More bike lanes sought in Vancouver

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      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.

      Comments

      58 Comments

      james green

      Jul 21, 2011 at 6:45am

      Please lay before the voters your spending priorites for your next term in office Meggs and Vision.
      Also, please lay before us your business plan for the city.
      When we have we will know if you are serious about run this corporation.
      So far your pop up governance with no long term plan is hurting this city and its people. Pop up zoning, pop up spending, pop up policing and more.
      We need a plan in all areas for the next 3-5 years for this city.
      As to bike lanes, we cannot afford them now as there are far to many other spending priorities such as housing and treatment centres for the numerous people living on our streets.

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      Save Vancouver

      Jul 21, 2011 at 8:27am

      Campbell claims the Adanac route is too heavily used? Gimme a break, the Copenhagen routes cyclists loves to trot out as utopia are far busier.

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      Arthur Vandelay

      Jul 21, 2011 at 9:39am

      Mass transit, bikes and walking are where the future lies as with any densified central core. To the car commuter folk, don't fight it, embrace it or look for a new gig in the Valley.

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      Arno S

      Jul 21, 2011 at 9:57am

      As Richard pointed out, many cities around the world are recognizing the huge benfits that cycling offers at lower cost than any other mode. Increased mobility, less congestion, better health, less pollution, less ghg emissions and a more productuve workforce to name a few. Cycling friendly cities invest about $40 per person per year on cycling. This would amount to about $23 million per year or $69 million over 3 years with some of this coming from TransLink. As cycling has been underfunded for decades, it should actually be higher. City is working on a long term transportation plan, so there should be a flexible funding mechanism in place to support more active transportation otherwise the transportation planning project will be severly hobbled.

      City did a great job on the downtown bike lanes. I am sure that everyone is looking to more investment in separated lanes throughout the city. This will increase number of people cycling and will therefore produce all the benfits that cycling offers.

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      craigs

      Jul 21, 2011 at 11:01am

      'City did a great job' you say? A great snow job maybe, but practical transportation.. not in the least. They have now realized this in Toronto and are REMOVING separated bike lanes as too disruptive of real transportation such as cars and buses.

      The idea that our future lies in deep densification of our existing liveable spaces and bicycle connectivity of those beehives is deeply flawed. We live in CANADA and the country is basically empty. Densify BC not Vancouver and recognize the old pardigm of 'going to work downtown' every day will be supplanted by people travelling less to a workplace and working out of their local or home space. Internet is the answer to traffic, not bike or horse lanes.

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      Standing Water BA LLD MBA BBQ WTF

      Jul 21, 2011 at 11:45am

      If cyclists want special perks that are unusable by those who do not bicycle (most everyone uses road infrastructure directly or indirectly, not so with cycling) then there is a simple solution: license bicycles, license riders, use the funds from that to support cycling. Why I should have to pay for cycling, as a pedestrian, is beyond me.

      Another source of revenue re: cyclists would be to position a constable or two in the middle of the sea wall, stop everyone not wearing a helmet or going the wrong way. Tickets = $$$. If they're foreigners, seize their passports so they cannot leave until the debt is paid.

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      spartikus

      Jul 21, 2011 at 11:53am

      <i>too disruptive of <b>real transportation</b> such as cars and buses</i>.

      Indeed! By this logic, we should get rid of separated pedestrian lanes - aka "sidewalks" - too. More room for cars!!

      By the by, I wouldn't hold up Rob Ford as a futurist.

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      Arno S

      Jul 21, 2011 at 12:24pm

      @Standing Water BA LLD MBA BBQ WTF

      Cyclists overpay for the roads they use. It is only fair that some of our property taxes go toward cycling infrastructure. Cyclists offer significant benefits to society through improved health, less pollution, less ghg emissions and more productivity. Cycling is the only mode which is not heavily subsidized. Cycling is the most cost effective form of transportation in terms of benefits:cost ratio. I am surprised that anyone would be opposed to more and better cycling infrastructure.

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      Damon I

      Jul 21, 2011 at 12:41pm

      So many are constantly complaining about the "high" cost of the Hornby separated lane. Who are these people? While the cost of separated bike lanes manages to garner so much press, we never hear about the costs to the city of the ill-conceived STIR program, which is a real boon to real estate developers. For the Beach Towers re-development alone, the City admits that it would be foregoing $2.2million in waived development fees, for the construction of a paltry 139 ultra-high-end rental units. I suspect those complaining the loudest about the cost of the bike lanes are likely those very same developers trying to distract attention from the money that they seek to divert from the public purse.

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      UWSofty

      Jul 21, 2011 at 1:49pm

      $6.5 million dollars will be spent on cycling (half of the $13 million set aside for active transport) of a $770 budget, and people are complaining? Over $150 million will be spent on roadways. Get some perspective people.

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