Vancouver puts bikes first: lessons for Lex

Wow.  Imagine our traffic engineers saying something like this:  “we start out assuming bike infrastructure has priority.”  !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I did just use bold red on a bunch of exclamation points.

Or what about this downtown planning philosphy:  “Adding the 12-foot-wide (bike lane)  lane meant losing 158 downtown parking spaces, but the city has put walking, cycling, transit, and movement of goods and services for economic development ahead of single-occupancy vehicles.”  !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, this article from Planning Magazine does mention that Vancouver spent $2.2 million to build 1.5 miles of separated bike lanes.  I’m all for separated bike lanes.  But at nearly $1.5million a mile, I don’t think that is realistic for Lexington.  Biking is safe here.  I know, I’ve ridden just about every street inside New Circle.  Yeah, there are a couple of problem spots, but we can deal with those tactically.  We must not allow the conversation to become hi-jacked by pro-separationists. That will ensure that nothing will get done.

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Vancouver Embraces Bikes, Adds Lanes

Encouraging bicycling in downtown Vancouver, B.C., isn’t just a nice idea; cycling figures big in the city’s 20-year transportation plan. The city aims to connect existing bike routes by adding bike lanes separated from the rest of traffic. The first big downtown project, along Hornby Street, cost $2.2 million. It opened in December.

Cycling safety may be the key to getting people out of their cars and onto two wheels. City surveys show that dedicated cyclists account for more than 10 percent of downtown traffic, and 60 percent of cyclists indicated interest in biking regularly if it were safe to do so.

Drawing on research done in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s planning director, notes that separate bike lanes make bicycling seem safer (and, in some cases, make it safer). “You can never get to high aspirations (for the number of cyclists) without separation,” he says. “While Vancouver has a very robust and growing cycling infrastructure by North American standards, to get us to the next level, separation was the key.”

Hornby Street’s new two-way separated lane — with planters serving as “green” barriers between cars and cyclists — connects the south and north sides of the waterfront route that loops around the downtown peninsula. The lane adds about 1.5 miles to the city’s existing 200 miles of bike lanes. “We had mostly separated bikeways all along the water’s edge,” Toderian says, “but what we didn’t have were separated bike lanes penetrating into the downtown.”

Bike racks and planters provide a barrier between cars and bikes on Vancouver's Hornby Street

Adding the 12-foot-wide lane meant losing 158 downtown parking spaces, but the city has put walking, cycling, transit, and movement of goods and services for economic development ahead of single-occupancy vehicles. “Officially on paper, we don’t balance, we prioritize,” Toderian says about transportation needs. “In the simplistic sense, we start out assuming bike infrastructure has priority.”

The transportation department, which worked closely with the planning department on the Hornby Street project, addressed business owners’ concerns about both lost parking and access by keeping driveways and loading zones open, retaining important right turns, and changing parking rules on side streets. Those changes meant a net gain of 162 spaces on streets within a block of Hornby.

Officials hope the Hornby project leads to more downtown Vancouver bike lanes and shines as a North American model for separated cycling.

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