Some people ask,

Many parks have bike paths, or scenic drives. Some have even a train, what is the problem with Kits beach?

Bike path at Trout Lake and motor road at Stanley park - credit photo left (1), right (3)

The problem is one of geometry:

  • A park needs to be accessible
    • The larger a park is, the more it needs to have access infrastructure, if one want to see it “used”.
  • The smaller is the park, the more a new infrastructure impacts it

Trout Lake is not only much bigger than Kits beach park (overlayed on it), but it has also a square shape, when Kits beach is a “strip park”. Notice also that there is no continuous street on the East side of the park (where the bike path is)

According to what is measured, the impact of a bike path along Kits beach (around 1.1km) is between 2.5% of the total park area to 10% of the effective green space (vegetation):

The different space allocation of Kitsilano park. A bike path can have a significant impact on the useability of the park

In comparison, John Hendry park (Trout lake) is 27Ha and has a ~900m bike path. Kits beach a 50% smaller park, could have a bike path 40% longer than John Hendry park. The Trout lake bike path occupies roughly 1% of the park area. A number order of magnitude lower than in the Kitsilano Beach case

  • Some shapes are better than other

Comparing surfaces area disregarding their shapes is missing the most critical informations on the quality of the space

paved area (grey) surface  is the same in the left and right case. but no volleyball court fit in the left one, when 2 fit in the right one

paved area (grey) surface is the same in the left and right case.
but no volleyball court fit in the left one, when 2 fit in the right one

Kitsilano is a narrow “strip park”, which usuability can be quickly compromised, if it can’t offer swaths of grass of sufficient size for spontaneous activities, usually occuring on grass that is ball games but not only; spontaneous activities typically occur on space with non defined use.

SlacklinerCollingwoodPark

Kids playing soccer, young practicing Slacklining: a sample of many spontaneous activity observed this week-end at Collingwood park, all of them requring swath of grass of sufficient size

A good picnic site, in addition of a good view, also requires an agreable environment able to maintain a minimun of “social distance”, with other people and activities…what requires a certain size, too

One of the problem with a bike path into Kitsilano park, as initially approved by the park board [2], is that it will impact other activities justifying a park in the first place. If the park board proceeds as it wants, there is no doubt, the bike path will be successful, but that also means, that our seaside will become increasingly homogeneous, geared toward the enjoyment of cycling only, instead to offer a wide and diverse range of recreational activities

Fortunately, it is possible to provide a safe and scenic ride to cyclists, with minimal impact to the park, and its current usages, as we have seen here and in more detail, there. The question rest, does the Park board will finally listen?


[1] twitter user neil21

[2] Seaside Greenway Improvements,Vancouver Park Board, Oct 1st, 2013

[3] flickr user keepitsurreal

…or the robfordisation [7] of a bike lobby…

People looking at the bike lanes from the plane, tend to see all of them as created equal…and after all, a massive mall development, be at Oakridge in Vancouver, or at Tsawassen could also looks the same as seen from the plane… it is then easy to frame the debate as pro vs anti bike lane… but on the ground it could quickly appears that the reality could be a bit more complex:

  • As we have seen before: Why insisting to bisect a narrow and crowded park, when perfect alternatives, still offering a seaside experience to the cyclists, are able to satisfy all parties?

Bike lanes on the street

the bike path at English bay is on the Beeach avenue ROW, making the best use of the narrow strip of grass

the bike path at English bay is on the Beach avenue ROW, making the best use of the narrow strip of grass

Could such an alternative be that difficult to implement at Kits point:

Arbutus

A bike path can be implemented along Arbutus, providing some minor alterations: In this option, Arbutus is one way north of Creelman, and lost parking space on its west side, south of it (to preserve 2 way general traffic)

The example above considers the bike path along Arbutus,

  • To preserve park space as much as possible
  • To provide a seamless conection with the future York’s bike lane, and in longer term a Rapid transit station at Arbutus#broadway (making Arbutus a desire path to join Kits beach)

The example above is not the sole solution on the street but is provided to demonstrate that alternative exists:

  • They offer far less dramatic change than the one involved by the closure of Point Grey
    • The illustrated option converts Arbutus one way, to preserve parking space- but around 20 space are lost south of Creelman, if the bike bath is kept routed on Arbutus (that is no more than the current proposal by the park board) south of the tennis courts
  • They provide a defacto lighted path at night, and eye on the street, so enhancing the general safety feeling at no additional cost (no additional lighting)
  • They could please or not the residents, could need to be altered according to their feedback, but since they haven’t been presented to them, we don’t know

What we know, is that the Vancouver park board refuses, so far, to consider such compromise and prefers, the below solution, adding basically nothing to the cycling experience, but certainly removing an important park space.

the 3.5meter wide bike lane cut accross the park…depriving the park of a significant swath of grass for better use of it

Shared space

A similar solution (bike lane on the street ROW) at Ogden could be in place as easily, nevertheless, the very low level of traffic on it could justifies a shared street arrangement, something planned on the future traffic calmed Point Grey Rd, part of the same seaside bike route [4][6]:

The seaside bike way at Point Grey Road at TRutch will share the road with local traffic

The seaside bike way on Point Grey Road at Trutch: cyclists will share the road with local traffic

Why the above solution is considered good on the Point Grey portion of the seaside bikeway, and not at Odgen road, lining Hadden park?

To be sure, as illustrates the desires line below, it is not a problem for cyclists:

this googleView shows the desire lane of the cyclists: coming from Vanier: they overwelmngly go to Ogden avenue, in despite of a steep slope (which could need to be gentled), rather than trying to continue along the pedestrian path – the marked path in Hadden park is mainly created by cycling coming from Kitsilano beach (no option)

Shared space for bike is often the recommended alternative, as explained by the Bicycle network, an Australian cycling advocacy group:

When speeds and volumes of motor vehicles are low enough, no separate space is needed for bikes – they share the road with motor vehicles. Quiet, slow streets not only allow children and family groups to walk and ride in comfort, they also allow more interaction between people using the street. This usually requires restrictions to motor vehicles access to keep actual speeds and numbers of motor vehicles low (30km/h and 3000 per day) as well as complementary measures to favour walking and cycling. [1]

There is no recent traffic number for Ogden, the latest ones available, suggest a traffic of ~500 vehicle a day (in March 93) to ~1500 vehicle a day (July 98), what makes the street apriori suitable to be shared by both car and cyclist. To be sure:

  • More recent traffic data should be collected
  • Traffic calming measure can be implemented to reduce further the traffic and speed there

Again, such possibility is quickly dismissed without analysis: The population of Metro Vancouver grows steadily by an average of 40,000 people annually, and we have little if no room to create new park spaces, even less with waterfront and beach, and serviced by frequent transit. So all measures should be taken to minimize unecessary paving of this space…but still it is obviously not what is happening. Why?

