. . . . It REALLY starts to go. And now it’s moving fast.
Janette Sadik-Khan, former New York City Transportation commissioner, will be speaking in Vancouver on March 22 at the Vancouver Playhouse (in part with Gordon Price) while promoting her new book “Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution”. In this article in NY Magazine, she traces her history and her personal experiences during installation of bike lanes there. It’s pretty clear that New Yorkers have sharper tongues and elbows than we Vancouverites. But in both places the streetfights have been just as bitter.
However, she persevered, installed bike lanes, and this started happening, as it did here:
There may have been a more practical explanation for the end of the media frenzy: The polls started coming in. A Quinnipiac University poll found that 54 percent of New Yorkers said that bike lanes were “a good thing.” This was the first of many polls that would be released in the coming months, two putting bike lanes’ popularity as high as 66 percent — higher than the approval numbers for the politicians who railed against the lanes.
As time went on, she writes: “ . . bikes, and all New Yorkers, won”. And, she writes something that seems familiar to me:
None of the bike-lane opponents’ predictions has come to pass. City streets have never been safer, more economically thriving, or offered more transportation options than they do today. My successor as Transportation commissioner is greatly expanding the network of bike paths and doubling the size of the city’s bike-share system.
Meanwhile, here in Vancouver, I’ve been thinking along similar lines. Those with long (if capricious) memories like mine may recall our ancient history. Ten years ago, no respectable person would speak the word “bicycle” in polite company, and separated infrastructure (a.k.a. a bike lane) was a distant fantasy. The press gleefully published bicycle-related hit pieces, and open-line broadcasters reached new lows in divisive fulminating rhetoric.
But oh my, how things have changed. For example, I am elated at the Arbutus Greenway announcement, which will create a 9 km long bike facility (design pending) from Marpole to False Creek — a major north-south bikeway, bike route, greenway — whatever you call it. In earlier times, it might have become condos, strip malls and parking lots. But not now, when the place of the bicycle in the transportation mix has been re-affirmed at the ballot box.
As in New York, we have seen a head-snapping turnaround in the public conversation here about bikey stuff. Strong positivity in some strong places, and benign indifference in others, has replaced near-universal negativity. Granted, a few cranks continue to whale away at discredited negative tropes, but they are fading fast into a tiny minority, and are really only found now in online comment sections and smoke-filled partisan back rooms.
These changes, and the Arbutus Greenway, prompted me to list big wonderful bikey things that have happened recently, or are in the works. It’s an impressive list. Not every item is all about bikes, but big bike stuff is a big part of all of them. The message is really clear.
They’re all about change. And it’s really starting to change fast.
Recent Bikey Stuff
Stanley Park Causeway upgrade — done and in use
Burrard / Pacific Intersection and surrounding area upgrades (Burrard Bridge east side bike lane) — construction underway
Downtown upgrades and new bike lanes – final design stage
Iron Workers Memorial Bridge sidewalk upgrades
Point Grey Road
Burrard / Cornwall intersection upgrades
King Edward Avenue West improvements
Bikey Stuff In Planning
10th Ave bikeway upgrades
South False Creek seawall upgrade
Commercial Drive bike lane
Southwest Marine Drive improvements
Numerous spot improvements all over town
Viaducts changes include Quebec St bike lanes and active bridge for bikes
False Creek flats include bike connections and train track crossing
Kent Avenue bike lanes
Future Bikey Stuff
Repeal the mandatory helmet law
Un-gap the map