Wednesday, November 18, 2009
"There's no doubt that cold and wet weather can be a barrier to winter bike commuting," says VACC representative Lisa Slakov. "The commuter stations are a way to reward those year-round cyclists who stick with sustainable transportation choices. They are also a great place to provide advice on equipment, clothing, and safe routes for those who are just starting out."
In addition to the extra commuter bike stations, the VACC is offering riding workshops designed to help those looking for an easier way to get around during the 2010 Olympic Games. Workplaces and other organizations can take advantage of the program's sensible advice on safety and equipment, promoting realistic expectations, and offering potential cycle commuters the moral support they need to overcome perceived barriers.
"How do I get started? Not being able to answer that question seems to be the biggest roadblock to those wondering if biking to work is right for them," says Slakov. "Our workshops help people find the right answers. With the Winter Olympics coming and road closures soon to be affecting many parts of the region, we want people to know that getting to work by bike is a great way to avoid the frustration of traffic jams and transit overcrowding."
WINTER BIKE TO WORK COMMUTER STATIONS
Date: Friday Nov. 20
Location: Central Valley Greenway at Gilmore Way (Home Depot)
Date: Thursday Nov. 26
Location: SW corner of Burrard Bridge
Time: 16:30 - 18:30
Date: Friday Dec. 4
Location: Cambie and 10th Ave (West side of Cambie)
Date: Thursday Dec. 10
Location: Frances/Union bike route between Fell Ave and Kensington Ave
Time: 16:30 - 18:30
Date: Friday Dec. 18
Location: Ontario and 33rd, Vancouver
Date: Tuesday Dec. 22
Location: Union and Main (Adanac/Union bike route)
Time: 16:30 - 18:30
For more information on getting your organization involved in Bike to Work programs, please visit: http://www.biketoworkmetrovan.ca/
WINTER BIKE COMMUTING WORKSHOPS
For more details on the Winter Bike Commuting Workshops, including how your company or organization can participate, visit http://vacc.bc.ca/cycling/cycling.php?pageID=39#2 or contact the VACC office:
Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition
Contact: Chris Keam
Friday, August 14, 2009
Here's the first paragraph:
One month after the opening of bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge, it's a little hard to remember what all the fuss was about. Drivers haven't suffered from the change. Communications efforts before the trial began, publicizing the upcoming change and suggesting alternate routes clearly paid off. Unsurprisingly, cyclists and pedestrians are lauding the new arrangement. The increased safety both user groups now enjoy has turned uneasy confrontations into peaceful coexistence. Hopefully, these outcomes will spur further initiatives to create the separated, protected facilities that make walking and biking in the city a safe option for people of all ages and abilities.
And a link to the full article
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Here are seven things about the upcoming trial cyclists and pedestrians should know. Feel free to post questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. If you’d like to know more, read the media briefing for more detail on the plans at this Vancouver Sun link, take a look at the city’s lane reallocation technical details web page, or keep it brief with this summary backgrounder. (All images below are from the City of Vancouver reports)
1. Monday, July 13 is the big day. Barriers, lane painting, and roadwork will be done the weekend previous. Expect the bridge to be ready for your morning commute unless bad weather the previous week delays roadwork. Banners reminding drivers of the change will go up on the bridge at the end of the month and a three week media blitz will commence.
2. A particularly nasty section of road where northbound cyclists currently leave the bridge and merge with eastbound traffic on the north side of the bridge should see some improvements -- with the addition of a bike lane and bike boxes on the stretch between Burrard and Hornby making it easier for cyclists to use the Hornby Street bike lanes as a route into the downtown core. A slip lane will allow bikers to cross over the eastbound car lane and continue north on Burrard, but extreme caution will be the order of the day as this problematic intersection may yet retain some of its inherent dangers.
3. All pedestrians will be using the west sidewalk. Apparently, city data suggests two-thirds of walkers already use this side, perhaps because of the ocean view. The best place to get over the east side of Burrard before you get to the bridge itself is at First Ave.
