Reallocating road space is appropriate
Re: “From disasters to successes: A summary of bike lanes,” commentary, July 22.
As an avid cyclist I am always interested to see what other cyclists think about the cycling infrastructure in our region. This commentary reflects that just like the rest of society, there are many different viewpoints.
The writer seems to think that no cycling infrastructure should be installed if it interferes with automobile traffic. The crowning touch is the view that the cycle path along Dallas Road is a success. Unfortunately, mileage will vary.
In my view (full disclosure: long-time transportational cyclist, now long retired) we have many examples of good infrastructure and many that are appalling.
Top of my awful list would be the Lochside Trail at Heritage Acres. It is so bad that I cycle on the highway shoulder to avoid it.
I would add the Capital Regional District’s love affair with bollards as another example. On the positive side, the recent new trail on E&N right of way from Esquimalt Road to Catherine Street was a nice completion to the E&N rail-trail.
There are many examples of what I consider good cycling facilities in Saanich: the recent work along Gorge Road, some of the recent separated lanes in Gordon Head.
Where the Dallas Road facility fails is that it has become a multi-use trail with dog walkers, pedestrians and cyclists. In the summer I avoid that facility due to this. There are times where removing car lanes or parking is an appropriate answer. As we move from gas-fuelled to electric automobiles all indications are that even less of us will be driving.
Reallocating our public road space to better accommodate other uses is an appropriate response.
Respect all users of our shared spaces
Missing from much of the commentary about bicycles is the fact that cyclists and pedestrians are so vulnerable to much of the car-centric infrastructure.
The driver that hits a cyclist or pedestrian will have a bad day, but the victim of such an incident can face a life-changing event or worse.
Also absent is the discussion of the huge subsidies we all pay to facilitate vehicle travel, and a quick check of the ICBC site will demonstrate that many of those roads and intersections can be improved for everyone’s safety, including those driving vehicles.
Active transportation is all about providing access to our shared spaces for all ages and abilities. Studies of many cities that have been proactive in this regard show that providing protected and controlled cycling routes will result, over time, in a dramatic increase of active transportation in all modes.
This is especially the case with the introduction of a wide variety of electric assist bicycles, scooters and improved electric wheelchairs. Transportation options evolve and infrastructure should continually evolve with it.
In an urban environment such as Greater Victoria, we should be doing all we can to encourage active transportation, as well as convenient and frequent public transit.
Climate change as well as our health and safety should be the priority. Preserving vehicle-dominated infrastructure at the expense of other users is not going to help us in the long run.
If you want to improve active transportation get involved in your community planning process, educate yourself on what other communities are doing that works, and let our politicians know you expect nothing less than safe walking and cycling throughout your community, for all ages and abilities.
Respect the challenges that all users face each day be they pedestrians, cyclists or drivers. Roads, bike lanes and walkways are shared spaces.
Extra time is needed to get around Victoria
We have many friends who are avid cyclists and friends who don’t ride bicycles often, but are very supportive of bike lanes, as are my husband and I.
The problem with the bike lanes is design and placement. We too have been struck by the craziness of most of the designs, except for Dallas Road, and the closures of perfectly good wide arteries for both cars and bikes like Richardson and Vancouver streets.
Some of designs like Humboldt are dangerous with cars using a single lane both ways and having to yield to the oncoming car by veering into the bike lanes.
I’ve seen cyclists almost hit on Government at Herald and Fisgard when cars are turning right. I’ve seen people unaware of the bike lanes going both ways on Fort Street, getting out of their parked cars and almost getting struck by cyclists.
The bike lanes on Pandora and Fort should have both lanes going one way as the traffic does.
We drive two elderly moms to various appointments and errands and it’s been pretty crazy, made worse by all the road and building construction with the added service vehicles. Tourists must find it daunting driving here. We plan now for an extra 15 minutes to half hour to get anywhere and don’t get me started on idling! And the expense of it all.
I can’t imagine what it’s all going to be like when the rain and darker days come in winter and visibility is so much less.
Give us the facts, please, on Victoria’s bike lanes
The author of this piece makes a lot of very confident claims about the volume of cyclists that take this or that bike lane in Victoria, but doesn’t cite any numbers.
It’s almost like he’s talking about his feelings rather than the facts.
Here’s my take: Roads in cities are mainly used to carry people from point A to point B, regardless of whether they’re on bikes, driving a car, or walking.
Victoria’s bike lanes need to be judged on whether there are more people travelling down the road after they were installed than before. We don’t have that information for most bike lanes.
Are some of of Victoria’s bike lanes failures? Maybe. But that needs to be judged based on facts, not feelings.
Retrofitting a city takes space from something
“Analysis” of infrastructure policy typically implies looking at data. Yet this hit piece is a poorly combined list of anecdotal observations which provides no actual data and no practical suggestions for improvements.
The commentary outlines one “success” on the basis that the Dallas Road multi-use path exists “without taking valuable space away from drivers.”
With a city road network developed primarily for cars, where else will space come from for bike infrastructure? Surely not by eliminating sidewalks or building SkyTrain-like bike paths above our roads.
Retrofitting our city to better balance safety for all users will require cars giving up a bit of “their” space.
Victoria’s major investments in All Ages and Abilities bike infrastructure support young car-free families like mine to get around town safely, not to mention the many seniors now using e-bikes.
I am part of the “zero” bikes which use the Pandora Avenue and Fort Street bike lanes between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The current growth in family cycling could raise a generation less dependent on cars, with all the attendant benefits for fitness, air quality, and decreased emissions (there’s a climate crisis on, folks).
Contrary to the assertions in the commentary, per capita vehicle ownership is beginning to decline in the Capital Regional District. For 2018-2022, compare a 4.5 per cent passenger vehicle increase (ICBC) to a 6.5 per cent population increase (StatsCan).
Vehicular traffic decreases when people have other viable options. Infrastructure makes the difference. Whining about change doesn’t.
Armchair warriors are in Belgium as well
Seeing bike lanes and bikers, young, old, e-bikers and cargo bikers contributing to a cleaner environment and a healthier lifestyle is delightful.
I’m here from Belgium visiting my Canadian family and the difference in bike usage in the city of Victoria is striking and must be applauded. Back home, unless it’s raining, I do everything by bike: It keeps the body moving, provides minimum carbon footprint and let’s you travel, live life and move at a more natural pace.
Belgium too has armchair warriors who lack the courage to go public and explain and justify why they put cyclists at risk of harm and injury — let alone the inconvenience.
So put up or shut up.
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