Thursday, 12 July 2012

Why separation is a good thing

Coralie on the Dunsmuir Viaduct

Back in May, I read about a proposal to add separated bike lanes in my neighbourhood in one of the local papers. I am a huge supporter of this kind of infrastructure for cyclists, so much so that I wrote several of the local papers, numerous MLA's and the city council to show my support for the idea. A portion of my letter was even published in the Courier (click to read).

Separated bike lanes are a controversial talking point in Vancouver, and I honestly don't understand why. They create barriers between the cars and cyclists, reducing crashes and overall just make people on bikes feel so much safer. 

Travelling safely away from cars
Today, for example, I rode with Coralie and Etienne out to Coal Harbour, and the easiest way to get there is through downtown Vancouver. Without the separated lanes on Dunsmuir and Hornby, I would never have dreamed of going downtown on our bikes, and would have either opted to take the longer route or just take transit. The ease of the trip even encouraged Coralie to travel home on her bike, too, instead of opting to take the train home. Really, how can anyone think this is a bad thing?


  1. You make a really good point in favour of separated lanes. Children cycling on busy roads isn't something that gets taken into account when people are talking about bike lanes, I think. I get the impression from a lot of the discussion I've heard that it's all about catering to potential commuters--adults.

    My main concern with the separated lanes as they are in downtown Vancouver is the conflicts at intersections. As far as I understand, it's at intersections that most car/cyclist crashes happen & I'm not sure the bike lanes really help minimize that.

    1. I certainly agree with you that the intersections can be quite dangerous. I don't know the exact solution, but the cyclist dedicated lights on Hornby certainly helped us on our travels today. I think really examining viable solutions like that and proper education would be a good start.

    2. A report released by the city last month found that collisions of all types (involving vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians) are down 19% on Dunsmuir Street and down 18% on Hornby Street (2008 and 2009 vs. 2011). In addition, there has been an increase in bicycle usage, a small but measurable increase in the percentage of women and children cycling, no change in pedestrian volumes and improved pedestrian comfort, no change in vehicle volumes, negligible and localized change in vehicle travel times, and cycling on sidewalks has been reduced by 80%! Sounds like a win-win scenario to me!