The park board doesn’t provide answers, but what is also of a concern is that some bike lanes apologists also refuse to consider that other solutions, minimizing impact on the park, can exist. why?

The robfordisation of a bike lobby

Some bike lobbyists share the common though with Rob ford:
The street is too dangerous for cycling, and cycling belong to the park, or at minimum requires segregation

That is, as Rob Ford, they give up on the idea of sharing the street and tame the car, and advocate for segregation everywhere,…but like the bike helmet law, the segregation paradigm foments widespread and largely unjustified fears about cycling outside of bike lane, especially when they are used unappropriately (that is neither for cycling safety nor comfort). The fact that some proeminent bike lobbyists use this fear card, to exclude cycling on street seeing less than 500 vehicles/day [3], is just doing a disservice to the cycling cause, since we don’t gonna install segregated bike on every single street in our city…or are we?

[2] gives a reason for that: cycling groups, in as much as they choose to concentrate on political lobbying rather than facilitating cycling socially, benefit from maintaining the segregation paradigm because they legitimise their existence by the results of their lobbying and segregation policies (whatever their real effects on cycling) and offer faster and more clearly quantifiable results of political value to show their constituencies

What should have been a tool, segregated bike lane, to be used appropriatly, to facilitate and encourage cycling, is becoming a goal in itself:

For this reason, some bike lane apologists [3] wholeheartly embraces the paving of a park, and dismisses any research of better compromise…and to justify a such extrem position, the arguments are well known, they are exactly the same that the road builders use (asphalt is asphalt!):

  • We have already pave a lot of the park, why stop there?
  • (As for the Massey tunnel:) There is lot of congestion, we need more space for our constituency
  • (As for the Sea to sky Hwy and the tunnel), We do it for the sake of safety, and especially the little children
    • And the ones playing in the playground will be put behind a fence to not pose a safety hazrd for cyclists [5]

None makes good sense, when better alternatives exist…


[1] Notice that some other publications consides that shared space can work with as much as 5,000 vehicle a day, see Traffic Calming and Cycling

[2] Segregated cycling and shared space in today’s cities, Garcia, Velo-city 2009 Conference, Brussels, Belgium

[3] see Richard Campbell blog for an example of the tone.

[4] To make sure, to not be misunderstood, It is eventually useful to remember my position on it, as worded on the Gordon PRice’s blog

[5] Seaside Greenway Improvements,Vancouver Park Board, Oct 1st, 2013

[6] Seaside Greenway Completion and York Bikeway (Phase 1 of Point Grey-Cornwall Active Transportation Corridor),General Manager of Engineering Services, City of Vancouver, July 16, 2013

[7] neologism, to express the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, view of the world…By the way, Rob Ford also recently inaugurated a segregated bike lane

The bike lane vs the park

October 16, 2013

…Or should a bike lane be built at any price…

The Vancouver park board, seems to believe that the public consulation on the Cornwall-Point Grey bike lane, makes a similar public engagement redundant when comes the time to design a seaside bikelane at Kitsilano Beach. Instead, an intercept survey was chosen: the following question was asked to 370 “park users” :

Our goal is to make walking and cycling in and through the parks safer, more convenient, and more comfortable – without compromising the many ways, people use the park. Do you support this goal?

95% naturally supported this laudable goal…but does that give license to the park board to aprove anything, as long as it is called a bike lane, as it has done on October 7th by approving a $2.2 million path bisecting the Kitsilano park?

The need for a bike lane

There is no question that Kitsilano park is very well used: bikes and pedestrians cohabitation on the current seaside path is problematic. In an effort to reduce conflicts, cyclists are asked to dismount on the stretch along the beach itself on busy days… Some cyclists comply….

There is no question either that cyclists are here overwhelmingly on a leisure trip, looking at a seaside experience:

  • the fact that a route thru Kits point is unconvenient to commuter cyclist is a reason why it has not been pursued by the Cornwall-Point Grey team [2]
  • The selected route, York, didn’t remove the need to improve cycling facilities for recreational user looking at a seaside experience.

This was recognized in the Cornwall-Point Grey consultation, deferring improvment to the existing seaside greenway between Balsam and Burrard to further consultation with park users [2]….

Instead of “improvments” to the existing path, the park board is preferring to build a new one, albeit a reasonnable option…but which is proceeding without consultation:

the planned bike route

the planned bike route

…That is the most detailled map provided by the Park board staff [1]….it was considered good enough by the Vancouver park board to approve the project on October 7,2013.

The alignment raises several questions:

  • it doesn’t connect in any meaningful way with the York Avenue bike lane
    • That could be done at Balsam street on the West side, but more importantly at either Yew street or Arbutus street on the East side
  • it seems to multiply the zone of conflicts rather than to reduce them between the foot of Yew street and the Boathouse restaurant (this part of the park is heavily used by sun bathers)
  • Among many safety hazards, cyclists will eventually have to deal with backing trucks.

