HUB Cycling highlights “gaps” in bike infrastructure across Metro Vancouver

If you want to find the “gaps” in Metro Vancouver’s cycling infrastructure, the executive director of HUB Cycling recommends viewing the region in Google Maps.

Erin O’Melinn told the Georgia Straight that you’ll see “thousands of roads” built and maintained for motor vehicles.

However, if you select the option to view bicycle routes, the mapping service will display “fragments around the region that start and stop”.

“It’s just visually striking to see how few places you can reasonably comfortably bicycle, compared to the myriad ways you can get around in a motor vehicle,” O’Melinn said by phone from the HUB office in Vancouver.

On Thursday (August 7), O’Melinn will be one of the speakers at a City Conversations event at Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver campus.

The SFU event, titled “Style, Safety and River Rides: What’s New for Metro Vancouver Cyclists”, will take place in Room 1600 at Harbour Centre, starting at 12:30 p.m.

According to O’Melinn, the number one gap in the region’s cycling infrastructure is the lack of a dedicated bike route linking Braid Station, the Port Mann Bridge, and Coquitlam Centre.

Number two on her list is a nonexistent separated lane or parallel route along the Lougheed Highway in Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge.

Thirdly, O’Melinn said the south ends of Cambie and Oak Street bridges are crying out for bike connections to the U.S. border and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.

“Those three, in particular, they’re beside highways generally, so the cars are moving at a speeds where, yes, you would separate them,” she said.

O’Melinn rates public transit in the region as “relatively bike-friendly”.

She noted that bikes are allowed on buses, the Canada Line, and the SeaBus at all times. But they’re prohibited during rush hour times and directions on the Expo and Millennium lines.

“The transit system is just so full right now at those times that it’s not feasible to get bikes on there,” O’Melinn said. “It’s good for us to keep looking at ways to make that better. For people that are coming from quite a far distance, they want to ride part of the way and transit part of the way. There’s definitely merit in looking into what could be done to help them do that and free up other road space for different users.”

As far as transit goes, O’Melinn’s top request is for more secure bike parking at SkyTrain stations, like the facility that recently opened at Main Street-Science World Station.

O’Melinn noted that another such facility is planned for King George Station in Surrey. She recommends secure bike parking be installed at the east end of the Evergreen Line, which is under construction.

“That allows the people that live out there that do not have very good bus service or shuttle service to still be able to access the rapid-transit system,” O’Melinn said.

Comments (22) Add New Comment
Dana Mason
I bike to work daily and most weekends. I am also a driver and a pedestrian in this city. I am thankful for all the bike lanes. However they really need to be properly planned before constructed. I live and ride on Union street (Union & Main) and it is the worst and most confusing for bikers and cars alike. Side Note: the rudness and things I see the majority of riders do every day, from house wives, seniors, hard core spandeies and basket girls - its no wonder people hate bikes. I shake my head daily at the behavior, selfishness and plain rudness.
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Stephen Chessor
Imperial Drive can be pretty dangerous for bikes, no streetlights, broken pavement with a rough irregular transition to the narrow gravel or grass shoulder, hills and curves make for poor sight lines. The 29th Ave and Discovery bike routes lead to this road and it has been added to the latest version of the COV Bicycle Route Map and Guide. http://604bike.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/imperial-drive/
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Mark Bowen
Van City and Burnaby have done a pretty bang up job of building decent networks, but if you want to get into the city from Coquitlam or Surrey you are pretty much in no mans land.

Props to all the hard work the planners, engineers and builders have put in so far, but we still have a long way to go yet to get the entire region onto the network!
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Greg Robinson
Just got home from Victoria a little over an hour ago. The Massey tunnel shuttle stopped at 6:30 (used to be 7:30 dinnit?) and we had to ride over to the Alex Fraser bridge, quite the detour! Wow the journey is nothing but guesswork, dead ends, confusion and frustration. Good luck finding your way from Delta to New West unless you have some inside info or have done the trip so many times you know all the "secret passageways", cuz the "bike route" signs they put up sporadically don't actually tell you where you're going, often lead you astray and occasionally just seem to be there to taunt and mislead. Still got some work to do!

I love those "bike routes" that extend your ride by miles and make you late for the last shuttle home! Yay!
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Skippy
Ah yes the tax payer funded bike lobby speaks in run up to the municipal elections. Lets all recognize HUB for what it is, a tax payer funded bike lobby entity that furthers the agenda for Vision etc. and give it the corresponding credibility. Agree with the first comment attached to this story. I cycle and use transit to get around. The number of cyclists that blow through the stop signs at York and Yew is astounding. Just this morning I was almost hit by a westbound cyclist at this intersection who neither slowed down nor stopped at the stop sign. That has never happened with a car in the 30 years I've lived in Kits.
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BikerCK
HUB (formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition) predates Vision by quite some time and is active throughout Metro Vancouver. I think you will find they are supportive and will happily work with any organization or business that understands the value of good cycling infrastructure and education. An awkward reality for those who would try to use anti-cycling sentiment as a means of furthering a political agenda, but true nonetheless.
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ACMESalesRep
Skippy: You've never had a close call with a car in Kits? I find that remarkable, given the number that I've had in twenty years of off-and-on living in the city. I think I've had a driver run a stop sign in the remarkable belief that a red light on the cross street has rendered it null and void every year I've been here, and that's just one class of close call.

