Debunked: Arguments Against Cycling

map-separated-bike-lanes
Looks like Downtown Vancouver is getting another separated cycling lane. The Hornby lane will connect the separated bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge to the separated bike lane on Dunsmuir. Once this is complete, the last piece in the puzzle will be the Helmcken-Comox Greenway, which planing should start on next year.

I went to the information session at the Pacific Centre to ask a few questions and lend my support to the Hornby bike lane, and ended up in a 20-minute debate with a guy who kept repeating the same lame arguments I’ve heard before. He also insisted on calling me a “militant cyclist”, which I found amusing. I’m willing to be labelled a dedicated cyclist, an enthusiastic cyclist, or even a hard-core cyclist (although compared to most cyclists I know I’m not very hard-core). But militant? I don’t think I’ve blown up enough SUVs to deserve the ‘militant’ label.

Here are the most common arguments I hear against cycling debunked. They’re all used as justification for not investing in cycling infrastructure, and especially for preserving road space dedicated to cars. The guy I was arguing with tried to use all of them at various points in the conversation.

  1. Hardly anyone cycles. Why are we spending money on such a small minority? – The best statistics on cycling come from the long-form census (the same one the Conservatives are scrapping). In 2006, 3.7% of commuting trips in Vancouver were by bike. In the neighbourhoods bordering downtown it is around 10%. Not an insignificant number, but nowhere near the target of 10% city-wide set by a previous city council many years ago. The best way to get more people on bikes is to build infrastructure to make cycling safer.
  2. The cycling infrastructure we have is good enough. There are already bike lanes downtown, we don’t need separated bike lanes. – Sadly, the separated bike lanes are not for cyclists like me. I will use and appreciate them, but I already cycle and will continue to do so, even with modest infrastructure we currently have. If the city wants to get to 10% cycling mode-share it needs to attract people who are currently afraid of cycling downtown. That’s why the separated cycling lanes are so important, they make it possible for people who are unwilling to battle with cars to get to work by bike. If you build it, they will bike.
  3. Converting car lanes to bike lanes will result in traffic gridlock. All that congestion is bad for the environment. – I love it when people who spend their days sitting in traffic pretend to worry about the environment, when really they just want to get home faster. As we’ve seen with the the Burrard Bridge and Dunsmuir, it is possible to take away car space without causing gridlock. If gridlock is really a problem, we should consider congestion pricing, but it is hardly a problem in Vancouver. The number of car trips into the downtown has been steadily declining over the past decade, while cycling, walking ,and public transit is on the rise.
  4. Police should crack down on cyclists who flaunt the rules. They don’t wear helmets and they don’t stop at stop signs. – If you want to be a stickler for the rules, I’d guess that the average car commuter breaks at least one law every time they drive to work (rolling through stop signs, speeding, etc). It’s easy to find cars breaking the law. That’s no reason not to build roads. If we refused to fund highways because of speeding, there wouldn’t be a single highway in Canada. The worst cycling rule-breakers are the road warriors and bike couriers – people who currently dominate downtown cyclists and get a high out of getting around as fast as possible, regardless of the danger. As cycling infrastructure improves, and more business people, children, and families start biking I’m confident the pace will decrease and you’ll see more civilized bikers.
  5. Cyclists should be insured/licensed to ride on the roads. – This argument usually takes one of two forms. For licensing, it is to provide accountability and ensure cyclists follow the rules. For insurance, it is to have cyclists pay more because cars need insurance. But cars need insurance because of the huge damage they can cause when accidents happen, not really an issue with bikes. As for licensing, some cities have tried with no success. Momentum has a good summary of the bike licensing debate. I just want to add that in Vancouver bike couriers are actually licensed and they’re the worst cyclists on the road, so I’m not sure licensing would accomplish anything.
  6. Cyclists should be forced to pay a road tax because they don’t pay gas taxes. – Cycling saves the government money – mostly because bikes take up less space and cause less wear. Cyclists may not pay gas taxes, but the majority of transportation projects are payed for by property taxes that everyone pays. And infrastructure for cars costs way more then bike infrastructure. “Engineering staff figure, on a very rough estimate, that the overall allocation of city transportation infrastructure is about two per cent for cyclists, 20 per cent for pedestrians and 78 per cent for cars.” – Cyclists are not freeloaders (Vancouver Sun). For years, the only infrastructure cyclists got was paint and signs (pretty cheap stuff). The separated bike lanes are not cheap, but to put the costs into perspective: the Dunsmuir bike lane cost about $1 million to install, while a left turn lane at Knight and Clark cost $3.7 million.