4. Cyclists will have the benefit of barriers on both their protected lanes. With the lack of pedestrians to act as deterrents to excess speed, it will be instructive to see if any new safety issues related to cyclists passing each other arise.
5. Bike lanes on Pacific and Burrard on the northwest side of the bridge should give cyclists a clear route onto their new protected lane of southbound road space on the bridge deck.
6. There was no commitment to an end date, meaning that an unsuccessful trial can be abandoned early, despite assurances from the City that a report will be prepared after three months.
7. Buses heading south on the bridge will see their bus lane extended past Pacific Boulevard, so that buses will have some measure of priority when getting onto the bridge. If transit experiences severe and prolonged congestion problems, engineers may implement special transit phasing of traffic lights at the intersection to keep buses moving.
Friday, May 8, 2009
(The following is an expression of my own opinion only, and not an official message on behalf of the Friends of the Burrard Bridge. Thank you to everyone who supported the two lane trial campaign and I hope you will help us to make the one lane experiment as successful as possible - Chris Keam)
The Vision Vancouver-dominated city council voted on the proposed Burrard Bridge lane re-allocation trial on Thursday afternoon. Three options had been put before council. The first option, widely considered the best route to a successful experiment and useful data on traffic pattern changes, would have seen a curb lane in each direction separated from motorists by concrete barriers, giving cyclists a safe road-level corridor to and from the downtown core. Pedestrians would have had sole access to sidewalks on either side of the bridge. That’s not the plan that will go ahead however. Instead, Vision supported a third option. With this scheme, pedestrians will be banned from the east sidewalk and it will become a cyclists-only facility. Only one lane on the bridge (heading south) will be allocated to cyclists. Sound like a practical compromise? Unfortunately, as with many half-measures, this plan lacks audacity at a time when our city has a real need for courageous political decisions.
Here are some of the reasons I am disappointed, by the decision and the process:
Hundreds of people sent emails to Council in support of the two-lane trial. A Facebook group supporting the two-lane reallocation has nearly eight hundred members. There is, as far as I know, no organized support for the status quo, or a one-lane experiment. More than two dozen people came to City Hall on their own time, to voice their support for this option, or bear witness to the proceedings. One person spoke against it and a representative for downtown businesses presented a non-committal stance on the experiment. Yes, you read that right. Only one citizen of Vancouver went on record as opposing the trial!
Throughout the process councilors encouraged two-lane trial supporters to build support and make our presence known. Once it came time to make a decision however, this grassroots expression of political will was characterized as the work of the vocal ‘cycling lobby.’ Apparently it’s possible to be too organized and have too much support. At least that’s the impression one gets after this experience. From my perspective, this decision looks as choreographed and predetermined as a performance of Hamlet. Given the ongoing safety issues, we can only hope a real, long-term solution can be implemented without a similar quantity of blood spilled by the time the curtain drops. Unfortunately, given the abysmal record of the bridge with regard to injuries and lawsuits, there’s little reason to suspect this road story will be analogous to a happy Hollywood reboot of the Danish prince’s misfortunes, re-titled Ophelia’s Big Fat Wedding.
