There's no better time than an election campaign to pin down civic politicians on their positions.
In advance of voters going to the polls on October 20, the nonprofit group HUB Cycling surveyed candidates on such things as separated bike lanes, infrastructure investments, and transportation education for schoolchildren.
Voters with an interest in cycling can read the responses on the HUB website. They're conveniently broken out by municipality.
They provide a glimpse into the candidates' positions—as well as into which campaigns failed to respond to important questions for commuter and recreational cyclists.
Four of the 21 Vancouver mayoral candidates' questionnaires appear on the HUB Cycling website as of this writing: IDEA Vancouver candidate Connie Fogal and independents Satie Shottha, Shauna Sylvester, and John Yano.
There were no responses on the HUB Cycling website from high-profile Vancouver mayoral candidates Hector Bremner, Fred Harding, Ken Sim, or Wai Young.
(Kennedy Stewart's campaign sent in a completed questionnaire after the results were posted. The Straight will include an addendum under this article when Stewart's responses are put on the HUB Cycling website.)
All of the Vancouver candidates who answered—with the exception of Fogal—said they would vote in favour of infrastructure investments that separate bicycles from motor vehicles and pedestrians along key transportation corridors and certain busy commercial streets.
"Yes, I support investing in infrastructure for separated bike lanes," Sylvester declared in her response. "First, I believe it's a safety issue. Separated bike lanes made cycling accessible to people who would otherwise be uncomfortable using shared routes, and make everyone safer while doing it.
"This is in keeping with my support for the goals of the Transportation 2040 plan including increasing the proportion of trips taken by bike to 25%."
Yano wrote: "I strongly believe in a safe & sustainable city. Separated bike lanes will help improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and others."
Shottha revealed that she learned to ride a bike at the age of 40, and finds it "exhilarating".
Fogal, however, declared that bike routes "are a luxury in Vancouver, accommodating a very few".
"First, we need to spend money on better public transit," she stated. "As it is now, bikes are a hazard on the road and many cyclists disobey traffic signals, making safe transport difficult. The bike routes we have right now are fantastic for the few who have the benefit and luxury to access them."
The City of Vancouver's data indicates that 10 percent of trips to school and work are through cycling. (Detailed data on Vancouver cycling on each separated bike lane by month is available here.)
The five Vision Vancouver council candidates—Diego Cardona, Heather Deal, Catherine Evans, Tanya Paz, and Wei Qiao Zhang—responded that they support infrastructure investments to separate bicycles from motor vehicles.
"I am running with Vision Vancouver because they have a proven track record of investing in active transportation infrastructure and helping foster a more supportive culture for biking and walking in Vancouver," all the Vision candidates stated.
The only Green council candidate to fill in the survey was Pete Fry.
"Cycling is my primary mode of transportation, and I appreciate the need for improved, safe infrastructure and complete networks," he stated. "Where applicable, we should also be considering mitigating exposure to pollution (for example I would not be in favour of a bike lane on a designated truck route like Clark with attendant exposure to diesel particulate matter)."
OneCity's Christine Boyle and Brandon Yan pointed out that their party supports "the principle that making the city work for 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds will make the city a better place for all".
"That means more safe, separated bicycle infrastructure, and street design that prioritizes pedestrian safety and accessibility," they stated.
Two ProVancouver candidates, Breton Crellin and Raza Mirza, also declared their support for infrastructure investments separating bicycles from motor vehicles.
No responses were posted on the HUB Cycling website for council candidates from the NPA, Yes Vancouver, Coalition Vancouver, Vancouver 1st, or COPE.
However, COPE park board candidates Gwen Giesbrecht and John Irwin (an avid cyclist) responded to a separate questionnaire for those running to become commissioners over the park system.
Independent council candidate Sarah Blyth stated: "Vancouver streets can support everyone's transportation needs, if we pay attention to effective design practices and prioritize safety."
Other well-known independents echoed those views, including Adrian Crook.
