Downtown separated bike lanes here to stay?

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Downtown Vancouver Bike LanesVancouver’s bike lanes are in the news again. On Wednesday, June 13, city staff will introduce a report to the city council that recommends that the city’s downtown separated bike lanes – the ones on Homer St. and Dunsmuir St. – remain in place.

The report notes that on both bike lanes, bicycle traffic has increased. The number of accidents between bikes and other vehicles has declined considerably, with one glaring exception. Bike traffic across the Burrard St. bridge is up 5% from the previous year after the creation of the Hornby St. bike lane. And across the Dunsmuir Viaduct, bicycle traffic is up 19%.

Pedestrian traffic volume hasn’t changed in the same time period, nor has motorist volume. There have been minor rush hour delays introduced for southbound Burrard Bridge traffic turning from Pacific, and for northbound vehicles turning from Hornby onto Georgia or Hastings. The extent of the delays on Hornby St. have been estimated at a whopping 30 seconds.

The big improvement is in safety. Collisions of all types have been reported to be down 19% on Dunsmuir St. and down 18% on Hornby Street. For 2011, ICBC has only 1 collision involving a cyclist using the Hornby St. separated bike lane out of 380,000 recorded trips.

On Dunsmuir St, there were 9 reported collisions involving cyclists out of 500,000 recorded trips. The glaring exception is the north-end of the Burrard St bridge. Between 2001 and 2010, this location averaged 1-4 bike/motorist collisions per year. In 2011, this number was 13 out of an estimated 300,000 – 400,000 trips in this location. Of particular note is that of the 13 collisions, 10 were due to vehicles making prohibited right-turns across the bike lane.

You can read the complete report yourself here: Downtown Separated Bicycle Lanes Status Report

This report will be submitted to council on Wednesday. Along with the recommendation to keep the existing separated bike lanes, city staff will recommend specific improvements along the lanes to improve safety, accessibility, and pedestrian and cyclist comfort.

In addition to the downtown separated bike lanes, in the middle of May it was revealed that city staff are investigating the possibility of putting some form of bike lane on portions of Commercial Drive and Cornwall/Pt Grey Road in Kits. We’ve discussed riding along Cornwall/Pt Grey Rd here in the past. The implementation details for this bike lane will be discussed later in the fall — will it be a physically separated lane or just a painted lane, will any parking restrictions be imposed, will it run the full length between the Burrard St Bridge and Alma, and so on — but in general I think most people agree that improvements to the cycling infrastructure along this stretch are needed. It’s interesting to note that the City estimates that bicycles make up 10% of all traffic along this stretch.

And it went unreported, but the City quietly removed parking along the north side of the Off-Broadway Bike Route from Highbury to Discovery and added a painted bike lane on the north side of the route from Highbury up to Crown. While I appreciate the attention paid to the bike route, I’m not entirely sure why the painted lane was added. As a daily commuter on this route, that stretch of Off-Broadway is one of the least dangerous. Further, as the road narrows at Crown the painted lane disappears. Given almost everyone going up the route there will be continuing up the hill beyond Crown, this is an odd circumstance to say the least. Perhaps they’ll paint some sharrows on the road where the bike lane isn’t painted as a way to remind motorists to watch for cyclists.

Do you support keeping the downtown separated bike lanes? What do you think about a bike lane along Cornwall/Pt Grey Rd?

Last modified: June 11, 2012

2 Responses to " Downtown separated bike lanes here to stay? "

  1. Ian says:

    I think the north end of the Burrard Bridge is so dangerous because it’s not clear enough how cyclists are safely supposed to connect to the Hornby lane. I generally cross Hornby then hot the button and wait for the light.

  2. Sully says:

    I think the problem is not bike lanes but the fact that so many cyclists behave badly and do not use the ones that are provided. There are a lot of aggressive bike riders and that may be because there are so many bad drivers. I think the bike lanes should stay but for some reason there are bike lanes on every street in this city and the city should be be focusing on other issues like the down town east side.

    And no, I do not support a bike lane on Cornwall. It’s jammed up as it is. Maybe some sort of flashing light for Saturday or Sunday mornings for people that train but also as a commuter on a full transit bus there is nothing more annoying then being slowed down by an agro cyclist riding slow and taking up an entire lane as to make some kind of point. It’s embarrassing as a cyclist who rides responsibly. We have bike paths on the side streets and if the dude needs to take Cornwall he shouldn’t ride like a jerk and slow up 30 people on a bus who are trying to get to work in either direction.