The interesting thing about the cycling debate is it has little impact on the politics here. The opponents who are the most angry are suburb commuters and they don’t vote for our city council. And even if they did, every political party in Vancouver supports the bike lanes, and has for the past 20 years. So opponents can rant and rave all they want, they’re only spinning their tires.

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About canadianveggie

I enjoy exploring the great outdoors, eating good vegan food, cycling around Vancouver, solving problems with software, learning about urban planning, and discussing politics.
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25 Responses to Debunked: Arguments Against Cycling

  1. Paul says:

    You clearly didn’t hear the position put forward by residents of Hornby Street. It sounds like you wrote this blog before you actually attended the “information session.” Not one of the people against this two-way bike lane said anything about being opposed to increased cycling infrastructure.

    The arguments we brought to the table were two fold. One was against two-way bike lanes because (by the city’s own admission) they increase the risk of accidents to cyclists by 20%. The second argument was about this particular location. The city earmarked three streets (Thurlow, Burrard and Hornby) as the preferred streets for this project. We agreed with the city why Thurlow and Burrard were viewed as bad options. What we said was that Hornby is also a bad option and the city would be better served by opening up a brand new two way bike lane on Howe Street.

    This would INCREASE cycling infrastructure instead of just upgrading current infrastructure. Howe Street currently has a bus lane which will become unused as of September when Translink moves busses back onto the Granville strip. Our point is that the city needlessly overlooked this option. It brings cyclists closer to the central business district. People are already used to not being able to use that lane. Businesses are already used to not having parking there.

    I appreciate your interest in the topic, but before you blog about something, perhaps listen to reasonable residents and business owners who have REAL solutions to the problem of restricting access to their buildings.

    • I wrote this blog post last night in reaction to the guy I talked to at the information session that thought all bike lanes downtown should be removed, and only adult cyclists who pass a test should be able to cycle downtown. So clearly at least one person was opposed to cycling infrastructure. Maybe he was on the fringe, but I’ve heard similar comments on citycaucus.com and other blogs.

      Your the first person I’ve heard suggest Howe as an alternative route to Hornby. It’s an interesting idea. I’ve heard a few people suggest Granville as another option. Not considering them was probably an oversight by the city, but I personally I think Hornby is still the best option. Howe and Granville have awkward connections with the Burrard Bridge – the main feeder of cyclists coming from Kits and the West Side. And the main business opponents on Hornby seem to be hotels: doesn’t Howe have more hotels on it then Hornby?

      No matter where the bike lane goes you are going to have residents and business owners who are impacted. I wonder how much of the opposition is because people don’t like change. Your main argument for Howe seems to be people are already used to losing a lane. Won’t they get used to having one less lane on Hornby and an extra lane open up on Seymour? Seymour wasn’t always a bus route, Granville wasn’t always closed to traffic, the Burrard Bridge didn’t always have a bike route on it. It’s amazing what people can get used to. All those changes impacted residents and businesses, and yet we adapted. The bike lane on the Dunsmuir Viaduct wouldn’t of happened if it wasn’t for the the Costco construction and the Olympics. Before that people were convinced that 3 lanes on the viaduct were absolutely necessary for the flow of traffic, but when a lane was removed traffic still flowed. Many people were convinced the Burrard Bridge needed all 6 lanes of traffic.

