The problem with bicycles in the city

Post by Nathan Lewis in


"That stripe on my back is where I rode my bike though the puddle" is pleased to present the provocative writing of Nathan Lewis. Nathan is a published author who has also written for Financial Times, Huffington Post, Nikkei Business, Daily Reckoning, Japan Times, among many other publications. Nathan is an advocate for what he calls a "Traditional City" and has written dozens of essays to argue his case. A Traditional City does not have cars. It is a city where people walk. There are no setbacks. No surrounding doughnut of Green Space. No shrubbery in front of the building, and streets are narrow. In other words, everything that North American cities are not.

Given the rancorous debate stirred up by Vision Vancouver over bike lanes, and similar feuds happening across the continent, Lewis' views are sure to stir up even more strong views about the future of our metropolitan areas. The following essay argues why bikes don't have the place in our cities the way some planners think they should. It is re-printed here on with the author's permission.


Once people get into their heads that maybe the personal automobile is not really such a good idea -- in other words, after they have moved beyond the biodiesel/electric car phase, as if the only problem with the personal automobile is the fuel it uses -- they usually fixate on bicycles.

I say "fixate" because this often becomes an eco-fetish like so many other such things, as if more bicycles were better, and if you could just get enough bicycles in one place, you could "save the world."

The focus on bicycles is typically because, in the mind of this person, they still assume that they would be living in Suburban Hell, or perhaps some earlier variant of Suburban Hell (the 19th Century Hypertrophic Small Town America). Of course, if you are stuck in Suburban Hell, with its endless expanses of NoPlace and absurdly long distances between Places, then you would want a bicycle at the very least.

However, in a a properly designed Traditional City, most people don't need bicycles. This is true even today. In cities where people often do not own a car, such as New York or Hong Kong or Paris, these non-car-owning people usually do not own a bicycle either. Or, if they happen to own a bike, they do not use it every day as a transportation device. They get by just fine on foot, and using the transportation options available, especially trains and, if a train is not available, a bus. Occasionally a taxi. A bike is best as a least-desirable option, for those trips that are too long to walk comfortably, and not convenient by either train or bus. Ideally, these would be as few as possible, as a well-designed city should be a place where you can easily walk or ride a train (a bus if you have to) just about everywhere.

Bicycles were developed an popularized in the late 19th century. They predate automobiles by only a few decades. Humans have been living in Traditional Cities for 5000 years, and possibly as many as 10,000 years. So, the no-car Traditional City is also, traditionally, a no-bike city. You can have Life Without Cars and also Life Without Bikes.

streetIt should be obvious that it is better to not need a bike than to need one. If you can, you want to design things so that bikes aren't necessary or desirable. However, many bike fetishists become rather red-faced at this point, as, in their mind, more bikes are better, and anything that is contrary to their visions of As Many Bikes As Possible is to be crushed out by any available means.

This fascination with bikes is really another variant of the My Personal Transportation Device fixation which has been a part of American culture and self-image since about as early as you can go. Before the automobile, before the bicycle, there was of course the horse. I already mentioned the extraordinary proliferation of carriage houses in our typical 19th century American Village, which is completely contrary to any of the European or Asian examples of the walkable Traditional City Village.

So, we should not think about bikes-instead-of-cars, but rather getting over this unhealthy fixation on My Personal Transportation Device, which is of course unnecessary in the Traditional City. I lived in Tokyo for five years without a car, bike, motorcycle, scooter, Segway or skateboard. During this time I went mountaineering regularly, skied many weekends in winter, went backpacking in summer, and generally traveled over the countryside. Rental cars were available for very reasonable prices if, for some reason, you wanted one. I lived about a five minute walk from a car rental agency. I never rented one. Never needed to.

As we think of Life Without Cars, we should also think of Life Without Bikes. Life Without Cars and Bikes.

For some reason, at this point people then assume that Tokyo is a bad place for bikes. It is not. It is very bike-friendly, and millions of people ride bikes (often from their house to the train station). However, you are still better off without a bike if you can swing it. If you need a bike to get to the train station, maybe you live too far from the train station eh?

I have been promoting the idea of the Traditional City, a place for people instead of cars. What I am worried about is that, if people focus on bikes too much, they will end up with a city optimized for bikes, in something like the way that Suburban Hell is a city optimized for cars. This could be a place with Really Wide Streets, to accomodate all the bike traffic of course. And, it goes without saying, lots and lots of parking space for bikes. (Basically, it would be the 19th Century Hypertrophic City with bike parking lots.) You can see where this might go, and the end result might once again be rather unpleasant for a pedestrian, i.e. a human. I say instead that we should make a city optimized for people, which is the Traditional City, and then maybe sprinkle a few bikes or cars in there to solve specific problems that a few people have, while most people can live happily without either bikes or cars.

Let's now look at some of the specific problems of bikes in a Traditional City environment:

1) Nowhere to put it. Let's say you live on a third-floor walkup apartment with 350 square feet -- a very common Traditional City type arrangement. Are you going to drag your bike up and down the stairs a couple times a day? Where are you going to put your bike in your apartment?

vanities-rabe-0911-ps08 2) Doesn't go with nice clothes. People tend to wear much nicer clothes in the Traditional City. This is in part because you are always in a Place -- where there are other people -- instead of a Non-Place. You don't wear a ballroom gown to a scrap-metal yard, as I say, even if you like ballroom gowns. The endless Non-Place of Suburban Hell is like a scrap metal yard. People tend towards jeans and t-shirts. The Traditional City is more like a ballroom. It is the appropriate place for nice clothes (such as the glamorous garb worn by the woman seen here), so that's what people wear. This doesn't really go well with bikes, though. Just try it. Put on a nice suit, or a dress, and go ride your bike for three miles. In all sorts of weather. Let me know how it went.

3) Doesn't go well with other kinds of transportation. The Traditional City is a walking-based construct. You might have to take a train or a bus from one walking-based neighborhood to another. I sometimes say that you get around a Traditional City with "train-assisted walking." This works seamlessly: you can walk along your Traditional City neighborhood to the train station, and then step out of the train station right into another Traditional City neighborhood, or even get on a plane or a boat if that's what you want. What if you rode the train, and stepped off into an environment where you couldn't walk easily, but needed a bike?

Of course, bikes don't go with trains and buses at all. I suppose some bike-nutz will attempt to quibble on this point. I have carried my mountain bike on a crowded commuter train once -- the BART to Berkley, where I met a friend for a weekend of mountain biking in the foothills of the Sierras -- and I wouldn't want to do it again.

4) There's nowhere to park it. To most Americans today, the idea that there could be nowhere to park a bike probably seems insane. This is because they live in Suburban Hell, which is about 80%-90% NoPlace, most of which can be used as a bike parking lot. However, the Traditional City is ideally all Place, and no NoPlace. It causes problems when you dump your machinery in someone's Place. If you put too many bikes in a Place, people don't want to go there anymore. It becomes a NoPlace -- a bike parking lot.


A Traditional City has lots and lots of people in it. Maybe millions. Here is a nice commercial street in Osaka, which is also being used to park bikes. The bikes definitely mess up the Really Narrow Street atmosphere -- a place for people, not bikes. I suppose the bike people would say: "what's wrong with that? So there are a few bikes parked there." Here's what's wrong with it: Osaka is mostly a walking-based city. Maybe only 5% of the people who came to this neighborhood came on a bike. Now imagine what it would look like if everyone came on a bike. There wouldn't be hundreds of bikes, but thousands. The bikes you see here are not characteristic of a biking-based city. This is typical of a walking-based city (the Traditional City) with a few bikes added. Even so, there are already too many bikes.

gakugeidaigakuGakugei Daigaku station in Meguro-ku, Tokyo (photo left). We used this station earlier as an example of showing how trains and Traditional City walking environments should mesh together. You should be able to step right off the train into a nice pedestrian environment.