Councilor Suzanne Anton’s performance was particularly disappointing. She quizzed staff on the minutiae of the communications budget for a proposal which she clearly had no intention of supporting. Most of the questions could have been asked, and answered, with a simple email to the appropriate staff members, either before or after the meeting. In all, a waste of everyone’s time and certainly an expensive way to make a point when you consider the cost to taxpayers to have everyone come back on Thursday to finish the debate and vote on the matter. Here’s the kicker. Anton wasn’t present for the vote on Thursday, or to hear the rest of the speakers who wished to address Council. One would have thought, given her interest in knowing the particulars of the plan on Tuesday, she might have deigned to actually cast a vote one way or the other when it came time to represent those who put her in office. If I were an NPA supporter I would be livid with this lack of representation on an important issue. At least we know where she stands–even if she didn’t care to cast a vote. Councilors Louie and Stephenson didn’t speak to the issue. They and the rest of the Vision councilors voted in lock-step, all supporting the pedestrian-unfriendly plan. The mayor, and Vision councilors Chow, Deal, Jang, Meggs, and Reimer did voice their reasons for choosing the third option. Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between their fine-sounding words and the meat of the matter. Safety, safety, safety. That was the mantra invoked again and again. But, it’s clear the two-lane re-allocation was the safest plan. Pedestrians first. That’s the city’s official position. Yet, walkers are now to be banned from one side of the bridge. Anyone wishing to walk from the southeast side of False Creek to the northeast side on the Burrard Bridge will now have to cross more than twenty lanes of road to make the trip. Currently, they needn’t ever set foot on asphalt. If this is how we improve walking in the city I hope we never find the money or will to really improve cycling infrastructure! Last time I checked adding time and distance to a journey is a good thing for hang glider pilots, but not the usual method of making self-propelled transportation more attractive.
Now, it’s easy to do the right thing when you’re in opposition. You have nothing to lose. And COPE Councilors Cadman and Woodsworth gave it their best shot. Kudos to them for attempting to see Vancouver emulate the demonstrated successes of New York, Copenhagen, Paris, Seoul, Bogota, Budapest, Barcelona and a host of other cities unafraid to tackle auto-dependence. Unfortunately, two councilors aren’t enough to ensure two lanes of the multitude of roads leading in and out of downtown are made safe for the growing number of commuter cyclists in our city.
What really happened was not a question of putting pedestrians first, or choosing the best way to encourage both cycling and walking downtown. What we saw on Thursday afternoon was the mere specter of upset drivers making Vision Vancouver ignore the wealth of evidence that lane reallocation doesn’t create long-term traffic congestion. This is important and bears repeating. Lane reallocation doesn’t create long-term traffic congestion. Drivers quickly find alternate routes, such as the under-capacity Granville Bridge just a few blocks away. They sometimes actually decide to try biking or walking or taking transit instead of driving… and quickly discover that not all trips need be done in an automobile. This isn’t the mad raving of a cyclist or the theoretical results of a computer model. In every city where road space has been re-allocated to pedestrians and cyclists, a brief period of congestion and adjustment to new traffic patterns resulted in better facilities for the self-propelled, with no ongoing issues for those who still need to use their cars. Why? Because people aren’t idiots. Nobody knowingly sits in a traffic jam. Hence the traffic reports that dominate local television and radio during rush hour, offering advice and alternate routes around accidents and other traffic snarls. Speaking of which, turn an ear to those reports before the trial begins. See how often our local traffic reporters mention congestion on the Burrard Bridge. Get yourself a coffee and donut first however. Unlike the drivers who use the bridge, you’ll be waiting a while.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
and on veteran municipal reporter Frances Bula’s blog too
This is a great time to send off that letter of support you’ve been meaning to write. Let Council know their decision to go ahead with the trial will have the backing of eco-conscious, forward-thinking residents:
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
“It will make the chicken debate look calm,” notes Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs during the March 18th meeting of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. He’s referring to the expected protestations from drivers, regarding the hoped-for implementation of a two lane reallocation trial on the Burrard Bridge later this year… and referencing the uproar that ensued when council advanced the idea of allowing city residents to keep chickens. And while much laughter accompanies Meggs’ mention of urban poultry, everyone in the room knows the first few days of the lane reallocation may be the make or break moment for the proposal.
And if the trial doesn't work out, cyclists can all buy water-bikes and still get across False Creek via pedal power without sucking exhaust fumes or dodging pedestrians!
