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Vancouver’s Breathtaking Network of Safe, Protected Bike Lanes

 

In 2012, the Vancouver City Council set an ambitious goal to reach a bicycle mode share of 7 percent of all trips by 2020. The city proceeded to hit the mark in 2015, five years ahead of schedule!

When you ride around Vancouver’s fantastic network of bike lanes, it’s no wonder the city is experiencing a leap in ridership. Most of Vancouver feels safe to ride, and it’s fun to see all sorts of people out on bikes.

A key factor in Vancouver’s success is that the city constantly goes back to re-engineer, tweak, and improve its bike lanes for greater safety. Hornby Street, which features prominently in this Streetfilm, used to just have painted bike lanes. At the time, women accounted for 28 percent of bike trips on the street, according to Vancouver Transportation Manager Dale Bracewell. After the city installed a landscaped protected bike lane on Hornby, bike trips grew rapidly — especially bike trips by women, who now account for 39 percent of the street’s bike traffic.

Compared to New York City, which has made significant strides in the past eight years to carve out street space for protected bike lanes, Vancouver is clearly going the extra mile. In three days of riding, I didn’t see one car parked in a protected bike lane. When you ride downtown, conflicts with drivers are rare.

In New York, we need to take additional steps to shore up protected bike lanes and keep cars out. In many cases, we already have the real estate, w just need bolder designs and with more physical protection.