      I agree that two-way cycling tracks on one-way streets have safety concerns (although most of the research seems to have been done in the 70s and I wonder if other factors might be in play now). Ideally there would be separated facilities on both side of the street, but I don’t think Vancouver is ready for that yet. The fact remains, a lot of people will only cycle downtown on separated facilities. Most cities that are trying to boost their cycling numbers (Portland, New York City, Sydney to name a few) are investing heavily in separated facilities. It’s a tough debate, but I think the benefit of more cyclists on the roads is worth the risk of increased accidents. It’s similar to the helmet law arguments – there is no ideal solution.

  2. Paul says:

    You definitely caught someone who is on the fringe then. Because from 11am to 1:30pm the majority of Hornby Street residents and business owners were there to give options as opposed to a generic disapproval for improved cycling facilities.

    Howe Street (the west side, where the existing bus lane is located) is not mostly hotels. I believe there’s only one between Georgia and Dunsmuir. The rest of Howe street is populated by less businesses than Hornby. That’s why the bus lane was an easy fit there.

    Also, the majority of people opposed weren’t hoteliers. Residents of one building were afraid of losing their passenger zone as there is no lane access for them. (For the record, that’s my building and I’m concerned about it as well.) Three hair salons claim their business will shrink without parking. A beauty shop was also represented, although I didn’t actually meet the person, I’m just going by the media reports.

    The most vocal opponent was Nelson Skalbania, who is a hotelier, but he was definitely not the only businessman represented. Skalbania is the man TV cameras caught in a heated debate with Brandon Steele.

    Funny enough once we started to talk to Steele and his girlfriend (who is on the Bicycle Advisory Committee) they actually started to come around to see our point. Howe street is a total missed opportunity. There are viable connections to the Burrard Street bridge (either by the new Helmcken Greenway or via Pacific) from Howe Street.

    It’s easy to tout that people need to change as times change. I am definitely in favour of progress. I also have a lot of faith in City Engineers like Lon LeClair, as I’ve witnessed several of the projects he’s implemented. They were good upgrades and worked out very well.

    But on this one I have to disagree with his opinion. In talking with him, he’s not able to defend why Howe Street was completely ignored over Hornby/Burrard/Thurlow. I can only imagine it was because Mayor Robertson and Vision Vancouver gave him direction and he had to stay within those directions, even if he disagreed with them. Of course he’d never admit to it, but his body language said otherwise.

    I hope you will change your mind on this project, because city council needs to hear that they can’t make decisions and leave it up to engineers to justify them. Did you know that not ONE of the Vision Vancouver members of city council decided to show up to the information session? They sent their engineers out there to debate a project that even they know has better options.

    • I guess all the business people and sane opponents left when the cameras did, because I was there between 1:30 and 2:00 and there was no media and just a few crackpots.

      I am willing to explore the possibility of Howe as a bike route. How would cyclists get from the Burrard Bridge to Howe? If you have them go right down Pacific and left on Howe, you have to somehow squeeze a bike lane on a 1-lane road next to 2 hotels (between Pacific and Drake). If you have cyclists continue up Burrard and then turn right on Drake or Helmcken, you have a huge conflict between cyclists heading north off the bridge and cars turning right onto Pacific. The only other option I can see is having cyclists zigzag right onto Pacific, left onto Hornby, right onto Drake, and finally left onto Howe, but trying to work separated bike lanes and accommodate cars and pedestrians with all of those turns would be a nightmare. Is there a simpler route I’m missing?

      Considering you live on Hornby, are you willing to concede your ability to objectively consider what route is best for the city might be slightly impaired? Your arguments sound a lot like Gordon Price’s recent post on the perception gap. “Everyone involved will say they are in favour of more affordable housing. And then argue about why the proposal on the table isn’t the way to go about it” – replace “affordable housing” in that quote with “bike lanes”.

      • Also, bus routes are not completely disappearing from Howe and Seymour.

