Memo to Wai Young: Bike lanes save lives—and crackpot transportation policies jeopardize the economy

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      Today, I had an appointment downtown. So I hopped on my bike to get there from my office on West Broadway.

      It took less time to reach my destination than if I had driven a car and found parking.

      For that, I can thank the city's transportation director, Lon LaClaire, and the mayor and council.

      I zipped over the Burrard Bridge, down Hornby, and along Robson Street to Burrard—entirely separated from vehicle traffic.

      It was the same story on my way back until I reached Pine Street and West 6th Avenue. Then it was three blocks up the hill on a side street to return to the office.

      This was one less car on the roads.

      As more people make the same choice as I did—to cycle rather than drive—this facilitates the movement of goods and services around the city. It makes the roads less cluttered, which means less traffic congestion and less air pollution.

      But there's a new mayoral candidate who doesn't like separated bike lanes.

      Her name is Wai Young and she used to be a member of Stephen Harper's Conservative caucus in Ottawa.

      Check out some of her recent tweets on the subject of cycling.

      When Young was wrapping up her last term in Ottawa in 2015, the city was on its way to a record 131,000 trips taken by bicycle.

      That was up 32 percent from the previous year.

      Vancouver has the highest percentage of commuter cyclists in North America, thanks to our separated bike lanes.

      For the second year in a row in 2016, 10 percent of residents were cycling to work.

      Evidence suggests that this transportation infrastructure also saves lives—possibly my own!

      Traffic-related fatalities are down significantly during Gregor Robertson's time as mayor compared to the previous decade.

      "When comparing the number of cycling fatalities among other peer cities in Canada, the United States and internationally, Vancouver has one of the lowest cycling fatality rates in the world in terms of both the average number of annual cycling fatalities and the number of cycling fatalities per million bicycle trips," the city's 2015 cycling safety report stated.

      With a rising population, traffic fatalities are lower during Gregor Robertson's tenure as mayor compared to when Philip Owen, Larry Campbell, and Sam Sullivan were mayor.

      In fact, according to the report, the greatest likelihood of collisions were mainly in Young's former riding of Vancouver South in the Sunset, Victoria-Fraserview, and Killarney neighbourhoods.

      That's because these areas do not have the same degree of cycling infrastructure as other parts of Vancouver.

      Maybe this is linked to the former Conservative MP not seeing this as a priority and not bringing this to the attention of city council.

      Meanwhile, LaClaire pointed out to the Straight a couple of years ago that as the number of cyclists increases because of separated bike lanes, the likelihood of collisions decreases.

      That's because motorists become more accustomed to seeing cyclists. Drivers keep an eye out for them.

      Mayoral candidate Wai Young has spoken at recent rallies by homeowners who are irate about a provincial surtax on homes assessed at more than $3 million.
      Charlie Smith

      Wai Young wants to stop developing new bike lanes so that people like me make the choice to drive rather than cycle.

      She wants people like me in my car, where I will be more of a menace to pedestrians and other cyclists.

      The upshot of this approach is a city with more emissions, slower-moving traffic, and more deaths on the roads.

      That's not going to help the economy.

      That's not going to help the planet, either.

      And it's certainly not going to be a boon for public health.