The Best Place for Bikes

by Melissa Bruntlett / 30 October, 2014
Separated bikeways are road lanes for bikes, physically separated from cars and also from pedestrians. Auckland has one small stretch, downtown on Beach Rd. Vancouver has a lot more.

Illustration by Angela Keoghan.

 

Of all the plans for bikes in my city, Vancouver, without a doubt the most contentious has been separated bike lanes. The authorities put the first one on the highly travelled Burrard Bridge in 2009 and it was an overwhelming success. Yet, despite further successes each time a separated lane is established, new proposals are always met with fervent opposition.

On the Adanac Bikeway, one of Vancouver’s most travelled cycling routes, local resident and restaurateur Steve Da Cruz strenuously objected to a mere block of cycle track passing in front of his business. He said the track would be “cutting [him] off at the knees”, and the city’s claims of consistently unused parking along that stretch of road were “grossly inadequate”.

Yet the project aimed to calm traffic on a road linking East Vancouver to downtown, and not a single parking space was to be removed.

I live in East Vancouver and that bike­­­­way provides my family with direct access to the city centre. Previously, we competed with intimidating delivery trucks and speeding cars, and cycling through the area with my young children had become so stressful we were forced to use longer routes.

The project opened in May this year, just in time for the busiest cycling season, and I now happily take my children on our bikes through this stretch to downtown.

Surprisingly, it did not take long for Da Cruz to declare, “Business is better than ever.” In fact, it’s doubled. The upgraded bikeway has created a surge in the number of cyclists, many of them tourists happily exploring Vancouver’s neighbourhoods by bicycle.

On the city’s west side, proposals to upgrade the narrow and busy Point Grey Rd were met with even more opposition, and politicians from the Non-Partisan Association fuelled the fire.

The project would see the completion of the 28km Seawall, a waterfront pathway used by both cyclists and pedestrians of all ages. NPA councillor George Affleck said the two-lane road was important for commuters. “It’s a street that I think should be for all the citizens of this city, not just a few. And especially, specifically, not just a lot of supporters [of the current government].” Pedestrians, cyclists and people who don’t vote for Affleck do not count among “all the citizens”, apparently.

The project stalled on several oc­casions, but this spring, the upgraded roadway opened and cyclists and pedestrians from all over the city were quickly raving. The president (and former player) of the Vancouver Canucks ice hockey team, Trevor Linden, spoke on radio, saying, “I can only tell you Point Grey Rd now is an absolute freeway of walkers, dog walkers, bikers, parents with their six-year-old kids… and it’s pretty special, it’s pretty cool.”

For my own car-free family, each new separated cycle track further facilitates our lifestyle. We can now safely travel from the east to the west with little worry of our children coming up against speeding cars on dangerous roadways. My five-year-old son leads the way with a fearlessness that did not seem possible just a few years ago.

And that’s the key to progress: separated bike lanes allow even the most vulnerable of our citizens to travel safely throughout the places they call home.

 

Melissa Bruntlett and her husband Chris, of Vancouver-based urban mobility consultancy Modacity, will appear at Auckland Conversations on November 4 in a discussion entitled Van Cycle Chic - Observations from an Emerging Bike Culture.

More on cycling in Auckland:

The Way We Move: A 20 Point Plan for Auckland Transport

Bike Better, Auckland: Could We Do What New York Did?

Big Apple Bliss: How New York Makes Cycling Easy and Safe
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Jefferie Hill: The toddler who wandered away, then vanished
83679 2017-11-24 07:09:47Z Crime

Jefferie Hill: The toddler who wandered away, then…

by Paloma Migone

It was thought the two-year-old fell into a creek - but no sign of him was ever found and his family have their doubts.

Read more
The media rehabilitated Tony Veitch's image in the past - but not this time
83673 2017-11-24 06:46:30Z Crime

The media rehabilitated Tony Veitch's image in the…

by Colin Peacock

Domestic abuser Tony Veitch has been back on radio and contributing to the Herald for years. But Sky TV's move was a step too far.

Read more
Kim Cattrall has a date with death in The Witness for the Prosecution
83620 2017-11-24 00:00:00Z Television

Kim Cattrall has a date with death in The Witness …

by Fiona Rae

A glamorous socialite looking for love post-war comes to grief in an Agatha Christie short-story adaptation.

Read more
The top 25 sauvignon blancs of 2017
83640 2017-11-24 00:00:00Z Wine

The top 25 sauvignon blancs of 2017

by Michael Cooper

The top sauvignon blancs from the 2017 vintage stand out for quality, value or both.

Read more
Supreme Court rules Pike River deal unlawful
83667 2017-11-23 17:01:24Z Social issues

Supreme Court rules Pike River deal unlawful

by Rebecca Macfie

The ruling found that the dismissal of charges against former Pike River Mine boss Peter Whittall was unlawful.

Read more
'Big dry' could bring record November highs
83645 2017-11-23 13:27:54Z Environment

'Big dry' could bring record November highs

by RNZ

An "immense dome" of high pressure has settled over the entire country and could bring record high temperatures to parts of the inland South Island.

Read more
Australia won't accept our refugee offer – so we must help those we can
83611 2017-11-23 10:32:11Z World

Australia won't accept our refugee offer – so we m…

by The Listener

As stalemate sets in over asylum seekers on Manus Island, it’s time for NZ to shift focus to help the appallingly persecuted Rohingya refugees.

Read more
Malcolm Rewa rape victim: 'I knew he was capable of killing me'
83609 2017-11-23 10:26:12Z Crime

Malcolm Rewa rape victim: 'I knew he was capable o…

by RNZ

Rhonda McHardy, who was raped by Malcolm Rewa, is applauding the police attempt to retry him for killing Susan Burdett.

Read more