The Vancouver Park Board abandoned the plan for a new bike path at Kits Beach on February 17th, 2014. BUT they said that some of the money would be re-allocated to other pedestrian and cycling safety priorities. I’m all for that!
In fact, on balance, I would rather be able to bike to work safely than be able to bike or walk safely at Kits Beach. After all, the beach is optional, while working is mandatory.
Vision Vancouver has already made awesome improvements to cycling safety in Vancouver. Sometimes it seems like everywhere I look, awesome separated bike lanes are springing up.
Recent advances in bike lanes made by Vision Vancouver include:
1. The separated bike lane on the Burrard Bridge in July, 2009
2. The separate bike lane on Dunsmuir Street in March 2010
3. The Hornby Bike Lane in December 2010
For me, it’s kind of a non-brainer that MOST average cyclists would prefer to bike in relative safety.
More recently, there have been quieter but still very impressive improvements. For example …
The Adanac Bikeway Upgrade
Vancouver City Council removed what used to be back-breaking chaos on the part of the Adanac bikeway that connects East Vancouver with downtown Vancouver (on Union Street west of Main). This used to be a nightmare. The pavement looked like it had been used as a testing site for landmines, and the road was wide but wild. About 4,000 cyclists per day had to dodge potholes and cars as they tried to get to and from work. All that is just a nightmarish memory now …
Although the upgrade was a compromise to mollify the usual opponents (business owners in the area, such as Steve Da Cruz, owner of The Parker restaurant on Union St.), the improvements are still great. We have smooth pavement, and clearly marked, wide lanes. The traffic lights at Union and Main also work correctly, giving cyclists travelling in both directions regular opportunities to cross. I feel much safer in this block now, and feel really happy using it with dozens of other cyclists.
I even start to feel optimistic that eventually, one day, Vancouver will be as bike-friendly and full of cyclists as cities like Portland and Montreal. I just hope I live to see it.
What Next for Vancouver Bike Routes?
Of course, it’s not perfect yet. For example, here’s a father I saw recently on the Lakeside Bike Route. The competition for space between bikes and cars got pretty scary in this situation:
And here’s a mom I saw on Adanac Bike Route. They weren’t in danger. But anyone who has been at this intersection knows how cars, trucks and bikes jostle for space. I would love to see this become a dedicated bike route, with cars excluded.
Unfortunately, there are still many RED zones in Vancouver’s cycling network that desperately need to be addressed.
One that really INFURIATES me is the very dangerous spot at Main and Terminal, for cyclists heading north on Main. Most of the way cyclists get to share an entire lane with only buses (!). But as you cross the always-busy intersection at Terminal, there is suddenly NO LANE ( X marks the spot on the map).
For whatever insane reason, a 50-foot long construction shelter has been put right where the bike lane used to be. It has to do with protecting pedestrians from construction work. I am all for protecting pedestrians, particularly as I am frequently one myself. But surely there must be a way that BOTH cyclists and pedestrians could be protected here? Rather than suddenly forcing bikes, buses and cars into one lane, with NO WARNING?
But instead, for at least a year now, cyclists are forced to veer into traffic at a very busy intersection. It’s well known that the most common place for cyclists to be hit by cars is at intersections. So why on earth make this intersection ten times more dangerous?
Here’s a video that shows how dangerous this part of Main Street is for cyclists.
This is just insanely unsafe, and I cannot understand how it has been allowed to happen.
I HATE this part of my cycle commute. I have to choose between taking my life into my hands by taking the lane from cars, or risking my life by squeezing in on the right of them, or simply skidding to a halt right in the middle of a busy intersection.
There are NO GOOD, SAFE choices for cyclists here – which is probably why so few cyclists even use this route. Usually I try to take the lane, but every now and then I encounter a furious motorist who reacts very aggressively. (Which is understandable: after all, it is critically important that he gets to the next red light sooner than I do.)
This would surely not be an expensive fix. Just separate that lane into a cycle lane and a pedestrian lane – it’s not brain surgery! However, at the moment, it could lead to a cyclist needing to HAVE brain surgery.
UPDATE: A week after I sent this video to City Council, the problem was fixed – no more deadly danger on Main and Terminal. They told me they had been just about to fix it anyway … mmm … well, whatever the reason, I am just glad the danger is now gone.
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