Bike Lanes… Enough Is Enough Vancouver

I think the city of Vancouver has gone 1 lane too far with the recent addition of a bike lane on the Dunsmuir Viaduct. As a biker, pedestrian, and driver I feel like I am an advocate for all three groups. I am so proud of our fair city for embracing alternate methods of transportation. Helping people to break their love affair with their favorite method of transport, even if just for the work commute.

Bike lanes for the sake of bike lanes are a terrible idea and here’s where my respect for the cities decisions starts to diminish.

I wrote an email to the city of Vancouver at least a year ago complaining that they hadn’t removed the concrete barriers placed on the Viaduct during the construction of the Spectrum towers. I wanted to remind them that the capacity of the viaduct is actually a whole lot greater than was being taken advantage of. More importantly, I would watch people waiting, burning gas, for 5-10 minutes on the Viaduct. Cars literally crawl across the expanse during the morning commute; mostly because there are cars turning off, blocking the straight thru flow of vehicle traffic. The response to my email was simple; the urban planner who wrote me back blamed it on Concord Pacific – a local developer who had arranged for the lane to be closed during the construction. Apparently they had some more time before they were required to return the road to its former flow.

At the end of the day, my theory is simple too. We should be encouraging CARS to use the viaduct. It keeps them off of the other streets. The streets that the bikes, pedestrians, skaters, children, adults…. You get the idea. The viaduct is a perfect place for cars because it allows the rest of us the peaceful use of the streets. I personally don’t see the need for more bike lanes either? There is a bike lane on Pender, Pacific, Expo, Quebec, Burrard, Cambie, Beatty, Homer, etc. There are more than adequate bike accessible routes into downtown Vancouver. Moreover the viaduct literally is a bike lane on top of bike lanes that travel the same exact path.

I don’t always agree with the actions of the cities urban planners. For example, the curb outs… When the extend the curb at corner of certain intersections. A perfect example of this is Thurlow and Davie.  A few years ago there were right a left turn lanes in addition to the two through lanes on the Thurlow.  The city decided to remove the turning lanes to extend the curbs for pedestrian safety and space.  Okay, I understand that the pedestrians, at rare times, may need some more space (but that’s the case on Robson almost all the time). What I don’t get it how it’s safer? As I see drivers so frustrated that it took them 20 minutes to get though that intersection on a busy day, all the time burning fuel and polluting without any productive reason. Road rage is perfectly safe? Right?

At the end of the day, whether it’s a “curb out” or new bike lane don’t you think the city should consider the cost vs benefit of implimenting these new ideas. How much is it worth to the people. The Olympics often come under critisism for the cost.  People should pay attention to the cost of the small things:  adding traffic circles, expanding bike lanes, adding traffic lights. These are costs which don’t just hit our pockets at tax time either…. Think about the accidents that occur as the result of changed traffic flows or congested road conditions. I’m sure ICBC could extract statics that would have us all reconsider some of the decisions (Did I hear someone say Burrard St. Bridge?).

As the taxpayers and residents we should all care a bit more.  Stand up and tell the people in charge what we really want (or don’t want).

  • Russ

    Personally, I feel safer riding bike routes that are separated from cars. So often our bike lanes in Vancouver are between moving and parked cars, which doesn’t leave much room for errors.
    When it comes to cost, the environmental expense of cars vs biking/walking, and costs of healthcare for people sitting in cars as opposed to biking must be included in the equation

  • anon

    Your idea of “encouraging cars to use the viaduct” to keep them off the streets is basically advocating freeways into downtown. That is a very debatable issue. Ask Chinatown what they think of freeways, or the black community that was wiped out of existence by the Georgia viaduct.

    It’s been shown time and again that freeways encourage increased use of cars and more traffic, increasing urban sprawl which swallows valuable farmland and increasingly impacts wildlife and local wilderness, and of course increases pollution and carbon emissions. Ask residents of the Fraser Valley what they think of more noxious summer smog than they already have.

    The problem still is a narrowminded outlook, and a frustratingly selfish addiction to cars. Most of those 4-seater cars you see downtown still only contain one occupant – so much for car-pooling.

    What needs much more attention is development and funding of a comprehensive urban transit system which is efficient, spacious, comfortable, and more viable than commuting by car. In Vancouver it’s still much more comfortable to travel by car than transit.

