"The mayor's trying to drive social change by force," says shopkeeper

Post by Mike Klassen in

46 comments

driving
Lucy, Ricky, Fred & Ethel "driving" the old fashioned way

"Divide and conquer" tactics put to good use by Vision on controversial policies

Pick up today's 24 Hours newspaper and read a story by crack reporter Dharm Makwana titled Dunsmuir bike lane has its opponents. Dharm quotes a ticked off small business owner named Igor Kivritsky who's suffered the slings and arrows of declining customers on Seymour Street. Igor doesn't hold back when it comes to describing Mayor Gregor Robertson:

“Our genius mayor made it difficult for our clients to get here,” charged the high-end electronics retailer. “He just sits there with his big smile and says, ‘Tough. This is what I want to do to advance my political career.’”

He goes on to hit the proverbial nail on the head:

“What the mayor’s trying to do is drive social change by force,” he said. “The way we’re going about it is to help one person we must inconvenience a thousand.”

Robertson shrugs off Kivritsky's concerns, saying it's a minor inconvenience. Getting down 500-block Seymour by car means you've got to make a three-block detour if you've entered downtown by Dunsmuir Street. For some drivers it might cause enough confusion to kill sales in Kivritsky's hi-fi equipment store.

Bully tactics are nothing new in Vancouver politics, but it's usually capitalists like Kivritsky throwing their weight around. Today, however, thanks to the Machiavellian tactics of Vision Vancouver and an extremely vocal cluster of bike route advocates who've seen to it that the concrete is set before the consultation begins.

Vision have become masters of divide and conquer politics. For example, in order to drive a wedge in the West End over brewing furor on the STIR projects, they offered space to GLBTQ advocates Qmunity and got them to lobby for the development's success. It put stand-out neighbourhood leader Jennifer Breakspear at cross-purposes with locals with their own concerns about the STIR developments.

On the bike lanes issue they get the cyclistas to attack anyone who doesn't abide by Vision's plan. We see them on Frances Bula's blog, or here and elsewhere whenever there's a whiff of concern about the lack of public process, or perhaps if another route may have been considered. These guys pounce because they think we just don't get it.

Now, yesterday, when I attended the Little Mountain housing public consultation I see there are plans to build a separated bike lane on Ontario Street. I couldn't help but let an expletive slip out of my mouth as I couldn't believe that a wide street with speed bumps and barely any traffic at all would need a barrier built into it. Such is the power of the new Deputy City Manager that the otherwise sensible Engineering Department is being talked into projects like this.

This is how extreme this approach has become. The argument is that somehow we need to make concrete barriers between bikes and the pedestrians and drivers so anxious newbie cyclists can feel comfortable commuting downtown. Now we're looking at building barriers down residential streets, and blocking them off without notice as they did down by Nat Bailey Stadium.

What happened to cyclists minding the rules of the road like everyone else? We all see rogue bike riders hitting sidewalks and going helmetless. If we're going to level the playing field for our cyclists, then issue a mandatory bike license and require a skills test to pass it. Then use fines to penalize abuse, just as with drivers.

For the past two decades the City of Vancouver has built hundreds of kilometres of bike routes, installed push-button crossings, and reduced the priority of car commuters with barely a grumble from the general public. Most of us know the positives of this work and support it. But Vision's calculated politicking on the issue is hurting the cause of reducing car dependency and is creating hardships for small business owners.

If Gregor Robertson's agenda is about driving social change, then he better consider more constituencies than those who high-five him at Critical Mass.

- Read also Gord Price's welcome take on the Dunsmuir bike lane for another perspective

46 Comments

Not every company at Seymour and Dunsmuir is complaining about the bike lane. Employees here at Pulse Energy were out celebrating and taking pictures. http://blog.pulseenergy.com/?p=98

ummmmm, does Pulse Energy required deliveries or pickups of large, heavy items - such as electronics?

Does Pulse Energy rely on customers coming into their storefront to purchase items in order to survive: pay their employees, pay taxes etc?

From your website - you are green technology so I have no doubt you are happy boys and girls.

Aren't the owners of Pulse Energy big pals of the Mayor? Interesting that they are speaking out on this. Do they get any contracts from the city?

