Cyclists take fast lane past Olympic crowds

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      Cycling is the way to go during the Olympics, and Vision Vancouver’s year-round cyclist knows why.

      “There are no lineups to get on your bike,” Coun. Heather Deal told the Georgia Straight in her office at City Hall. “You get the best [parking] spots and you get closer to the venues. You get right as close as you can get, as opposed to a mere [transit] stop.”

      Deal will give both her bikes a workout this coming month and plans to have changes of clothes ready at City Hall—“ ”˜Olympic casual’, as we call it, to business suits and back on any given day”—for various Olympic events she will be attending.

      “I’m actually going to take my second bike and leave it here at City Hall, so that I always have that option of hopping on my bike, depending on the route and the time of day and the weather and how fast I have to be there,” she said. “It can be a great way to get around the city.”

      Regular commuter cyclist Rachel Marcuse also needs no convincing of the merits of two-wheeled pedal power. Marcuse, executive director of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, said: “[Public] transit is crazy right now, and it’s going to be a more pleasant way to get around.

      “I am usually more of a summer, spring, and fall cyclist—not so much a winter cyclist,” Marcuse told the Straight by phone before cycling to a COPE news conference. “But I just decided that this is a good opportunity for me to rainproof my bike and really go for it. That way I don’t have to worry about all the various transit reroutings and how crazy it’s going to be downtown on transit. I can get around on my own.”

      The day before she spoke to the Straight, Marcuse said, she “tried to take the B-Line”, the Broadway bus service that now enjoys “Olympic lane” status.

      “The B-Line is always crazy during rush hour, but it doesn’t usually pass me three times,” she said. “It passed me three times yesterday.”

      Mount Pleasant cyclist Ranae Kowalczuk said the cycling option is catching on.

      “Everybody I know is prepared to bike everywhere,” Kowalczuk told the Straight. “I am planning on doing that too. It’s not an option to do anything else.”

      In a Web-site release pertaining to getting around the region this month, Vanoc warned against what Kowalczuk and her friends will avoid.

      “Walking, cycling, and transit will be the fastest ways to get around during the Games,” the release states. “There will be an increase in traffic and additional parking restrictions throughout Vancouver, and, in particular, the downtown and the areas adjacent to Games venues. It is strongly recommended that you choose a mode other than driving. If you must drive, fill up your car with passengers.”

      Arno Schortinghuis, president of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, told the Straight the 2001 transit strike led to a “big uptake in cycling”.

      “I think what people are going to find is that driving is very difficult, transit is going to be very crowded, and if somebody gets five buses passing them by, they’re going to think, ”˜Oh, heck, I’ve got to get around a different way,’ ” Schortinghuis said. “Cycling is the clear option.”

      Even though the popular seawall path is blocked off in some places along False Creek, Schortinghuis said it is going to be very crowded where it is open.

      “There’s no cycling by David Lam Park,” he said. “There’s no cycling along the Olympic Village, so it is going to be difficult to get around on the seawall, but they’ve made good alternatives. Quebec Street is still open to cycling on the east sidewalk.” (A map is available on the City of Vancouver’s Web site.)

      Vanoc has stated that it hopes to reduce downtown motor-vehicle traffic by 30 percent during the Games.




      Feb 11, 2010 at 12:00pm

      This is a joke. Cyclists are NOT allowed to use the Olympic lanes. This means that in some cases, such as Pender Street, long-established bike routes are gone, with no alternative. If VanOC and the City were truly committed to green transportation and encouraging people to use their bikes to get to the games, cyclists would be permitted in Olympic lanes that are designated bike routes. Thumbs down, Ms. Deal!!

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      Feb 11, 2010 at 1:42pm

      Not to mention the fact that it is completely ridiculous that the city is "encouraging" us to use transit, when, as noted above, many transit routes are already almost unusable at the best of times. The 22, 135 and the B-line regularly pass people by, but yet somehow we are supposed to be using transit even more during the next few weeks. Brilliant.

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      Feb 11, 2010 at 4:52pm

      I use Pender everyday to get to work. If I'm not allowed to use the Olympic HOV Lanes as a cyclist I will be taking over the primary driving lane. The downfall of knowing whether to use them or not has fallen past informing the Traffic Enforcement officers and regular police to relay this information to cyclists. I've asked several police officers along my route down Quebec all the way along Pender and none seem to know if cyclists are allowed to use the lanes. As long as you have proper light so you're not run over, I suggest using primary driving lanes and TAKE THE WHOLE LANE when riding. Critical Mass of one. @thebikehub on Twitter

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      Otto, Silent

      Feb 15, 2010 at 11:58am

      Its too bad that Mr. Burrows failed to mention in his article that the City of Vancouver , in association with B.E.S.T. is providing free supervised bicycle parking at eight locations through to the end of the para games.

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      Feb 17, 2010 at 9:45pm

      I use the path from Science World along Plaza of Nations to Yaletown and it is a nightmare. Pedestrians blocking the whole path and have no consideration for cyclists, even if you ask them politely to move so you can pass they just don't care

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      Greg bligh

      Feb 18, 2010 at 11:28am

      I was going to post a negative comment but too many people got ahead of me.I commute full time by bike.Public transit is not perfect but hey they all have bike racks.I can travel from Maple Ridge to the gulf islands using public transit and compared to a " cage of burnin dinasours" very cheap! Im in construction so everyone assumes you need a truck. I have not for 20 years.Stone masons are paid quite well.About commuting downtown. rules I just do what I want.Cars are giving your children that you love athsma, people with weak lungs die because of you.But you love your car dont you.

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      Raymond Parker

      Feb 18, 2010 at 7:44pm

      "Vision Vancouver city councillor Heather Deal plans to commute from City Hall to Olympic events on her trusty mountain bike."

      That's not a mountain bike.

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      Mar 8, 2010 at 8:19am

      "Not to mention the fact that it is completely ridiculous that the city is "encouraging" us to use transit, when, as noted above, many transit routes are already almost unusable at the best of times. The 22, 135 and the B-line regularly pass people by, but yet somehow we are supposed to be using transit even more during the next few weeks. Brilliant.
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