Cycling and the Vancouver Civic Election


Vancouver VotesOn Saturday, Nov. 19, Vancouver (along with every other BC municipality) goes to the polls. Cycling in Vancouver is a surprisingly hot-button issue in local politics, which is great because it raises the awareness of cycling in the city. It helps that, in general, Vancouver politicians are reasonably cycling-friendly and quite progressive in their approaches to cycling.

The two mainstream candidates for mayor, incumbent Gregor Robertson (Vision Vancouver) and Suzanne Anton (NPA), are both committed cyclists. Ms. Anton has completed a number of long-distance rides including the Vancouver-Whistler GranFondo. Mayor Robertson is well-known for commuting around the city by bicycle, often with city staff and Councillors in tow.

For the most part, their positions on cycling are the same too: both support increasing cyclist numbers and safety. Perhaps the biggest difference is Ms. Anton and the NPA’s position on the downtown separated bike lanes. They have indicated that no new lanes will be built and they will examine the existing bike lanes, “fixing” what they can and removing what can’t be fixed. This has generally been perceived as an anti-bike lane position.

The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) party has the most cyclist-friendly platform, with intentions to address safety with a combination of education, infrastructure, and increased bylaw enforcement (for motorists and cyclists). COPE is not fielding a candidate for mayor in this election, instead backing Vision Vancouver. The nascent Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) party also has a cycling friendly platform.

The individual councillors have not done much to differentiate themselves from their parties’ positions, with a few exceptions. In particular, NPA candidate Ken Charko has indicated that he wants the downtown separated bike lanes to be “seasonal”, a position that has been roundly criticized. The NPA’s Sean Bikerson has indicated he wants to license cyclists, something we discussed here two weeks ago.

The most puzzling cycling position has been put forward by the Green Party’s Adriane Carr. Ms. Carr made a statement indicating she was in favour of making some city streets “bike-free”. In follow-up interviews, she clarified that she was interested in making transit lanes on some arterial roads (like Broadway and Hastings) bike-free.

In addition to the sites linked above, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition sent a survey to all the candidates, the results of which are published here. It makes for interesting reading, and it’s notable who responded, who didn’t, and how little the positions vary from the party line. Also, the Spacing Vancouver blog has a good analysis of the candidates’ positions on transportation issues.

Have any candidates made statements about cycling that will affect how you will vote this Saturday? What role do you think cycling issues should play in civic elections?

Last modified: November 18, 2011

4 Responses to " Cycling and the Vancouver Civic Election "

  1. Hilary says:

    Thanks! Very interesting article and research.

    For accuracy sake, might be worthwhile to update the Mayor’s name to Robertson 🙂

  2. Anthony says:

    @hilary Thanks for pointing out the typo! :facepalm:

  3. Bob Moore says:

    I think it’s very telling about how seriously Vancouverites take environmental issues that both of the top 2 mayoral candidates are regular cyclists. I imagine that the popularity of cycling to work and school will only continue to grow in the future.