I wonder what the Cambie merchants are thinking now that Robertson is so arrogantly ignoring the impacts this bike lane will have us merchants? Didn't the mayor build his whole political career off the backs of the Cambie street merchants during the Canada Line construction. This guy is one big fraud. To dismiss our concerns and say people can just circle around the block is the height of arrogance. Why wasn't he saying that to the cambie merchants? Oops, he was campaigning for votes then. I'm steaming mad at the way Vision has rammed this through.

I really get annoyed when cyclists breaking the rules of the road is used as a reason to limit cycling infrastructure. How many times have I almost been broadsided on a bike route by some jackass in a SUV rolling through a stop sign or going the wrong way around a traffic circle? (Answer: lots.) And when was the last time anyone cited these people as a reason not to widen a road or build a new bridge?

And are you seriously proposing mandatory bike licensing? Cars and their drivers need to be licensed because they're giant chunks of metal moving at high speed through densely populated areas. Bikes, not so much. Let's be realistic here. If you just want to fine cyclists for bad behaviour, you don't need a bike licensing bureaucracy to do it. There are already dozens of VPD spending their days ticketing cyclists for riding without a helmet or riding on the sidewalk. They can still demand ID or valid name and address when issuing a ticket.

For the record, I'm just an employee and my opinions are not an official position of the company.

Boohoo people. Cars have had it their way for 100 years. Time to move on.

'rogue cyclists' hahaha. Should we look up statistics on deaths caused by rogue cyclists vs rogue drivers?

Chris, did you get your fingers slapped?

Readers may be interested in tonight's rally outside the Vision Vancouver fundraiser in the West End. Here's a bulletin sent out by the West End Neighbours group...

As you know, the City is moving very quickly with rezoning/development applications and decisions that could have large and permanent cumulative effects on our community.

1. ALERT: RALLY AT MAXINE'S (1215 Bidwell Street)


When: 4:45 to 5:15, Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Where: Outside, 1215 Bidwell Street, near corner of Davie


What: Speakers will present the latest info on rezoning and development in the West End and other neighbourhoods in Vancouver. Hear about Maxine's (rezoned by Vision Vancouver in December for a subsidized for a 19-storey tower, and threatened soon by the wrecking ball of the historic building). Hear that our "No Rezoning without a Comprehensive Plan!" petition now has over 6300 signatures. Then after 5:15 we'll walk 2 blocks to the Coast Plaza Hotel to greet Vision Vancouver's guests for Mayor Robertson's big fundraiser. We'll politely welcome them to our community and let them know residents care about major City decisions affecting us all. Please check our website by noon Wednesday for updates and possibly posters to download.



2. ONLINE SURVEY FOR BIDWELL AND DAVIE STREET


We seek your views about the rezoning of 1201-1205 Bidwell Street and 1702-1726 Davie Street to allow the construction of a 20-story tower and the destruction of Maxine's, a heritage building over 100 years old. Responses by noon Wednesday can be reported at the rally. 
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5FBK8C8



You can find much more information and events on our website - http://www.WestEndNeighbours.ca



More news is coming later in the week.

Mike, here come the cyclistas like boohoo you wrote about. When they don't like the message they go on the attack. You're right to blame Vision for that.

Nope. I just wanted to silence the conspiracy theorists who think I'm a company representative being influenced by the mayor's office. I'm just an employee of a rapidly growing tech company with lots of cyclists. This idea that bike lanes are anti-business is just ridiculous.

@Chris. Thanks for your bulletin from Pulse. Yes, we know that Pulse Energy have been working closely with Robertson trying to breathe some life into his Greenest City objectives. I welcome Pulse's move from West Vancouver into downtown.

I'll repeat my point lest someone decides to construe it otherwise. Vision have used divide and conquer tactics to ram through policy while deliberately ignoring key stakeholders. Hundreds of kms of bike routes have been built by successive councils and somehow the last few have caused more public backlash. I explain why that is and let others debate whether they agree or not.

I'm wanting to buy a sound projector for my home theatre in my apartment, but now I know where I will NOT be shopping due to a certain business owner's comments.

Trips by bicycle represent about 4% of all trips in Vancouver. The rest are by car or transit.

Currently, dedicated bicycle lanes represent slightly more than 2% of road space in Vancouver.

Vancouver roads are financed by taxes on property, with some transfers from other levels of government (which in turn are mostly from income taxes). People who ride bikes pay the same property and income taxes as drivers.