        On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and on the evenings before a holiday, buses will use Seymour (northbound) and Howe (southbound) from 9pm until the close of service.

        Buzzer Blog

      • Paul says:

        I disagree that because I live on Hornby I’m not able to be objective about city planning that affects my neighbourhood. I would also be affected by Howe Street improvements. That argument holds about as much weight as saying China should make all domestic decisions for Canada because Canadians can’t be objective about them.

        I have a vested interest in the topic for two reasons. One, I like my neighbourhood and I want to protect a very good area. Two, I am a property owner who also sees my home as an investment and I would like to protect that investment.

        As for your question about connecting to the Burrard bridge. Helmcken to Burrard is a viable option. Helmcken is also going to be a Greenway very shortly. Which makes it a prime candidate for cutting over. Also, remember the off ramps from the Granville Street bridge to Pacific will shortly be removed. A separated bike lane could take over the current Howe Street position and a new lane for cars could be built on the east side of the on-ramp to Granville.

        Would the later be simple? Nope. But I’d rather see existing infrastructure protected and new routes established. If you look at the net result, you’ll see our option results in way more lanes for cyclists.

        The Hornby bike lane is well used in rush hour. Are there some conflicts with cars? Of course. But the same amount (or more) will happen in a separated bike lane at intersections. Why not leave a working bike lane and take the opportunity to add a new one, without having to inconvenience businesses along the existing route.

  3. I still don’t think the Helmcken cutover is a viable option. A) You need the city to complete at least 2 blocks of that Greenway, and planning for that route won’t start until next year. It would be difficult (mostly politically) to construct the Helmcken-Comox Greenway at the same time as a Howe route. But even if you did get that connection completed, you still have the problem of northbound Burrard cyclists crossing the Pacific turning lane. With increased cycling volumes, that intersection would become a real flash point for accidents.

    As for using the area where the Granville Loops are, diverting cars or cyclists onto West Rolston would be a major undertaking.

    It think it’s pretty obvious that a Howe Street bike lane has its own problems (IMHO more so then Hornby). You still haven’t addressed the buses that will be remaining on that route – the dedicated bus lane will be removed, but the bus shelters and access for a dozen bus routes in the evenings needs to remain.

    Generally, I agree that more cycling capacity is good, but that is not what is stopping people from cycling downtown. You could paint bike lanes and sharrows on every downtown street and the number of cyclists would hardly change. It is separated bike lanes that is attracting new cyclists. Why not leave Howe alone and take the opportunity to improve a bike lane that is already a favourite with cyclists?

    • Paul says:

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I did a walk around of the south end of Howe Street to refresh my memory on what is actually there and what may easily be removed. I’ll get back to that in sec.

      You’re right busses will remain on Howe Street on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays/Holidays. But the dedicated bus lane will be removed. The busses will use the regular travel lanes on those days.

      I think we’re coming from two very different points of view. You seem to be taking the opinion that “two way separated bicycle lanes are better, so the easiest route for cyclists must be taken.” Clearly the city disagrees with that opinion as the easiest route would have been Burrard.

      My take on the situation is that progress must be controlled and done in a cost effective manner that improves access for all. It seems insane to me that the city is taking a lane that is already restricted, turning it back into parking and then moving one street over and taking away parking there. It becomes even more insane when you look at the number of businesses that will be affected on the entire stretch of Hornby compared to Howe Street.

      From Georgia to the Granville Street Bridge on Howe Street, there are few street front businesses that rely on short term parking. In comparison, on Hornby from Georgia to the Granville Street Bridge there are new mixed use commercial/residential buildings. Electric Avenue, Wall Centre, the Canadian at Wall Centre. Then there are the long time buildings such as the Wedgewood Hotel. Each of these buildings have at least 4 or 5 store fronts. Many have 10 or more.

      It seems the city did not take this into consideration when they chose Hornby over Howe Street. I’m happy to hear that even the BAC was concerned about the level of consultation. Thanks for that Brandon.