The image linked here is the view stepping out of the station onto the street. As you can see, there are a few bikes parked here -- blocking the way to the station and also to the storefronts along the street. Store owners get rather irate when you block their storefront with your bike. (Yes, I've tested this.) There are about fifteen bikes parked in this photo, being a nuisance to the thousands of people walking along the street and getting on and off the train.

This image linked here is the same train station (the "A" mark), with a smaller scale. The area of this square is about one square mile. You could walk from the train station to anywhere in this square in about twelve minutes. The population density of Meguro-ku is about 177 people/hectare. In other words, about 45,000 people live in this photo.

These 45,000 people walk to Gakugei Daigaku train station, to go to work, to school, for shopping, and so forth. Actually there are more, from places outside this photo. The total number of people who make Gakugei Daigaku station their "home station" might be 60,000, or more. Think of those 45,000+ people all using this one train station on a daily basis. Do you see why I recommend heavy rail -- full-size ten-car passenger trains running twenty per hour, carrying more than a thousand passengers per train if need be -- rather than some little ding-ding trolley? That's what you need for those 45,000 people to get to where they want to go. Plus, it is way more convenient to have twenty trains an hour than three or four. (It is also far more efficient, as a single train driver can carry 1000 people, as opposed to a ding-ding trolley where the driver carries perhaps thirty people.)

Now imagine if all 45,000 of those people rode their bike to the train station. What would it look like? There wouldn't be 15 bikes parked in front of the station, there would be fifteen thousand, or more.

You would need bike parking for fifteen thousand bikes. Maybe thirty thousand bikes. In other words, you would do exactly what you should not do: surround the train station with lots of free parking. A NoPlace. No no no!

From this, you can also see that it is perfectly possible to make a city of 45,000 where you can literally walk from one side of the city to the other in 25 minutes. If you are willing to live 25 minutes from the center (or 50 minutes of walking side-to-side), you could make a city of 200,000. That is actually a pretty large city.

5) Walking and bike riding don't go together. What I call Really Narrow Streets are streets that are sized for pedestrians. This should be the basic format for a Traditional City. Yes, there can be some larger "arterial" streets, but 80%-90% of the streets should be Really Narrow.


You will notice some bikes in these photos. Like I said, it is OK if there are a few bikes. But, this is not a place that is optimized for bikes. It is optimized for people. Which is the way it should be, right?

Imagine if you will a place that is optimized for bikes. There might be four dedicated lanes of bike traffic in the middle of the street. This would be a good way to ride a bike from one place to another at a reasonably high speed, with the fewest hindrances. A freeway for bikes.


This scene above from Hanoi (right) is fine for bikes. However, the street then becomes a place that is hostile to pedestrians, i.e. people, just like a street full of cars. It is not a place where you can amble aimlessly down the middle of the street.

Any big city is going to have some "arterial" streets like this. However, as I said, the majority of the streets should be Really Narrow pedestrian streets, and the majority of people shouldn't own bikes.

Integrating Bicycles into the Traditional City: The last thing we need is a city optimized for bicycles -- where people can't walk from one place to another, but need to ride a bike. Do you want to swap your car dependency for bike dependency? Aren't you ready to rise up off your wheelchairs and walk on your own two feet?

The best format is that of a Traditional City with Really Narrow Streets, in other words a city designed for pedestrians i.e. people, connected with trains. For smaller cities, under 100,000 people, you probably don't need anything at all, as you can walk from one end to the other. Bikes can be a solution for those 5%-10% of the population or so who find that walking, trains and buses don't quite get them where they need to go in a convenient manner. However, if more than 10% or so of the people are biking, it probably means that your walking/train system is messed up or insufficient.

Some people seem to think that trains are somehow not fitting with some sort of "small scale" technological vision they have. Trains are big and complicated. I think this is really just a rationale for My Personal Transportation Device. If you actually added up 45,000 personal bicycles, and compared it with one passenger train, it would probably be about the same in terms of resources and complexity. Technology-wise, trains and bicycles date from the same era, the latter 19th century. There is nothing particularly simple about a bicycle. It is not something you can make yourself on your self-sufficient Little House on the Prairie micro-farm. Go get yourself a forge and see if you can make a ball bearing, or a brake caliper. Not so easy is it. That is why these things didn't exist in the 18th century.

If, for some reason, you decided that you didn't want large mechanical devices like trains and buses, then you could design a Traditional City where the only alternative to walking is bicycles. I think Hanoi comes fairly close to this ideal. In that case, you would have some large "arterial" streets for biking from one end of town to the other, and lots of Really Narrow Streets where you get off your bike and walk.

However, in the end I think this just makes things more complicated, as we add in all the problems of My Personal Transportation Device. It is really not that hard to build and maintain a train system. People did it in the 1860s.

I'll leave you with this last image, a map of the U.S. intercity passenger rail system circa 1962.


Not too shabby is it? This network has about 88,000 miles of track. China plans to build 70,000 miles of track in the next ten years. That's how easy it is.

* * *

- post by Nathan Lewis. Nathan Lewis is the principal of Kiku Capital Management LLC, which manages a private investment partnership. He was formerly the Chief International Economist and Global Strategist for firms providing investment research to institutions. His book Gold: the Once and Future Money was published by Agora Book Publishing and John Wiley in 2007, and is now available in five languages.

Nathan has written for the Financial Times, Huffington Post, Nikkei Business, Daily Reckoning, Japan Times, Daily Yomiuri, Pravda, Asian Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Worth, and other publications.

Other comments in this series:

June 6, 2010: Transitioning to the Traditional City 2: Pooh-poohing the Naysayers
May 23, 2010: Transitioning to the Traditional City
May 16, 2010: The Service Economy
April 18, 2010: How to Live the Good Life in the Traditional City
April 4, 2010: The Problem With Little Teeny Farms 2: How Many Acres Can Sustain a Family?
March 28, 2010: The Problem With Little Teeny Farms
March 14, 2010: The Traditional City: Bringing It All Together
March 7, 2010: Let's Take a Trip to Suburban Hell
February 21, 2010: Toledo, Spain or Toledo, Ohio?
January 31, 2010: Let's Take a Trip to New York 2: The Bad and the Ugly
January 24, 2010: Let's Take a Trip to New York City
January 10, 2010: We Could All Be Wizards
December 27, 2009: What a Real Train System Looks Like
December 13, 2009: Life Without Cars: 2009 Edition
November 22, 2009: What Comes After Heroic Materialism?
November 15, 2009: Let's Kick Around
November 8, 2009: The Future Stinks

October 18, 2009: Let's Take Another Trip to Venice
October 10, 2009: Place and Non-Place
September 28, 2009: Let's Take a Trip to Barcelona
September 20, 2009: The Problem of Scarcity 2: It's All In Your Head

September 13, 2009: The Problem of Scarcity

July 26, 2009: Let's Take a Trip to an American Village 3: How the Suburbs Came to Be
July 19, 2009: Let's Take a Trip to an American Village 2: Downtown
July 12, 2009: Let's Take a Trip to an American Village
May 3, 2009: A Bazillion Windmills
April 19, 2009: Let's Kick Around the "Sustainability" Types

March 3, 2009: Let's Visit Some More Villages
February 15, 2009: Let's Take a Trip to the French Village
February 1, 2009: Let's Take a Trip to the English Village
December 21, 2008: Life Without Cars
August 10, 2008: Visions of Future Cities

July 20, 2008: The Traditional City vs. the "Radiant City"
December 2, 2007: Let's Take a Trip to Tokyo
October 7, 2007: Let's Take a Trip to Venice
June 17, 2007: Recipe for Florence
July 9, 2007: No Growth Economics
March 26, 2006: The Eco-Metropolis


Rather an academic discussion. It would take decades of intense development to turn Vancouver into the type of city that is described in the article as well as billions of dollars of investment in public transit and rail. It is worth trying but, given all the opposition to density, it would be politically very difficult. Until and unless this happens, bicycles are a much better option than the other personal transportation device, the automobile.