  • In other part of the park, it “sterilizes” large swath of the park, that is bisecting the park in such way that some part become practically unsuable as illustrated below -where a ~10 meter wide strip is made unavailable for usual park use:

the 3.5meter wide bike lane cut accross the park…Notice the swath of grass on the right becomes practically not useable by park users

The bike lane could have been put on Arbutus street, a neighborood street in Kits point, but apparently the park board has considered the 66feet wide street too narrow for adding a bike lane:

Arbutus street at Kits point: the 66 feet wide neighborood street s apparently too narrow to accomodate a bike lane

Arbutus street at Kits point: the 66 feet wide neighborood street s apparently too narrow to accomodate a bike lane

A similar observation could be done at Hadden park, where cyclist are already separated of the sea by the Maritime musseum, and where a bike path on Ogden avenue could not compromise the seaside experience either:

Ogden avenue along hadden park, offer already  a great cycling experienc which just need to be connected with the rest of the network

Ogden avenue along hadden park, offer already a great cycling experienc which just need to be connected with the rest of the network

In both case, it requests to suppress some parking spots. Something the park board seems wary to do, in fact the report mentions [1]:

    The parking lot at the foot of McNicholl Street will be reduced but leave twenty spots, including ten with waterfront views. Impact on parking revenues is considered to be negligible.

Should we be relieved that no parking spot with water front view has been endangered by the bike lane?

Beyond the park board, here lies the problem of the party ruling Vancouver: As we have noticed before, their bike lanes agenda, is a single and narrow minded one…it is one consisting of laying down bike lanes at the exclusion of any other considerations and for that, it follows the path of least resistance, instead to make clear choice:

  • Reallocating space for cyclits at the expense of the car, and not other vulnerable users

Everything needs to give way to the bike lane.

The connection between Hadden park (Ogdon Avenue) and Kitsilano beach (Arbutus) should have been open to discussion: Does a bend to follow as close as possible the shoreline (like done in the proposal) is really necessary?

  • One should weight the benefits of a brief moment of extra scenery for cyclists against the costs of eliminating prime space for picnickers, and constructing a longer and convoluted route (eventually preventing cyclists to spread out further west

Thought that the usual suspects will be against the kitsilano bike lane for the sake to be against a bike lane, they will feel conforted in their battle by being joined by people coming of a quarter which should haven’t been bothered: the defensors of our parks….

One doesn’t need to be against bike lanes, to recognize, once again, tha lack of judgement from the Vancouver park board: Eventually due to lack of proper consultation, this bike lane suffering of lack of though is ill conceived (*).

We already hear the unconditional supporters of bike lanes pointing at the successfully used bike lane to prove us wrong…Exactly same logic could apply whether the park board had elected to build a parking lot instead of a bike lane.

(*) To be sure it is a done deal suffering no discussion [3]


[1] Seaside Greenway Improvements,Vancouver Park Board, Oct 1st, 2013

[2] Seaside Greenway Completion and York Bikeway (Phase 1 of Point Grey-Cornwall Active Transportation Corridor),General Manager of Engineering Services, City of Vancouver, July 16, 2013

[3] Kits Beach bike path a done deal, Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier – October 15, 2013

A follow up of the Knight street Bridge post

We are at the SB on Ramp from SE Marine Drive to Knight Street Bridge (apriori into Vancouver juridiction), the location is 7800 Knight bridge street according to VPD tickets issued right there…But who should get a ticket?

Who should get a ticket? the cyclist or the sign owner, Mainroad (their trailer license plate read 9552 3Y)?

According to the Vancouver Police Department, the ticket issued will look like below:

$29 Helmet fine on Knight street bridge issued on March 4, 2013

$29 Helmet fine on Knight street bridge issued on March 4, 2013 (some fields masked to preserve privacy of both the offender and police officer)

Nota: It was no movable sign, at the time the ticket was issued, but a police cruiser was parked exactly the same way. The cops, far to be ashamed to block the bike lane, were explaining it was dangerous to ride on the roadway without an helmet. No argument is necessary in such case…

Indeed it is dangerous (the most dangerous spot in Canada by the way!): Could it be the cyclists fault?

Did you see the cyclist? the semi trailer, apparently, didn’t! …but we have a bike helmet law isn’it?

The result of it, in the last 5 years,

  • 13,154 helmet ticket issued in the last 5 years [2]
  • How many ticket, for dangerous obstruction of a bike lane? [1]

[1] Is it illegal to deliberately obstruct a bike lane? apparently not in BC!

[2] Ticketed cyclists not paying their helmet fines,Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, Sunday June 9th, 2013

Cycle Chic in Vietnam

June 12, 2013

HanoiCycleChic

…but may be they dream to buy a scooter?

Cyclist beware: We are talking of the most dangerous road in whole Canada.

According to many maps, there is a separated bike lane able to make your trip safer, shielded from street-racer (Knight street is a favorite spot for that), armada of container trucks barreling down Knight street and other intimidating traffic. Here we go:

KnightBikeLaneNarrow

If you bike can fit into the bike lane, you will have to find your way among debris and other waste, courtesy of Richmond city

The bike lane, not much wider than a bike handle bar, is supposed to be bi-directional, and shared with pedestrian:

Entering or exiting the bike lane, can be challenging:

It is hard to get on the mandatory cycle track


The bike lane is mandatory, says the sign, posted 350 meter after the beginning of the concrete barrier (in black on map): Does cyclists are really expected to jump onto the barrier?

Some cyclists will prefer to use the roadway, but most will try to use the bike lane:

The concrete barriers start at Richmond Bridgeport interchange-No indication provided to cyclist-to be on the right side of it, suppose to cycle on the Richmond sidewalk: that is not allowed!

The concrete barriers start at Richmond Bridgeport interchange: to be on the right side of it, suppose to cycle on the Richmond sidewalk: that is illegal!

  • beside jumping onto the concrete barrier, the only other option is to ride illegally the Bridegport sidewalk in Richmond

The later option is the one usually preferred by the cyclists, what tends to irate pedestrians and transit riders waiting their bus there:

  • The Bridegport sidewalk is narrow, and has bus stops

Exiting of it, is also a bit of challenge in itself too:

East side bike lane, merging to Knight Street in Vancouver: Welcome to the real world !- Where the handrail stands is the entrance of a trail joining 64th avenue: cyclists are discouraged to use it.

East side bike lane, merging to Knight Street in Vancouver: Welcome to the real world (the most dangerous intersection in Canada say the medias)!- Where the handrail stands is the entrance of a trail joining 64th avenue: cyclists are discouraged to use it.

Did you know that bike are not allowed in bus lane in BC? following the sign is both illegal (breaking with solid lane) and pretty unsafe on this exit ramp.