"If it weren't for investments in protected bike lanes in Vancouver, my family's cycling would be severely curtailed," he wrote. "I support the principles of the 8-80 Cities movement, as well as Vision Zero, both of which support modern cycling infrastructure."
Another independent, Elke Porter, stated that her goal is to eventually have twice as many bike lanes in the city, including at least one around each school.
Francoise Raunet, a two-time provincial Green candidate now running as an independent, called for improvements to the bike route along Kent Avenue in South Vancouver.
"It is flat and has great potential as an east-west route across the city, but with heavy vehicle traffic, narrow shoulder, and train tracks it is too dangerous to ride as is," she stated. "I wish more people biked, and I know separated bike lanes help with that."
Raunet added that cyclists should be prohibited from certain routes, such as 12th Avenue, when there are dedicated bike lanes a few streets over.
Independent candidate and lifelong cyclist Gerald Kennedy said that he disagrees with the city's decision to invest in a bike lane along Comox Street because it's blocked by a farmers market in the summer. It's part of the Comox-Helmcken Greenway.
"I have seen families en route to Stanley Park hit that road block and not know what to do," he stated. "Bike lanes need to be on routes that will not be blocked."
The following Vancouver council candidates also filled in the survey: Barbara Buchanan, Graham Cook, Dr. Hamdy El-Rayes, Marlo Franson, Rob McDowell, Stephanie Ostler, Gerald "Spike Peachey, and Katherine Ramdeen.
Cook cited cycling's positive impact on lowering the city's carbon footprint as one of several reasons for supporting more separated bike lanes.
Ramdeen noted that studies show more people are likely to use bicycles as a mode of transportation when there are designated bike lanes. "I am enthusiastically for this initiative!" she added.
Every Vancouver council and mayoral respondent with the exception of Fogal stated that they would "vote in favour of infrastructure investments that #UnGapTheMap in the municipal and regional cycling network".
There was a mixed response to a question about whether they think the budget for cycling infrastructure should rise, fall, or stay the same.
Among those who think it should increase is Sylvester.
"We need to ensure that we are adequately investing in multi-modal mobility infrastructure that gives the residents of this city the option to get around without using single occupancy vehicles," the independent mayoral candidate stated. "This investment includes improved cycling infrastructure that allows riders to get around safely and efficiently, in addition to investments in transit and transportation infrastructure that add to the suite of mobility options available."
Others who called for an increase were Yano, the five Vision candidates, the two OneCity candidates, Fry, Cook, El-Rayes, Franson, Kennedy, McDowell, Peachey, and Porter.
The rest responded that the budget for cycling infrastructure should stay the same.
Everyone running for mayor and council in Vancouver who filled in the survey expressed support for providing cycling education to all elementary school students.
All the respondents with the exception of Fogal, Crellin, El-Rayes, and Franson stated that they favoured a separated bike lane on Commercial Drive.
Only four park board candidates in addition to Giesbrecht and Irwin answered the HUB Cycling survey: IDEA Vancouver's Jamie Lee Hamilton, the Work Less Party's Mathew Kagis, and Vision Vancouver's Shamin Shivji and Cameron Zubko.
They all stated that they would vote for a separated bike path to improve cycling and walking safety at Kitsilano Beach.
There were no responses posted on the HUB Cycling site from park board candidates for the Greens, Yes Vancouver, NPA, Vancouver 1st, and Coalition Vancouver.
After this article was written, HUB Cycling added responses from two park board candidates to its website.
The Green party's Camil Dumont gave a long but rather nonspecific response to the question about a separated bike path at Kitsilano Beach. "I think I would rather see roadway re-purposed myself but it may be that there is a need for wiggle room on all sides," he stated. "What I need to see first and foremost is safety. That's the issue that trumps the others for me."
ProVanocuver park candidate Rick Hurlbut also gave a lengthy answer, stating that he would rather see a solution that relied on taking away roadspace on the periphery of the park for cyclists.
Unlike the other park-board candidates who filled in the survey, neither Dumont nor Hurlbut gave a yes or no response to the question.