As seen in the front window of a bike store in Calgary:
What’s so wrong with an electric bike that does look like one?
As seen in the front window of a bike store in Calgary:
What’s so wrong with an electric bike that does look like one?
It promised a new way of bike riding in New York City — GPS-tracked smart bikes that would rent for as little as $1 and did not have to be picked up or returned to fixed locations.
But before it could even start, the company that operates the bikes, Spin, canceled a demonstration project in the Rockaways in Queens after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from city transportation officials. …
Spin’s unsuccessful effort comes as a new generation of tech-savvy bike companies are vying to make riding less expensive and more convenient, competing with more established bike-share programs in the process. Instead of heading to a docking station full of bikes, riders tap a mobile app to locate the closest bicycle left by a previous rider on a street or sidewalk, or in another public space. They typically scan a code on the bikes or punch in numbers to unlock the rear wheels. Once riders get where they are going, they find a place to park the bike, and lock the wheels again to deter theft.
These so-called “dockless bike” programs aim to let customers ride on their own terms, and are similar to the flexible car-sharing program car2go, which allows drivers to leave cars where they can find on-street parking within an operating area. The dockless bikes can be rolled out more quickly and easily than bike-share systems that rely on a network of docking stations, which are expensive to build and take up valuable street and parking space. In Dallas, which had struggled for years to fund a bike-share system, there are now about 300 dockless bikes. …
Price Tags Vancouver really had to check the date to ensure April 1 had not crept around…but no, it’s still August. The good folks at Kitsilano.ca have posted a petition to get rid of the bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge. But petitioner Steffan Illeman is not calling it that-rather it’s called wanting “the City of Vancouver to restore the Burrard Bridge to its pre-bike lane condition.”
Surprisingly the petition which requires 2,500 signatures before going to City hall has 2,300 folks signed up so far. “In an interview with the CBC, the 40-year West End resident reiterated “we’d like the construction to be stopped forthwith, and secondly, tear down all those concrete obstructions.”
Apparently the bike lanes are a “travesty” and don’t earn enough riders to justify their placement, even though over 7,000 bike trips occur daily in summer, with over 157,000 trips by bike across Burrard Bridge in June. But never mind that. Mr. Illeman observes “They should have built just reasonable curb lanes instead with reasonable width and that would have satisfied everybody.”
Price Tags Vancouver could say more, but no, leave it to you. If you want to take a look at the “Banning bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge” petition, you can find it here.
The Economist reports on a new trend that is getting attention in China-the return of the bicycle. Unlike the conventional docking systems that are used for bike-sharing initiatives in many cities, a user-friendly approach has been taken in China where bike rental is paid for by smart phone and then the bike can be left anywhere after the ride. The use of GPS technology enables the bikes to be located with a mobile app. Since the typical bike ride by bike share is about fifteen cents or one yuan, and since bikes can move faster in areas that cars cannot, bike share has caught on.
Established in 2015, bike share company “OFO” has over 2.5 million bike share yellow framed bikes in more than fifty Chinese cities, with rival Mobike installing bright orange wheeled bikes. Things must be going well as Ofo is now commencing bike share services in Singapore and San Diego, as well as Cambridge England.
So has the dockless bike system had challenges? “Some riders hide the bikes in or near their homes to prevent others from using them. Another trick involves photographing a bike’s QR code and then scratching it off to stop others from scanning it. With the stored image, the rider can then monopolise the machine. But customers caught misbehaving can have points deducted from their accounts, making it more expensive for them to rent the bikes.”
While thirty years ago 63 per cent of people in Beijing biked, the number today is only 12 per cent, perhaps because cycling in China is dangerous-40 per cent of road accidents include bicycles. Previously installed bike lanes have been taken out to make room for cars, and bicycles are seen as causing congestion according to “some city authorities”. “This month the southern city of Shenzhen ordered limits on the number of shared bikes. Other cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, are considering similar measures.”
While bicycles are battling for their road share, the use of bikes does represent sustainability and reduced carbon emissions, both goals that China is striving for. Will Chinese cities be willing to retool their boulevards and plazas for bike lanes to accommodate the return of the bike?
Image Deal Street Asia
Source: Bike Boom
As reported in the Guardian by Tim Burns, the switch from diesel and gas vehicles is vastly overrated. Sure, there will be an increase in air quality but think of this: the only thing you are changing is the fuel source of “the type of heavy box” that people travel around in and insist on bringing to city streets. And that is where the opportunity is-we can all reduce air pollution even more, and change the way streets and public ways are used by two simple things-encouraging more people to ride bikes, and encouraging people to walk for short, convenient trips.
As Burns notes “In 2015, only 2% of trips in England were made by bicycle despite the average length of each trip being only seven miles. Switching from cars to bikes would not only reduce air pollution but solve many of the biggest issues facing our cities and towns.”
We’ve all seen that neat little graphic showing that a 3.5 meter wide single lane “can transport 2,000 people an hour in cars, the same lane can be used to transport 14,000 people on bicycles – and this doesn’t even take into account the space saved on parking. With limited space in cities and rising populations, transport planning has to focus on the most efficient way of getting around.” And that includes pedestrians walking too.
