February 11, 2019

Puzzle Pic: Which country has the most bike routes?


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  1. Now overlay topography and weather: where is it flattest and has the most moderate climate ?

    As such it makes sense that Holland, Denmark, N-France, Belgium and NW Germany have the most bike lanes, as it is totally flat and temperatures rarely above 28 or below zero with snow.

    Go further east or south and weather gets hotter in summer, colder in winter and/or more hilly making bike use year round less useful (as we see today in Vancouvers quite hilly and snowy terrain).


  2. Agreeable weather and level terrain do not guarantee the building of excellent bike networks. It is still a political decision to do so. The Netherlands actually had very poor and almost non-existent bike infrastructure as recently as the 1970s. Back then, Copenhagen had essentially none.

    Both these places get as much or more snow than Vancouver and also have much more wind which can be as much work as hills. I’ve battled against days-long strong headwinds in the Netherlands and you don’t even get the satisfaction of the nice view at the top nor the guarantee of an easy ride down. (There’s a reason windmills have always been prevalent in Holland).

    While there are some places where cycling is especially difficult they are outliers rather than the norm. There will always be excuses why cycling is not a good fit anywhere that motordom dominates. We could have much better cycling infrastructure throughout our region and the Fraser Valley. It is not the climate nor the terrain. It is motordom.

    1. Climate matter as does terrain. Of course, density helps, as does culture and political will. That is why Richmond or Vancouver have more bike lanes now than flat Surrey, Delta or Langley, or hilly WVan and NVan. Or Tel Aviv more than Jerusalem. Or Amsterdam or Berlin more than Stuttgart, Zurich or Geneva.

      That is Mayor Robertson’s legacy. Now let’s build more rental units and clean up DTES. Major challenges remain in Vancouver now that we have decent bike lane infrastructure.

      1. Thankfully bike lane infrastructure is so inexpensive there’s no reason it’s expansion should be slowed while meeting our other challenges.

        Housing is much more affordable if you don’t need a car. Cycling is by far the cheapest and healthiest way to travel distances that are too far to walk. Dump the car – live closer to your daily activities. Let’s help make that an easier decision.

        Walking and cycling put the least transportation demands on the taxpayer. There’s more money available for all of our challenges if more people walk and cycle.

        Don’t make more excuses to deter the growth of cycling. Don’t pull out the DTES as a convenient and entirely irrelevant scapegoat.

        1. I love cycling and I certainly think more walking and biking for more people makes a lot of sense. I probably walk more than 98% of BC’s society as I love walking and do it likely at least an h daily and 2-3 h on weekends. That is what I love about the UBC Campus where I live: very walkable, close to beaches and forests. But it is NOT the answer to the commuter problem for 2.5M people in the region. We can’t have only fit highly educated 25-45 year olds (i.e. city and regional urban planners) make policies for all folks as there is an inherit bias, as we saw, for example, by the rejected Transit Referendum and the recent Surrey council/mayor election, or the ongoing debate if perhaps an LRT is better than a UBC subway or that the North Shore doesn’t need rapid transit nor roads.

          Or have a look outside today, for example, to see why. Cycling works for maybe 5-10% of folks 6-9 months of the year, but not 12 months of the year and not for 100% of folks nor for 100% of the region. For example, the bike lane on SW Marine Drive from UBC to Fraser River is one such silly failed planning example, where we inconvenience thousands, likely over 10,000 of users of cars or buses DAILY to benefit a few dozen bikers. This should have been a three lane counter-flow commuter road, 2 lanes in in the morning to UBC and 2 out in the afternoon, with traffic circles to have flow and not one car turning left causing a 2km pile up behind him. But not, we need more bikelanes. Wrong priorities. That leaves then no money to clean up DTES or provide affordable housing.

          1. Hmmm… wrong priorities. Let’s see. You regularly propose blanketing the entire region in a criss-cross of major freeways, bridges, tunnels, subways and even more elevated SkyTrain guideways and you think bike lanes are the reason we can’t afford to fund some of our other challenges.


            Cycling works 12 months of the year… less a half dozen days, on average, with snow on the ground. If people choose not to cycle in winter it’s not because it doesn’t work. But if you keep repeating it like all the automotive industry ‘bots a lot of people will actually believe it.

            Riding in the rain on a nice protected bike lane is more pleasant than riding on a busy arterial on a sunny day. They’ve figured that out in those cycling friendly European cities where they don’t spend so much time prattling on endlessly about how outdoorsy they are.

            Still, we have more people cycling in winter now than in summer 15 or 20 years ago. We just need more protected lanes covering more of the city to make it more enjoyable to ride no matter the weather. Rain just isn’t a big deal.