      As for what I mentioned earlier. I went down with a tape measure in the evening and quickly looked at the Howe Street continuation beside the Granville Street Bridge on-ramp. With a little rejigging of the sidewalk (which is tremendously under-used) a separated bike lane could actually fit into the existing infrastructure. Allowing direct access to Pacific.

      As for the difficulty of North-bound cyclists and turning lanes, those problems are present on any route you take east of Burrard. The reality is, without the separated bike lane on Burrard, cyclists will have to jig across traffic to get onto the Burrard Bridge. Not that I’m saying Burrard is the only option. But again, if Burrard isN’T the option then both Howe and Hornby should have been looked at.

      What I’m saying is, let’s stop this fast track project. Step back for a minute and look at some options which were clearly overlooked in the city’s haste to announce Hornby Street.

      The trial won’t start until the rainy cold months are upon us anyway. That will result in under utilization of the new route. We have time to really look at this carefully, instead of rushing ahead with an idea when better ones may exist.

      • rob_ says:

        Hi Paul,

        You mentioned some advantages to using Howe but what exactly is the problem with Hornby?

        I agree there there are some advantages to Howe but there are also disadvantages (eg the cost and complexity of the extra blocks of separated bike lanes on Pacific, Drake and Hastings).

        The only real problem you mentioned with Hornby was something about property values. But do you have any real evidence that property values decline with bike lanes? There is evidence to suggest that property values actually increase with bike lanes (Davis, CA is the classic example).

  4. Brandon says:

    I’ve been trying to defend new cycling infrastructure and I’ve come across the same old arguments that cyclists break the law and ergo, we shouldn’t build dedicated lanes, etc. Thanks for the list! I think that any new bike infrastructure is going to be a hard sell…NIMBYISM always takes over. Though, this is the first time I’ve heard Howe come up as a possible route. But, as you said, the City chose Hornby because it had many less conflicts on the route (such a no bus service). I was at the last BAC meeting and heard the rationale by the City for route choice. I’m sure many cyclists (myself included) want to see dedicated lanes on Burrard. It just isn’t viable right now. The BAC was a little concerned the city did no consulting on the route choice.

  5. Paul says:

    Rob. I think if you read the entire back and forth you’ll see the problems that are present on Hornby that aren’t there on Howe. I won’t repeat them again in the same thread.

    In my building (in particular) this is a property value issue as our building has no alley access and will not have a passenger zone out front, if parking is removed on the east side of Hornby. Nor will there be a place to stop a moving truck.

    But in general I won’t argue that property values would necessarily decline when a separated bike lane is introduced.

    I appreciate picking apart my argument, and I will defend it as best I can. But I’m not throwing out armagedon claims like some of the anti-cyclists. I am certainly not fringe. However I realize I am a ‘Not In My Back Yarder’ right now. But I have very good reason for it AND I’ve got a better solution.

    I’m happy you guys are listening, because no one at city hall seems to be interested in listening. I’m not saying city hall should throw out the Hornby idea. But it doesn’t appear they even costed out the Howe Street option. It was dismissed out of hand. I would just like the city to throw on the brakes for a second and go back and look at the other options. If they REALLY are a more costly option (nothing is impossible) then I’ll be happy to concede. But I think the residents of Hornby deserve more than just a “it’s better on Hornby and that’s that.”

  6. Dave says:

    Howe wasn’t dismissed out of hand — it didn’t make the cut for some very good reasons, many of which have already been pointed out by canadianveggie. Here are a few more:
    * Because of all the bus stops, the city would have to build many transit islands like the one on Dunsmuir and Cambie. Not only are these expensive, they’re also annoying to ride over as a cyclist.
    * Howe doesn’t fit with the existing bicycle network. Don’t forget that it also has to connect to the seaside greenway along Coal Harbour, for instance.
    * Businesses along Howe have been promised they’ll get their parking back. Make no mistake: businesses will be inconvenienced by these kinds of changes wherever they take place.