I think we should recognize HUB for what it is, all right: An organization pushing for long-needed cycling infrastructure. There's no need to invent some political agenda as a means to disregard their efforts.
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HUB = useful idiots
HUB were the convenient mouthpiece for making Point Grey Road private drive for 1%ers, useful idiots who's advocacy allowed the Mayor to reward himself & key donors with property value increases above the median. The "gaps" merit closer examination as, overlaid with a map of property values and known Vision donors one could make an educated guess where the next private road will be. HUB represent a block of single issue voting drones, a valuable asset that Vision combined with their co-opted COPE "social justice warriors" to create a media distracting lacquer over the layers of developers & 1%ers who control the party.

Vision have done a fantastic job maintains their control of the cycling vote by pretending it is an election issue & making highly publicized additions to the network that are always one more segment away from being "complete." The first trick was convincing the disorganized rabble NPA that local voters feelings on bike lanes are relevant to their choices be they positive or negative. Opposition to bike lanes does not guide many voters, most vehement opposition to cycling infrastructure comes from suburbanites who can't vote in Vancouver and who are irrelevant to the debate. There is a significant number of voters in Vancouver who's vote will go to the party that promises the most support for cycling but it is rare to change votes over minor differences with the ruling party. The NPA felt they had to oppose increased cycling infrastructure and wasted time & energy appealing to people who can't vote in the city.

The second trick is keeping HUB engaged and letting them lead the charge for all things cycling. Remember how "unsafe" Point Grey Road was for cyclists? The statistics didn't back up the claims but HUB & the city proclaimed safety was their priority. HUB gave Vision plausible deniability: they were merely reacting to concerns of citizens who happen to organize as HUB rather than the efforts by local property owners to close Point Grey Road to outside motor vehicles. The Mayor is one of those property owners, of course he doesn't live there any longer but is at someone else's condo.

The split with COPE leaves a potential gap in motivated single issue voters Vision can rely upon. They are seeking new single issue constituencies and have been for months preparing to retain the developers stranglehold on Vancouver civic politics.
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TP
Anyone got any thoughts on banning bikes from certain roads where there is a dedicated cycle road or divided cycle lane nearby. (e.g. cycle on York not Cornwall, cycle on Hornby not Burrard).
Although I love all the bike lanes, I usually take transit, and cyclists on some of these routes can slow down the traffic a lot (especially buses who won't overtake as they have to pull in again soon, so they're forced to crawl behind the bikes).

Or maybe just better signs would encourage people to use the bike lanes instead.

Thoughts?
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Jason
I never thought commuter cycling was about being "reasonable" or "comfortable" - I do it for the high.
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Richard
@TP

Your comment makes little sense. Cars are not banned from streets with bike routes like Hornby, York or even Pt Grey. Some car access is required so people can access their homes and businesses with their cars.

Similarly, people need to access homes, businesses and other destinations on streets like Burrard and Cornwall with their bicycles. Forcing them to go blocks out of their way cycling on busy streets and crossing busy streets by banning bikes on other streets is neither safe, practical or reasonable.
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TP
@Richard

Fair point, and I get that. I just wonder why people will cycle the whole length or Burrard or Cornwall, when there are dedicate bike lanes one block over. It's not just going a few blocks for access.

I suppose "banning" wasn't really what I meant. Just thinking how to make best use of the transport system for all. It's very frustrating seeing cars and transit slowed down block after block by one or two cyclist going a long way on these routes. If transit gets so slow, people may go back to their cars, and that doesn't help anyway.

Plus, as someone pointed out to me once(maybe from a HUB article?), if there are less cyclists on a route then it become more dangerous for them as cars are not as cautious as they are when there are a lot of cyclists.

Anyway, it is definitely a minority, and I wasn't meaning to suggest we should punish cyclists - more a "help everyone" and stay safe suggestion.

I think a sign is definitely needed westbound on Cornwall, most people don't seem to realize the bike path doesn't continue on Cornwall between Cypress and the beach - I didn't know, and that stretch is crazy as a motorist let alone a cyclist. Maybe better signs to help people chose the best route is the way forward.