Meggs’ comments come at the end of a report on trial preparations by David Rawsthorne, the city engineer tasked with the unenviable job of balancing the needs of advocates and critics, overcoming traffic flow challenges, and making the reallocation trial a reality. Rawsthorne is here on his day off, fielding questions and concerns from the Bicycle Advisory Committee, and asking the B.A.C. to make a motion formally supporting the two-lane trial. It’s the urban design equivalent of grunt work, the meetings and discussions armchair experts don’t have to engage in when proclaiming their ‘obvious’ solutions to improving a traffic network that moves millions of people around Metro Vancouver every day. Rawsthorne faces a friendly crowd tonight however. Committee members are eager to see this initiative gain momentum.
Two issues dominate the discussion. Identifying the feeder routes that will funnel cyclists to the bridge and ensuring communications between the public, media, and city representatives relay factual information and helpful solutions during the transition.
Advisory Committee members want to make sure that nearby bike routes aren’t flooded with drivers seeking shortcuts, a situation that could actually dissuade cyclists from the most sensible paths to the bridge and likely to raise the ire of area residents. They want the City to identify the best ways to get cyclists to the new lanes and make sure they’re clearly marked. Luckily, monitoring traffic and putting up signage is pretty straightforward. Good data and a small budget are all that’s needed to bring the bikers to the bridge.
Sharing the good news however, may not be as cut and dried. Meggs says council is going to need to know exactly how the trial is going from the outset. The media will be eager for comment. Critics will be ready and willing to exploit any flaws be they real or perceived. Everyone recognizes the threat to the trial inherent in a basic tenet of the news business. “Two Lane Trial Goes Unnoticed” isn’t the kind of headline encouraging one to take a free copy of the papers proffered by orange and green smocked human newsstands seemingly stationed at every busy street corner and transit hub in the downtown core.
And there it sits. No date has yet been set to take the matter before council, but the day approaches. When it does, judging from City Council’s interest in the process, approval seems likely. At that point, it’s a matter of a couple months to put barriers and signage in place and get the trial underway. A big change to the bridge seems imminent. This summer, be it a Point Grey gathering with canapés and champagne, or a Mount Pleasant kegger featuring quinoa and cannabis, determining whether that change is for good or ill is bound to be one hot topic.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Mar 31, 2009
5:00pm to 8:00pm,
Local History Lab
1100 Chestnut Street
Manager of Research and Planning
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Speak to city council at the Transportation and Traffic meeting in support of the Burrard Bridge Two Lane Trial.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
9:30am - 11:30am
City Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall
453 West 12th Avenue
Help us create a safer, more sustainable, progressive solution!
A two lane trial will make the bridge safe for people of all ages to cycle over while giving faster cyclists room to pass.
A two lane reallocation will keep traffic noise and pollution away from the sidewalk, making the bridge much more pleasant to walk over.
With around 6,000 people walking and cycling over the bridge every day of the week, the number of people benefiting from the trial will be huge.
Granville Bridge is only a short drive away for motorists and will even be quicker for many trips.
To register to speak, call 604.871.6399, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I am writing you to express my support for the two lane re-allocation trial planned for the Burrard Bridge. I also wish to extend my appreciation to you for tackling this thorny issue.
I have no doubt there will be nay-sayers, bent on shutting down this cost-effective, safe, progressive solution to the very real dangers posed by a shared sidewalk. I have no doubt that supporters (of the trial) will be mis-characterized as selfish and unrealistic by the two-lane trial opponents. Most of all, I have no doubt that if the trial proceeds as planned, the long-term ramifications will be negligible for car users and significant for all the people who utilize transportation alternatives more suited to individual travel in a modern city committed to sustainable practices.
Supporters of the trial are eager to hear the concerns of opponents and those who, for whatever reason, like the idea but question its implementation. We certainly want to assist City staff and politicians at all levels, in any way we can. We are also sensitive to your needs–especially your duty to consider all input and represent the wishes of your constituents. Having said that, I think it's incumbent upon anyone involved in this initiative... and especially those with the opportunity to speak to the public through the media, to separate reasoned arguments and valid concerns from reactionary calls for the status quo.
