Cycling
September 13, 2017

2017 Summer: Record cycling on five major routes

This just in from the City of Vancouver:
2017 summer sees record cycling volumes on five major bike routes across Vancouver
This July and August, Vancouver saw record cycling volumes on five of the city’s 10 fully protected bike routes, including at Science World, Union and Hawkes, Hornby and Robson, Lions Gate, and Canada Line. …
Over the past year, several improvements have been made to create more opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to choose to cycle to get around the city for transportation and recreation.

  • Upgrades and additions to the downtown bike network;
  • Improvements at Quebec Street and 1st Avenue;
  • Improved cycling route along SW Marine Drive (Granville to University Endowment Lands);
  • Improvements along the Adanac Bikeway;
  • The addition of the Arbutus Greenway temporary path;
  • The completion of the Seaside Greenway link between Volunteer Park and Jericho Beach;
  • Additional separation between people walking and cycling on the False Creek Seawall.

Of priority cycling routes identified in the Transportation 2040, the City has now completed Comox/Helmken Greenway, Point Grey-Cornwall section of the Seaside Greenway, spot improvements to the Union/Adanac Bikeway, and safety improvements to SW Marine Drive.
 
Record cycling volumes by location in comparison to previous record years:

Bike Route Previous Record (Years vary) Current Year (2017) Record Breaking in 2017     Science World 204,000 in August 2016 227,000 in July * Adanac Bikeway (at Hawks) 115,000 in June 2015 120,000 in July Hornby Bikeway (at Robson) 75,000 in August 2016 80,000 in July Lions Gate Bridge 70,000 in June 2015 71,000 in July Canada Line Pedestrian and Bike Bridge 28,000 in June 2015 29,000 in July Other Major Routes and highest volume month in 2017     Burrard and Cornwall 195,000 in July 2014 190,000 in August Dunsmuir Street (Union and Main) 69,000 in August 2016 66,000 in August Dunsmuir Viaduct 76,000 in June 2015 73,000 in July 10th Ave and Clark 82,000 in June 2015 70,000 in July Point Grey Road at Volunteer Park 102,000 in July 2015 99,000 in July

*Data is not available for August 2017 due to technical difficulties with counter equipment.
 
Despite extensive construction work on Burrard Bridge and Point Grey Road over the last year, cycling volumes along those routes have remained high.
The highest record breaker in the summer of 2017 was the Science World location.
The bike counter at Science World was installed in March 2013 when the first bike count of 53,000 was recorded. Only four years later, bike counts at Science World have increased more than four times that amount. The highest monthly bike volume that has been recorded to date is 204,000, which was reached at Science World last August 2016. This Science World record was broken this July reaching 227,000.
The City has been collecting data on protected bike routes since 2009. Data is reported out monthly and can be viewed online. The data includes monthly two-way totals rounded to the nearest thousand, and shows mid-week averages on 10 protected bike routes.
 

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Let’s work backwards from September, 2016. Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place, almost always held in the US, will be in Vancouver. In fact, we’re having a whole Placemaking Week Sept 12-18 AND celebrating Jane’s 100th birthday (may she rest in peace).
Vancouver Bike Share (the temporary name until CycleHop announces a sponsor) launches in June, expands in July, and should be running smoothly by September. Inshallah.
Five protected bike lanes downtown are to be built and finished by the end of July, 2016. Yes, 2016. It sounds like more than it is. Some are little blips on the map.
Cambie, Smithe, Nelson, Beatty, and Richards.
Here’s my 2 cents: I applaud the speed and approach. We should be constructing multiple lanes at once. Building upon and expanding the current AAA network is key.
The couplets on Nelson and Smithe (one-way on each street in same direction as vehicles) are: on Nelson from Richards to Beatty (shouldn’t that go to the Cambie Street Bridge?) and on Smithe from the bridge to Richards. If Nelson/Smithe went as far as Hornby instead, people would have so many more options and we would almost have a complete All Ages and Abilities (AAA) link from Yaletown to the West End.
Linking the bike lane on Homer Street northbound for one more little block from Georgia to Dunsmuir’s protected bike lane would help. Surely continuing the bi-directional protected bike lane on Dunsmuir for one block west to Burrard – a major transit hub of Burrard Station – is also a priority. Don’t make me take the one-way painted bike lane the wrong way for a block! #ungapthemap
Some of the bike lanes in the plan could conflict with vehicles turning. Please be careful in the final design.
You have 24 more hours to email your comments on this project. You might as well take a look right now. View the information displays from the March 8, 2016, open house and email your comments to downtownbikenetwork@vancouver.ca by March 25.

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Ken Ohrn:

Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association president Charles Gauthier says separated bike lanes are “here to stay”.

From CBC:.

Vancouver’s bike lanes finally accepted by downtown business group

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After years spent fighting the separated bike lanes on Hornby and Dunsmuir streets, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) has softened its stance.

