There’s a bunch of news and happenings around our community these days relating to cycling. Here are a few items:
Traffic circle removal
Last week, the Georgia Straight ran an article about how the City was going to remove the traffic circle at the intersection of 10th Avenue and Pine Streeet. This traffic circle was identified in the ICBC collision data as being one of the most dangerous for cyclists. In fact, in the seven years prior to the traffic circle being installed, there were zero reported bike/motorist collisions, but in the seven years following there were 17 reported collisions. Read more ›
One of the things people often ask me when they hear that I’m a daily bike commuter is: Isn’t it dangerous? The short answer is, no, it’s really not.
There is a longer answer, of course. The longer answer starts with something like: if you stick to the bike routes, are generally aware of your surroundings, and obey the rules of the road, you’ll be fine. Read more ›
I read an op-ed last week in the Brisbane Times. The piece was about London Mayor Boris Johnson’s stunning £ 913 million ($1.4 billion Canadian) 10-year plan for new cycling infrastructure. Stop and absorb that number for a minute. $1.4 billion. Over $100 million per year. Proportionally, Vancouver would have to spend about $8 million a year to match this commitment. Instead, Vancouver is in the middle of a $25 million 10-year plan.
But that’s not what caught my attention in this article. Instead, the article focused on Mayor Boris’ remark that he wants to “de-Lycrafy cycling”. It moved on to a discussion about cycling tribes and a perceived growing divide among cyclists between those who believe cycling should be a normal, everyday activity that does not require “cycle-specific clothing” and those who stuff their body into skin-tight kit.
This divide isn’t restricted to London, or Australia. The “cycle-chic” movement manifested in Copenhagen but the North American chapters (is it a movement or a cult, I half-jokingly wonder) are quite vocal too. Vancouver, of course, has one of the more active cycle-chic organizations (see http://vancouvercyclechic.blogspot.ca). Read more ›
In Vancouver, spring break is nearly over and the weather has almost tipped from completely wet and miserable to “Rain, what rain?” This is a perfect time to dust off the kids’ bikes, pump up the tires, oil the chain, check the brakes, and bike to school (if you’re not already).
I’ve seen claims that 40% of Canadian children get driven to school. If you have school-age kids yourself, pass by a school during your commute, or live near a school, then you’re already well aware of the congestion that occurs near schools. Studies have shown, though, that kids that use active transportation to get to school — walking, biking, scooter-ing, and so on — are more attentive in school, get better grades, and have a lower obesity level. In 2006, a study showed that while over 30% of students in Vancouver said they’d like to bike to school, only 2% actually did.
Some schools in Vancouver have programs to facilitate students biking to school. Some Parent Advisory Councils (PACs) have arranged “bike trains” or “bike buses” where a group of students and adults meet at pre-designated places along a route to school and then bike together to school (and back). It’s a great way for kids to gain experience and confidence riding their bicycle. Read more ›
Some elements of Vancouver’s media stirred the pot last week over, of all things, two public bike pumps. The pumps were recently installed at Hawks Ave. and Union St. (on the Adanac bike route) and at Science World, near the convergence of the Seaside, Adanac, Ontario, and Central Valley Greenway bike routes. The pumps fit both Schrader and Presta valve types, and have been builIt to resist the elements. It’s been reported that the two pumps cost a total of $6,000.
CBC first reported on these pumps in early March. You can listen to Margaret Gallagher’s High Velocity report here. Read more ›
Mainstream media has been buzzing this past week over comments made by spokespeople for HUB: Your Cycling Connection (formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, VACC). The comments concerned HUB’s position on seeking legislation that will allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. This is sometimes called a “stop as yield” law, or an “Idaho Stop” law.
In 1982, the state of Idaho passed a law that allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, and stop lights as stop signs (for straight through and left turns) and as yield signs for right turns. This law does not allow cyclists to “blow” stop signs or stop lights. It does not change the right-of-way rules. Data from before and after the enactment of the Idaho Stop law shows no change in cyclist injury rate.
Jason Meggs of the University of Bologna gave an interesting presentation (pdf) on the Idaho Stop law at this past year’s Velo-City conference.
Read more ›
A little over a year ago, I wrote a bit on proper use of traffic-circles. In case you’re not familiar with them, traffic-circles are mini-roundabouts. They typically replace 2-way or 4-way stops on residential roads. Use of traffic circles is straight-forward: 1) Slow down before entering the traffic-circle, 2) Yield to traffic already in the circle, 2) Proceed in a counter-clockwise fashion around/through the intersection, signalling appropriately. The City of Vancouver uses traffic circles as “traffic calming” devices, intended to reduce the speed on residential roads and reduce collisions at intersections.
In Kitsilano, there are at least 19 traffic-circles on the designated bike routes, as the map below shows.
Read more ›
I attended one of the city’s open houses this past week about changes to Pt. Grey Road / Cornwall Avenue. It was an interesting experience. I’d already familiarized myself with the materials that were presented (click here to look at them yourself) so I didn’t learn much that I didn’t already know, but it was interesting to eavesdrop on the conversations that were happening around me.
At the open house I went to, there were about 40 people in the room representing quite a cross section of the community. There were people who lived in down in that area, others from other parts of Kits, and others from further afield. There were also quite a mix of older people and younger people, some with kids in tow. There were a few obvious cyclists (helmets, panniers, etc) but not many.
As I said, the conversations were interesting to listen to. They were much the same conversations that any cycling advocate will have heard, had, and will have again. One of the recurring positions was “There’s already a bike route on 3rd Ave, why does anything need to be changed?”
This is a valid point. There are, of course, a myriad of reasons why people think a change is necessary (safety, convenience, active lifestyle promotion, etc) but I want to focus on one of the other reasons: the 3rd Ave bike route (actually the Seaside Bike Route) is AWFUL. It’s a bike route in name only. Read more ›
In just under two weeks, the City of Vancouver will hold three open houses on the future of Cornwall Avenue and Point Grey Road. The City has identified these streets as a target in 2013 for a triple-A (“All Ages and Abilities”) cycling route as part of its Transportation 2040 action plan.
There are a number of good background documents you can read to familiarize yourself on why these streets are being targeted. There’s the city’s presentation last year at West Point Grey Community Centre (pdf), there’s the HUB (formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition) report from October 2012 on riding along the route (pdf), and the UBC report on safety and accessibility on Point Grey Road from 2011 (pdf). Read more ›
Happy New Year! As the calendar turns once again to January, New Year’s resolutions are often made. Perhaps one of your resolutions this year is: “I’m going to try biking to work”. If so, here are some tips.
Well, don’t …yet. January’s a pretty miserable month to ride in, and one of the keys to biking to work and sticking with it is not to get discouraged early on. If you try to ride in January, February, March, or even April, then you’re going to be cold and wet. Wait until a dryer, warmer month to get started. It’ll keep the excuses to a minimum, and once you get in the habit of riding to work, a little cold or a little rain won’t bother you. Read more ›