It's a grossly unfair characterizations to call those who lobby for better cycling facilities as motivated purely by self-interest, or guilty of proposing unworkable plans. This is simply not true. I believe you already know this. I hope you will do what you can to correct this erroneous appraisal of lane re-allocation supporters at every opportunity.
The two lane trial is already getting coverage in the media. This is a good thing. The more people who know about it, the better informed everyone can be concerning alternative routes, the reasons for the decision to pursue this plan, and its benefits to our city. I urge you to stay committed to green initiatives and a safer, more sensible use of road space. As our leaders, we need this from you more than ever. I believe we can trust the City engineering staff to find workable solutions to valid concerns, within the framework of the two-lane trial. I am hopeful you will give them the tools they need to identify and implement those measures.
The evidence is in. The reason we don't have more people adopting cycling for transportation is the perception (and all too often, the reality) that cycling in our city is a dangerous choice. Only separate cycling facilities as required, to provide safe passage for cyclists of all ages and abilities, can change this perception and encourage sustainable transportation. Only you can make the decision to choose forward-thinking, well-reasoned planning over emotional knee-jerk responses to progressive measures. You have the support of many in this endeavor and a chance to make concrete the ideals so many of us share.
Thank you for your time,
(A Friend of the Burrard Bridge)
Two Lane Bridge Trial Finds Support
And if you can, please let us know what you wrote too. Copy your letter to the comments section of this blog. Harnessing the power of collaboration will be the secret to making the Burrard Bridge two lane trial a success. Share your voice and make us stronger!
Monday, February 2, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
“We strongly support a two-lane trial and want everyone to have an opportunity to hear all sides of the debate,” said FBB spokesperson Rob Wynen. “Until we try reallocation, demonstrating how this safe, progressive solution can accommodate all bridge users is impossible. We’re confident we can address objections to the plan and show how the two lane trial is the most cost-effective way for the city to adhere to its policy of encouraging sustainable transportation on the Burrard Bridge.”
ICBC and Vancouver police statistics demonstrate the dangers to pedestrians and cyclists currently using the bridge. From 1996 to 2006, 25 pedestrians and 80 cyclists were injured in accidents, with Pacific Avenue at the north end of the Burrard Bridge a particularly risky area for cyclists (38 injuries). More recent numbers show the problem is only getting worse. 2006 statistics document 50 casualties at this dangerous intersection.
Currently, pedestrians, cyclists, and inline-skaters must all share the sidewalks on the Burrard Bridge. Motorized vehicles have six lanes available. Supporters of the trial point out the Granville Street Bridge is under capacity and offers a more direct route to the downtown core. Calls for a new pedestrian bridge or widening the existing bridge are rejected by the citizen’s group, as either solution is years away from implementation and likely to cost tens of millions of dollars. They assert lane re-allocation will cost far less and can be implemented right away.
According to another Friends spokesperson, Richard Campbell, the trial delivers immediate safety and liability benefits:
“The two-lane trial delivers immediate improvements to safety on the bridge. The current situation does not meet the nationally recommended standard for a shared sidewalk. This failure to meet minimum requirements leaves the city wide open to potential lawsuits. We need to address the issue before more people are hurt or someone is killed.”
Sunday, January 25, 2009
"Show your support for a two lane trial"
What: Informational Meeting
Host: I Support The Burrard Bridge Two Lane Trial
Start Time: Saturday, January 31 at 2:00pm
End Time: Saturday, January 31 at 5:00pm
Where: Roundhouse Community Centre, Great Hall
Friday, January 16, 2009
Q: Why do we need to change the current situation on the Burrard Bridge?
A: The City of Vancouver’s transportation priorities are walking and cycling. Several people have been seriously injured due to the substandard width of the sidewalks. The large number of people already walking, cycling and jogging over the bridge is expected to increase as more individuals choose sustainable transportation methods and the city’s population continues to grow.