    There are people at the city who have invested a lot more time and effort into this decision than everyone in this discussion combined. In any case, kudos to Paul for a reasonable argument made with civility.

  7. Paul says:

    Thank you Dave. You’re the first person who is pro hornby that has admitted that businesses will be affected. If you listen to Gregor and the fringe cyclists, they seem to think business won’t be affected at all.

    Again, another reason to take this one back to staff and have them study the business costs associated with the Granville, Howe, hornby and burrard routes.

    That’s all the people of Hornby are saying. Let’s see a real apples to apples breakdown. Not just conjecture and opinion.

    • Businesses on Hornby will be impacted (I said that before) – some positively, some negatively. Every change has an impact. Every decision city hall makes (new bylaws, building approvals, etc) impacts businesses. I don’t think the city should be responsible for guaranteeing that the conditions under which businesses operate remain static, that’s unrealistic and dangerous.

      Now there are possibly a few Hornby businesses that are reliant on abundant, cheap nearby parking. Worst case scenario, they move to other parts of the city, and those businesses are replaced. Personally, I find it hard to believe that downtown hair salons, with 100,000 people living (and even more working) within walking distance can’t survive without having abundant nearby parking. If finding parking downtown is an issue, there are some good solutions out there we should try.

      I think city council needs to be concerned with the economy of the city as a whole. I think the point that Gregor and the “fringe cyclists” are trying to make is more cyclists are good for the overall economy because cyclists have more disposable income. I don’t own a car, and a lot of the money I save from not owning a car I spend in the local economy.

  8. Paul says:

    “overall economy”? Maybe I’ve misunderstood the exercise here, but the goal of the bike lane is not to improve the economy. The goal is a healthier city. What I’m saying is, that goal is achievable with less of an economic impact to the whole city.

    In any case this is going back and forth.

    I think we can all agree that, either the city REALLY needs to do a better job of explaining why Howe Street is not a good option, or they actually overlooked that option completely.

    I think we can also agree that this project is now fast-tracked and the city is barrelling along to implement it.

    I also think with an implementation date somewhere in October or November, there’s little need to fast track it. Perhaps if the implementation date was in April or May there would be good reason.

    Again, with dozens of businesses and thousands of residents being impacted by this decision, it’s not fair to rush into this. Let’s wait until a more in-depth study can be done to actually gauge the benefits of Howe or Hornby. What will the economic impact be? Will that economic impact be less on Howe Street? What will the residential impact be on Hornby? Will that impact be less on Howe Street? How would an approach to Howe Street differ from Hornby? Will it actually be more difficult for cyclists?

    These are all questions the city’s engineers should be answering, but haven’t. I have put forward my opinion, much as you guys have as well. Clearly there’s a difference in opinion. So I think the city owes it to us all to answer those questions with hard facts.

    The businesses and residents of Hornby Street aren’t unreasonable. We knew that we were on the short list of streets that would be considered for the lane. But we were waiting for the city to come to us to discuss the options. We were completely blind-sided by Mayor Robertson’s announcement in the Province newspaper that the choice was Hornby.

    I think a decision to speed ahead with this bike lane is also politically damaging to those striving for more bicycle lanes in the city. It might be a short term victory, but much needed public support may begin to filter away from the pro-bike camp. Mayor Robertson is already polling horribly and the NPA is looking for anything to sink their teeth into. Currently the cycling lobby enjoys support from all 3 civic parties, but if enough people become disenchanted with a system that seems to favour cyclists over the economy, that support may begin to bleed off.

    • I’m not involved in politics, like you are, but I’m guessing that backing away from Hornby at this point would be more politically damaging then going forward (and where are these mysterious polling numbers you are referring to?). I was willing to entertain Howe as an alternative to Hornby, but it is clearly an inferior choice. Hornby doesn’t impact bus routes, and it connects easier to the Burrard Bridge on the south and seawall on the north end. It says something that you are the only person I’ve heard advocate for Howe.