    In my opinion, as a green-minded city, we should be working to no cars allowed downtown but service vehicles. In London, with their congestion problems, they’ve implemented a toll to discourage car use downtown (i.e. only the rich can afford it – so class-ist there still!). Congestion in most major cities has reached critical limits. So quit your whining; for the present car drivers still have it pretty good here.

  • Jared

    Umm… The first time I drove to downtown using the Dunsmuir viaduct right after the Olympics, I was all “wtf?” The viaduct is important for a reason: It’s a major artery into the downtown core. To have such a retarded, wide, and ugly looking bike “lane” put in place is, well, retarded. First of all, the downtown core is primarily for a place of retail and business, not a stroll in the park. Do you really think business men and women are going to ride a bike with a dufflebag carrying shoes and a suit?. Second, the downtown core was poorly designed in the first place, so the streets are smaller than they should be. Third, a vast majority of bikers don’t know what traffic rules are in the first place, which is why they get into so many accidents (MOST OF WHICH ARE CAUSED BY THEMSEVLES). They act like drivers and pedestrians, don’t stop at red lights or stop signs, turn whenever they want to, and cross lanes when they feel it convenient. Perhaps if people in this city actually knew how to bike with road sense – yes, road sense, since bikers are supposed to share the road with cars – people wouldn’t be so opposed to the idea of bike lanes.

  • Michael

    I agree that they are going over board with bike lanes. the only reason this is happening is the mayor is a bike rider.
    The city is a contradiction in it’s self. I am a city employee and the city has created a anti idling bylaw for vehicles. If your vehicle idles in one place for more than 3 minutes in a 60 minute period u can get a fine. Yet it allows this Critical Mass (bike protest) to tie up traffic with police escorts making vehicles idle for 15-20 minutes at a time. I asked someone for the city about this and they told me that it was proven that idling actually does not cause much pollution so it is not an issue really.
    So as a protest to all these bike lanes I would like to start a protest called “Metal Mass”. This will be the first Friday of every month where cars drive the bike lanes. =)

  • Mike d

    I use the viaduct every morning to go to work, and every night when I return. Seriously, I have yet to see anyone use the bike lane! It’s dangerous as a driver. I have had cars not realize the traffic lane suddenly merges. It’s been a close call more than once.

  • Jared

    All the times I’ve used the viaduct has been a close call too, because the merge WAY sooner and WAY tighter. They really should have taken the second left turn lane on main out if they were going to be that stupid. Then again, they were that stupid.

  • Brian

    Right on! Glad to see someone actually has the balls to offer a counter argument to the “green city” bike lanes, as in the case of the Viaduct, the lanes make no sense. Dear Anon, some people are addicted to their cars, others use them out of necessity. Your generalization of car drivers’ addiction and unhealthy lifestyle is akin to my generalization that all bike riders are pot smoking basement suite dwelling people who work marginally and contribute minimally to the tax base of the City. There are so many green initiatives our Mayor and Council could implement but those wouldn’t be popular with the voters. What about water meters to control wasteful consumption of hot water and treatment of waste water? What about requiring older buildings to become more efficient with better windows and heating systems? What about requiring office space to be built downtown so residents don’t need to reverse commute to go to work? There are hundreds more examples where the City could show real leadership. Instead they attack cars because its an easy target that will likely get them re-elected. Let’s be real, the bike lanes are more about politics than real change.

  • Jared

    “Your generalization of car drivers’ addiction and unhealthy lifestyle is akin to my generalization that all bike riders are pot smoking basement suite dwelling people who work marginally and contribute minimally to the tax base of the City.”

    Ahahahahaha omg…. I think I love you! This was amazing. Amen to that.

  • Wait, isn’t that exactly what bike riders ARE? 🙂

  • Richard

    Vancovuer is far from having a “complete” network of bike routes. Why do I, when I’m (very occationally) trying to make the healthy choice and cycle, get screwed into a confusing network of one-way painted lanes busy streets with dangerous turns that take me nowhere? As far as I’m concerned, the City has a good start, now we need to connect all the pieces to make a netwrok where women in their pant suits and cruiser bikes can make it to work as easily as in a car, like any real environmentally progressive city. What we need is ways to get over the bridges safely to connect to that distance where cycling is worth while. A series of recreational path like the seawall and greenways are great, but not a viable alternative mode of transportation. Why shouldn’t we make cycling as convenient as driving? And why am I the one relegated to go 6 blocks out of my way to get to the same place that you’re driving?