So tell me again how the poor, suffering car user is being unfairly impacted by the freeloading cyclists?

First, a comment to Frank. You seem to be suggesting that because some people support bike lanes, their views don't matter. It's a strange position to take considering you seem to be implying the civic government is bad for doing the exact same thing. A hypocrit is the term, I do believe.

This is an article that is, in essense, "attacking" a city policy in the same way that commenters sometime "attack" this article's conclusions. It's all part of this lovely democratic debate. I don't go around trying to stifle or disregard the comments made on this blog simply because I often (though not always) don't agree with them. Rather, I present my point of view in the comments, and I'm glad for the opportunity given, just as other blogs throughout the city have the same policy.

I also don't think it makes sense to say the views of employees who work for Pulse Energy don't matter because they don't take large deliveries or have storefront customers. They're citizens, too.

Nor do I think we should make assumptions that all downtown shoppers come from cars - quite the opposite, I would expect a large portion arrive by other means. It would depend on the business in question, of course, and I don't have any data, though, but neither do opponants of bike lanes.

But if we're asking why are these bikes lanes more controversial, it's because they actually are effective.

Earlier bike lanes have often not been that effective. It's not uncommmon to see cars and buses driving into the bike lanes painted onto the sides of roads, such as Burrard Street, which abutt against several lanes of (occasionally) fast moving traffic. Little is done to successfully address problems of delivery trucks and cars swerving into bike lanes and sometimes parking there, which forces bikes to dangerously veer into traffic that is often much faster than they are. When you have such vastly different speed capabilities between bikes and cars, and have bikers that are relatively poorly protected from injury compared to cars, it makes sense not to have them in the same lane.

Separated bike lanes have been proven effective at not only reducing injuries (Denmark sees very few bike injuries per capita despite no helmet law, and few people who volunteer to wear one), but also at encouraging more people to use their bikes more, and thus leave their cars for when they're actually needed. The more commuters who switch to biking, the lower congestion becomes and the better life is for those who still drive, of course.

And for those who don't think anyone will bike in rain, take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMv3OB6XHvQ&feature=related

For 100 years we've been investing heavily in cars and subsidizing cars, as costly road repairs are paid through property taxes. For maybe 20 years we've started putting in bike facilities, but much of that was very poor quality and cost virtually nothing (paint on existng roads). Now we're beginning to see a transportation policy that is more balanced. Business will adapt.

(apologies for length)

"Trips by bicycle represent about 4% of all trips in Vancouver."

That's part of the problem, Pat. The cost associated with all of these projects outweighs the user base, and the user base doesn't want to take the responsibility of helping to pay for it through licensing. Furthermore, bicyclists do constantly break the law, riding through red lights, stop signs, on the sidewalk etc. It's a freak show out there. Anyone who denies that is either blind or intellectually dishonest.

@boohoo

"Boohoo people. Cars have had it their way for 100 years. Time to move on."

Move one? Perhaps you haven't heard, but bicycles came before cars, not the other way around. Bicycles are great for certain transportation needs, but not all. They're great when one person needs to ride from one point to another, like to work and back. It's a completely different story when someone needs to get to a store to pick up a large item and bring it home, or when you and you significant other want to get dressed up and go to a nice restaurant and order a nice meal. If you want to go with a bunch of friends to a movie, generally the car is the best choice.

If the mayor wants to prove his commitment to green technology in the area of transportation, he needs to step up and work with those who are bringing the real future of transportation to the world, electric cars, fuel cell cars etc. That is the future. I'm not saying bicycles are the past. They're the past, present and future. But the car is here to stay as well. Get used to it or fall behind the rest of the world.

That seems to be the trend in Vancouver.

If this blog represent the current state of the NPA, it is going to need more then a name change to beat Vision. You should be looking at former NPA councillor Gordon Price for inspiration. http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/concrete-not-paint/

The suggestion that this mayor can ram through any project he chooses seems far fetched and naive.

The stereo store on Seymour has been there as long as I can remember. Any suggestion that the business would be impacted in the least by this bike lane is complete and utter nonsense. Anyone coming into to downtown can modify their route. Untold changes have been made to downtown traffic patterns over the years and somehow we miraculously managed to survive every single one of them.

500 Seymour, like every single street in downtown Vancouver has a lane for deliveries.

Is the owner of the high end stereo store telling Vancouver he wouldn't provide a staff and a dolly to wheel their very expensive new purchase to customer's cars parked in the nearest parkade (and rebate the cost of parking)?