      As for the questions you want answered, how on earth do you assess what the economic impact will be with “hard facts”, unless you own a time machine? Even afterwards it’s nearly impossible to assess the economic impact. Have you ever tried reading an economic impact study on an infrastructure project? The only thing close to a “hard fact” is the construction jobs created, everything else is guesswork. I really don’t think you’ll ever be satisfied with Hornby as the choice, no matter what the city’s engineers say.

  9. Paul says:

    I’m not usually involved in civic politics either. This is one of the first times I’ve spoken up about a planned change.

    Your conclusion that Hornby is somehow a superior route is based on two big arguments.

    The primary argument being that it doesn’t affect bus routes. On the contrary, I believe returning parking to Howe Street will affect bus routes even more. There will be almost 7 bus routes along Howe Street on weekends and holidays (including the night before a holiday). Parking will take up the majority of space on Howe Street, forcing all of those busses to leave the travel lane, then try to re-enter traffic once they finish loading and unloading. The Main Street trials have shown us how efficiently busses can operate when they don’t have to change lanes to load and unload. Make no mistake, if parking goes back in on Howe, we will soon see the city having to redesign bus stops to accommodate bus bulges. If they just reconfigured Howe Street with a separated bike lane, those considerations would already be taken care of. The city knows how to integrate bus stops with separated bike lanes. It works well.

    Your secondary argument that a Howe Street bike lane wouldn’t connect well with the north side sea wall and Burrard Street bridge is quite subjective at this point because both routes are plausible, what we don’t know is the added cost of extending a bike route on Pacific. This deserves more study. We’re certainly not engineers and with no information from the city engineers on why Howe Street wasn’t considered, I’m left wondering why not.

    Once again, although I’m defending the status quo on my street, I’m not trying to approach this from the angle that anything is better than Hornby. But when there’s a potential better approach that has been completely overlooked or discounted from the start, we have to start asking questions. All we’re asking from the city is time for those answers to come out. If there are logical answers that were actually studied, then Hornby Street businesses and residents will have to suck it up and accept that this is the best route.

  10. Brandon says:

    Has anyone read the 2008 Report done in Toronto on the possible effects of installing a bike lane on Bloor Street? Read: http://www.cleanairpartnership.org/pdf/bike-lanes-parking.pdf

    Here are some of the findings:
    Only 10% of patrons drive to the Bloor Annex neighbourhood;
    • Even during peak periods no more than about 80% of paid parking spaces are paid for;
    • Patrons arriving by foot and bicycle visit the most often and spend the most money per month;
    • There are more merchants who believe that a bike lane or widened sidewalk would
    increase business than merchants who think those changes would reduce business;
    • Patrons would prefer a bike lane to widened sidewalks at a ratio of almost four to one;
    and
    • The reduction in on‐street parking supply from a bike lane or widened sidewalk could beaccommodated in the area’s off‐street municipal parking lots.

    Though, I think the problem with Hornby has more to do with the process than the aftermath.

  11. Paul says:

    More details about the south side connection have come out. Lon LeClaire, the city engineer who’s been the media point man on this, met our council last night to discuss how the south side will connect with the Burrard Bridge.

    South-bound cyclists on Hornby (heading towards the bridge) will turn right on Drake, then left on Burrard to meet up with the Burrard Street bridge separated bike lane.
    North-bound cyclists will use the current Pacific Street bike lane and connect directly to Hornby Street.

    This only adds more legitimacy to the argument that Howe Street is the best choice. If Southbound cyclists will be using Drake already, it would be just as simple to route them from Howe Street. And there’s MORE than enough room for a one way bike lane beside Howe Street at the on-ramp to the Granville Street bridge.

    He made it clear that it is was a COUNCIL decision to pick from Thurlow, Burrard or Hornby Streets. Howe Street was not considered from the beginning.

