Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cycling is Safer with Separate Lanes

Here's September's cycling column in The News:

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are working on an updated transportation plan, including an update of the 1994 bikeways plan. The bikeways plan was based on the assumption that cyclists are safest if they behave as if they’re driving a car. In North America, separated bike paths were for decades considered to be more dangerous for cyclists than sharing the road with cars. Statistics seemed to show that cyclists were more likely to be involved in collisions with cars at intersections when using separated bike paths. Read more...


  1. Dedicated bike paths are great with no fear of speeding cars brushing your left shoulder.
    Yet, many of them are poorly designed. For example, to be cheap, I guess, they are installed on one side of the road. Dewdney Trunk Rd. has one on the north side between 234 St and 237 St. Another example exists on Lougheed Hwy. east of Pitt River Bridge towards Harris Rd. These one sided bike paths make going against the traffic direction really awkward. Because most of them are relatively short in distance, cyclists have to change the side of the road after the path ends. This is nowhere to claim "bike friendly" at all.
    Central Valley Bike Way, although outside of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, have a few bad examples not to copy. At Sperling Overpass, cyclists heading east end up on the opposite side of Winston, and so they have to cross back to the south within a block. The most ridiculous section is CVGW at Clark. Cyclists going west have to switch the side of the road from right to left, and then right unto bike path on Great Northern Way. This is becoming insane.

  2. Another annoying thing I've found riding in the opposite direction at night.
    Riding the south side bikepath of Lougheed Hwy. east of Pitt River Bride in the dark, cyclists are blinded by oncoming headlights of cars. Once I ended up in the bush, even though I had a bright headlight myself.

  3. Hi Muso,
    I agree we're only making babysteps with the improvements that are being made. It takes a whole lot of educating, not only politicians and planners, but also the general public, many of whom are only drivers, to make them understand that safe cycling infrastructure is a win-win for everybody. Some people don't understand that if there are more people cycling, more space will be freed up on the roads for those who need or really want to drive. Also it means money will be saved, because less money will need to be spent on car infrastructure, which is a lot more expensive than cycling infrastructure. Cyclists tend to be a lot healthier too than people who only drive for transportation, so we save the health care system a fair bit of money too.
    Studies have shown that investing in cycling actually makes a lot of economic sense. I saw a study that was done in Britain that concluded that ROI for cycling infrastructure is 20:1.
    But if you want to get more people to bike, you need infrastructure that works: bike lanes on both sides of the road, proper lighting on roads where there is a lot of car traffic, so that cyclists don't get blinded, etc.