The City Council of Vancouver has laid down a number of bike lanes in Downtown Vancouver separated from heavy vehicle traffic by concrete dividers. The intention was to increase cyclist safety, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
ICBC statistics show that the number of crashes has actually increased since the bike lanes were created. The statistics tell the same story in Denmark, Finland, USA, Germany and Australia. (http://604commuter.blogspot.ca/2011/06/no-safety-behind-wall-separated-bike.html)
“In Helsinki, using a road-side cycle path [separated bike lane] is nearly 2.5 times likely to result in injury than cycling on the carriageway with traffic. At junctions the relative risk rises to more than 3 times. In those countries and cities which are just beginning to build cycling facilities, two-way cycle paths [separated bike lanes] in particular should be avoided in an urban street network.”- Helsinki City Planning Department, Finland.
The problems are the intersections. The bikes may be safe behind concrete dividers, but the dividers end at intersections and the bikers become exposed to heavy traffic, turning or coming across their path.
“At the intersections… a separated bike lane, with its separate set of rules, signs and lights makes an intersection more confusing and confusion is the leading cause of accidents.”
The solution is actually the solution that the City of Vancouver has always used, until the coming of Vision Vancouver – Put the bike lanes on residential streets, where the traffic is light and the cyclists are safer. Here, the cyclists are divided from heavy traffic, not just by concrete dividers, but by whole city blocks.
Upcoming Plans For Vancouver Bike Lanes
Despite the increase in crashes since separated bike lanes were first introduced in Vancouver, the City Council is actually planning to expand them. There is a plan afoot to lay down a concrete bike lane barrier all along the Point Grey Road. The plan is to take away two out of the four car lanes, and to create two opposing bike lanes, (as if two bikes need as much space as two cars). This plan is a recipe for disaster. In addition to all the intersections, Point Grey is filled with driveways. Residents backing out of their driveways, would now have to back out not only through two opposing lanes of cars, but also through two opposing lanes of bikes. The drivers would effectively have to look four ways, backwards. If you think cyclists would get killed, you are right.
And this plan is being proposed, even though there has been a safe bike lane on Third Avenue for decades.
The plan is called a “Greenway” but ironically, to make room for its “Greenway” the City plans to chop down trees and reduce Park space on Point Grey and Trafalgar.
Because of lost vehicle lanes, the City expects the traffic congestion to nearly double on 4th Avenue, McDonald, Cornwall, Burrard and other streets, increasing pollution all around the “Greenway”.
The project is expected to cost millions of dollars, and City Council plans to increase property taxes.
The City Council intends to implement this plan very soon, despite near universal resident opposition.
If you want to send the City Council back to the drawing board, you can sign the petition at: http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/city-of-vancouver-stop-the-bike-lanes; or email the whole City Council at: firstname.lastname@example.org