Mike, unless you rode your bike or took transit to that meeting in Little Mountain you really should be toning down your anti-cycling stance.

We create concrete barriers between cyclists and vehicles Mike because when the two tangle one party goes home unscathed and the other goes to Emerg or the morgue.

John, although it seems fair to argue that excessive amounts of money are being invested on cycling even though cyclists represent 4% of commuters, these investments are not to maintain the status quo but to increase the number of cyclists. Also, this money pales to the billions used to build and expand highways and roads to accomodate cars - and there's STILL gridlock, so we must try other alternatives.
Cars (electric or not) cannot be the main solution to moving people in the future. It isn't even working today. There simply isn't enough space to accomodate them (especially when there's only one person in a four-seat car). The future of transportation is about choices (bikes, transit, etc.) and cars are used only when needed (such as moving large things or going out for a fancy dinner). Electric cars can only decrease pollution and the dependence on oil, not fix traffic.

It's funny how you say it's about transportation choices and yet you diminish personal car use as a choice as if a certain set of generally approved value judgement criteria must be met in order to qualify justification for its use. So it's fine to go pick up big items, but only if someone is accompanying you in at least 1 other passenger seat?

I can decide for myself when it's appropriate to ride my bike, take the Canada Line or ride alone or with company in a car because frankly, it's obvious to anyone when each is appropriate without your or anyone else's help and no one is going to convince anyone to ride their bike or a bus more than they want to. Just because I can afford a car and you can't ain't my problem.

Build it and they will come - onto the Burrard bridge... yet pedestrians are still walking up the northbound bike lane everytime I ride up: FAIL.

I tend to ride my bike around a lot, but it's more often from point A to point A because there are not enough places where I can leave my bike securely on the street.

Look south of Beach Ave for a second and contemplate what the bike commute would be like everyday back and fourth from let's say Highbury and 16th to Boundary and 11th. Or perhaps a ride from downtown around the endowment lands to SW Marine then up Dunbar that I do daily.

Go ahead cyclistas I dare you - otherwise shaddup, you're not making any friends.

At one point I thought living in Los Angeles was like living in a bubble but uh uh, Vancouver has it air tight! Has Vancouver seceded from BC or something? Has the downtown peninsula seceded from Vancouver?? What IS going on???

Points well taken Mike. Thanks for making them.

Sadly, the Vision Coucnil has already done at least one small business in. ( Burrard Street Bridge lane turn @ Hornby Street)...Now they are about to eliminate more small merchants? Why do you think they feel it is OK to harm or even eliminate these businesses aloing with a new hotel? Not donating enough? Sorry to be so cynical.

Too many people are being affected by their "good ideas" so badly implemented. They are a careless, sloppy governance group with no forethought about their actions. Does not want the sceptical to feel good about a "GReen" Council.

Citizens are really rankled by this gang. Have the media figured it out yet?

@Victor

From the looks of it, yes the media figured it out a long time ago but:

1)it's too early before the next election cycle for the media to be messing up Vision's hair, and

2) they have Mayor Clark Kent for the first time ever and are running with it for as long as they can squeeze it as a novelty for the inane.

We're told it's going to take the existence of photos with Gregor naked in bed with teen-agers before his ratings see a knock, but even then we can't be certain by how much. Come next October surprise though, the media better start spillin'! They owe us BIG.

Gregor Robertson has been doing an outstanding job at promoting sustainability in Vancouver. Some politicians talk about positive change and then do nothing. It is refreshing to see a mayor who leads by example. During the “bike to work” week I started biking and even when it was pouring really hard, Gregor was on his bike and attending bike events and discussing progress being made to make the city more bike friendly.

Will Gregor take some heat from people for trying to increase bike use? Sure. Would he be criticized for not making the city more sustainable? Of course. You can never win everyone over all the time. In a time where most people are trying to do the “right thing” for the environment, we should support initiatives like the Dunsmuir bike lanes.

Although, I am comfortable riding on road but I understand why we need concrete barriers. It's not “so anxious newbie cyclists can feel comfortable commuting downtown”, it's to make everyone feel safer. If you ever ride a bike you need to be always vigilant. You never know who will open a door narrowly missing you, cut in front of you to make a right turn or be missed by a car who made a right turn and did not see you coming. Sometimes creating barriers is good preventitive medicine.

