Cyclers praise bike path progress

Vancouver adding more kilometres of bike routes this year than in the past eight combined
By Jonathan Fowlie
Vancouver Sun
The city is expected to add more kilometres of official bike routes this year than it has over the past eight years combined.
A city report shows the number of routes designated for bicycle traffic are expected to jump by 62.7 kilometres during 2007, bringing the city total to 240.5 kilometres from the 177.8 that existed at the end of 2006.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said John Fair, president of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition.
“Anything that makes it safe to bike is a wonderful thing,” he added, saying the City of Vancouver is very supportive of cycling.
On Wednesday, Vancouver’s bicycle program coordinator said the additions are part of the city’s ongoing commitment to creating bike routes.
“We have been adding bikeways consistently year after year ever since 1993,” said Peter Stary. “We’re very pleased with our progress so far.”
Stary said the city spends an estimated $1.3 million of its own money on bike routes each year, and that it gets about $1 million in matching funds from sources such as TransLink and the provincial government.
The longest routes to be added this year are to be along Main Street, 49th Avenue and along the Central Valley Greenway, each of which will be more than 10 kilometres in length. Others include a route along 29th, an extension on Heather Street and a bikeway on Balaclava.
When asked how this compares to other cities, Stary and other city transportation experts said it is difficult to make any consistent measures, explaining different cities have different kinds of bike infrastructure and different densities.
Although Fair was happy about what is available for bikers in Vancouver, he said he would still like to see more progress.
“I would like to see bike lanes on major roads where there is no choice, and safe bikeways and pathways in more places,” he said.
“It’s going to be a big expense, but you look at the fact that all cities have been building a road infrastructure for the last 50 years and now you are faced with congested traffic,” he said, adding he would like to see a better and safer way for cyclists to get across English Bay.
On Wednesday, Rawsthorne explained that a consultant team is currently working on detailed designs for the expansion of sidewalks on the Burrard Bridge, and that they expect to be finished by this fall. At that point, he said, the city could open the project to prospective bidders.
Also on Wednesday, B.C.-based credit union Vancity launched what it called an experimental bike sharing program. The credit union gave out 45 red cruiser-style bicycles that people are allowed to use for three weeks. After that point, the organizers have asked people to pass the bikes along to someone else who can use them.
The bikes are to be returned to Vancity at the end of the summer, at which point they will be donated to charity.
On Wednesday, a Vancity spokeswoman said the program is meant to spread public awareness about Vancity’s commitment to the community, but also to attempt to spark a change among some people who may be willing to start riding within the city.
“Hopefully what it will have done is inspired people who maybe have been needing that push to get onto a bike,” said Kari Grist, Vancity’s vice-president of marketing.