European and Japan cities have proven that bicycles are an ideal complement to transit and rail. Mass parking spaces for bikes are far easier and cheaper to build than car parking structures. Bike sharing systems are also more space efficient and are great in linking with transit and walking trips.

It certainly would be great to have a lot more pedestrian streets. Given the experience in Europe, all the streets in Vancouver would have plenty of room for bicycles and pedestrians. Maybe Robson and Granville on a Friday night might be too crowded for bikes but that would be no problem if the surrounding streets were bike friendly.

A city...made for WALKERS?!

Wow! I like this take on our transportation situ.

Bikes are proving a hassle as a mode of commuting, as we see here in Vancouver, apparent by the lack of enthusiasm for use of the separated bike lanes, the problems of integrating into mass transit (buses and SkyTrains aren't really built for them as they take up the room that should be spared for other individuals) Highly recommended for exercise, though.

And if bikes were to hit "critcal mass" you'd have similar problems as per parking, pedestrian navigation, etc. as we currently have with cars.

Too many "machines" taking up too much space!

Vivre la pied!

Actually, it would require ten to twenty times the number of bicycles to create the problems you talk about. Even if everyone who drives now switched to bicycles, there would be no congestion or parking problems. 10-20 bicycles can be parked in one automobile parking space. Just using a fraction of existing street or underground car parking would be fine. There would be no noise or pollution problems. It would be a lot safer for pedestrians as well.

No GHG emissions or worrying about high gas prices. Cars are far heavier and faster and do a lot more damage to people in collisions, it is just basic physics.

Oh, and bikes do go with nice clothes. A chain guard solves most of the issues.


Are 'bikes' not considered a Personal Transportation Device?

and what do you do when your joints are full of arthritis and it is 5C and you need to get groceries or you are too elderly to balance yourself on 2 wheels or you have 3 kids in tow.

talk about elitist.


"what do you do when your joints are full of arthritis and it is 5C and you need to get groceries or you are too elderly to balance yourself on 2 wheels or you have 3 kids in tow"

that is when you do what Councillor Reimer does..... call a cab!

Actually, 15000 bike parking spaces wouldn't take up that much space. One small current car parking lot can carry about 50 cars, or >1000 bikes. Better, the lots can be great for business, and still not take up much space.

Then, according to this article, you walk or take transit. Might want to read the posting before commenting.

Electric wheelchairs and other small, lightweight, low speed, are compatible with walking and cycling. Not sure where the guy that wrote this article stands on them. Might want to check out the 20 or so links above.

Might also want to check the meaning of elitism as well. Having safe, comfortable cycling facilities that people of all ages including children and seniors can use hardly seems elitist. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. You will note that even on the streets with separated bike lanes, there is still 3 times the amount of road space for cars than bikes. Everyone still has the option to drive if they want.

More bike blab. Yawn.

The Thought of The Midnight

"Reason I don't bike? The bike seat makes my butt look big. It's either a bigger, wider bike or the smallest motorcycle for me."

And BTW why would anyone want to sit on that contraption when they could comfortable sit on a normal sized cushion in a Mini?

I said to my 12 years old:
'Take your bike, cross over the Dunsmuir viaduct,turn on the dedicated Hornby and bring me a Shawarma from that little place on Robson'
Do you want to know what she said to me?
'Oh, piss off!'

I said to my 30 to 40 yo wife:
'Honey, today is your birthday and I've got you a 'town and country' bicycle, so you could go round and round Stanley Park'
Do you want to know what she said to me?
'Oh, piss off!'

I said to my 73 yo mother:
'Mom, why don't you come visit us more often? Ride your old bike down the Burrard designated bike lane, and you could even stop for groceries, also think of the fresh air!'
Do you want to know what she said to me?
'Oh, piss off!'

Now, Richard, if you want to get an opinion on that statement of yours 'Having safe, comfortable cycling facilities that people of all ages including children and seniors can use hardly seems elitist.' go ask my daughter, my wife and my mother.
And, good luck with that!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Glissy, I was so gobsmacked by Richard's remarks that I was afraid to respond. Thank you for putting it so politely.

Cycling is elitist? I thought the argument was it's nothing but non-tax paying hippies?

Anyway, the point of this post is talking about bike free cities?! The problem is we're not Europe, we were not designed with the pedestrian in mind--it was the complete opposite. It would take a complete overhaul of our entire Metro region for it to occur.

Article is useless without a price tag for this slice of pie in the sky.

Reminds me of the convoluted space ships you see in science fiction movies that have no real-world physics considerations for fuel or motor and seem to run on tiny pellets of unobtanium.

In the real world, the personal transportation device is about the most popular invention since flush toilets. If you support the ideas behind this editorial, feel free to rely exclusively on shank's mare and the bus or train for a year and tell me how that works for you.

Of course you could have gotten on the bike yourself and bought your own Shawarma. Might have done you some good too ;-)

Great game last night! (Oops, wrong thread).

It is great to have this kind of alternative vision to think about. I would love to live in this kind of traditional city. Of course if I did, I am pretty sure I would still need to use a bike - to get from Kits to downtown, Chinatown, Commercial and out to Richmond. I also use my bike locally when I need to lug more stuff than is comfortable in a back pack. In Vancouver most of my meetings are casual, but in Boston I often cycle in a suit and tie.

It would be great to start by trying to create a few of these "traditional cities" within Vancouver - Yaletown, Gass Town, some part of the West End, around Commercial, or Kits Point could all be possibilities - note I don't live in any of these areas, so take this with a grain of salt.

"And BTW why would anyone want to sit on that contraption when they could comfortable sit on a normal sized cushion in a Mini?"

Because as much as I love having my 9 year old daughter exposed to a stunning variety of ways to curse, thanks to the uncivil society that characterizes many a bus ride, sometimes a bicycle makes more sense than a being stuck in a an expensive to operate car to go a few kilometres, or paying nearly $10.00 for a round trip transit fare.

Choices. People like to have them.

I know what you mean... they do attack, not so civilized, and this is why their agenda is working against them.

It is difficult to get on board the cycling agenda bandwagon, when all they have displayed is a bullying mentality.It just turns me off from listening to any of their message.

Next time instead of elitist,
you should call it like it really is.... "special interest group" of the Mayor's..

Sorry you got attacked like that for giving your opinion....but that's the way they roll...

"what do you do when your joints are full of arthritis and it is 5C and you need to get groceries or you are too elderly to balance yourself on 2 wheels or you have 3 kids in tow"

Let's ask the world's oldest cyclist:


Then read the posting and the other postings by the author. They against automobiles too. I'm surprised you are not "gobsmacked" by it as well.

I hope you are not letting your 12 year old downtown drive downtown to get a Shawarma. If you are not, does that mean you think cars are elitist? I guess so given your logic.

The point your daughter, wife and mom could use the could use the bike lanes if they wanted to. I have seen females of all ages using the lanes. Of course, no one is suggesting they have to use them. There are still 3 lanes reserved for cars for those who chose to drive.

Just because some people chose not to do something, that does not mean that the activity is elitist.

It is puzzling why some people seem to be against giving people transportation choices.

Julia... a must read my friend..

today our humble editor danial has an excellent article in the 24 hours newspaper...


Thank you for your article in today's 24 hours.

One of those fatalities was the mother of my closet friend.

She was crossing the street to where she lived when was struck by a truck. The driver stopped initially and then took off. He did turn himself in later stating he panicked and that is why he left.

Just heard this on CKNW news...

There is now a crack down on motorized scooters using the bike lanes downtown...

Perhaps Julia your original statement about "elitists" was absolutely correct!

ta -da...

Mayor concerned about scooter use in bike lanes


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says it might be time to crack down on motor scooter riders who use city bike lanes.

He says:

"I'm not seeing them myself in the times I'm in the bike lanes."

But CKNW counted several in the few minutes we were waiting for a city news conference to start at Hornby and Pender.