Did you know that bike are not allowed in bus lane in BC? following the sign is both illegal (breaking solid lines) and pretty unsafe on this exit ramp.

Riding along the bike lane is not a breeze either:

KnightBikeLaneMitchellExitW

Most cyclists fail to dismount their bike and disobey the law regarding using crosswalk (BC MVA 183.2.b ) at ramp crossing, but they still tend to stop for obvious reasons:

narrow entrance at ramp crossing, with bumper, or kerb, are the rule on Knight Bridge

That makes the ride much more cumbersome, and not any safer: gaining momentum from a standing position, require lot of energy, and attention, which is then not focused on traffic as the cyclist in the above picture illustrates.


Better practice from Lyon, France:

The example below is at the Bd Irene Joliot Curie and Bd Pheripherique Laurent Bonnevay intersection (redone when the tramway T4 has been built):

  • Cyclist are not required to stop, at each crossing, even less to dismount, what allows them to spend less time in hazardous zone, and still proceed safely:
LyonExitRampBikeLane

Lyon, FR: entry ramp: Motorist yields to cyclist and pedestrian - exit ramp: cyclist yields to motorist. The bike path hook, provide line of sight on incoming traffic. There is no bike path discontinuity


In the meantime, authorities spare no money to upgrade the roadway for motorists, and cyclist have usually to cope with that:

Sign on Knight bridge, at Mitchell Island interchange, resting in the middle of the pathway, also advertised as a bike lane.

Sign on Knight bridge, at Mitchell Island interchange, resting in the middle of the pathway, also advertised as a bike lane.

The sign had been placed by a City of Richmond’s contractor, and Translink took action to get it removed after got noticed of it

Normal people will obviously give up in face of all those inconvenience (did I mention, the snow and ice on the uncleared bike path in winter?), and the “bike to work” week, will be just that: a week! It is too bad, since it is a bottleneck which deserve much greater attention that it has, and both cycling and transit can go a long way to increase the capacity of Knight Bridge to move people

Nevertheless one can still see either

  • hardcore cyclists, all renegade breaking the law in one way or another, as seen above, and admittedly, it is the only way to cycle decently on Knight bridge
  • or eventually lost cyclists on the bridge (also breaking the law), may be mislead by some cycling maps, presenting the Knight bridge cycle tracks are the same as the Stanley park bike path!

    Cyclist, beware, don’t trust the cycling maps!

    Cyclist could be seen may be also because, taking the bus here is even a worse experience:

    The arduous trail to the Mitchell island bus stop SB: muddy in winter, dusty in summer, slippy all the time!

    The arduous trail to the Mitchell island bus stop SB: muddy in winter, dusty in summer, slippy all the time!

…or perceived safety and objective safety of the cycle tracks

A study on Toronto and Vancouver (Canada) from [4]: the risk of bike infrastructure separated of traffic is under-estimated. Note the result carried for the cycle track is an aberrant and irrelevant one for reason explained in [8]

Usually, Urban segregated bike lanes (cycle tracsk) are perceived as safer than non segregated one, by many cycle advocates and public alike. Alas most accident statistics say otherwise, and most scientific studies conclude, consistently overtime, that segregated bike lanes impair safety by ~20% ([1] summarizes and complete previous studies, see also a list of studies at [9]), some older studies putting this number up to 4 time higher [2].


    Of course, it is possible to find some studies saying otherwise, but usually those studies show significant methodology shortcomings. To focus only on recent Canada centric examples: [5] draws conclusion on cycle track from a field study conducted in cities not having such infrastructure per sei, as seen in [8] and obvious selction biais discredit results from [3] (more critics here and there):

Montreal, QC: In (3), a separate bike path in a one lane residential street (rue Brebeuf) is compared to an up to 6 lanes thoroughfare (rue st Denis) on a 1km section (Rachel to Laurier), where St Denis has more intersection, and higher speed limit than Brebeuf...to conclude that separates bike lane improve cyclist safety! (no indication of motor traffic volume is provided) -

    The most recent study extended to the USA by the same authors, [10], seems to suffer similar flaws [11].


In urban area, most of the cyclist accidents are due to conflict with motor vehicles (85% in French cities according to the OSNIR), and most of them occur at intersection: In Canadian cities, 50% of fatal accidents and 72% of accidents resulting in serious injury occurred at intersections [12].

Thought, that a separated bike lane can remove potential conflicts along a road, and is recognized to reduce risk in such cases, it makes matter worse at intersections: This is mainly due to the fact cyclists, not on the road, tend to be overlooked by other road users, generating conflict at road intersections. The increased risk for cyclist is illustrated below:

According to some study, the cyclist could be up to 4 time safer on the right side of the street - credit photo (6)CycleRisk

According to (2), the cyclist could be up to 12 time safer on the right side of the street - credit photo (6)

Aware of this fact, Some transportation professional organizations don’t recommend separated bike lane: it is the case for the AASHTO in the USA, or the CERTU for urban area in France. A position supported by numeorus cyclist organizations, be in France (FFCT, Fubicy) or Germany (ADFC), which have been at best rather neutral on the development of segregated cycle track, in some case opposed, and consistently advocating against the mandatory use of it. That eventually became the case for most of the french cycle track, circa 2000. For this later purpose a new road sign has been introduced, and Germany is following track:

B22a_PisteCyclable_obligatoire

The cycle in a blue square sign has been introduced circa 2000: it indicates a recommended cycle track. The cycle in a blue disc indicate a mandatory cycle track ... except of course in UK Which has not ratified the Vienna convention on road sign, from which those signs are derived

An issue is that motorists tend to ignore the difference, and harass cyclists not using the cycle tracks

Traffic engineers, on their side, sometimes eager to remove cyclist of the road for their “good”, have worked to increase the safety of separate bike lane:

Reintroduction into general traffic at intersection

Rennes, France: Bike paths merging in general traffic at intersection, and resuming after it


bikeLaneEntranceBdArmorique Rennes, France (Armorique Bld): Cycle track merging in general traffic at intersection, and resuming after it

Treating cyclist as pedestrian at intersection

MapHongKongBikeLaneIntersec

Hong Kong (Along Ting Kok Rd, Kong Kong NT): Cyclists are expected to walk their bikes to the cycle track... and dismount at every intersections...what by the way is seldom respected in despite of the British style staggered pedestrian crossing! -credit photo left (16), right, Google

Cycling Commuters are generally not impressed by those treatments, which are just slowing down their commute, even when the obligation to walk the bike at intersections (Hong Kong case), is obviously widely disregarded by cyclists using such facilities.

