under such conditions. In over 10% of cases, the driver cannot see pedestrians because of parked cars.

Vehicle speeds were slower in the presence of occupied on-street parking bays compared to the other two environments; however, the speed reduction was insufficient to compensate for observed impairments in drivers’ hazard perception and slower response to the pedestrian in this condition.

Cyclists

On-street parking is dangerous for people cycling due to dooring, conflicts with automobiles pulling in or out of parking and reduced visibility of vehicles pulling out of driveways. All three of these problems exist on Point Grey Road.

Parents Cycling Along Pt Grey in Door Zone

Roads with parked cars pose greatest risk for cyclists: UBC study

It concluded that the greatest risk to cyclists is when they share major streets with parked cars, with no bike lanes present — such as on Broadway in Vancouver — and that without a designated space on the road, cyclists face a greater risk of injury from moving cars and car doors opening.

In contrast, the study concluded, roads with infrastructure designed for cyclists — including bike lanes on major streets without parked cars, residential street bike routes, and off-street bike paths — carry about half the risk, while physically separated bike lanes carry about one-tenth the risk.

Teschke noted that while accidents involving parked car doors — “doorings” — were on the greatest route risk for cyclists, such accidents are responsible for 10 per cent of all accidents involving cyclists.

Dooring is Dangerous to Cyclists

20130710-151810.jpg

Cyclist in Door Lane. Would Driver Have Time to React?

Almost all people cycling along Point Grey are riding in the “door zone”, too close to the parked cars to avoid being hit by a door. This is especially dangerous on downhill sections where cyclist and motor vehicle speeds are higher and breaking distances are longer. Doorings have proven tragic in Vancouver, In 2001, 40 year-old actor Keith Provost was killed riding his bicycle as a result a driver opening a car door in front of him.

Dooring is Dangerous to Drivers

Being forced to suddenly brake or swerve to avoid hitting a fallen cyclist is dangerous for motorists as well. In an attempt to avoid hitting the woman cyclist who fell off the Stanley Park Causeway, the bus skid from the curb lane to the centre lane. It is fortunately a collision with another vehicle did not occur.

20130707-132134.jpg

Parked van blocking view of male cyclist at driveway on Pt Grey

Lack Visibility at Driveways

Currently, parking is allowed too close to driveways along Pt Grey often totally blocking the visibility of cyclists and drivers exiting their driveway. The removal of the parking proposed in the City’s plans will eliminate this problem and make Pt Grey safer for everyone.

The sight distances along Pt Grey are far less than recommended by the provincial government.

Driveways, Parking, Bicycles, and Pedestrians: Balancing Safety and Efficiency

Current practices permit the longitudinal placement of on-street parking too close to driveways. Roads with bike lanes should exclude on-street parking when speeds exceed 30 mph (50 kph) so as to provide adequate sight distance without creating sporadic on- street parking spacing. Roads that do not have bike lanes present should exclude on-street parking when speeds exceed 25 mph (40 kph).

sight_lines_bicycle

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 cycling improvements. Lets realize the safety, health, environmental, social and economic benefits of cycling 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.

Speed Up Building the Bike Network Starting with Pt Grey Cornwall

20130701-001854.jpg

The Point Grey Cornwall Greenway will mark the completion of the Seaside Path in the West Side of Vancouver. As with the rest of the Seaside Path, every year it will be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors of all ages bringing customers to businesses in Kits and Point Grey.

The well funded and organized opponents of the Point Grey Cornwall Greenway are complaining that the city is moving too fast and want them to slow down the implementation of these badly needed improvements.