Roberston says:

"Well that is a concern. Obviously our enforcement officers will keep an eye on that because it's for human-powered transportation."

Robertson says interest in the Hornby bike lane continues to grow.

"The Hornby bike lane has more than doubled in bikes since January."
(What he fails to mention is the report coming out showing the negative impact the lane has had on business in the area)


It is the law. Motorized scooters are not legally allowed in the bike lanes just as they are not allowed on sidewalks. Would cracking down on motorcycles or cars for that matter riding on sidewalks be considered elitist? No, so cut the nonsense.

We have to constantly battle the stream of illogical arguments on the Internet and that keeps us busy.

Max... by definition that would also mean that electric bikes would also be deemed excluded from bike lanes...

"The problem is we're not Europe, we were not designed with the pedestrian in mind--it was the complete opposite. It would take a complete overhaul of our entire Metro region for it to occur"

I agree we're not Europe. That is exactly the problem when the pro bicycle lobby hauls out Copenhagen or wherever to support their case that bicycles are a viable transportation option for Vancouver. They are not. They are a form of recreation and the resources directed to them should reflect that.


Motorized scooters don't operate at the same capacity as motorbikes. Not even close.

And as you cannot ride an electric scooter on the highway - for that reason, I do not see why they should be exculded from a bike lane.

It is all about safety, right?

And yet, cyclists still ride on sidewalks.


I was speaking to the Metro region. Vancouver is different than the Metro region and different that pretty much every other city in the Metro region. Cycling as a commute within Vancouver is very realistic. It's getting to and from communities that's...challenging.

However I agree with the article in that more transit is at the heart of the issue. If we had actual, reliable, frequent transit we would have a chance. But we're spending untold billions on new highways while we struggle to find anything for transit.

The Thought of The Morning

'Maybe the word 'elitist' was the wrong word used in one of the comments. I feel the word 'assholeist' would have been more appropriate.'

Chris Keam

That 103 yo cyclist example of yours... LOL. Can you define 'extremes' for me? BTW, have you heard about that 66 yo that gave birth to twins in 2004?

Steven Forth and Richard

It's called 'figure of speech'. What did you think, that I was some Facebook shmuck?
I do buy my own Shawarmas, I don't have a 12 yo, my mom doesn't live in Vancouver, and my wife doesn't know how to why would I bother buying her a bike? That's just crazy!
Oh, and my butt looks just fine. Oh well, I do roller blade though. Believe it. Or not. But not on the bike lanes, the Robertson 'address to his molasses' made it clear, it's for bikers in Lycra and Spandex only!

But, no, but, yeah, but, no, but, yeah, but, no, but, yeah, but...

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

ironically, my word choice of elitist was not as much about the bicycle lobby as the mentality that we are 'young and able bodied' forever.

Chris K, your senior story is great. Notice, there is no bike lane. Notice he is not wearing a helmet. Notice he is not riding in the rain... If he was not the exception rather than the rule, he would not be featured in the article.

"Let's ask the world's oldest cyclist:"

I really would take the entire cycling debate a lot more seriously if cyclists would simply admit that cycling, as a mode of transportation, has many limitations, and that for a great number of people in this city it's just not an option.

Despite the "compelling" evidence of "the oldest cyclist in the world" my 65 year old mother will not be taking her bike to work in the morning...and it's the same for many people...INCLUDING the fit and able who have careers that require a suit and tie and simply do not want to get to work soaking wet, or sweaty (most buildings don't have shower facilities).

While I've been critical of the separated lanes, I'm still completely in favor of continuing to expand bike lanes throughout the city, as I do agree that transportation options are a good thing. However, when Chris and others talk of how everyone in the city can take advantage of cycling, and they try and gloss over the obvious limitations of cycling, I feel they do a disservice to the entire debate.

I have no doubt that I will now be bombarded by talk of Africa, China and the long history of people balancing bathtubs on their head while riding a bike, or families of 4 riding on the handlebars, or someone's 108 year old grandfather riding in the snow...but again, it doesn't do the discussion, nor cycling, any favors. And given that Chris has referred to the article about a bike free society as "science fiction" I would say the same of his utopian dreams of bike riding society.

Oh and finally...if I had the choice of taking a train/transit or a bike...and it was either crappy weather or a trip of any distance I WOULD take transit or a train over a would most.

Max, electrically assisted bicycles are allowed on bike lanes. They are limited to 32km/h and do not require a licence. Some even look like scooters. It is gas powered scooters that are not allowed on the bike lane and that is what the mayor was referring to.

And yes, bicycles are not allowed on most sidewalks. Cracking down on bikes on sidewalks would not mean sidewalks are elitist either.

Ironically, Daniel was one of Sam's key advisors when Sam and Anton killed the Burrard Bridge trial a few years ago. This was one of the worst sidewalks in the city for pedestrians as cyclists were forced to share the narrow sidewalk. If this trial would have gone ahead, both cyclists and pedestrians would had their own separate space on the east side of the bridge.

While it is great that Daniel says he is really concerned about pedestrians, he needs to step up to the plate and state some specific policies that will improve pedestrian safety. Hopefully, he, Anton and Klassen will put the political games aside and support a reallocation of a lane of traffic on the east side of the bridge so people who cycle and walk both have their own safe separated space.

Cutting motor vehicle speeds to 30km/h would be another move that would save the lives of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. Hopefully he also has the courage to support this as well.


Highway traffic act also says bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks... and helmets are to be worn...driving and drinking including cyclists.... but those rules aren't being upheld ...Why?... I forgot it is an elitist group with the Mayors blessing to create their own rules...

Bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks... but they are and I have personal experience while standing with 2 police officers on the sidewalk ...

When the cyclists passed within 6 inches of us.. I was told and I'm quoting here"" call the Mayor, he doesn't want us to ticket them...."

So to further the debate here.... skateboards use the bike lanes,and ride on the road... when I asked a skateboarder why... he smiled and said talk to the Mayor.... so.... now the Mayor decides those lanes are just for cyclists....not motorized scooters... and ebikes by definition... where does that leave skateboarders? and roller bladers... oh and lately I see roller skaters using bike lanes... so now the battle begins... elitists!!

New acronym....

to replace NIMBY.... NIMBLE

"not in my bike lane elitists"....


Stop making things up. The mayor was obviously referring gas powered scooters. Electric bikes are allowed in the bike lanes. I don't have any problem with skateboarders and in-line skates in the bike lanes as long as they are respectful of other users. The city may need to change bylaws to ensure skateboarders and in-line skaters can use the bike lanes.

Separated bike lanes in NYC reduce sidewalk cycling by 85% there. I would expect similar results here.

Everybody breaks the rules of the road. Stop singling out people on bikes. They are no worse or better than anyone else.

What I am most concerned about is the unacceptably high number of pedestrians being killed by motor vehicles in the city. It is pretty obvious that the police should focus on dangerous driving as this will help decrease the number of people dying on the streets of Vancouver.

I'm not making anything up... how dare you Richard just because it doesn't agree with your agenda.Now you do sound "elitist"

You need to understand Richard that there are many of us that have been keeping record of infractions...

so what about the dude with the bike and a gas motor... does he not get into the "NIMBLE club??

Disagreeing with you or someone else does not make one an elitist. I don't think you know what elitist means.

As for the article, it ends with how easy it is for China to build 70,000 miles of track in the next 10 years. There are some obvious reasons why that's possible there and not here--but how can we encourage more transit be it busses, light rail, subway, watercraft, whatever. A major reason these european 'traditional' cities work is because they have different types of transit serving different types of users frequently, reliably and efficient. How do we get there?

This is a stimulating article Daniel (and Nathan). It paints a clear picture of real, existing alternatives in city making. As well, the principles imbedded in this discussion may be useful in Vancouver.