The Copenhagen’s Treatment: Blue cycle crossings

Copenhagen, DK: An intersection where potential conflict zones are highlighted in blue

Copenhagen, DK: An intersection where potential conflict zones are highlighted in blue – credit photo (13)

It has been “invented” in Copenhagen in 1981: The basic idea is to mark the area of conflict between motor vehicles and cyclists so road users pay more attention to this conflict and cyclists have a lane marking through the junction area. Alas, while it is found effectively reducing the number of accidents (and injuries) with one line, it increases it with 2 lines or more, according to [13].

A reason for that is that, it becomes too much solicitation for the motorist than he can process – resulting in an increase of rear ending collisions and red light runnings; and provides a false “sense of safety” to the cyclists, becoming more complacent- not doing head check or using hand signals according to [14]– what is consistent with the “naked street and risk compensation theories.

…and more often that not:

Separated bike lanes come with a panoply of restrictive sign

All, in the name of cycling safety of course…

Left, Bideford UK; center, Harlow UK (now dismantled); right Vancouver, CA - credit photo resp (5),(unknown),(16)

But at the end, it is sometimes better to give-up

…than to cut the trees:


ClosCourtelOld

Rennes, France (Clos Courtel Street): A once mandatory segregated bike lane, has been replaced by a painted bike lane, allowing much better visibility of cyclists by other road users - credit photo Google

Should we be Against the separated bike lane?

or…Should we support the helmet law under evidence of greater safety provided by the helmet

Both generate passionate debates, and unfortunately, both generate biased scientific literature too.

  • Supporters of the helmet laws are because they are concerned by the safety of existing cyclists, they will be obviously against separated bike lanes for the same reason. Not surprisingly, most of the anti cyclist lobbyist will fell in this category
  • Supporter of the helmet laws supporting separated bike lane are not logical with themselves and probably grossly misinformed
  • Opponent to the helmet laws, will explain that, while the safety of existing cyclists is important, it is not paramount- One have to take a more holistic view to assess the benefit/drawback of such safety tool than the existing cycling population- and opponent to the helmet laws, without necessarily denying the positive safety effect of the helmet on an individual, will oppose to a law on the ground that it discourages sufficiently cycling to have a general negative effect for the society.
    Same logic apply to the cycle tracks: there is no need to deny their negative effect on road safety, or to produce biased studies to try to counter evidence, to support them: that is only conductive of complacency with poorly designed cycle tracks which do no good for cycling. Former Vancouver Planning Director, Brent Toderian was able to implicitly recognize the safety issue and supporting it [17]: What is important is to produce evidence that the positive effect they induce outweigh their negative ones

  • [1] Traffic safety on bicycle paths – results from a new large scale Danish study, ICTCT workshop Melbourne, 2008

    [2] Signalreglerade korsningars funktion och olycksrisk för oskyddade trafikanter – Delrapport 1: Cyklister. Linderholm, Leif, Institutionen för trafikteknik, LTH: Bulletin 55, Lund 1984

    [3] Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street, Anne C Lusk, Peter G Furth, Patrick Morency, Luis F Miranda-Moreno, Walter C Willett and Jack T Dennerlein, Injury Prevention, February 2011. doi:10.1136/ip.2010.028696.

    [4] Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study, Teschke K, Harris MA, Reynolds CC, Winters M, Babul S, Chipman M, Cusimano MD, Brubacher JR, Hunte G, Friedman SM, Monro M, Shen H, Vernich L, Cripton PA., American Journal of Public Health: December 2012, Vol. 102, No. 12, pp. 2336-2343.

    [5] Safe Cycling: How Do Risk Perceptions Compare With Observed Risk?, Meghan Winters, Shelina Babul, H.J.E.H. (Jack) Becker, Jeffery R. Brubacher, Mary Chipman, Peter Cripton, Michael D. Cusimano, Steven M. Friedman, M. Anne Harris, Garth Hunte, Melody Monro, Conor C.O. Reynolds, Hui Shen, Kay Teschke, Injury Prevention, Canadian Journal of Public Health , Vol 103, No 9, 2012

    [6] Bicycle Quaterly

    [7] Gary James

    [8] Conclusion of both [4] and [5] are drawn from a study carried from May 2008 to Nov 2009 in Toronto and Vancouver. To the bets of our knowledge, it was no “cycle track” in Toronto, and the only ones able to qualify in Vancouver, were an experiment started on July 2009 on Burrard Bridge, with no intersection along the ~1km cycle track segment, and a ~300m segment in one direction on a quiet street (Carral street) with ~300 cars at peak hour with only one very quiet intersection (Keefer street) featuring ~120 car at peak hour (From City of Vancouver’s 2006 traffic count) what is barely representative of a typical cycle track: The result provided for the cycle tracks is hence certainly irrelevant, and that is the reason it stands as an outlier.

    [9] Bicycle Infrastructure Studies review by Ian Brett Cooper

    [10] Bicycle Guidelines and Crash Rates on Cycle Tracks in the United States, Anne C. Lusk, Patrick Morency, Luis F. Miranda-Moreno, Walter C. Willett, Jack T. Dennerlein, American Journal of Public Health, July 2013

    [11] [10] draws conclusion by comparing current crash rate on some cycle tracks with some numbers collected, sometimes in specific situation- like a study on Boston’s bike messengers- more than 10 years ago, without correcting them of external factors, like significant general crashes reduction rate in the last decade, and well documented safety in number effect affecting more particularly the cyclists. Furthermore, one could argue that the “crash rate” is a very poor, if not uncorrelated, proxy, to qualify the safety of a road infrastructure: Roundabout are well-known to increase the rate of crashes, vs a signaled intersection, but they are also well recognized to reduce the risk of serious injuries, most of the crashes being limited to fender-bender type. In other word, a crash rate ratio is not representative of the safety social cost of an infrastructure…what ultimately matter. More awkward [10] suggests that “The AASHTO recommendations may have been influenced by the predominantly male composition (more than 90%) of the report’s authors” without being able to substantiate this assertion, showing that we have here more a opinion paper: attacking the gender of authors to disqualify their works, seems pretty petty at best!

