…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