How often are you riding along on your bike and you think – somebody should DO something about that? It might be a deep pothole, a blocked cycle route, or an uncontrolled crossing at a busy intersection. It’s happened to me a thousand times, and I finally found out who to call – in the hope of getting someone to DO something about it.
The City of Vancouver does have a department devoted to cycling in Vancouver.
Also, the City of Vancouver has a hotline that you can call to ask questions or to report any issues related to the city. You can contact them by calling 311. Outside Vancouver call, you can call 604-873-7000.
For specifically bike-related issues, you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
However you make contact, if you would like someone to follow up with you, be sure to request a report number and updates.
311 will respond, but it does not always help
Of course, there is no guarantee that the situation will be fixed to your satisfaction. For example, someone reported the very dangerous intersection at Main and Terminal to 311 (this video shows how the cycling lane disappeared, forcing cyclists to merge with cars and buses).
The 311 response was that the contractor had filled in the necessary forms and put up the appropriate signs, and therefore there was no problem.
I never yet met a warning sign or a piece of paperwork that would protect me in a collision with a bus! Following a bureaucratic procedure does not make something safe, it merely makes it legal (in other words, it protects the perpetrator, not the victim).
After seeing that response from 311, I wrote directly to Mayor Robinson’s office. This yielded a much more satisfactory response. I got a letter from Ross Kenny, Project Engineer at the Active Transportation Branch, City of Vancouver saying:
“Your letter has made it through the Mayor’s Office and to the Transportation Department for review.
We visited the location shortly after receiving your email and fortunately, the station construction which was requiring the use of the curbside vehicle/bike lane had been completed and the temporary sidewalk was removed and the vehicle/bike lane reinstated.
Moving forward, we are continually working towards safely accommodating all modes of transportation through construction zones and are learning from experiences such as these. If you see anything in the future which concerns you, please contact 311 so that it can be investigated by the responsible department.”
So it seems that the situation is now resolved, not because it was a safety issue but because the construction company no longer needed to endanger people. Still, I really appreciate that the city actually went to look at the situation. This gives me hope for addressing these kinds of issues in the future.
Finally, see also the City of Vancouver’s Cycling Network Spot Improvements Program. This program has a lot of excellent aims, including re-orienting Stop signs to give right of way to cycle routes, and improving surface conditions. Surface conditions are really important, as any cyclist who has ever hit a bad pothole knows. I hit one in Burnaby so deep that my back hurt for six months, and just yesterday in New Westminster went over a pothole so deep that I was very nearly thrown from my bike.
Don’t suffer in silence
Most cities have departments devoted to safety issues.
Report unsafe biking conditions, and keep complaining until something is done.
Like donating blood, your complaint might just might save a life. Whether it’s yours or someone else’s, that’s definitely a good thing!
Thanks to Heather Harvey, Membership Coordinator of Vancouver’s HUB, for much of the above information.
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