  • Jared

    Because cyclists think they can do whatever on the road anyway, and zip past cars and red lights and sneak through whatever cracks they can to go where they want. Cars get stuck in gridlock – moreso now on the viaduct now that an entire car lane is dedicated to a useless bike lane – while bikes just mosey on by.

  • Richard

    sounds like all the more reason to get them off the streets and on to separated lanes… or for you to take a bike? 😉

  • Jared

    Yeah, get the damn bikes away from the cars as far as possible. I have more important things to do than take a bike, thanks though. I have a fuel efficient car, and I do my part in may other aspects to help the environment, a.k.a. energy efficiency at home, reusable bags, biodegradable products, etc. I’d caution people in being ignorant to the fact that there’s more ways than just riding a bike to be green.

  • david ker thomson

    yeah, I agree with Jared. We should be able to drive wherever we want whenever we want. I’m tired of all these green people.

  • Lee

    Jared: Ignorance is bliss. I work downtown in an office, I ride my bike EVERYDAY regardless of wind, rain or snow and there are a LOT of other people that do the same, including the mayor of Vancouver. Parking downtown is astronomical, and though it may be fine for those just coming downtown for a shopping trip or lunch, for those that work down here everyday it would negate even having a job having to pay for the exorbitant parking rates.
    Secondly: “Because cyclists think they can do whatever on the road anyway, and zip past cars and red lights and sneak through whatever cracks they can to go where they want. Cars get stuck in gridlock – moreso now on the viaduct now that an entire car lane is dedicated to a useless bike lane – while bikes just mosey on by.” This is a major perk to taking a bike- yes there are idiot cyclists, for sure, but news flash: there’s idiot drivers too! I would love to challenge you to ride a bike in the city for even an hour. I gaurantee it will change your arrogant attitude and have a little bit more respect. Are you going to attack the walkers who pass you as well on the sidewalks? Sidewalks are pretty valuable real estate that could also accomodate an entire lane of traffic if they were removed, and what about all those parks?! They could be paved over and then you wouldnt have to pay for parking at all!

  • Brian

    Well put Lee

  • Crg L

    Thanks to anon for so clearly laying out what Vision Vancouver is actually up to with these bike lanes. Unfortunately, Brian, your distaste for the manner in which it has buggered things up downtown, will fall on deaf sanctimonious ears as Vision neither listens to what are saying nor cares if you are unhappy. It is on a holy war against cars and wishes to turn downtown Vancouver into an ‘active transport’ only zone peppered with so called ecodense rabbit warrens where the viaduct now sits. You will see its sneaky plan as more and more parking will be given up either to bike lanes or just eliminated. If you want to see the agenda before it all unfolds, check out this website
    And you may find yourself surprised at how much Vision is borrowing from the Copenhagen model. You can be sure, with thinkers much like anon, that massive tollls or road tax will be required to fill up the bike lanes. They are currently empty and will remain that way until people are bludgeoned onto bikes with these social policy tools. Tools like legislating your car have a ‘road pricing’ GPS installed so the ecosocial priests can track your whereabouts and movements 24 x 7 and of course can charge you for it. This goes into Holland next year.
    Sadly, it will do absolutely no good since any fuel that might be saved by biking will be promptly sold to the USA or Asia and I am quite sure they arent going to sequester it. China now buys more cars per year than the USA and the Chinese are ditching their bikes as fast as they can afford to. But never mind, once Gregor and his followers like anon have managed to ‘get us out of our cars’ with punitive measures, the Chinese will be using the fuel we save to drive to work while we bike. For now, we can watch the performance as Visions spins and lies about how full the empty bike lanes are and how .happy. it makes them.

  • I ride for fitness, not for commuting, but I absolutley feel we need even more separated bike lanes. Just yesterday, I nearly got hit from behind by a moped doing about 40 kph+ while i was in the bike lane on cambie, and within 20 seconds after that, a jeep pulled into the bike lane right in front of me, to pass people slowing for the interection in front. If we don’t have better enforcement of the rules of the road, then we need more physical barriers to prevent motorized traffic from running us over.
    As a real estate agent, I drive a lot and fully understand that traffic sucks, but as a cyclist I recognize how bad many drivers are…

  • Crg L

    Separated HORSE lanes should be a top priority starting on Hornby and Dunsmuir. Bikes should be provided a lockup facility at each Skytrain station and bike commuters required to switch over mid journey to public transit thereby saving precious road space and separated lanes for green horse riders who are fed up with subsidizing 2 wheeled freeways into downtown.

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