Q: Why not just put a barrier in?
A: A barrier would make the sidewalk even narrower, increasing the likelihood of even more accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians. Also, narrower sidewalks will not allow for further increases in bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
Q: Why don’t cyclists slow down and obey the 15kph speed limit?
A: 15kph is less than 10mph. This is not a reasonable speed limit for cyclists going downhill and it’s twice the speed of the average pedestrian. We don’t encourage bikes to use regular sidewalks for safety reasons. Those same reasons apply on bridge sidewalks as well. Motorists do not obey the speed limit on the bridge either.
Q: Why not a one-lane reallocation?
A: A two-lane reallocation is quicker, simpler and less costly to implement. The bridge surface contains asbestos, the grinding required to reline the bridge requires special procedures that are expensive and long lead times. During the trial, permanent solutions including a one-lane reallocation can be studied. The two-lane trial will give us a good indication on whether or not a one-lane reallocation is the best solution. A two-lane trial is much safer for cyclists and will encourage more people to ride reducing traffic on the bridge.
Q: Why is a two-lane trial better for cyclists than a one-lane trial?
A: A two-lane trial allows enough space for barriers to protect cyclists from high-speed vehicle traffic. This increased safety will encourage more people to ride on the bridge. A two-lane trial allows enough room for both fast cyclists and slower cyclists on the long up hill sections. In a one-lane trial, cyclists would be forced to pass by entering traffic lanes. This would be both dangerous and disruptive to traffic on the bridge, causing congestion. Additionally, at 1.5 metres in width, the bike lanes would be below Transportation Association of Canada standards and could expose the city to the risk of legal action in the event of an accident. At the middle of the bridge, the bridge structure further reduces the width of the current sidewalk/bike lane.
Q: Instead of bike lanes, why not widen the sidewalks inward.
A: This would be costly, disruptive to traffic and impractical to do on a trial basis.
Q: Won’t this cause transit delays?
A: Bus lanes can be added along Cornwall and Burrard south of the bridge to minimize transit delays.
Q: Won’t lane reallocation cause traffic chaos?
A: We expect confusion on the first few days but are confident in the ability of all users to quickly adapt. The key is to inform drivers of the trial and alternatives to Burrard. Some important facts to consider:
- The traffic on Burrard increased by 10% during Canada Line construction. This shows that people are adaptable and willing to change routes.
- The opening of the Canada Line, with a capacity of 300,000 people per day will further reduce traffic on all bridges to downtown
- At Broadway, the Granville Street is only three blocks east of Burrard. The Granville Street Bridge has plenty of spare capacity. The Canada Line rapid transit sytem will also reduce the number of buses on Granville further increasing space on Granville, Seymour and Howe.
- The bridge requires $33 million dollars of improvements to repair the railings. This work will require disruptions to traffic anyway over the next few years.
- Northbound, the main cause of traffic delays is the signal at the corner of Hornby and Pacific. We will encourage the city to address the issues at this intersect to decrease delays during the trial.
- It should be noted that the Lions Gate Bridge carries 60% more traffic than the Burrard Bridge with only three lanes.
- Car traffic has been consistently decreasing since 2001, while pedestrian and cycling traffic has had dramatic increases.
Q: What about a new bridge?
A: A new bridge has been considered. It would take years to plan and design. The cost would be at least $100 million dollars. It may not be close enough to Burrard to address the safety issues on the sidewalk. Cities like London, Copenhagen and Lyon, improve existing bridges while added new bicycle and pedestrian bridges.
Q: What about emergency vehicles?
A: The bus lanes will help emergency vehicles. The proposed widening would have likely had a greater impact on emergency vehicles than the trial. Emergency vehicles function on congested streets and bridges all around the city. In considering the long-term solution, the impact on emergency vehicles will be a prime consideration. The trial would likely have less impact on emergency vehicles than the 18 months of construction delays that widening the bridge would have caused.