The majority of cyclists respect the rules of the road. Sure, there are some cyclists who do play by the rules, however, this is a minority group. If ride a bike you notice almost everyone wears helmets. The helmet law is there to protect the cyclicts, therefore if they do not wear a helmet, they risk getting a ticket or suffering more serious injury if they are hit by a larger. A mandatory license is not needed. It would only penalize the poor and alter people's behaviour to start using cars again.

I agree that “Most of us know the positives of this work and support it.” Imagine if we objected to everything that creates a perceived hardship for small business owners, we would have slaves and child labourers. Sometimes, we need to find a better way to do business, i.e. Consider delivery, to do the “right thing”.

I'm a different Alex from the one who just posted below... guess I need to use a different handle...

I think some helmetcam vids might be in order just to show the difference between a regular downtown painted-line bike lane versus the new one, so from my YouTube channel...:

First, the regular painted-line style facility downtown:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmVe6k-09uk

Compared to the new Dunsmuir bike lane that just opened:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Hs13HillYQ

I think its understandable that many people would be willing to ride in the downtown as my first video shows! The second one looks a lot more inviting to me!

It still isn't foolproof, and probably nothing ever can be, this can still happen for example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB2WLI7N3l8

But a lot of troubles cannot happen, for example this: (door prize)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFaR_RkJa-w

Nor can this: (dangerously close pass)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFbNpQ-oYAo

The Thought of The Evening

"Larry Campbell about the present Council: 'I see dead people!'"

Funny how it all started with Larry The Coroner who's previous human interactions was limited only to...The Departed. And boy, it showed during his three years term!

Looking back at Looser Jim Green the only thing I can remember about him was his black 'Oliver Hardy' hat. Wait a moment. Nope. That's all, the hat.

Robertson successfully completes the Vision Trio from the classic spaghetti Western 'The Bad, The Ugly and The Worse'.

I've noticed that the bike commies are in here in numbers. Chris Porter has no trouble browsing the net and joining the forum during business hours. So now we know what kind of company Pulse Energy is.

Chris, I tell you what, I just took Vision's Pulse. They flat-lined on me. Larry is right. He sees dead people all right.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

If Cernetig's statements today are true, why is the mayor claiming thousands of tax dollars each year in transportation allowance? Here is what the Sun columnist states today:

"If you think cyclists are taking over Vancouver's streets now, just wait until next year when the next phase of the bicycle revolution begins.

That's when Mayor Gregor Robertson, who pedals to most of his meetings, hopes to put in place a city-wide public bike-sharing scheme to enable people to pick a bicycle at various stations around the city, ride around and drop them off at another station."

The Mayor pedals to most of his meetings??? Then why is he claiming so much in transportation allowance each year?

Maybe some of the mayor's cycling lobbyist friends could shed some light on this practice? I thought the green revolution was going to start saving taxpayers money. Shouldn't the savings should start at the top.

I just checked City records. The Mayor claimed $7,424 in transportation allowance in 2009. It's on page 6 in the appendix. A transportation allowance is provided to all members of council to cover their travel expenses within the region. Any travel outside the region is covered through a separate expense account.

http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20100518/documents/a5.pdf

I thought he had that electric car I saw him in on tv?

The Sun says Robertson takes his bike to most meetings. Alex say he drives an electric car. He claims over $7K for transportation allowance. Which is it? Is he driving to most meetings or he using pedal power? We see him coming to and from city hall by car on many days, as well as his bike.

A point of clarification. The City gave ample warning that a barrier would be installed at 29th and Ontario Streets two months ago. I own a house on the 4400 block and was provided with a full description/explanation of the bike lane enhancement as was Nat Bailey. The barrier is working as the 'rat runners' have dropped by about 50 percent. If you think that a separated bike path on Ontario Street is ridiculous, you obviously haven't spent much time cycling on the city's bike paths which are routinely used by motorists as a way to avoid arterials. Speed bumps and traffic calming circles do very little to slow the SUVs down, I'm afraid. To think that earmarking a handful of roads in this vast city to bicycles causes such handwringing speaks to the level of motorists' pathology.

Didn't they already try a bike sharing program - I think VanCity sponsored it.

I also believe most of the bikes were stolen..

France had implemented the same program - bad news is 80% of the bikes disappeared.

