Every time a person riding a bike is knocked off, seriously injured, or killed, by another person driving an automobile, the first thing the police and press seem to comment on is whether the person riding the bike was wearing a helmet or not. Whether they did or not is largely irrelevant to the cause of the collision which must always be the focus of such reports! The helmets (apart from the prototype automobile deflection shield equipped one pictured above) have zero ability to prevent a collision.
This blog post started out as a series of tweets as I was going through the new Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Geometric Design Guide (GDG) for Canadian Roads, Chapter 5 - Bicycle Integrated Design. While the tweets become nested and confusing to follow, I figured it was worth recreating here. So read on for a quick overview of the new guidelines for bicycle infrastructure in Canada.
Three times in the past month I have experienced the joy of the close pass. Time for a little rant... Three drivers have squeezed by me whilst I’m riding my bike, sufficiently close to make me feel my life was endangered. The first in a wide shared lane with the driver either not paying attention or understanding how close he was to me, the second on a two lane roadway with parked cars either side, that despite what I would have thought, apparently is wide enough for two cars to pass each other and me riding a bike at the same time, and the most recent, a narrow shared lane with everyone’s favourite bicycle infrastructure “the Sharrow”, travelling downhill, not slowly, someone felt the need to pass me closely at speed, then for some reason give me the finger! I soon caught up at the next light.
The joy is of course mostly sarcastic! It's not remotely enjoyable, although I might not even call it scary, the exact moment usually passes too quickly! It is almost a relief when it happens, because by the time you're aware of it, you’re thankful it was a close pass and not worse! Were it not a close pass, well, you'd likely be sitting at the side of the road bruised, broken, or dead!
The relief is often quickly replaced with anger! There's a reason you see people riding bikes getting angry at car drivers! It’s not a joy to have your life endangered just so that a person driving a car can get to the next traffic signal a smidge quicker. In the grand scheme of driving along a road, cyclists don’t hold car drivers up, other car drivers and traffic signals hold car drivers up!
[Insert demand for better education, enforcement, and infrastructure here...]
I highly doubt this will reach the intended audience of distracted, impatient, don’t give a damn, close passing car drivers… I’ll console myself with the fact that these “lucky” encounters were joyful close passes and nothing worse!
You wait all this time for urban road design guidelines and two come along at the same time. The Global Street Design Guide was just released online for free (see previous post), and now the 18 year old TAC Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads is being updated (unfortunately its not free). The TAC Guide while being a "guide" is often treated as the "bible" of road design in Canada, with practitioners fearful of straying from it for fear of designing something not to standard. Many of the details in the current 1999 version are considered out of date or just missing, particularly for urban roads and active transportation. Other guides such as the NACTO guidelines are frequently considered more relevant and practical but they're not TAC. Therefore, its great to see the big changes to the TAC Guide focusing on urban road design. There has been a huge shift in the design of urban roads in the past 10 years, never mind the past 18, thus these changes will be welcomed by many who are trying to address urban transportation challenges. Watch the video providing a high level overview of the changes here. But to sum up, it's acceptable to use narrower lane widths than may have been previously preferred, and on roads with a speed of 50 km/h the recommended bicycle facilities are protected lanes or separate paths. Other finer details such as the inappropriateness of clear zones in urban areas and targets speeds rather than design speeds are discussed, and a process for design exceptions is also included and should allow greater freedom with appropriate supporting evidence.
Its too hilly to cycle here is a common reason provided for not cycling in hilly locations. North Vancouver in my case, is a good example where hills can be problematic to encouraging more people to cycle. But could we use our hills to our advantage? The Grouse Grind is often referred to as mother nature's stair master and attracts a huge following, could our hilly streets become something similar? Can we challenge drivers to get out and cycle them? Encourage people to use them as a way to improve their health? Could the be an opportunity and asset rather than a barrier? Would such road markings suggest the road is an amenity for cyclists rather than a space for cars? Is this just wishful thinking? Is this something only a regular cyclist would think is a good thing?
Almost every community planning document stresses the need to achieve a mode-shift away from the private automobile towards a more sustainable and equitable transportation network. That's easy if you're starting from scratch, but in established locations less so. With endless money, and no regard for neighbouring residents, its also easy, but how do we go about de-prioritizing the car, with little money, without changing the road footprint. Here are two concepts close to my home along with some notes...
Watching a design documentary on Netflix, it got me thinking what could we redesign in the transportation world? Biking is the hot topic on everyone's lips these days, and while the protected bike lane is the ultimate solution, it takes a lot to implement. There are hundreds, if not thousands, or even millions of kilometers of regular bike lanes out there, so I got to thinking if there is something we can do to improve the humble bike lane without changing anything else. Something that could be done quickly and easily with little impact to anyone else. What do you think? Any merit in these ideas? Would you feel safer? Anyone out there feel like a trial project?
I've been aware of Jeff since I first read his book Walkable City a couple of years ago. You can read my overview of that here. This TED talk was recorded a couple of years ago but was just released online today. I highly recommend you watch it.
This is a great video by City of Ottawa on zoning and parking requirements, parking is killing our cities, lets reduce it!
We never add capacity to our roads on the basis that traffic will continue to grow at historic growth rates #alternativefact
Over the holidays, we drove from Vancouver, over the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5), for a ski trip to Big White, just east of Kelowna. The summit of the Coquihalla is renowned for its steep grades on approach to the summit, the great bear snowshed that protects a section of the road from avalanches, chain up areas, high snowfall, dangerous driving conditions, and many collisions as a result of all of that. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure recently installed variable speed limit signs along part of the route. The goal was to "improve driver safety during unfavourable weather conditions and to reduce serious crashes in areas where weather patterns are prone to change quickly, making driving conditions dangerous". Here are my thoughts on it after driving through in less than ideal conditions.
This post is nothing more than excuse to post a picture of a bike with xmas lights on it that I found walking around my neighbourhood, but... If you find yourself bored of xmas movies, tired of eating and drinking, you've heard the same stories from your relatives a million times before, and you didn't get that new bike you were hoping for, perhaps there are a few articles below that may fill your void... Happy Holidays!
Today, the long awaited Evergreen Line goes live (the light yellow section in the above map) providing grade separated rail based rapid transit service from Coquitlam Centre to the Lougheed area of Burnaby and beyond on the existing network! The new line will provide a high quality frequent rapid transit service from Coquitlam and Port Moody town centres to other centres in Burnaby, Surrey, Vancouver and Richmond. Read on for a comparison with other modes and some benefits...