    [12] Vulnerable Road User Safety: A Global Concern, Transport Canada, 2004.

    [13] Safety effects of blue cycle crossings: A before-after study, Søren Underlien Jensen, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 40, Issue 2, March 2008

    [14] Evaluation of Blue Bike-Lane Treatment in Portland, Oregon. Hunter,W.W., Harkey, D.L., Stewart, J.R., Birk, M.L., Transportation Research Record 1705, 2000

    [15] The finding of [13] seems in fact to suggest that the increase in accident and injuries are mainly among motorists, and eventually moped: so that in fact the blue line could effectively be not than “unsafe” for cyclists. Unfortunately, the paper doesn’t provide detailed break down of the injuries according to the transport mode. In any case, the measured global effect is a negative one

    [16] www.vivendesign.com

    [17] Vancouver Embraces Bikes, Adds Lanes, Tim Newcomb, Planning;, Vol. 77 Issue 2, Feb2011

    That is from their May 7th, 2013 issue, which is rich of Transportation perspective,…,
    and eventually illustrates the dichotomy of thought on it between the Western world and Asia

    Jaywalking is responsible of the Beijing traffic woes

    As you could know, Beijing is facing massive traffic issues, and here like too often in North America before, it is considered that the pedestrians are the problem. Enforcing the jaywalking laws is not an easy matter but it is deemed necessary by chinese,…this to be a “world class” country… at par with the USA…
    In Vancouver, Councillor Heather Deal, whose devoted great amount of VPD time and taxpayer money to enforce the local jaywalking laws, couldn’t agree more [5].

    In the Meantime, it is worth to note that in the not so “world class” countries such UK or France, jaywalking is legal as in many other European countries, and still it is generally safer to be a pedestrian there than in Vancouver and more generally in North America.


    Cycling in Hong Kong raises a safety issue

    The edition contains not less than 2 articles related to cycling in Hong Kong: “Cyclist see open roads up ahead”, and “Cyclists face uphill ride on buses, MTR”.

    Cycling is pretty much foreign to Hong Kongers: the fact that the Chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling alliance, Martin Turner, is a British raised individual is tale telling…And when cycling is considered it is mostly for recreational purpose, could lament Martin. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidences seem to show that cycling is on the rise in Hong Kong, like anywhere else, but it seems to be little appetite to quantify that:

    Cycling seems on the rise in Hong Kong, and it becomes increasingly difficult to find a free spot to park your bike, before boarding the Transit system

    Cycling seems on the rise in Hong Kong, and it becomes increasingly difficult to find a free spot to park your bike, before boarding the Transit system – notice Police can seize bike tied to the handrail – Credit Photo (4)

    Statistics show that bike accidents are on the rise too. Helmet laws and bike licensing, are called by some quarters, to reverse this worrisome trend!

    Turner has another opinion, and is lobbying for bike rack on bus, like in San Francisco, or Vancouver,…a North American specificity not seen Europe. This promise to be a tough sell, but there is lot of things to do to improve cycling in Hong Kong beside that:

    MapHongKongBikeLaneIntersec

    Hong Kong bike lane (Along Ting Kok Rd, Kong Kong NT): More often that not, Hong Kong's cyclists are expected to walk their bikes to the Bike path... and dismount at intersections...what by the way is usually not respected! -credit photo left (4), right, Google


    Light Rail or Monorail in Kong Kong

    The debate concerns the redevelopment of the former Hong Kong’s airport: Kai Tak, which still look pretty much like below:

    View on Kai Tak, the Former Hong Kong Airport.

    View on Kai Tak, the Former Hong Kong Airport.

    The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) of Hong Kong has a grand vision for the site, which seems reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s cite radieuse, including a “people mover” under the form of a monorail [1]:

    Proposed Monorail for Kai Tak new districtHkMonorailArtistView

    Proposed Monorail for Kai Tak new district

    Veolia operating The Hong Kong Trams, is making the case for a tramway. Many readers of the South China Morning Post support this idea. Norman Y. S. Heung, project manager at the CEDD Office, explains it is “Practically impossible to accommodate tram system at Kai Tak”, because taking too much road space (sic)…Worth to note that most of the area is not even built yet!

    Many other arguments are advanced in favour of the Monorail, which is also presented as a tourist attraction… but at the end the quality of the urban environment is not one of them. It is also explained that the “walking environment will be improved by provision of footbridges and [underpasses]” (sic).

    So Does the Kai Tak’s monorail will look like the Chongqing one , or does Hong Kongers will push for a different street experience, may be on the model of the Kunming’s Zhengyi Rd?

    Left, Chongqing (China): An avenue with a Monorail (opened in 2011) - Right, Kunming (China): Zhengyi Rd offers a Bld experience, which at par with the ones more traditionally founded in Europe - credit photo left (3), right, (4)


    [1] See the video and other information at Hong Kong CEDD

    [2] Old Cat

    [3] South China Morning Post

    [4] VivenDesign

    [5] Vancouver launches campaign to educate ‘fragile’ pedestrians, Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, February 07, 2012.

    Denman Street

    April 25, 2011

    Gordon Price, has an interesting picture of Denman street to illustrate an article posted on citytank:

    Nothing much to say about the architecture quality in the Westend...but still it is a well searched after neighborhood. credit photo (1)

    Interesting picture since it highlights how “dull” can be the architecture standard in Vancouver, but Denman street is still a great street (by Vancouver Standard) in a well desired neighborhood

    Denman street can be much more inviting from the ground. credit photo (2)

    .