However, "we live in Vancouver" as Glissando reminds us, not Tokyo. And, I'm not sure most people in Vancouver want to remake it to be a 'Tokyo lite'. I have not been to Tokyo and do not have 1st hand knowledge of the city, so I can't comment on the quality of life the 45,000 residents of the precinct sighted. I suspect it is a very different lifestyle to our own. I am curious to know what kind of density, building heights, mix and ratio of uses, etc. make up this neighbourhood.

We can certainly learn from and, hopefully, apply some aspects of Nathan's walkable neighbourhoods in our own evolution. We've taken some tentative steps in the Downtown, Yaletown and False Greek South and North, but have a ways to go elsewhere.

Vancouver's biker crowd do have a point when they say we can use some of our presumably excess car parking capacity, if bikes are replacing cars, to store the bikes out of the pedestrian ways. But, we have a long way to go in properly integrating our bike lanes with the cars, buses, trucks and pedestrians who'll be around for a while yet before Vancouver reaches its nirvana.

City making is an evolutionary process. Flexibility and adaptability over time are important elements of allowing healthy growth to occur. At the end of the day Vancouver could become a variant of Nathan;s 'Traditional City', but if it does, a Vancouver variation.

You are absolutely correct boohoo.

I'm just some old uneducated shmuck that needs to have someone of your great intellect educate me on my inability to grasp the English language...

Thank you Thank you Thank you...

now who do I write to and explain that the dictionary needs to be fixed to your satisfaction?

. elitist - someone who believes in rule by an elite group...

yes boo

"As for the article, it ends with how easy it is for China to build 70,000 miles of track in the next 10 years. There are some obvious reasons why that's possible there and not here-"

It's called lack of democracy boo the rule is forced on them... Canada has a different view, much to the chagrin of our Mayor that feels that Democracy gets in the way....

didn't I just see something recently that stated China now has a lottery for license plates,for their cars, because they can't keep up with demand??

"It's called lack of democracy boo the rule is forced on them"

Right, that's why I said it's obvious. Thanks for clearing that up.

You seem to have a real inferiority complex about education/intelligence.

Bill M,

You wrote a lot but you didn't say anything. If you were on council what would you do to better integrate different modes of transportation? Do you subscribe to the current 'hiearchy' of modes that Vancouver follows?

So, is the Mayor telling us that pedestrians, a form of "human powered transportation" can also walk in the bike lanes?

no boo I have a University degree, you just think you're smarter...

Sorry you weren't able to grasp the more esoteric aspects of my musings Boo.

Yes, and in addition, all the modes must function safely and efficiently together.

actually boohoo

did I ever mention I was a teacher?

You can put people down for not buying into your crap boo... but you just never know...


I've never claimed to be more or less intelligent than you or anyone else, that's in your head.


I'll ignore the passive aggresive insult and ask you what does that mean. Specifics. What would you do with the current bike only lanes? If you believe peds are the priority, what would you do to reflect that?

boohoo in what world is this not a put down...

" You seem to have a real inferiority complex about education/intelligence."

That my friend is the height of passive aggressive...


Spain has built the second largest high speed network in the world since it became a democracy. Madrid has built one of the best metro systems in the world. Clearly the type of government has little impact on the ability to build rail. It is more of a question of leadership and the public desire to create a better world.

People use their creativity to figure out how to get things done rather than inventing lame excuses why they can't be done.

Aahhhh the tag team is here...

there are many that don't want the system that you and your ilk are trying to push down our throats... no excuses, many of just don't want what you are selling....

It's very much like the way the Liberals pushed the HST on us ... we had no choice..

With the bike lanes we are forced to deal with exactly the bullying you and boohoo and the rest of the cycling fanatics force on us...

Like a critical mass you all come out in an aggressive mob mentality that brings out the anger in many of us..

We are not Tokyo or China.

That is why so many Asians choose to move here.

To get away from the congestion.

@ boohoo;

Bill and other candidates can worry about plans once they are on council.

Why would they openly voice their ideas to an open forum and before an election.

Why give the other 'team' ideas to try to implement before hand or put out as their ideas.


Stop playing this bullying card, disagreeing with you is not bullying nor is it elitist. You pull those terms out to try and get away from a real conversation. You keep wanting to make this about me or you or whatever else but you don't want to talk about the issues.

So go ahead and take your last shot after this, I'm done with you.

So go ahead and take your last shot after this, I'm done with you.

Thank God!!


Are you serious? You want to elect someone without hearing any specific ideas?

If you look at most of the writing by Nathan Lewis, you will see that he is passionately anti-car. Out of a multitude of articles that he has written, one suggests that bicycles don't fit with his idea of the perfect city.
What he proposes is that beginning with a city design he finds perfect, i.e. very narrow streets with good rail transit to lots of destinations with train stations within walking distance of most residents, then bikes mess this up. Can't argue with this, but can argue that we are starting from a very imperfect city right now.

What's interesting is this - citycaucus chose to post his one article that criticizes bikes rather than any of the others that criticizes cars. It's in a similar vein to the article in 24 by Daniel Fontaine which defends the rights of pedestrians but somehow infers that pedestrians are being killed on the streets of Vancouver too frequently because city hall is spending time and effort on bike lanes. Please note, it's cars that are destroying the possibility of the perfect view of a city that Nathan Lewis proposes and it's cars that are killing pedestrians.
If we do agree with Nathan Lewis that current city design is flawed and could be improved, and also wish to promote the rights of pedestrians, then we should actively reduce the use of cars and promote the use of public transit. Cyclists and cycling are not really even part of this discussion.
Sadly however, it's easier to pick on a minority group (cyclists) rather than actually trying to fix any problems. This is really bad politics, and if this indicates NPA policy - watch out.

Interest article by Jeff Lee.. I wonder why cyclists expect so much free parking, free road space??

The best is Councillor Meggs last statement ..."it is a policing matter"...but we keep getting told that the Mayor wants the police to turn a blind eye... and of course the complaints come from pedestrians and cyclists...

Pedestrians that get shoved out of the way, and cyclists that expect everything for free...

Blog Math 101:

"This is the thing George--it's not 'your day' anymore. We know better. We're smarter. " Boohoo, May 15th


"George, I've never claimed to be more or less intelligent than you or anyone else, that's in your head." Boohoo, May 19th



'Your day' (in quotes for a reason) as in the past, as in the 50's or 60's or whatever. We know better, we're smarter -- as in we as a society have grown and know better than to repeat what we used to do.

Try and keep up.

isn't it interesting that our best examples of livable cities were created with little or no pre-planning. A group of farms or homes were clustered around a resource such as water so the community could sustain itself. The goat trail became the road. It did not get wider because the houses were already there. It was not some brilliant urban planner that thought it up. The city became a walking city because it had no other choice.

So now we should try to manufacture or replicate such scenarios as if our cities are Disneyland. You know how many cities have attempted to replicate Granville Island - lots. You know how many have failed - lots... why - because it's not Granville Island.

Let's start making local solutions for local situations.

snobbish, exclusive, superior, arrogant, selective, pretentious, stuck-up (informal), patronizing, condescending, snooty (informal), uppity, high and mighty (informal), hoity-toity (informal), high-hat (informal, chiefly U.S.), uppish (Brit. informal) He described skiing as an elitist sport.
snob, highbrow, prig, social climber He was an elitist who had no time for the masses.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002

And lets not forget how I made Paris beautiful......

@ Boo - re :
"We know better, we're smarter -- as in we as a society have grown and know better than to repeat what we used to do."

Points for us. I am so glad to hear your pronouncement. I was worried about global warming, nuclear disasters and eroding democracy. Glad I no longer need worry - its now in capable hands ! Kudos to the smart new generation.

"just machines to make big decisions,
programmed by fellas with compassionate visions..."

you mean this type of progression...

first there was man, walking, then horses, then bikes, then cars

then bikes, then walking and perhaps we will hitch up our horse buggy at some point again

that type of progression or regression?

thank you Birdy...

interesting how boo manipulates his response now, when in reality it was meant as a put down originally...