  12. Rhiannon Chernencoff says:

    Just to correct a few inaccuracies in Paul’s comments above, I would like to clarify that although Brandon and myself understand Paul’s point of view, and are sympathetic to his needs and the needs of the residents of the building he represents, as well as that of other stakeholders, we support the separated lane on Hornby Street.

    As I understand it, it is not a top down decision on the part of Gregor Robinson. The choices for suitable roads comes from city staff and engineers that have been working on these projects long before Gregor and Vision were elected. City staff studied the possibilities extensively and it was determined that Howe Street was not a suitable candidate for various reasons including it not being close enough to the Burrard Bridge to properly complete the bike network.

    As I understand, with the Hornby separated lane, Paul’s building gets a proper loading zone, which it lacks currently, and the hotel side gets to keep it’s street parking. City staff have been working hard to address issues, including attending a strata meeting at Paul’s building to find a solution for their loading zone, among other concerns. Councilor Geoff Meggs in particular has been busy going door to door on Hornby Street connecting with residents and business owners and helping to find solutions to any concerns.

    I look forward to the Hornby bike lane, as once the separated network is complete, there will be a safe path through the city connecting East to West, and more people will feel comfortable riding. Ridership on Dunsmuir Street increased 400% after the separated lane was introduced; we can look forward to seeing an even greater increase once the network is complete and people feel comfortable cycling downtown to shop and work, etc. Recent polling on Hornby Street showed strong support for the separated lane, many saying they would use it if installed.

    We only need look to cycling cities in Europe like Copenhagen and Amsterdam to see what is possible here. Copenhagen has a similar climate to Vancouver, and with the obesity crisis (60% of Canadians are overweight or obese), peak oil, climate change, the significant damage oil extraction puts on the planet, the considerable expense of motor vehicle infrastructure, lack of space, and the air pollution from vehicle emissions which damages human health, cycling is a solution to many of our ails. It is also fun!

    “The City of Vancouver’s 1997 Transportation plan identified the sustainable modes (walking, cycling, and transit) as top transportation priorities because the City’s growth in population, jobs, and total trips could not be supported by existing or potential road space for vehicles…If Vancouver is to continue to support the growing population and economy, more investment is needed in walking, biking, and transit.”

    http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20101005/documents/ttra2.pdf

    I encourage anyone who is reading and is able to cycle in Vancouver to try so. Borrow a bike, rent a bike, DON’T steal a bike, but get one and try it out on our local bikeways and separated lanes. Come out and try it! Ride safe and have fun!!

    • Paul says:

      I really feel for you Rhiannon. You’re so misguided by this belief that a separated bike-lane is safer that you fail to see the facts. For a bike lane to be truly separated, it can not intersect with other types of traffic. That will not happen with this proposal. Moving cyclists behind a barrier only to appear as cars are making turns will result in more accidents.

      But it appears the sensible arguments about safety of cyclists are being drown out by cyclists who don’t want to listen to facts. So it looks like you’re going to get your 3.2-million-dollar bike lane. I’ll have a standing order of flowers waiting for when you get smushed by a truck going through the intersection at Nelson Street. Enjoy your death trap.

      • Having bikes and cars share road space might result in less accidents statistically, but it also results in less cyclists.

        The simple fact is segregated cycling facilities encourage more people to ride, are championed by cycling groups, and are the preference of cycling-friendly cities around the world. The only people citing safety concerns are people who are generally opposed to the lane for other reasons.

        From my own personal experience, biking down Dunsmuir is a lot safer now then it was before the separated facilities were constructed. My girlfriend would never have cycled that route a year ago, but now she bikes it everyday. Maybe it is only perceived safety, but it is encouraging more people to ride.

    • Thanks for the detailed information, Rhiannon. I agree that the city’s engineering department has done a great job designing a system that addresses the needs of residents and businesses along Hornby. It will cost a bit more, but will be worth it.

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  14. Pingback: Vote Vision Vancouver – Reason #2: Separated Bike Lanes | Canadian Veggie

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