    That illustrates more than perfectly the thesis that what is important is not how high or architecturally interesting is a building, but how it meets the people where they are-on the ground…Thesis defended by architect Jack Diamond at a city of Vancouver sponsored event last Tuesday night [3]…and a reason explaining the success of Vancouver urbanism (somewhat termed vancouverism) , in despite of somewhat bland architecture to speak the least.

    Denman has all the ingredients to be a great street:

    • It is properly oriented to benefit of sunlight most of the day, while still offering interesting lighting condition changes during the day
    • It Connects the south and north shore of the peninsula, with great vantage viewpoint at both end, and inviting perspective on English bay
    • Stanley park, the beaches, the seawall, all provide a great deal of pedestrian traffic to capitalize on
    • It is a human scale short stretch street making a consistent beautification project of it very doable

    That said, Denman suffers of some flaws to become a “great” street: it doesn’t capitalize on its natural strengths but tends to ignore it.

    After touring the Stanley park, riding the seawall, or lazying on the beaches, the natural prolongation of those hedonist moments is to enjoy some more urban time at a sidewalk cafe…

    Sure, Denman, doesn’t lack of cheap food joint, and also has some patio restaurants, but does it offer what we are expecting in such location?

    This patio offer a great view on English Bay, but the formal privacy involved by grade separation, prevent the desired contribution to the street-life. Notice that the tortured cherry trees are not necessarily the right essence choice for this specific location

    A canopy providing unwanted shade in this April sun, a poor pavement, accomodating a cramped single table is usually the only other options on Denman...food is to take-away..

    On Denman, there is no sidewalk cafe allowing you to enjoy, while still contributing to, the street-life (what could epitomize the “european style sidewalk cafe” experience). Since Denman street is a very short street which is experienced by virtually 100% of Vancouver tourists the lack of proper treatment of it by a city so pride of its image is for the least, curious.

    Why there is no European style sidewalk cafe here ? Is it due to a cultural difference or a poor treatment of the street, which call for lack of inviting experience? is it a fatality Denman street has to resign to ?

    Montreal has nice streetwalk cafes, and people flock at he venetian hotel in Las vegas to enjoy the "streetwalk" cafe experience. credit phot left (4), right (5)

    Since sidewalk cafe experience can be found in numerous place in North america, and in less extend in Yaletown, Cultural differences fail to explain why Denman shouldn’t be able to offer such an experience.

    Vehicular Traffic is certainly heavy on Denman, but it is more due to "organized" congestion. "cruising" cars are a recognition of it and the natural attractivenesses of Denman street to have a stroll: Sidewalks are overcrowded and don't allow for a rest!

    • There is no lack of people, and potential customers, but the street is not designed for enjoyment…sidewalk are too narrow and crowded, and clearly not sized to allow sidewalk cafes.
    • In despite of lack of bike lanes, cyclists are numerous, but bike rack are at a premium,
    • vehicular traffic is heavy on Denman, but in fact of the 4 lanes dedicated to vehicular traffic, one is used for parking most of the time, and erratic movement on traffic lanes, like left turns, cyclists, bus stops, jaywalkers, directional lane at Robson….make the street not having much more throughput capacity that a reasonably designed 2 traffic lanes street.

    Reduction of Denman to 2 traffic lanes + a median lane is a necessary step to a greater street.

    • The median lane can be used to avoid slower traffic like cyclists, bus stopping, right turning vehicle or as “storage” lane for left turning
    • the median lane can also encourage “responsible” jay walking what is good in heavy traffic area, since it relieve congestion at designated sidewalk crossing, and contribute to make the street a more “shared space”
    • The sidewalk should be the main beneficiary of the space reallocation. benches should be installed and sidewalk patio should be encouraged.

    The inspiring model could be “cappucino strip” (south terrace) in Fremantle, Australia:

    South terrace street in Fremantle, Australia, could accomodate 4 lanes of traffic, but here a different choice has been done...2 lanes of traffic with a median to keep traffic flowing in presence of "obstacle" allow ample sidewalk colonized by streetwalk cafe

    Transit

    Denman is on the notoriously slow number 5 route. There is little reason to think that the alteration of the street as suggested above should affect this route. That said this route has considerable flaw as illustrated below:

    A family with a stroller At Davie and Denman asked to a driver on a layover:
    -How to get to Stanley Park?
    The bus driver:
    -Take 6 to Downtown, and transfer to 19 at Granville#Pender

    The problem, is not that much the driver giving an insanely circuitous route, the problem is that the transit system is designed in such a way that the driver answer is a correct one!

    The Translink route map extract below shows why:

    Transit is very Vancouver centric: thought numerous bus route to North shore run on Georgia, there is no direct connection of them with the Westend. furthermore bus 5/6 make a time point at Davie and Denman making the Northshore<-> Davie area transit option less than appealing (map credit; Translink

    The Vancouver centric view of the transit network, make the transit option from North-Shore to the Westend not necessarily appealing. Thought that the Georgia bus stop is a mere 350 meters away of Robson, it can be a pain to have to walk that distance either under the rain or in the cold. To add to the frustration, people using the route 6, will have to spend extra time at the time point at Davie and Denman.
    All that can be corrected easily:

    • Extend both routes 5 and 6 to Denman North to provide direct seamless connection at Georgia street with the countless bus routes using this later corridor.

    That extension adding less than 1km to each bus trip, could have limited effect on operating cost, but could make the system much more comprehensive in the area.

    That is: there are lot of reasons to revisit the street space allocation and transit in the Denman area


    [1] Gordon Price

    [2] Exploring Denman street- From English bay to Cola Harbour Dana Lynch, Inside Vancouver, June 16, 2009

    [3] Achieving new height in archiecture excellence, April 19, 2011

    [4] New urban Architect

    …or a bike commuting adventure in Richmond

    Richmond with its flat land should be a paradise for cyclists, and indeed it offers interesting trails on the dykes and elsewhere. Stephen Rees has extensively covered them and others Richmond related cycling issues in a serie of posts [sr1][sr2][sr4], so here is another view focusing more on utility cycling, that is basically cycling to go to work/study. Below is a snapshot of what makes such cycling an adventurous proposition in Richmond

    The bike lanes or lack of…

    A B&W sign seems to indicate a bike lane, motorists have a different opinion. A green sign indicates direction against common sense that cyclists also rightfully ignore.

