Advocacy groups call for focus on cycling ahead of B.C. election
B.C. cycling advocates are pushing for more discussion about two-wheeled transportation issues as the provincial election approaches on May 14.
“We’d definitely like the profile raised somewhat and people to start to really talk about it and start to realize the benefits and the potential of cycling, of improving it for all people in British Columbia,” B.C. Cycling Coalition president Richard Campbell told the Straight by phone.
“In large cities it’s a great way to get around to avoid congestion and busy streets. In small communities where they’re not large enough to have a good transit service it’s really the only other option that people have to get around besides driving,” Campbell said.
The nonprofit B.C. Cycling Coalition is calling on the province to take a series of steps to improve the experience for cyclists across the province. A key recommendation is for the province to invest $300 million over four years to upgrade roads and bridges and to help local governments pay for cycling projects.
In its 2013 budget speech, the B.C. government pledged to invest $9 million in cycling infrastructure as part of spending over the next three years on major transportation projects.
“There are definitely good routes in portions of Vancouver and the region. [But] there are a lot of missing links,” Campbell said. “It’s not the case where people can just hop on a bike and go from anywhere to anywhere and expect a safe, quick, convenient route, and especially if they want to cycle around with their children.”
The coalition's other recommendations include updating legislation to make roads safer, improving access to the ferry system, and granting authorities such as TransLink more power to raise funds for cycling projects through measures like a gas tax or tolling. They also call on the province to invest $10 million a year on marketing and promotion of cycling, as well as skills and safety education programs.
The B.C. Cycling Coalition argues the investment in cycling is justified because it will help improve people’s health, boost tourism, reduce air pollution, and provide affordable transportation options.
B.C. transportation minster Mary Polak could not be reached for comment.
Erin O’Melinn, executive director of the Metro Vancouver group HUB: Your Cycling Connection, also called on the B.C. government to do more. She highlighted the need for cycling infrastructure improvements across the region.
O’Melinn said, for example, the shared sidewalk on the Second Narrows Bridge needs to be widened and the Central Valley Greenway route through the suburbs needs to be better connected.
“The province needs to step up and realize cycling is a huge solution that’s very cost-effective and can solve a lot of their problems,” O’Melinn told the Straight by phone.
HUB is a member of the B.C. Cycling Coalition, a provincial umbrella organization for local and regional cycling groups.
Mar 11, 2013 at 6:00pm
Perhaps something should be done for the cyclists, when and only when they start to obey the traffic , and other laws.I have seen the attitude of these people get to the point where they not only endanger themselves but others with their self riteousness.
I am all for improvements to existing infrastructure, however it must still be paid for, and the rest of the non cycling public, should not be burdened with these costs, My thoughts are that if they want it they should pay for it, with license and registration fees, and mandatory liabilty insurance.
Mar 11, 2013 at 7:07pm
Thats good ,cycling before voting,good one since there is only two parties and they are both no good,lets spend some more money we dont have on cycling and forget our other troubles.
Mar 11, 2013 at 7:58pm
I don't have much of an opinion, but I am amused that the cyclist in the photo isn't wearing a helmet. Way to flaunt the bylaws guy!
Mar 11, 2013 at 8:57pm
It's disappointing to read comments like Mark's. Every single day I see cars doing all kinds of crazy things, but nobody suggests reducing investments in infrastructure for drivers.
Also everyday I see cars bullying bikers, cutting us off, passing too close and honking just for the sake of it. And you see this without cyclists breaking any rules.
It's time to stop disrespecting, or we're going to perpetuate this problem.
Mar 11, 2013 at 9:01pm
'..cycling is a huge solution.'.
Mar 11, 2013 at 9:06pm
the burrard street bridge would cost $900m to build today. it has 6 lanes. the lane removed for cycling cuases congestion. they counted 24 new cyclists using the lane. thats $150m/24=$6,000,000 per new cyclist. where do i sign up? i will be a cyclist for even less, maybe $1,000,000. in all seriousness, there are much more efficient ways to waste $150,000,000 of infrastructure to help the environment than buying off 24 cyclists.
Mar 11, 2013 at 9:12pm
Sergio: Car drivers pay insurance licens plates gas taxes ,to build bike lanes.I too have seen many bike riders think they can cross at pedestrian walkways and then take a lane in traffic and hold it up,When bikes have to have licences and be insured,then lets talk.
Mar 11, 2013 at 9:46pm
London is spending $1.5 billion on cycling. Surely BC can come up with $300 million. It will reduce congestion and save on health care costs!
Mar 12, 2013 at 1:58am
Oh where do I start with you....
"Perhaps something should be done for the cyclists, when and only when they start to obey the traffic, and other laws"
It's very easy to play this card at first glance, because cyclists are using the same infrastructure. However, traffic laws were designed for automobiles, taking into account theit physical characteristics and limitations, and abilities of the driver to handle appropriate traffic situations (at stop signs, red lights, etc.). It's easy to stop at an intersection in a vehicle because all it takes is the press of a gas pedal to start up, plus the brakes can rapidly stop the vehicle if oncoming traffic is seen. It's much more inconvenient for a cyclist as they need to use their own footpower to start up again, plus those first few pedals are the most vulnerable for said cyclist, as they don't have enough momentum to coast or keep balance. Having biked in this city for 5 years on both bike routes and downtown streets, I can confidently say that the best balance for myself between safety and maximizing efficiency is to slow down at a stop sign, look both ways, and then go through.
"My thoughts are that if they want it they should pay for it, with license and registration fees, and mandatory liabilty insurance"
How do you intend on enacting this? Who does this extend to? Does it include children? If so, how do you intend on enforcing licensing? Does this include cyclists who are on roads only? Paved trails? Mountain trails?
Secondly, don't even get me started on the liability insurance argument. Most people who ride bikes spend maybe $500 capital on a bike and maybe $100 on maintenance annually. Since insurance claims would mainly center around automobile and health-related issues, the cost of insurance would likely be closer to that for automobiles, say $100/month and $1200/yr. Does that make financial sense for the average cyclist? I think not.
What's missing from the plan is a need to educate drivers AND cyclists on the nuances of driver-cyclist interactions on the road (i.e. drivers looking for cyclists before turning, or before exiting a car to avoid the infamous "dooring", and cyclists adopting a "right of weight" mentality on the road, being hypervigilant against possible accident triggers (car doors, blind intersections, avoiding busy roads).
Mar 12, 2013 at 2:41am
The trafic laws are the same for bicycles as for cars. You need to signal and come to a complete stop. There is no grey area. The drivers and bikers who don't follow the laws frustrate many others sharing the same road and following the laws. There is no need for special lanes or accommodation with respect to cycling safety. People who can not safely shoulder check on a bike while maintaining a straight forward direction have no business on the city street. If you are to lame change gears and use your breaks competently, you can not safely ride on a public street. Put in the time and practice in a safe place. Develop the skill and strength to operate a bicycle legally on the street. If you can't pass a parked car while cycling without praying you are out of control - Don't do it. If you can't pass a cyclist when driving your car without praying you are out of control - Don't do it. Don't take chances with peoples lives. The laws work, follow them.