You guys are impossible. Comically so.

Max you never answered my question btw.

@Bill "that bicycles are a viable transportation option for Vancouver. They are not. They are a form of recreation and the resources directed to them should reflect that."

Are you serious? In my home 2/4 people cycle commute to work (all adults) and the other two work from home. One of those uses a bicycle to get to meetings in Vancouver, West Vancouver and Richmond. Neighbour, 3/4 cycle commute. Bicycles are a great way to commute from anywhere inside Vancouver proper. Not so useful if you live further out, we need better transit for that.

Rain? Never been a problem for me? Snow? Don't like to drive a car in Vancouver in the snow either.

Don't really understand your point or how you would back it up. Seems removed from reality.

Let's put it this way boo, if Robertson and Vision had been 100% truthful about the pathway they were planning for Vancouver, do you think they would have received the votes they did?

Ending homelessness.....ooops ending 'street' homelessness....

Bike lane 'trials'....oooops permanent structures

Open and and transparent government....ooops 'we are just trying to have a little comittee here you F***n NPA Hacks....'

Freedom of speach and the right to protest peacefully - ooops, do you have your permit to speak your mind?

Greening the City ....ooops we brought granite from China by boat, a three month trip, to fix the seawall at Stanley Park rather than buying local (which we tell everyone else to do). Oh, and did I mention, it was bought with economic stimulas monies - we helped China stimulate its economy....

It is all just 'democracy cubed'

To be fair John, Mike Klassen is on the record as wanting to make Vancouver a pedestrian friendly city, so there is some connection. It is not clear what policies this entails. I assume it means more density, more transit, changes in zoning laws to better integrate work, living and services so that one can walk from one to another, less land made over to parking and cars, etc. It would be good to know exactly what Mike would do to make Vancouver a more walkable city, and what he would do to integrate cyclists into the mix. As Bill McCreery noted, we need evolutionary solutions, and that means we need variety and choice. That includes supporting the choice of people who want to cycle and those who want to walk. Cars have their place too. They have been priviliged for a long time, and as with most people who have been priviliged, it hurts when they see any of the privliges taken away. I am still a bit surprized by the anger though. I would have thought people committed to driving would want as many other people on bicycles, as each bicylce is 'one less car'. Go figure. sounds like you're advocating for secrecy then? Because vision 'got away with it' you think the npa should follow suit?

If we don't get potential politicians to tell us what they are planning on doing/what they think, then what the hell do we have to base our vote on?

I like the vision Bill, but I would like some more concrete ideas on some better ways to blend together transit, taxis, private cars, light powered vehicles of various types, bicycles and other human powered vehicles (lots of skateboarders in the bike lanes), pedestrians ... and as we get older we need to provide for more walkers, wheelchairs, etc. (I am planning ahead for myself here!).

As cities are complex adaptive systems, we need to find better ways to let them adapt. That means more variation, more choices, but also more selection to weed out the unsuccessful variants.

don't worry about it Max,

I and many others have a list 3 miles long of questions we've asked boohoo... and he NEVER answers questions... he just likes to insult people...


In my home, 0/3, neighbour on left 0/2 and neighbours on right 0/5 commute by bicycle - my sample seems to be larger than yours (4/10 use a bicycle for occasional recreation).

There are too many limitations of bicycles that you seem to ignore:

1. Ability to transport anything of any size on your bicycle;

2. Weather - rain may not stop you but I think it is safe to say you are in the minority.

3. Distance - how many people have the luxury of living within cycling distance from their residence.

4. Ability to take passengers - how do you get granny to her doctors appointment on your bicycle.

5. Aging population.

6. Those occasions when it just isn't appropriate to arrive smelling like an old gym sock.

I really don't mind making reasonable accomodation for bicycles but not when the whole purpose seems to be to make cars less attractive by impeding downtown traffic.

I don't worry George...

But it does make me wonder if we are underfunding education....:)

@ Jason

Why are you opposed to separated bike lanes?

Some shameless self promotion, these would all be great things to discuss at the Vancouver 2011 Design Thinking unConference! (I am one of the organizers.)

Ha ha! Why not-anything about bicycles generates a quadzillion comments, may as well take advantage.

PS The best thing about this post is the top photo. Rock me Amadeus!

Julia, you hit the nail square on the head. Cities are far too important to be left to the urban planners and "design experts".

Gliss, your wife is not 30 to 40, she is young. And your mother is not 73, she is wise. Just thinking about your safety, bro... :-)

Sure, Bill, that is great but what kind of policies and actions do you support to make this happen? What is your timeframe for making this happen? How much is it going to cost?


I'm written so many posts on this bloody subject that I'm afraid I'm tired of writing about it (or even reading about it at this point).

If you're interested in what I think we should be looking at, you can look up Austroads Research report. In short, I think our emphasis should be on transit, and cycling should be built into our transit initiatives rather than an individual focus.

Even this debate has just turned into more of the same rather than a constructive conversation on transit.

The zeitgeist of this article is totally anti-car, and is a beautiful illustration of the logical extension of that prejudice.
As for cars killing pedestrians, there was a pedestrian killed by a cyclist late last year, an eighty year old man crossing the street at 22nd and Main. I've kept a very close eye on reported pedestrian fatalities for almost a year now. Most of them have been elderly, seventy-five years plus, and often were out after dark. One of them, a seventy-eight year old, was crossing Renfrew, a wide, busy road, while texting. Another was a ninety-year old out after dark. From the news it was hard to tell if he was even hit. He may have just been startled and fell down, he may have had a medical emergency.
Is there any doubt that City Council's commission of a report on pedestrian safety (the same day the elderly man hit by the bike died) will be another anti-car diatribe? Thank you Nathan Lewis for showing us all where that ends up!

I suspect we all agree that the pedestrian should be the number one concern for our city. Walking is free, walking requires no special equipment, walking is easy for most. Yes, bicycles have their place and so do cars. If we want groceries in our stores - we need roads to get the food there. We also need roads to get the fire trucks to our burning condos that we like to live in so we can walk to work.

The problem with it, is that we are not always healthy, and we don't always have the luxury of living close to where we work and we spend many years of our life outside our prime when all of this seems so easy and matter of fact. This city is for EVERYONE which means we need to stop insisting that one solution fits all and everything else is evil.

What makes me rabid, is posters who think this city should only be catering to the young, the fit and the 'enlightened'. Just might need that parking spot one day.

Let's start any discussion about transit with the premise that taxation without representation is tyranny.

Google "Monderman".


No one has ever said there is one solution for everyone. Even on Hornby and Dunsmuir Streets, there is still 3 times the amount of space reserved for driving and parking. People still have the choice of driving if they want to or have to. The separated bike lanes give people of all ages and abilities the choice to cycle if they want to. The bike lanes can also be used by people in electric wheelchairs as well.

As well, if you bothered to look around the city, you would know that very little has been done to make cycling an option for most people. Downtown, only one out of 14 east west and one out of 14 north south streets has separated bike lanes. It is still much much easier and safer to drive around the city by car.

Not everyone can drive either. Many people are too old, too young or have some kind of condition that prevents them from driving. Some people can't afford a car. Others chose not to use them. Some have lost their licences. Only around 50% of residents of Vancouver commute by car.

@ Richard

Persons operating motorized wheelchairs are treated in the same way as pedestrians.

A little musical/visual interlude for one and all, regardless of modal preference.

:-).... nice Gerry thank you.

"Even on Hornby and Dunsmuir Streets, there is still 3 times the amount of space reserved for driving and parking"

That means 25% is allocated to bicycles. If bicyles accounted for 25% of the traffic then there would be no argument.

People in wheelchairs are legally allowed to use the separated bike lanes ( I think roads as well).

Give it time Bill. Traffic on all new facilities takes some time to build. When the Burrard Bridge opened, there was hardly any traffic on it. When the Massey Tunnel first opened, there was so little traffic, they would stop the cars and let people bicycle through the tunnel.