From the NY Times:

NY TIMES -- The latest French utopia (Vélib’, Paris’s bicycle rental system) has met a prosaic reality: Many of the bikes, are showing up on black markets in Eastern Europe and northern Africa. Many others are being spirited away for urban joy rides, then ditched by roadsides, their wheels bent and tires stripped.

With 80 percent of the initial 20,600 bicycles stolen or damaged, the program’s organizers have had to hire several hundred people just to fix them. And along with the dent in the city-subsidized budget has been a blow to the Parisian psyche, as not everyone shares the spirit of joint public property promoted by Paris’s Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë.

At least 8,000 bikes have been stolen and 8,000 damaged so badly that they had to be replaced — nearly 80 percent of the initial stock. JCDecaux must repair some 1,500 bicycles a day. The company maintains 10 repair shops and a workshop on a boat that moves up and down the Seine.

It is commonplace now to see the bikes at docking stations in Paris with flat tires, punctured wheels or missing baskets. Some Vélib’s have been found hanging from lampposts, dumped in the Seine, used on the streets of Bucharest or resting in shipping containers on their way to North Africa. Some are simply appropriated and repainted.

I am always surprised that some people express opposition to infrastructure for cleaner and healthier transportation options. These views seem rather myopic. Vancouver is far behind other world class cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam when it comes to cycling infrastructure. Even cities in the US are now surpassing Vancouver when it comes to spending on cycling infrastructure (Seattle has a 10-year, $240-million bike master plan compared to Vancouver's $25 million and Portland is also spending over $200 million).

There are plenty of examples of prosperous cities that have reduced their motor vehicle trips to a much greater degree than Vancouver. Copenhagen has a 36% cycling modal share compared to 4% in Vancouver. And New York has a 52% public transit modal share compared Vancouver's 17%.

Why would we want to fall even further behind the rest of the world? I think it is time for Vancouver to be a leader in this area.

I'm one of the pedestrians being left out of the discussion. On Quebec Street, right beside the bike lane, on Main Street, right beside the bike lane on Pender Street, right beside the bike lane I often encounter people on bikes riding on the sidewalk, some people are riding their bikes on the sidewalk while their dog is leashed to the bike. When I suggest they should be walking their bikes not riding on sidewalks, the rider’s response is to swear at me or even cycle back and threaten me. I’ve stopped speaking to them as I feel bullied. Mandatory bike licensing would allow me to take a photo of them on their bike, record their license number and send it to authorities. Bike riders would have to take a test and understand the rules of the road/sidewalk before they receive their license. Millions of dollars have been spent on bike lanes, perhaps we can spend a few more dollars on a public awareness campaign informing bike riders they should not ride their bikes on sidewalks. I’ve called 311, I was told to call ICBC, ICBC told me to call the police. The police said they can’t do anything unless they see a person riding on the sidewalk. However, I’ve been walking on the sidewalk when a bike has passed me and a police car has driven by, they have not stopped to ticket the person on the bike riding on the sidewalk.

Cyclistas Frank? I'm hardly on the attack by simply pointing out facts. 1) Cars have dominated for 100 years. 2) Cars kill, bikes don't.

Here's a newsflash for you, I drive to work. But, I'm able to see past my own nose and acknowledge this is in the best interest of the City. Everyone bemoans the small business when a bike lane goes in--where are you when Home Depot moves into town, when the new massive Canadian Tire goes in on Marine Dr? These are the real killers of small business, not some small stretch of bike lane.

Perspective people.

I've seen police tell off people for riding bikes on the sidewalk. If you see a spot where it happens a lot for sure forward that to the police, they do do bike enforcement, I see them handing out tickets regularly on some of the more trafficked bike routes that I ride on. Weird someone would ride a bike on the sidewalk when there's a bike lane right on Pender (well, except when cars park in it...). We learned in elementary school that you don't ride your bike on the sidewalk, and this was in a town where nobody bikes for transportation...

Cyclistas Frank? I'm simply pointing out facts, sorry if you take that as an attack.

Newsflash for you--I drive to work.

But I'm able to see past my own nose and acknowledge this is better for the City.

Everyone brings out the crocodile tears for small busines but where are you when Home Dept gets approved, when the new Canadian Tire goes in on Marine Dr, etc etc...These are the real killers of small business, not some stretch of bike lane.