The reality is that the city is not moving very fast at all in the implementation of bike lane and greenway networks. A greenway along Point Grey and Cornwall was recommended way back in the 1995 Greenway Plan almost two decades ago. Bike lanes on Cornwall Point Grey were included in the city’s 1997 Transportation Plan way back when Philip Owen was Mayor. The plan also included bike lanes on several arterial roads including Commercial, Victoria, Kingsway, Nelson, Smithe, Howe, Seymour and Beach. Today, 16 years later, none of these streets have bike lanes yet. The Plan also included bike lanes on Burrard from the Bridge to 16th, Alma from Point Grey to 4th The 1999 Bicycle Plan also included bike lanes on 16th, 49th andKing Edward

1997 Transportation Plan Bike Lanes and Bikeways

Twelve years after the 2001 False Creek Pedestrian & Cycling Crossings Study recommended improvements to all three bridges, Burrard Bridge is the only one that has been improved.

So, by slowing down, what do the opponents of all ages cycling on Point Grey Cornwall mean? One year, five years, twenty years? Never?

20130707-000501.jpg

Child cycling on Point Grey Sidewalk

Today’s children should be able to cycle safely around the city while they are still children.

Other cities are moving way faster than Vancouver in implementing separated bike lanes that are safe and comfortable for people of all ages including children and seniors.

Seville
Seville perfectly demonstrated the advantages of rapidly building cycling facilities. In four years, they invested $42 million to complete a network of 78 km separated bike lanes throughout the city. In addition, they also installed a 2,500 bicycle bike sharing system. As a result, bicycle mode share increased from 0.2% to 6.6% and cycling trips increased from 2,500 to 70,000 per day. Perhaps more importantly, it is now quite common to see children cycling in the city.

Sydney, Australia
The City of Sydney is investing $71 million over 4 years to build a 200km cycling network including 55km of separated cycleways. Currently one per cent of trips into the city are made on bicycle – the city aims to increase this number to 10 per cent by 2016.

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 cycling improvements. Lets realize the health, safety, environmental, social and economic benefits of cycling 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.

VPD Endangering Lives with Helmet Tickets

Lately I’ve been questioning if issuing helmet tickets is really the best use of police time. Helmets on cyclists don’t prevent collisions and certainly don’t make the roads safer for motorists or pedestrians.

Still, before today, I also thought maybe there some value to ticketing helmet less cyclists as helmets do provide some protection although not as much as many think. That was based on the assumption that police knew what they were doing when handing out tickets.

Well, that proved to be a really bad assumption. This afternoon, I was heading downtown along Cornwall when I saw two women standing on the street with bicycles talking with a man with a red quad on Chestnut at Burrard. As this is one of the most dangerous places to stand on the road at one of the most dangerous intersections in Vancouver, I thought that really can’t be a police officer giving out helmet tickets, can it?

For those not familiar with Chestnut, it is the first street off the south side of Burrard Bridge heading to the Planetarium. It is a blind corner due to a wall surrounding a pool and there is no sidewalk on the east side. The turn off Burrard is downhill making for longer stopping distances. People often walk on the road due to the lack of a sidewalk putting them in the path of turning cars and tour buses. There is also on street parking on the west side. Head on collisions between vehicles could result from drivers turning to avoid pedestrians or opening car doors. Bottom line is that it is dangerous for everyone. I have an outbox full of messages to the city on the many dangerous situations I have witnessed drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in at this corner. The City is even proposing closing the intersection to motor vehicles as part of the Cornwall Point Grey Greenway project.

As I was rather worried about people’s safety, I swung back to be sure it wasn’t. Well, it was. A Vancouver police officer giving out helmet tickets to the women, one of whom was standing a metre and a half or so away from the curb where she could have easily been hit by a turning car or bus. Being concerned, I told them to get off the road. I told the officer about the danger and that it was a horrible place to give out tickets. I suggested he ticket somewhere else, pretty much anywhere else.

20130705-183521.jpg

Still, he stopped a male cyclist and had him stand in the road a bit closer to the curb than the women. He stopped another cyclist on Cornwall and had him walk around the blind corner. Not that safe either. He at least got a bit of a hint and had him stand on the grass off the road. Still, an officer should be trained to stop people in safe places. A civilian should not have to tell him something is not safe.

