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.

Protected Bike Lanes Great for Pedestrian Safety

20141124-104004-38404798.jpg

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

 

$45 Million for Cycling, Walking & Transit in Draft Capital Plan

Badly needed improvements for walking and cycling on the Granville and Cambie Bridges are along the projects including in the City of Vancouver in draft capital plan for 2015-2018. Also in the plan is a long overdue upgrade to the Burrard Pacific intersection. The total amount for new cycling, walking and transit totals $45 million over the four yours. As TransLink is responsible for the majority of transit funding, most of the $45 million will be devoted to cycling and walking.

The Granville Bridge is currently the worse in the city for cycling. Not surprisingly, the cycling commuting levels are much lower in the area south of the bridge than in other areas of Vancouver the same distance from Downtown. Making the Bridge safer should dramatically increase the number of people cycling to work.

Other cycling improvements listed are the completion of the Comox Helmcken Greenway and the upgrading of the Adanac, Ontario and 10th Avenue Bikeways so they are safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. For walking, the plan features pedestrian safety and public realm improvements in the Downtown Eastside, Marpole, Mount Pleasant and West End community plans.

Not mentioned are separated bike lanes on Commercial Drive which are on hold waiting for the completion of the Grandview Woodlands area plan. Also not included is the completion of the Portside Greenway nor separated bike lanes on Smithe/Nelson, a big network gap downtown.

The final plan will go before voters for approval this November following public consultation over the next few weeks and approval by council in the fall. What actually gets implemented will depend on the next council so make sure you support candidates who support cycling.

Never hurts to send a quick email to Mayor Gregor Robertson and Council mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca supporting investment in cycling and walking.
More info on the Capital Plan including public consultation: http://vancouver.ca/your-government/capital-plan.aspx

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

 

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.

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.

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.