Perspective people.

Rob,

I love how all you delusional and myopic cycling advocates bring up cycling rates in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdamn.

Last I checked..........in EVERY liveability world survey, they fall behind Vancouver's ranking.

Why on earth do so many folks want us to go backwards?

Do the cities above us on the world rankings have more bike lanes?

As a matter of fact, NO they don't.

I wonder what that says.......

If your VISION, wasn't clouded by blind ideology MAYBE you'd figure out that we're doing okay here without this nonsense.

The money being spent on keeping a bunch of careless, helmetless, goofs from breaking traffic laws that get them hurt or killed by a vehicle (see Geoff Meggs for an example) SHOULD be spent on what the MAJORITY of Vancouverites prefer.

I don't suppose you'd like to see that list since it doesn't include bike lanes....

Thanks John for reading the first line of my post then missing the point entirely.

Yes, bikes = 4% of trips, but way less than 4% of road space is dedicated to bikes, and cycling infrastructure represents way less than 4% of the transportation spending in Vancouver. Every cyclist is subsidizing non-cyclists every time they ride.

So again, tell me about the poor suffering car drivers again?

Glen Hall, thank you for your question about Liveability Rankings

There are three highly regarded city liveability rankings: Mercer's City Rankings, The Economist's most livable cities list and Monocle's Livable Cities Index.

Mercer's ranks the following cities higher than Vancouver:

Vienna (which has twice the cycling modal share of Vancouver)
Zurich (which has a higher cycling modal share than Vancouver and a much higher transit modal share)
Geneva ( which has an ambitious project that is currently being implemented to close 200 streets to cars and has combined cycling/transit modal share higher than Vancouver)

The Economist ranks Vancouver the highest.

The Monocle list ranks Copenhagen higher than Vancouver. In fact 8 of the 10 top cities have higher bicycle modal shares than Vancovuer.

Glen, it sounds like your is issue with people that break laws in your argument for not providing cycling infrastructure. If so, I think you would support reducing roadways for cars since we know many drivers will exceed the speed limit at least once on any given trip and perhaps use a cell phone. And we can get rid of sidewalks too I suppose since we've all seen many pedestrians walk when the sign said don't walk, or stepped out in traffic mid-block downtown.

Or do you only care about laws broken by someone who is on a bike, and therefore to be held to a higher standard?

Ah, but even with this progress, the official word is that cycling is a very dangerous activity in Vancouver. In fact, it's so dangerous, the law requires helmet use! I didn't realize that cycling was such a risky activity in Vancouver, which I had thought was actually quite a green and bike-friendly city, especially compared to places like Calgary or Montréal, which don't seem to have this requirement.

I sent the below to mayor, council, and my MLA:

Hi,

I'm a new-ish resident to Vancouver and today received a ticket for riding my bicycle without a helmet. I was astonished, as I had come to Vancouver having heard many tout it as one of the world's greenest and most bike-friendly cities. The officer politely assured me that
on the contrary, Vancouver is in fact such an unsafe place to ride, the government needs to deploy armed police to force citizens to protect themselves against the imminent threat of head injury.

Amazed, I reflected on what I had learned and am now unsure if I wish to continue cycling in this city; after all, other activities that commonly require participants to wear helmets (ice climbing, construction work, ski racing, hockey) are fairly dangerous and while I don't shy away from danger as a blanket rule, I'm not sure I can continue to expose myself to such life safety risks on a twice daily
basis on the way to work.

While I'm disappointed that I'm not going to be able to ride my bike as frequently as I could in a place like Calgary, I'd like to thank the officer for opening my eyes to the threatening situation I'd been placing myself in every day. In fact, I'd suggest that the governments of Vancouver and BC communicate this message more effectively in the future.

For instance, rather than claiming that the new lanes on Dunsmuir Street are "an easier and more comfortable connection to work, shop or visit downtown," perhaps the online description could state that they are "an easier connection to work, shop, or visit downtown that is so
dangerous, we have had to make it illegal to use without a helmet." This would likely be a more complete and honest description. In my experience, the words 'easier' and 'comfortable' usually aren't used to describe facilities or activities where helmets are mandatory.

Thanks kindly for thinking of my safety on our dangerous streets. I'll miss my morning and evening rides, but feel better knowing the dangers that I'll be averting. As a final question, is the helmet requirement likely to be repealed as Vancouver improves its cycling
infrastructure and continues to effectively enforce traffic laws?

