A cycling advocate wants to see more bike routes in Vancouver, including separated lanes on Powell and Hastings streets, as part of the city’s new capital plan.
Richard Campbell, a member of the city’s bicycle advisory committee, will talk about his ideas at one of the three information sessions on a proposed $770-million spending program for 2012–2014. These public meetings will be held on July 21, 25, and 27.
“There’s other cities that are really making efforts to complete their bicycle networks quickly,” Campbell told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “Seville, Spain, they spent $42 million over four years building a network of 78 kilometres of separated bicycle routes, and their cycling increased from practically nothing, 0.02 percent, to almost seven percent. So they really got results. People are now cycling with their children around the city. It would be great to see Vancouver complete the network quickly.”
The proposed capital plan allots $164.6 million for transportation. This includes “improvements for walking and cycling”. According to the draft, $13 million would be for “active transportation corridors (bikeways and greenways), 12 new pedestrian/bike signals and 2 km of new sidewalk”.
The transportation component also includes the construction of a Powell Street overpass to the Port of Vancouver.
According to Campbell, the city is spending $50 million for this overpass, and so it would make sense to improve biking facilities in that part of the city, as well as on Hastings Street.
He also said that separated bike routes on Powell and Hastings streets would relieve the pressure on the Adanac Street bikeway. The best-used commuter bikeway in the city, the 5.5-kilometre Adanac route crosses several neighbourhoods as it leads into downtown from the east, where it connects with another bike path in Burnaby.
According to the city, Vancouver has more than 300 kilometres of on- and off-street bicycle routes, including 10 new bike lanes downtown. It has separated bike lanes on Hornby and Dunsmuir streets.
“Some more routes are needed downtown,” Campbell said. “Hornby and Dunsmuir are great. But it’s really difficult to get to them, especially on Hornby, because all the streets that connect with it are really busy and have lots of traffic. Certainly something to the north near the water would be great so that people can continue on along the water from the Seaside path and connect over to the new Carrall Street greenway.”
Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs is an avid cyclist, and he is council’s liaison with the bicycle advisory committee.
In a phone interview, Meggs noted that the city is currently undertaking a separate public consultation for a new transportation plan that will set goals for as far ahead as 2040.
“There may be more separated lanes, but where they would be, when they would come, and the rationale for them is all part of the consultation,” Meggs told the Straight.
Meggs pointed out that while there is money for cycling infrastructure in the proposed capital plan, funding is being scaled back compared to previous years. “We spent a lot of money in the last couple of years catching up with unfinished business of the previous cycling plan,” he said. “We can’t spend as much as we might like to on the capital plan as a whole, and so cycling is one of the areas where, although there will be continuing investments, they will be at a lower level.”
The draft capital plan also includes $84.1 million for community facilities like new child-care spaces. Housing gets $61.4 million; parks and open spaces, $40.7 million; public safety, $25.2 million; utilities and public works, $250.8 million; and civic infrastructure, $102.7 million.
With $40 million for contingency and overhead costs, the spending plan totals $770 million. However, the city can only spend $700 million without a property-tax increase.
Staff will report back to council on a final plan, which will be put to voters in the November 19 civic election.