New Bike Corridors
I am a cyclist who rides approx 100km per week. I live within the Victoria city limits. I also walk to work. Our family owns one vehicle that we use when necessary. In short, I SUPPORT infrastructure that makes cycling safer and increases use of sustainable transportation options.
I think we need to take a moment, take a step back, and ask ourselves: what is the problem we are trying to solve?
Studies show that the #1 thing that makes cycling safer is driver awareness, and driver care for cyclists.
Increasing animosity between drivers and cyclists decreases safety for cyclists – regardless of infrastructure, as evidenced here.
Drivers do not want to hit people. But angry drivers do not always behave rationally.
Right now, I am witnessing an alarming trend. The new bike corridors are making cycling less safe, and less efficient.
Case in point: last week I was riding the bike path on Harbour Rd between the Goose and Johnson. I needed to get to the south side of the bridge so I could continue downtown. I found myself cycling headfirst into oncoming traffic when the bike lane abruptly ended with no signage. Had there been no bike lane, I would have been riding on the right side of the road. Had the design of the bike lanes been better thought through, this would have been a great road for a connector. But the current design is frighteningly unsafe. To be clear: I was not distracted, did not have earphones in, and was cycling alone. The lack of signage and clear indication of where to go was alarming.
I live near Vancouver St and ride the new corridor approx. 3 times per week. The bike lanes have made my bike commute approx 20% longer by introducing unnecessary stop lights. More problematically, e single day I witness people – pedestrians, cyclists and drivers – stopping, observing zero traffic, and proceeding through red lights. Creating a social norm of running red lights does not increase safety of cyclists.
Additionally, I drive the same area 3 times per week going to and from my mother-in-law’s. I used to drive Vancouver, but now use Quadra or Cook. The drive time between my house and my mother in law’s 2km south of me has doubled, meaning my carbon emissions on this trip have doubled. Cycling while bringing her hot food and 2 dogs is not a reasonable option, so I drive.
Let me be very clear, I support bike lanes on Vancouver. I support increased cycling infrastructure generally. I advocated that Vancouver was a better option than Cook. But the current design is appalling and unnecessarily cumbersome.
I cannot support ANY changes to a James Bay or Government St without seeing how these changes will make cycling safer. Because simply adding bike lanes with no thought to the consequences (where will traffic be diverted to?) does NOT a make cycling safer.
Angry drivers make cycling less safe for everyone. Longer trip times increase carbon emissions. If we want safer cycling, we need to start by getting drivers onboard. This animosity and us vs them mentality has got to stop.
Let’s take a step back and ask: What is the problem we are trying to solve?
Then, let’s solve that.