Best wishes,

-D

@Dennis
Sorry for not being clear enough on my part. Transportation choices does include cars and it is not as if there will be guidelines in the future as to when using a car is appropriate.

What I meant was that, if presented with multiple and convenient alternative transportation choices, commuters will be inclined to not use cars as much as we do now - maybe to a point when some will consider using a car only when it is necessary.

That, of course, is a prospect that is far away but projects like the Dunsmuir bike lane helps us get there. It is obvious that in today's world there's many instances when using a car is most convenient or adequate.

As to riding bikes outside the downtown core, I agree that it is sometimes troublesome. I live in East Van - the southern part - and I used to ride down 45th everyday until drivers realized that this quiet residential street was a fast way to drive down from Boundary to Kerr and beyond. I stopped riding my bike but projects like this are encouraging.

Welcome to Vancouver, D.
It is a little annoying to have to wear a helmet, but better safe than sorry.
As to the law, it is a provincial law. A police officer could fine you for not wearing a helmet in Victoria, Kamloops, even Fort Nelson. Repealing this law is not in the books (as far as I know).
Cycling is usually safe in Vancouver but I would guess that it gets a little more dangerous in the downtown core, where there's lots of cars. That's why projects like the Dunsmuir bike lane help increase the safety of cyclists.

"Cycling is usually safe in Vancouver"

If this is true, then surely there's no need for mandatory helmets. If this is not true, then I think that some soul-searching needs to happen to determine why this is the case.

With respect to public health, my (unresearched) take is that by characterizing cycling as an activity that is sufficiently dangerous to require a helmet law, they're likely discouraging it to the point of outweighing any decrease in head injuries. Yes, there're fewer head injuries, but fewer people ride and get exercise (leading to poorer health outcomes overall) and traffic worsens if they switch to driving.

This is different than a mandatory seatbelt law, where if that sends the message that driving is dangerous, there's a public benefit from people switching to alternatives (bikes, transit) in terms of health, reduced auto congestion, etc... And surely if it's legal to buy cigarettes, which when used properly will harm your health, it should
be up to me to wear (or not) a helmet. And lets not get into lifestyle choices regarding diet and exercise more broadly.

For all of the promotion and publicity around bike routes, lanes, etc, nothing sends the message that an activity is dangerous like requiring participants to wear protective headgear. In fact, I'd argue that if cycling is so unsafe that the police need to enforce a helmet law,
then there has been a systematic failure in terms of engineering (poor infrastructure design), enforcement (poor policing), and poor education (bad driving culture, licensing, and training). Such a law is in some sense an admission of abject failure in some combination of these areas.

At any rate, I welcome this new infrastructure, but wish that there was a consistent (honest) message out there; it seems somewhat duplicitous to say that Vancouver's one of the world's greenest and bike-friendliest cities, and then admit in practice that actually, it's so dangerous that the police need to enforce helmet wearing as an essential safety measure.

Regarding the theft of public bikes in Paris, there is a counter-argument that the ad company sponsoring the program has inflated the stolen bike numbers to swing a better deal.

"The figures mean an average of around 15 thefts a day out of 80,000 daily uses. It's like skinning a knee.”

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/is-vlibs-provider-crying-wolf-20416
(bottom of article)

Regarding bike licences, I am curious to know what age people propose will be the starting point? 12? 14? 16? Seems like a lot of effort, when all we need is the police to enforce existing laws if sidewalk riding and other infractions are a problem. Of course, the fact that the overwhelming majority of people are killed in or by cars when it comes to traffic fatalities really suggests any increase in enforcement should go where it will do the most good.

Finally, separated bike lanes address the concerns of motorists and pedestrians, giving cyclists their own space, so that neither of the two other groups need worry about sharing the road or sidewalk. I can't help but wonder why critics of cyclists aren't more supportive of separated lanes.

Will there be teething pains? Undoubtedly. After all, we've had 100 years to figure out automobile traffic and we still have collisions and traffic jams. I think it's a bit unrealistic to expect our first, tentative steps towards more sustainable road networks to be without issues. Any time there are changes to the road network, there are homes and businesses affected. Expecting that bike lanes will be completely without problems to be addressed is to set the bar far higher for this one transportation mode than we do with any other.

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