Not only was ticketing here unsafe for the cyclists and the officer, a driver steering to avoid them could hit another vehicle head on.

This brings up many questions including officer training. If this is not an isolated incident, the enforcement of the helmet law may be actually placing people at risk. Given the debate around effectiveness of the helmet law and the low percentage of fines that are being paid perhaps is it time that the BC Government grant a blanket exemption of the lawpending a full review as to its effects on the safety and health of British Columbians.

If you have experienced or witnessed other incidents where police enforcement has put you or others at risk, please detail them in the comments.

Never hurts to send a quick email to Premier Clark Premier@gov.bc.ca recommending that it is time for the Province to reconsider the Helmet Law.

Separated All Ages Bike Lanes Needed on Cornwall

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 <mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca> 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 a Great Cycling Route – Will Build on Success
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.

Separated Bike Lanes Benefit Everyone
Most people use a variety of modes to get around. Even though the majority don’t cycle daily, they may cycle often enough to prefer the safety, comfort and convenience benefits of separated bike lanes on Cornwall. Or they likely have friends and family who cycle. Whatever their reasons, significantly more people supported measures including the reallocation of lanes of traffic on Burrard Bridge and the separated bike lanes on Hornby in spite of widely held perception that motor vehicle travel times would increase.

Bus Bike Lane
Both to improve the street for transit and make it safer for everyone, a 24 hour 7 day a week bus bike lanes in addition to a separated all ages cycling facility would be a great idea. The city has not been really that proactive on transit priority measures. This would be a great place for them.

A bus/bike lane would speed transit and provide a safer, more comfortable space for those people who want to continue to cycle on the street. On off-peak hours, the second lane only seems to encourage aggressive driving as drivers quickly make lane changes to pass cars travelling at the speed limit, buses and cyclists.

This is a good idea even if (or especially if) there is an all ages path or lane on Cornwall as it will encourage faster moving cyclists to use the road decreasing conflicts and reducing congestion on the path especially with the packs of sport cyclists that are often using Cornwall. This will allow the path to be narrower as well.

Cycling in the Door Lane
Almost all the cyclists I have observed on Cornwall, cycle in the lane with the parked cars and are way to close to the doors. Especially on the long downhill stretch from Larch to Arbutus, cycling in this door zone is especially dangerous as cyclists are traveling faster and the breaking distance for cyclists and motor vehicles is greater. As dooring accounts for between 10-15% of cycling collisions, this is a very critical safety concern.

If there must be on street parking from Larch to Arbutus in particular, it all should be moved to the north (up hill) side of Cornwall. Cyclists will be going much slower and will hopefully have a separated path right next to them that they can easily access. Even then, I’d recommend widening the lane where there is parking to get cyclists out of the door zone.

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.

Cycling in Cities
Cycle tracks or separated bike lanes Cornwall score better on 3 of the top 4 motivators for cycling than York: “The route has beautiful scenery”, “The route has bicycle paths separated from traffic for the entire distance”, “The route is flat”, while “The route is away from traffic noise and pollution” is the top motivator, A cycle track along a major street still is a more desirable route than a residential street with traffic calming according to Cycling in Cities.
This is backed up by the current usage of Cornwall and York. A major street with parked cars rates the lowest of all infrastructure (16th) for cycling while a residential street with no traffic calming rates 5th. In spite of this, more cyclists chose to cycle along Pt Grey Cornwall than York. This is strong indication that there is little desire for most people to cycle on York. No amount of engineering or traffic calming will fix this.
Tourists and Recreational Cyclists
As they are out for a nice ride to enjoy the scenery, they are not likely to use York. They will want to cycle by Kits Beach Park to Arbutus or Yew. Both Yew and Arbutus are busy streets in the summer. It is not likely that people will use them to get up to York for only 2 or 3 blocks to get to Burrard Bridge. The same for people cycling to Kits Beach or Kits Pool. This increase will likely be a boon for many area business.

Congestion
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.
 

Take Action