(btw: not sure why your comment got down-voted, seems quite reasonably argued to me.)
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Roland Richards
There really shouldn't be any restricted right turns as it ruins traffic in the downtown core, why do cyclists not have to stop at intersections? like pedestrians and cars?
If there was a traffic system for cyclists to cross as there are for pedestrians and cars then there wouldn't be a traffic tie up and hopefully no drivers ignoring the rules and turning right anyways.
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Richard
@TP

For someone going westbound from Burrard to Kits Beach, it makes little sense for them to cross busy Cornwall twice. Not only does it take more time waiting for the lights, but crossing busy roads like Cornwall is risky for people on bikes. York is hillier as well and has no view either. Eastbound York makes more sense as one has to cross Cornwall anyway.

People often don't notice signs. Signs are a poor substitute for direct obvious routes. Many people are visitors or even locals that don't come to this part of town often. The chances of them finding indirect bike routes hidden away on side streets is pretty small.

The City really needs to put a separated bike lane on Cornwall between Cypress and Balsam. There is not much traffic on Cornwall these days so reallocating a lane of traffic shouldn't cause traffic problems.
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Richard
@Roland Richards

What really ruins traffic downtown is all the right turns. It is really puzzling that turns are allowed at all in the busy downtown core. At intersections with a lot of pedestrians crossing, maybe one or two cars will get through per minute holding up buses and all the other traffic behind them. Even when there is a right turn signal (like Georgia and Howe) that holds up 30 or 40 pedestrians, only 5 or 6 cars can get through and traffic is still backed up.

A better idea would be to ban turns at most intersections in the really busy part of downtown. Drivers would then have to turn onto the correct road outside of the busy core. Traffic would flow a lot better and buses would be much faster.

It would be safer too. A lot of people walking get hit by right turning drivers. And of course, crashes cause congestion too.
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Justin Berger
@Roland Richards Have you ever been to downtown Vancouver? :) The cycle ways on Hornby, Dunsmuir and Terminal have dedicated traffic signals. I'm not sure waht you mean about cyclists not having to stop for intersections. For better or worse the rules are the same for everyone. Most of the right turn restrictions pre date the cycle lanes, and there are several intersections downtown where cyclists and pedestrians are forced to wait for right turning cars which have priority. This has contributed to the deaths of several pedestrians on Howe street in particular.

@TM there are is a dedicated bicycle lane, albeit one which demands varsity level cycling bravado, which runs the length of Burrard to the left of the dedicated bus lane. As to why cyclists might use that street instead of Hornby one might as well ask why cars and buses don't use Howe street and Granville bridge. It depends on the nature of the trip and the destination. If I'm going to my doctors office on Burrard I'm going to travel on Burrard. The problem with Burrard is the numerous mid block drive ways which encourage drivers to blindly dart across and block traffic. Cornwall proves HUB'S point: why was does this most natural connection to PGR not have a separated bike route? There is plenty of room to accommodate one. It would be better for everyone. Better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians makes things easier for all road users. Think about the delay if the 100,000+ people who ride bikes started driving! Transit is already full-- that's part of the reason why so many students cycle even though they have to pay for a mandatory U-pass. Fragmented infrastructure hurts everyone.
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Both Sides
I agree with TP to a certain extent. I used to drive up 10th to UBC and in the mornings there were quite a few cyclists using 10th when both lanes were crowded with cars, when all they had to was head two short blocks north to the bike route, with a great view of the mountains. Some riders were clearly doing it to snarl traffic and finally I saw one get hit by a side view mirror that sent him flying. Someone informed him about the bike route and he was told to "fuck off". I felt no sympathy for such moronic behaviour.

In this case I think there should at least be plenty of signs indicating where the bike route is and also warning about the danger of the narrow lanes. I'm sure some of the riders just didn't know about the bike route and those who do and ignore it deserve whatever happens to them.
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Save Vancouver
@Richard, well your buddies at Vision Vancouver are going to create a whole lot more right turns by getting rid of the Granville Street loops. But at least their developer funders will get another peice of land to build their boxes on.
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BikerCK
"those who do and ignore it deserve whatever happens to them"

People who don't choose the route you've decided they should take 'should' be hurt or killed?

It's called public space. Anyone should be able to use it. Motorists aren't special or privileged, even if it seems that way when so much land is devoted to their transportation choice.
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Donald
" you’ll see “thousands of roads” built and maintained for motor vehicles.

However, if you select the option to view bicycle routes, the mapping service will display “fragments around the region that start and stop”."

Yes, just look at the map above. Look at it closely. There are huge holes and gaps everywhere. I was going to complain about a Fraser river bicycle path connection between New West and Vancouver, but gee, there are almost no connections, anywhere.

I can't believe planet destroying motorists have the gall to complain about bicyclists slowing traffic. For one, bicyclists ride BESIDE traffic, it is all the other motorists in FRONT of you that slow you down. (just as you slow the other motorists and buses behind you) Two, how would you feel if the above map were reversed, and the only safe motoring routes had huge holes and gaps you had to risk your life to cross?
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