And actually, by your logic, pretty all on-street parking should be replaced by bike lanes. When it is parking, the space is only used by one car. When it is a bike lane, it is used by many more people. Even if you add all the cars together that parked on all the parking that was replaced on Hornby, it is probably less than the number of people who cycle on it now.


I find this really interesting... To be honest I have had the police force me back onto the sidewalk.. hummmm

LOL, thank you for the interlude, that is how I should have spent my day.

Absolutely, and as far as I am concerned, far too many subsidies and externalities go to cars. I will vote against anyone who wants to favour cars for downtown Vancouver. I pay way too many taxes to support people's driving habits. And they hog too much of the public space.

"What makes me rabid, is posters who think this city should only be catering to the young, the fit and the 'enlightened'"

Where are these posters Julia? I think you may be frothing unnecessarily. I suggest to you (and Jason) that you're bothcharacterizing others comments incorrectly, because the words you ascribe to them are easy to refute, but the points people are actually making are quite reasonable to anyone without an agenda or axe to grind.

Julia, so I take it you are in favour of bike lanes. What percentage of downtown Vancouver streets are dedicated bike lanes? I would guess it is less than 1%. And when I am too old and sick to cycle (on my three-wheeled electrically assistted trike) I am pretty sure I will not be driving. I will want to use my wheelchair and taxis though. I am not especially young (in my 50s) or fit (and as fit as I am it is because I cycle pretty much everyday). It is a choice people can make. Many don't because they are afraid of downtown traffic. And I have been bumped, spat on, sworn at, had coffe thrown on me, all cycling in downtown Vancouver (cue a cute comment by "Sally Forth"). But you know, I feel happy when I am on a bike, and when I am in a car I feel my freedom stripped away from me. Not everyone feels like this, some feel the reverse, but I pay a lot of tax and I feel I have a right to ride my bike.

"That 103 yo cyclist example of yours... LOL. Can you define 'extremes' for me? "

Regular exercise, some good genes, a bit of luck. That's all it takes. It's not extreme in the least:

"Participants in our events come as solo riders, couples or in small groups and we regularly have customers who have done other trips with us. Our events attract cyclists from across Canada and around the world. Age range for all tours has been 7 to over 80. "

"And given that Chris has referred to the article about a bike free society as "science fiction" I would say the same of his utopian dreams of bike riding society. "

Reread my comments please Jason. This is what I mean by misrepresenting other's remarks because it's apparently easier than actually having to think and respond to the points they've made. My point was that this article proposes a magical wave of the wand and all of a sudden we're in a 'traditional' city. Well, we're far from it, both in terms of public desire to be limited to just walking and transit, and having the money to pay for it. When someone, especially an economist, makes such a bold proposal, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for some ballpark figures at least, and a sense of how we get from here to there.

Further, I have no dreams of a bike society or any other utopia. Once again you rely on fiction and call it facts. Frankly, I'd settle for one in which a kid can ride a bike in his neighbourhood, and parents might have some measure of confidence that they'll come home in one piece. But clearly that's a radical idea in this day and age where road safety is reserved for protected inside a 2000 pounds of comfort, and the rest of us, from pedestrians, to bus passengers crammed aboard over-full transit, to cyclists at the mercy of unskilled, inattentive motorists, can pound sand for all you seem to care.

Thanks, guys. Comment 99.

"Frankly, I'd settle for one in which a kid can ride a bike in his neighbourhood, and parents might have some measure of confidence that they'll come home in one piece."

Funny, my kids are outside right now riding their bikes in our neighbourhood. So does this mean your goals have been achieved Chris, or just another example of you overstating your case? Relying on fiction and calling them facts Chris? Always amazes me how you can manage to fit your hypocrisy all in one concise little post.

Or perhaps it's that my comment about you overstating your case on who in society is using a bike, and the limitations of cycling, that has gotten you all worked up.

Oh, and as far as me having an "axe to grind"...I guess a nice general complaint like that works when I don't fit into your "anti-cyclist" box that you put people in. I argue for an increase in a carbon tax that goes towards transit, I argue for more funding and expansion of transit, I even state that we should continue to expand biking infrastructure...none of which I have a personal stake in and much of which will cost me money. Yet you, who only argues for things that benefit you, wants to claim the moral high ground.

"But clearly that's a radical idea in this day and age where road safety is reserved for protected inside a 2000 pounds of comfort, and the rest of us, from pedestrians, to bus passengers crammed aboard over-full transit, to cyclists at the mercy of unskilled, inattentive motorists, can pound sand for all you seem to care."

Wonderful straw man Chris...goes against everything I've stated, but it's way easier to tar anyone who disagrees with you with one broad brush isn't it?

Is there any point in trying to have a nuanced discussion if all you want to do is argue from the extremes and polarize the debate?

In my previous post Chris I pointed out that you aren't willing to give an inch and recognize that there are limitations to cycling, and that not everyone can, or will choose, to cycle....again, if you were willing to ever concede a point and try and meet people in the middle you might find you have allies rather than advisories.

Oh well.

Bicycles are for losers. I feel sad for people who have to ride a bicycle into work.

"but I pay a lot of tax and I feel I have a right to ride my bike."

Hey, if you want to make the amount of tax you pay the criteria for your rights, I'm all for it, but it might not lead to the outcome you expect.

"In my previous post Chris I pointed out that you aren't willing to give an inch and recognize that there are limitations to cycling, and that not everyone can, or will choose, to cycle"

I've never, ever made anything even remotely close to sugesting such an idea Jason and it's utterly false to suggest so.

In fact, I've repeatedly said otherwise, but that doesn't suit your made-up fantasy, so you ignore it.



"Wonderful straw man Chris...goes against everything I've stated, but it's way easier to tar anyone who disagrees with you with one broad brush isn't it? "

You tell me Jason, it's S.O.P. from you near as I can tell.

You guys might want to get your story straight or you will end up being NPA candidates. First cyclists are elitists then they are losers. Make up your minds already.

I went for a walk to the store yesterday - 5 blocks total to get there.

6 cyclists on sidewalks.

Heading south on Macdonald, there is myself on the sidewalk along with a young woman several paces ahead of me, coming north on the same sidewalk is a young man and a mom and dad pushing a baby stroller.

Now the sidewalks are not super wide.

Behind the family comes this young guy on his bike trying to push through everyone. He yells 'to the left' Where he thought people were going to move to is still a mystery to me.

I said 'why don't you get on the road' and he told me to 'f' off.

The 'father' just looked and shook his head.

And this is why cylcists get push back.

Oh, and no helmet. But then gain one out of the six did have head gear.

Geoff Meggs, the real architect of city bike policy for the last two-and-a-half years said himself in Council "I don't think anyone expects cars to disappear any time soon", during the Hornby Bike Lane hearings.So, nine hours later a complex, confusing array of signs and dividers and altered lanes was born. Despite the fact that Vancouver is the ideal city and Hornby the perfect street for Mondermanian design. The balkanization of public space leads to physical conflicts leads to psychological conflicts leads to political conflicts. The decluttering of space leads to more human interaction, increased safety and traffic flow, and the consequent efficiencies in goods flow and energy use. Not to mention the coordination and harmonization of all mode users. I don't think anyone here is "either or", rather we're all seeking to optimize the use of all modes in synchronization with one another. There is a better way.

Is Hornby an ideal candidate for Mondermanian design? I think this design works best in areas where people want to travel slowly and where there is a lot of life on the streets. Gastown, Yaletown and the West End (and I would like to think 4th and Commercial) are all much better candidates. We do need ways for people to travel reasonably quickly over moderate distance, I am generally cycling between 25-28 kmh on Hornby and I think this is faster than what I think you can do in most Mondermanian designs. Am I wrong here?