    It is not the least advantage of a cycle lane to behave like a legal, safe, and comfortable queue jumper, avoiding inhalation of polluted air by cyclists on congested road, and making this mode more competitive with other commuting choice.

    It makes little sense to promote cycling by asking cyclist to breath car exhaust in middle of traffic congestion [5]

    … But Richmond replaces the bike lanes when it is most needed, by one of its avatar, the sharrow, as seen below:

    horizontal Chevron marking is usually reserved for shared road, carrying calmed or low level of traffic. In Richmond, they are also found on main axis, with predictable effect

    As explained by New York City DOT engineers [3], when there is not enough right of way to implement a dedicated lane or traffic is light and calm enough to justify a shared street, a chevron marking (also called sharrow) could be used raise awareness of motorist…Richmond still has to learn how to use appropriate horizontal marking for bike facilities

    The network or lack of…

    Richmond city provides a cycling map, where the simple fact to draw a bike on a road, seems to justify the classification of it as a bike lane. A ground survey of the bike lane could lead to the more realistic map below:

    The richmond bike lanes network has lot of critical missing links

    basically, the Richmond city center is serviced by a a backbone of 2 bike lanes, the north-south bike lane,along the path of the former interurban (gardencity, Granville and railway) and on the east of Garden city by an East-West bike lane along Westmintser hwy.
    In despite of some commendable effort in the right direction, like the raised bike lane on the road 3, bike lanes are still fairly disconnected and basically don’t provide much needed connections to the Canada line or the Kwantlen college.

    Connection to the Bridgeport station

    Nevertheless, Bridgeport station is reachable by a bike lane connected to the rest of the network… at least up to a certain point:

    bicycle access to the Bridgeport station doesn't seem to have been well considered

    Connection to the Canada line bridge

    A recent addition to the bike lanes netwok has been the connection of the Canada line bridge to the rest of the bike network through Van Horne road in an industrial precinct…but probably that the 12 meters wide road was judged still on the narrow side, so a bike lane takes place in only one direction! (opposite direction is a shared path).

    Notice that in general cyclists use an alternative and more pleasant route via Riverport road.

    The 12 meters wide road was judged a bit too narrow to put 2 bike lanes in addition of 2 general traffic ones, so one of them end up on the sidewalk! Notice how the shared path sign is hiding the stop...and which path is shared?

    Better to ignore the signage

    At Great Canadian way and Sea island way intersection, cyclists are the object of less care than the landscaping, and a cyclist following sign could put himself in an uncomfortable if not outright unsafe spot.

    First a satellite view of the situation

    the great canadian Way and Sea Island way interstection from satellite or how the cyclist can evolve from West to East?

    The cyclist travelling from West to East on Sea island Way will encounter a suite of sign designed to his attention. A first sign suggest he will have to do a right tun where the on ramp lane merge. The sign indicates that the cyclist should be still on the road:

    Right at the intersection, the sign tell you that you will have to tun right where the lane merge, but to stay on the road for the time being

    A second sign seems to disagree with the first one, since it assumes that the cyclist should be on the sidewalk, and then suggest a very strange procedure to the cyclist obeying to the first one:

    after proceeding to where the lanes merge, the sign tell you to turn right to take the bike path, but how the bike is expected to do it

    Law abiding cyclist need to be lucky…

    or prepared to spend very very long time…at ever red light. This is due to the fact that most of the secondary roads have traffic light activated by induction loop…not triggered by bike

    this traffic light goes green only if a car approach it, if you are a cyclist, you have to count on luck, and be prepared to waste tremendous amount of time...for sure another option exist!

    The right turn lane…
    …or how to make a cyclist like a pin in the middle of a bowling lane

    Richmond bike lanes disposition put cyclist in treacherous spot in most of the city intersection

    As the above picture illustrates, advanced right turn lane gives way to probably the most disconcerting disposition of bike lanes, de facto defeating the purpose of those bike lanes, which is to provide a secure environment to the cyclist.

    Motorists seems unsure on the way to negotiate a right turn with a bike lane in the middle of the road: some will pass a cyclist on the right… some others on the left before tail gating the bike….


    In Richmond, yield to cyclist is definitely not an option!

    Needless to say, intersections in BC (most of them arranged as above), are especially treacherous for cyclist, where more than 60% of the accidents happen, and going straight seems the most dangerous proposition for a cyclist [4]

    Obviously, there is some better way to implement bike lane with advanced right turn lane, and generally, they are implemented like below in Europe

    the cyclist doesn't need to be in the middle of traffic to cross an intersection. bike lane is protected by horizontal yielding marking giving priority to the cyclist (what is the law in most of European juridiction)...In North America, additional signage as seen in Portland, OR or Vancouver, BC could be necessary (right)

    because the “yield to cyclist” could be not obvious to the BC motorist [1] and horizontal “yield” marking less frequent here than in Europe could be not as well understood [2], additional vertical sign, nowadays rarely seen in Europe, could be required here

    .


    In cyclist friendly jurisdictions, Yield to cyclist is the only option!

    …and not surprisingly, those jurisdictions have usually much safer road safety record than BC.

    Conclusion

    Richmond BC, is like a child learning to bike. It seems to be full of good intention, but lack of understanding and method. European cities was not much different a quarter century ago, it is just that Richmond needs to work much harder in order to not fall behind.


    [1] While, it is generally the law to yield to cyclist, like to pedestrian, on a right turn in Europe, law seems to be far less consistent across North american jurisdictions which usually don’t treat cyclist as a vulnerable user of the road, see bike lane and right turn difference in Oregon and California or, for a more awkward regulation, the Ontario MTO explicitly indicates that right turning vehicles have priority on cyclists.

    [2] European countries, and more generally country adopting the Vienna convention road signage, use thick dashed lane as a horizontal “yield line” marking, the equivalent in North america is usually a line of triangle, used in New York City as illustrated in the video of the NYC DOT[3].

    [3] NYC DOT explains Bike Lanes in the Big Apple

    [4] number from www.bikesense.bc.ca

    [5] It is what is required by the BC motor vehicle act section 158