May 27, 2015

Bike lane design, safety and split responsibility

Lisa Moffatt writes:

A friend of mine was involved in a bike-on-bike collision where the two-way cycling facility turns onto the hard packed gravel path at Jericho Beach.


Jericho 1


Jericho 2


She was cycling eastbound when a westbound cyclist, travelling too fast to make the turn in his lane, hit her head on (literally, they bashed heads) in her lane.  I’ve sent a note to Dale Bracewell at the City.  Dale has requested staff look into the design.

I have often thought the design of the lanes were too narrow at that intersection, but have yet to do anything about it. You can see how tight the facility gets where the yellow line directs the turn.

It would be interesting to see what folks would suggest for improvement. One thing I’d suggest would be to cut back the bushes on the east side of the sidewalk.


This is a problem of split jurisdiction: Engineering on streets, Park Board in Jericho.  And it’s typically the Park Board that is not following through – not only here but in Stanley and Kits Parks.

Too often the Board’s solution is to do the minimal – typically to tell you what not to do.  Here’s the generic, all-purpose Park Board signage:


PArk signage


This, however, is egregious:

Jericho 3

A change of jurisdictions: from City Engineering to Park Board.

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  1. Copenhagen solved these problems a long time ago by requiring bicycles to behave like cars, and by building bike lanes that had properly engineered controls at intersections. They don’t mind making bikes stop at intersections, nor do the cyclists mind stopping. It’s all understood. Vancouver is different. Here bikes are treated more like pedestrians as these photos clearly show, because everywhere the bike lanes cross pedestrian paths there is nothing to say that either of them have priority, even though one may have 10 times the velocity and 10 times the stopping distance. It’s as if we’ve thrown up our hands and said it’s a sin to stop a bike once it’s underway.

    1. I don’t see that at all. The city is full of places where you have to stop when biking. So many that people just start ignoring the instruction.
      For paths through parks, I think it’s more that they’re not designing for the inherent characteristics of bicycles. They’re not motor vehicles and they’re not pedestrians but have similarities with both.
      Another factor is volumes, both of people walking and of people cycling. In the past it was okay to throw them together on a shared use path in a park but now there are just too many for that to work. There needs to be separate paths for each mode and good signage so it’s obvious which path is for which activity.

  2. The end of the bike path at Jericho is quite dangerous given the number of people biking and walking here. I have been wondering for while how many people collide, crash against the barrier or fall on the gravel. The turning radius is too small, especially with the bike path going downhill into this sharp curve. Time for the Park Board to build a proper path. And put up bike racks in Jericho Park so people don’t lock bikes to benches and trees.

  3. A bit of honesty is required here.

    If there is something egregious, it comes from city-hall, not the park board. A path linking both Spanish banks and the 4 avenue exists at the end of the parking lot:

    At the various open house consultations on the Pt Grey greenway, the city was proposing to connect the bike path to this “natural” and direct link. Instead of it and outside public consultation, the City has preferred to impose a detour for cyclists toward an already crowded section of the park, requiring ever more blacktop of the park.

    Yes it is egregious, but please give to Cesar what belongs to Cesar.

    1. That’s what I thought was odd at the open houses. To me it was the most natural thing to connect to this. I think I remember being told that it was out of the scope of the project. I understand that, you have to set limits to things but where this directs you is just to the wrong place. Also that curve is just too sharp for bicycles. You end up using the other half of the path to make your turn. Probably why the collision happened. There used to be a similar thing at Union and Hawks. The curve was so weird that you had to use the half meant for the other direction to make it.

    2. I’d be curious to here some more details on this. Are you saying that Parks wanted to designate the narrower southern path for cycling, or widen it to turn it into a shared path? And CoV refused and forced cyclists onto the existing wider path?

      I ride there several times a week, sometimes as a designation, more often just riding through. Banning cyclists from the path by the ocean seems unwise, as it’s a popular destination. But giving through cyclists a preferable options away from the crowds would relieve a lot of the pressure. But it would have to be attractive to function effectively, which probably means paved. Even a route south of the lake would probably function fine. Still, unlikely to happen given how unaccommodating to cyclists the park board has been. Also, if a paved option were to be opened up it would draw the roadie traffic that right now diverts onto 4th for the fear of the gravel scaring their lightweight tires into a flat. And kids and roadies don’t mix well on narrow paths. Can of worms…

      1. I often use the path through Jericho to NW Marine and would gladly use a different route if there was a reasonably direct and safe one.

        When the Park Board removed the dock, uncovered the beach underneath, made new paths, put up benches and art, and landscaped the area east of the sailing centre, they had a chance to reduce conflict between bikes and walkers. Instead they pretended people don’t bike here. The Park Board didn’t even provide a single bike rack, so in the summer bikes are locked up all over the place, sometimes blocking benches.

        I sometimes wonder whether the Park Board wants people to drive to the parks so they make more revenue from parking fees. Probably it’s not that devious, but that’s the impression from how they make it as difficult as possible to bike to and through parks, whether it’s Jericho, Kits or Stanley Park.

      2. I think they’re talking about taking the path down to the end of the parking lot. I can’t remember entirely, but I think that would take out quite a lot of parking spaces which, while I agree with their removal, is politically difficult.

  4. The turning radius at Ash and 4th avenue is way too tight for going north and turning east for bikes. Often cars turn into this turning area and make it worse. It needs a concrete extension of the bike lane to prevent that. If you wait at that intersection for about 5 minutes you will probably see a cyclist yell at a driver or vice versa due to this conflict.

    1. The intersection of Ash St. and 4th Avenue does not exist in Vancouver. Which intersection are you actually referring to?

  5. Reminds me of the appalling “Cyclists proceed through parking lot” sign at Kits park. Park board really needs to step up.

  6. Hey, it’s not the only place. Heading west at 29th and Cambie, you will have the green light and cars turning left to head south on Cambie will not yield the right of way. There’s been a couple of times I’ve been nearly hit. They always seem surprised to actually see a bike crossing the road there, even though it is a designated bike way.

  7. That turn is pretty nasty, every time I go through there with my 5yo we fall back to ‘street mode’ where he needs to fall in line. Just for that point. Poor visibility, sharp turn, change of surface: surefire recipe for trouble.

    There are lots of other problem spots. Some more aesthetic like the extra wide dirt path desire line worn into the grass cutting the corner at Cornwall and Pt Grey nicely visible on the brand new 3D Google Earth,-123.1593059,58m/data=!3m1!1e3 Great example what the ‘no loss of green space’ policy that tries to ignore the existence of cyclists leads to.

    Or the transition at the west end of the Seawall to and from NW Marine up to UBC, where parks put barriers that prevent double child trailers from passing through.

  8. It was actually safer for everyone before they added that turn in the worst possible spot. People would just cycle across the grass, which is actually better to ride on than that horrible loose gravel. Park Board really needs to step up and fix this.

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