Bike Lanes on Commercial Drive?

September 22, 2014

The first round of segregated bike tracks has essentially concerned non essential transit corridors (Dunsmuir, Hornby…), but it is natural for cyclists to expect similar bike facilities on the Main arterial of the city, where shopping destination are located. Not surprisingly some groups are making pressure toward it. That should be an opportunity for the various municipal candidates to offer their vision and their differentiators on a complex problem which will require significant trade-off, and priority setting. Since transit has been much neglicted by the current council, the prospect of bike lane along transit corridors become a matter of concerns for Transit advocates

Below is an exert of the “Commercial Drive Campaign” by “Streets for Everyone” :

Commercial street redesigned as per StreetForeveryone group

Commercial street redesigned as per “Streets For For Everyone” group [3]

The main strength of this proposal is that it exists and provides a basis for discusssion. It also highlight the reason of our concerns in regard of Vancouver bike lanes: They obey to a disturbing sense of priorities:

  • “Our plan leaves parking intact on both sides of the street”

…The same sense of priorities which could have lead to pave Kitsilano park to save street parking. Here there is no park, but there is the very important transit route 20, which is neglicted: It is nevertheless called a “win-win-win” proposal by some bike lanes advocates for the reasons below:

mode Improvment
Pedestrians
Cyclists
Transit Users
Car Users
Emergency Vehicles

This layout, where the bus can be hold back by left and right turning cars, as well as the occasional parking car, is obviously very detrimental to Transit:

  • On could expect the average speed of the bus 20, actually ~ 14km/h, to slow down to the one of the bus 5 or 6 (lower than 9km/h), which face similar street configuration (single traffic lane + parking lane). Speed is an issue, reliability is another one.

Such a slow down can have a dramatic impact

  • On the attractivity of Transit, defeating a purpose of a street calming effort (get more people to choose alternative mode to car)
  • On the operating cost of the line. so such proposal can be in be fact very costly [1].

It is hence very important to find a compromise which not only is not detrimental to Transit but can also be an opportunity to improve it:

Thought Commercial Drive is relatively narrow (80feet), it is possible to find an arrangement which improve the bike experience as well as the Transit experience:

Commercial2


CommercialScene2
The bike lane + bus lanes is 4.5meters wide…the all purpose lanes total 9m wide (including separator), leaving space for sidewalks not narrower than today

The width of the all purpose lanes is what can be seen on most of the Vancouver residential street, such as 6th avenue (#Commerical),

  • It is enough to preserve a parking lane, but that means drivers must be willing to “share the street” and negociate with other drivers, as illustrated in the above rendering, on some uncommon but possible traffic case involing large vehicles
  • Traffic lane are ~3m wide, not unlike the traffic lanes on Number 3 road in Richmond (North of Westminster Hwy)
    • Narrow traffic lanes are a powerful device toward traffic calming
  • The bus lane on the parking lane side is “protected”, both from dooring and ill parked vehicles, while the one on the other side can be infringed (“mountable obstacle”) to allow occasional passing of large vehicle
  • The Bus+bike lanes are 4.5meter wide, a parisian standard [4]. Could it be possible to slighlty separate them, in a Dutch way (that is by having raised bike lane)? may be, but the preservation of a parking lane make the proposal difficult.
  • The bus lanes morph in emergency lane when needed

All in all:

mode Improvment
Pedestrians
Cyclists
Transit Users
Car Users
Emergency Vehicles

The above is a suggestion fitting better the objective of the 2040 Vancouver transportation plan: It must certainly exist better layouts. A complete economic analysis of a street layout could be useful to determine the objective value of one layout vs another one [1].

This proposal, as the “Streett for everyone” one, is uncompatible with the Mayors council idea of a hierarchized (local+express) transit service on Commercial, idea proposed for the Transit referendum

Intersection treatments

“Street for every one” suggests “dutch intersections” pretty much every where:

The ducth intersection offers dangerous conflict points, if one street doesn’t have bike lanes

We prefer a more traditional bike box (doubled of a “queue jumper”) on street bereft of bike lanes: A solution avoiding some unnecessary conflict, and also more friendly to pedestrians (no detour imposed around the dutch “circle”):

Bike boxes on crossing streets are used to do a left turn

Bike boxes on crossing streets are used to do a left turn


[1] Here, we mention only the Transit operating cost, which could increase in the tune of million of $ due to lack of bus priority, but Transit lack of efficiency has more generalized social cost, in term of lost time,… as suggested by George Poulos on Price Tags

[2] See also Urban reality and transitized viewpoint.

[3] The blue car in the rendering is a Toyota Passo, it is a sub compact car, not seen in North America. We have included the same car in our rendering along other more common model seen in the Vancouver street to provide a better idea of the width of the different lanes.

[4] The STM is also experimenting a 4.5 meter wide bus+bike lane on Viau Street in Montreal, albeit with slightly different configuration (see “Can buses and bikes safely use the same reserved lane?, Montreal Gazette, July 14, 2014 )/p

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3 Responses to “Bike Lanes on Commercial Drive?”

  1. coreyburger Says:

    Bus-bike lanes are terrible bike infrastructure and work for neither party. Certainly not the highly comfortable protected bike lanes by streets for everybody.

    • Voony Says:

      Your concerns about the bike+bus lanes are legitimate, and I plan to write a post to address them. but as a primeur here a couple of point.

      the bike + bs lanes in the illustration are 15 feet wide, (vs 10 or 11 feet wide for a nomrla lane): eventually there is room for some sort of segregation in a “dutch way”, but for sure the lane is wide enough to be safe and comfortable for its users.

      For the bus stop: I also prefer the “dutch configuration” as below (vs weaving into the bike lane, such as seen on Richmond Number 3 road or Paris):


  2. […] on Transit with a bus lane on Commercial Drive We are considering the previously presented Commercial Drive proposal as illustrated […]


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