          2. SW Marine Drive from Granville to Camosun is a very bad example to cite. It wasn’t a bike lane project, it was a road rehabilitation project (utility work beneath the roadway, paving, etc) and when it was repaved painted bike lanes (which were there previously, but faded) were put back, and some bollards were added to remind people driving that people were riding there. The bollards have been a challenge because people keep driving over them and knocking them down, but at least that is better than knocking people on bikes over. If we had spent the money to do it properly, with protected lanes, we would have seen increased mode share. Since we didn’t do so, we made it slightly more comfortable for those who were already riding there, but didn’t attract those who may have wanted to. And we saved money, but it was a false economy.

            Please don’t advocate for counter-flow lanes where they don’t fit. What the locations that use them have in common is a lack of intersections (Hwy 99, Stanley Park Causeway). The intersections along SW Marine are a problem for vehicle crashes even without three lanes, let’s not try to make it worse (and the bike lanes don’t impact the rates of those vehicle crashes).

            If we want to reduce traffic on SW Marine, the answer is to charge more for parking at UBC. Get rid of the free parking for a start. SW Marine at Camosun gets used as a free park and ride to the campus when parking shouldn’t even be permitted on the shoulder.

          3. @ Jeff:

            SW Marine Drive is a major throughfare to access UBC from S-Vancouver or Richmond or south. Since there is no rapid transit, and there won’t be, until 2030 even if a UBC subway is approved in the next 1-2 years, we need meaningfully rapid people transportation to/from major employment centers. UBC is such a center. it is an insult to commuters and UBC workers/students/faculty to force them into a slow crowded bus or onto a crowded street to benefit a few dozen bikers. It could have EASILY been made a three lane road with one counter-flow lane. Disallow most left turns, too.

            Do city planners actually work for the citizens, since they are paid by them, or do they serve mainly their own idealistic agenda while they bike to work ?

            Ditto with allowing parking on major E-W or N-S throughfares like Granville Street, Oak, 76, 41st etc ..

            10 more years of pain due to failed city planning ..

          4. Thomas

            Again, it has nothing to do with bike routes, or “a few dozen bikers” as you term it. Did you check the counters before you quoted that number?

            If you want to advocate for restricting left turns the length of SW Marine, go for it. How will people access their homes along that route under your plan?

            You have to get over the concept of building more vehicle lanes to somehow “solve” congestion. It doesn’t work.

            Along SW Marine, vehicle lanes were widened, particularly in curves. As a result, measured speeds are up. And vehicle crashes are up. Not a surprise. We get what we design and build for. It is time to stop building for higher vehicle volumes. How about making it an HOV and bus lane during busy periods, with window stickers for local resident exceptions?

          5. Thomas:

            Since you have expressed an interest in designing a road solution for SW Marine, here are a few starting points and constraints that you can work with. Please make sure your solution considers them all:

            1) This is part of the Translink Major Road Network. It isn’t just a City of Vancouver road or planning issue.
            2) The road runs at an angle, not on the grid. That makes it useful in terms of reduced distance, but a challenge in terms of intersection geometry. The acute angles at intersections drives crash incidence rates. 49th was addressed. Now plan for the rest.
            3) There are no sidewalks for much of this route. This despite the presence of bus stops. How will you address the needs of all transportation users, particularly considering your propensity to walk noted above?
            4) There is a mature tree canopy. Retention of trees was a critical issue during the last rehab work, and limited roadway width in many locations. What is your plan?
            5) 41st is a wider road than SW Marine. During construction, traffic was diverted off of SW Marine. Can the load be balanced better now? What mechanism would you propose?
            6) City stats from prior to repaving showed that bike ridership was down to 20% female at times. This indicates that many riders did not feel safe; better infrastructure has resulted in measured shifts to 50:50 gender balances elsewhere. How would you improve this situation?
            7) What role does truck traffic play along this route?
            8) What would your mode share targets be, for all modes?

            There are lots more. Go for it. And while you are considering SW Marine up to Camosun, how would you change SW Marine from Camosun to UBC? Perhaps a road diet? Removal of free parking on the shoulder? Normalization of intersections and elimination of slip lanes (which reduces crashes, and improved traffic flow on Burrard)? When you have a plan for this section, work with UBC (multiple jurisdictions, including parks) and MoTI, since it isn’t part of the City. That gives you more than four jurisdictions to work with in improving this one route. Good luck.

      2. Robertson, while he did bike to work, had only a little to do with it. If he wasn’t mayor at that time in history, it still would have happened. The credit should go to the many Vancouverites who over the years worked to lead up to a time in which higher design quality cycling infrastructure could be introduced.
        I think what we have so far is a very good start.

  3. Amazing. Within Belgium it appears that the Dutch-speaking parts have far more bike lanes than the French speaking part. I think that alone should lay to waste any argument that the weather or the topography is the lone determining factor as to whether a city adopts bike infrastructure. Culture and, I strongly suspect, urban form play a much bigger role. Those are things within our control.

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