The organization had criticized Vancouver city council for a lack of public consultation, spoke out at public meetings and even commissioned studies to show the lanes’ negative impacts on business.

But now, nearly five years since the bikeways were approved, the DVBIA is now accepting them, as it sponsors Bike to Work Week.

“Times have changed and here we are and we have separated bike lanes downtown and they’re here to stay,” president and CEO Charles Gauthier told The Early Edition’s Margaret Gallagher.

“It is a mode of transportation that people are using to come here and we don’t want to deny anyone access to the downtown, including cyclists.”

Yes, folks, this was written May 25, 2015.  It’s quite a change, and a most welcome one.

Here’s a longer interview with Mr. Gauthier by Alison Bailey at News1130.  It seems that DVBIA members now realize that people want to ride bikes, lots of them, and this isn’t going away. And when infrastructure is in place to make this safe, the number of people on bikes rises dramatically.

Quoting Mr. Gauthier:

But I’m seeing people of all ages and abilities that are riding in the bike lanes that I wouldn’t have seen five, ten years ago. And certainly, the case that the engineers made and the case that cycling advocates made that separated bike lanes are really the necessity to get people of all ages and abilities to travel and commute that way has proven to be correct.

I think this is a great illustration of latent demand.  A decade ago, people who would have liked to ride a bike downtown were concerned about safety, and did not ride. Hit the skip button to 2015 and with vastly improved infrastructure, and a growing network, the number of riders is rising quickly and the demographics are expanding. So building bike lanes was a leap of faith, now widely accepted as a good thing.  As they say:  “You don’t justify a new bridge by counting the number of people swimming the river.”

It’s a change for the better, for many reasons, for all of us, no matter what mode we use to get around.

[I spoke to Mr. Gauthier at the Share the Road Commuter Challenge event last week.  He promised that he’d take up the challenge next year.]

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Further to making cycling safer at intersections (below post), the City just took another helpful step over the long weekend where the Hornby and Dunsmuir protected bike lanes meet.

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When I cycled through on Saturday, crews were drilling the street apart – so I naturally assumed the work was for utilities or some other priority.  But no, it was to make the problematic intersection safer for bicyclists and pedestrians by extending their zone into the street, discouraging left turns and clarifying respective spaces.

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Sightline author Alyse Nelson reports back, in a well-researched and beautifully illustrated piece, on what she discovered in Vancouver:

When my husband Jason and I planned a trip to Vancouver, BC, we decided to bring our family’s bikes just in case. With our eight-year-old son Orion in tow, I wasn’t sure we’d have the chance to ride unless we sought out an off-street trail. To my surprise, we were able to ride—and not just on trails we had to drive or take a bus to, but through the heart of downtown Vancouver on a mixture of greenways and separated cycle lanes.

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Go for the pictures, stay for the history: “A brief history of bike planning in Vancouver, BC.”

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Alone with her trolls, Frances Bula wanders into the bike-lane debate yet again:

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Does Vancouver really have a new pollution problem as cars idle because of the bleeping bike lanes?

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Wanna guess?  And after you’ve seen that data on her blog, would someone please let us know whether there have been reports on the impact of the New Point Grey Road on traffic in the surrounding neighbourhood and on connecting arterials.  (Believe me, if there had been Carmaggedon, you would have known about it – in the headlines, at every all-candidates debate. )

And while we’re stirring the pot, I heard from a reliable source that the Mayor is reported to have said that there will be no more bike lanes now.  Any confirmation?  Could he have been that oblivious?

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UPDATE: Jeff Leigh clarifies:

In an interview with Robertson published on Nov 11 in Vancity Buzz, there was this:

Q: Looking at bike lanes, I know it has been an issue for a lot of people and it’s something you’re looking to continue to build more of. Where would you like to build more bike lanes?

A: Most of the next steps of the bike lanes will be improving the existing network. We’ve got the basic network built now, all the major routes. But there are a number of connections and improvements that are needed to make the system safer and more convenient for people of all ages and abilities. The improvements need to focus on the False Creek bridges, the major bike routes along 10th Avenue and Ontario Streets… because ridership is up so much, we need to make them safer and more convenient and that will be my priority for the next term – to get it ready for the ridership growth to come.

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From Business in Vancouver: Transit top of mind for Vancouver businesses as election approaches

 … according to a survey released by the Vancouver Board of Trade October 14 … 68% of the respondents picked public transit and infrastructure as the most important issue, followed by real estate development, density and city planning (50%), and community engagement and government transparency (40%).
The Vancouver Board of Trade’s survey respondents had some ideas about how to improve transportation in the region: 49% want transit to be properly funded, but without the burden shifting further to businesses; 46% want traffic to be better managed during construction; and 34% said Vancouver’s existing bike lanes should be removed.

And that’s how you build a coalition.

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