Sure Bill, I might be surprized. But so might you. There is a lot of support for pedestrians, cyclists and transit in this city. And when we tally things up, let's do it honestly and recognize that externalities are a form of subsidy. I would be happy if all traffic, including bikes, going into the downtown core, had to pay a toll. I have no problem paying for bicycle parking. But the tolls have to reflect the real comparative costs.

Chris - when someone brings up the limitations of cycling you post things like "look, this 108 year old man cycles, anyone can do it!"

If you want to have a genuine discussion on the topic you need to be willing to concede a point or two rather than simply throwing out examples that you know perfectly well do not represent society as a whole.

And Richard...last time I checked the NPA was responsible for the vast majority of cycle lanes in this city.


Age isn't a limitation to cycling. 8 year olds do it. 80 year olds do it. That's the point of the link and one of the great things about bikes. They make efficient travel over medium-range distances available to the widest possible range of ages and incomes. Look at these statistics.

As the author notes, once you start riding, it's likely you'll continue, and (my inference here) because you do, you stay healthier and active until later in life. It's like the funny remark I saw someone make the other day - "I'm too stiff to do yoga." If you start cycling (at any age) chances are you'll be able to do it long after non-cyclists in your age cohort are having mobility issues.

I'll happily concede to valid arguments when they are presented. I'll also continue to call you out when you focus on me rather than the issues.



"you post things like "look, this 108 year old man cycles, anyone can do it!""

I didn't say that. I didn't even imply it (that anyone can cycle). Please, please, please address address the comments I DO make, or ask for clarification rather than assuming you can read between the lines. That's the only way to have a worthwhile dialogue and it shows respect not only for the person you're debating, but also the other readers of the thread.

Chris, the point, which you seem unable to grasp, is not that age is a limitation to's that there ARE limitations to cycling. Not everyone can, or is physically able, do it, and it's not a convenient or even plausible alternative for many people.

Very simple point Chris...incredibly valid argument, has nothing to do with you personally, yet you won't acknowledge it...why this is so difficult for you is beyond me.

I thought this was interesting:

So does this mean that the bikes that store energy from peddling are or aren't allowed in the bike lanes?

"Chris, the point, which you seem unable to grasp, is not that age is a limitation to's that there ARE limitations to cycling."

Holy crap it's like beating my head against a wall. It's going to feel so good when I stop.

The point Jason, which you ably demonstrated yet again, is that I haven't suggested cycling is limitless, yet you continue to mis-represent my position. In fact, just a few posts previous, I outline exactly where I stand on bicycles.

Let's review:

"They make efficient travel over medium-range distances available to the widest possible range of ages and incomes."

If you can't read and understand this very simple statement then I'm afraid I can't help you.

"They make efficient travel over medium-range distances available to the widest possible range of ages and incomes."

LOL...I have this image of you in relationships in your life unable to say the words "I'm wrong", but instead will say things like "In the vast majority of situations I appear to have attributes that suggest that am usually correct".

You complain if people don't read between the lines when you want us to Chris, and then go apoplectic if we infer something from something else you say.

It's Ok Chris, maybe if you keep beating your head against the wall something will finally come lose.

Well at least you make me chuckle.

You're apparently incapable of actually discussing the issue Jason, or behaving with integrity regarding the norms of adult discussion. It's disrespectful not just to me, but to others hoping for a productive dialogue on an important issue. Frankly, it's sad and not a little bit pathetic. You need to give yourself a time out and come back when you're willing to talk about reality as it exists, not the fantasy you've concocted. Nobody, absolutely nobody, is interested in your Quixotic mission to make me say things that are both erroneous and contrary to my experience.

"You complain if people don't read between the lines when you want us to Chris, and then go apoplectic if we infer something from something else you say."

That sums it up pretty well.

"Mayor concerned about scooter use in bike lanes


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says it might be time to crack down on motor scooter riders who use city bike lanes.

He says:
"I'm not seeing them myself in the times I'm in the bike lanes."
But CKNW counted several in the few minutes we were waiting for a city news conference to start at Hornby and Pender.
Roberston says:
"Well that is a concern. Obviously our enforcement officers will keep an eye on that because it's for human-powered transportation."
Robertson says interest in the Hornby bike lane continues to grow.
"The Hornby bike lane has more than doubled in bikes since January.""

I see it EVERY day. This is the most unbelievable stupid city if they don't license these motorized vehicles and force them to obey the rules of the road.

Mayor Moonbeam NEVER sees anything that doesn't fit his worldview.

Where am I expecting anyone to infer anything from my comments or read between the lines Miguel? I'm asking the exact opposite. Please stop trying to find hidden themes in my words. There are no metonyms or synedoche going on here. Just plain speaking of rather obvious realities. If you can't accept people's comments at face value, how can one expect a reasonable exchange of viewpoints?

"That sums it up pretty well."

Hmmm...maybe those aren't windmills after all Chris.

And I don't know how it works in your world Chris, but in mine, adults call other adults on their BS. It's the children who refuse to take responsibility for the things they say and do.


I admire your dogged tenacity. But, where's the BS? There is none, except the big steaming pile that constitutes your erroneous claims about my beliefs. If you can offer up some proof that I've claimed cycling is a universal answer to travel for all distance and all ages then do so. If you can provide some evidence that I subscribe to any p.o.v. that's even remotely close to same, then do so. But, you can't. So you won't. You'll keep claiming 2+2=5 and failing to provide any logical reason why that might be. So, get busy. Go through all my comments and find where I've made the claims you ascribe to me. In the meantime, please let those people willing to actually debate the issues do so.

I'll make one last post on the subject to clarify, as I'm sure everyone else is as tired of this debate as I am.

If you go back and read what I said in the very beginning you would see that what I'm looking for is an "admission" that there are limitations to cycling.

Now, you claim you haven't stated explicitly otherwise...and that's absolutely true. But what you HAVE done, is debate/provide endless examples/contradict anyone who points out these limitations. If someone says "the elderly are not going to be using the bike lanes" you put up a post about the oldest man alive who bikes. If someone says "my kids aren't going to be commuting to work via the hornby st. bike lanes" you post the one child who happens to do so. I personally feel this is disingenuous. No, you're not DIRECTLY contradicting what someone is saying, but you're post examples to try and suggest that what they are saying isn't true. If someone, like myself, then says "so you're saying then there are no limitations to biking" you then respond "I NEVER SAID THAT!".

So when I asked you to simply admit that there are limitations to biking, and you instead come back with esoteric responses, it makes it damn near impossible to pin you to a position...making discussion a waste of time because you refuse to concede a point so that we can come to some middle ground or agreement.

So Chris, I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, I'm not trying to label you as something you're not. I'm TRYING to interpret your position, which is often extremely difficult to do when you behave as I've just described.

I honestly think this is a fair criticism Chris, and I do believe many others who engage in discussion with you arrive at this same level of frustration and therefore begin mocking your position out of sheer frustration.

If you don't care, that's can continue to respond this way. But I thought I'd do you the courtesy of explaining why myself and others may get so frustrated trying to engage in a conversation with you.

That's it. And yes, before you say it...I too can be a frustrating a-hole...I'm not perfect...but I do ATTEMPT to be very straight forward and explicitly state my position or point of view. All I ask you attempt to do the same.

Comments on this post make for better reading than the post itself.
Sorry Nathan!
Lots and lots of fluff and blah, blah, blah from here, there, everywhere.


You've provided specific examples of people who can't/won't ride a bike (your 65 year old Mom comes to mind). I've provided counter-examples. What's the difference? If people who object to bike lanes et al, stopped using people who can't/won't ride as an argument for limiting cycling facilities (which is spurious... no one suggests getting rid of beach lifeguards because only a small portion of people go swimming in the ocean for a couple of months a year) then we can discuss the fairest way to implement improvements and changes to the transportation network. But as long as it's acceptable to marginalize cyclists as an extreme group that shouldn't have the same access and safety considerations as other road users, then it's necessary to point out that it is an activity that's regularly undertaken by people of all ages, in all weather, covering many different distances.

Check out!

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