While changing from diesel to electric vehicles will help with asthma and air pollution related deaths, driving those vehicles does not promote greater physical fitness. Biking is a gold standard for physical activity. Switching from diesel to electric vehicles will help reduce early deaths associated with air pollution but it will do little to encourage greater physical activity, so necessary for healthy, happy citizens. “Research from the University of Glasgow recently found cycling regularly reduced the incidence of cancer by 45%, heart disease by 46%, and of death by any cause by 41%.”
“Sir Liam Donaldson, the former chief medical officer for England once said: “The potential benefits of physical activity to health are huge. If a medication existed which had a similar effect, it would be regarded as a wonder drug or miracle cure.” And it’s good for society too – Transport for London calculated that if all Londoners walked or cycled for 20 minutes a day this would save £1.7bn in National Health Service treatment costs over 25 years in the capital alone.”
While cities are touting banning diesel and gasoline vehicles in favour of electric, there is a huge opportunity to create the type of walking and cycling infrastructure that is supportive of enhancing the health of communities, the gold standard for livability. Let’s remember to create cities and streets for people, not just vehicles in this move from diesel and gas to electric.
The City of Sydney Australia and the Lord Mayor Clover Moore have been championing climate change, and have led a campaign to push the sustainability agenda. Every new year there is the “Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Party” held at the Sydney Opera House. But this year the mayor is cancelling it and the $750,000 in Canadian funds will be going towards “10 new urban parks over the next year, a zero-carbon building competition, efforts to help tenants access renewable energy, retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and expanding efforts to help commercial buildings cut their emissions.”
Last year at a meeting of the C40 city network on Climate Change the Mayor noted that in order to meet the Paris Agreement, cities had to do twice as much in half the time.” Emissions cutting is part of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Plan which will reduce the city’s emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 and be completely carbon neutral by 2050.
“People can’t see emissions reductions,” she said. But giving residents visual signs of green progress – amenities they want that also happen to cut emissions – “creates some ownership,” said the mayor, who walks in the city’s parks most days with her husband and dogs.
By “upgrading the city’s car fleet to hybrid vehicles, planting 10,000 trees, promoting car sharing, installing solar systems and water harvesting, and working with businesses to cut emissions” through building design resulted in a 25 per cent emission reduction since 2006. This reduction happened even though there’s been a 25 per cent increase in population and $26 billion (Canadian dollars) of development in the same time.
The hostile attitude of the former federal government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not deter the mayor. Despite the fact the Prime Minister stopped carbon reduction efforts and was seen as a climate change obstructionist, Mayor Clover Moore has served four terms as Sydney’s Lord Mayor. She received criticism that bike lanes would worsen traffic congestion-they did not. The Mayor perceives the Sydney business community as being her strongest ally.
“Leadership is absolutely crucial,” she said – and she thinks city governments are well placed to provide it, particularly with national action faltering in parts of the world. We get up in the morning and do something. That’s the fantastic thing about city government. We do things and we change people’s lives.”
No, not the Robson of the last two decades. More like the Robson that emerged in the late ’70s and ’80s, just after the completion of Robson Square, when it re-emerged as the pedestrian commuter street between the West End and the CBD.
Something similar is happening on Dunsmuir.
No, not the old Dunsmuir prior to the Olympics, when it was a one-way arterial with four lanes of fast-moving vehicles on synchronized signaling from the viaduct to Burrard. The Dunsmuir that emerged after the opening of the separated cycle track in 2010 is taking on a distinct character from block to block. It feels, even with all the traffic, as a predominantly pedestrian street and cycle arterial – quieter, safer, more eccentric.
It’s the preferred feeder for the ‘academic quarter’ – from BCIT at Seymour to VCC at Hamilton, with ESL colleges, the SFU complex and the Vancouver Film School populating the blocks to the north with thousands of students of no visible majority.
It has three SkyTrain stations blocks apart. There are corporate office buildings and civic institutions like the Queen E. There is a cathedral and the country’s most profitable mall. There are restaurants and bars, from Ramon joints to the Railway Club (back again!).
It is a street still creating an identity, with an even more energetic future to come (the Art Gallery at Cambie, the redevelopment of the post office at Homer, a connection to False Creek when the viaduct comes down). It will become even more Robson-like as the residents in the eastern towers and offices populate that end of the street, and more businesses open to serve them.
My favourite intersection is at Granville, anchored by the elegant old BC Electric showroom, now incorporated into The Hudson. The pacing of people, vehicles, bikes and buses is an urban gavotte, a choreographic rhythm of traffic signals. And with downtown’s biggest gym nearby, the people watching is pretty good too.
There is a lesson here. If a separated cycle track and the removal of a vehicle lane with parking was going to kill the economics of a street, Dunsmuir should be dead by now.
In particular, the St Regis Hotel, having lost its curbside access, should be suffering. That does not appear to be the case. Indeed, it can only profit more from the changes that are occurring as a consequence of the Dunsmuir cycle track.
In which case, the owner, a prominent businessman named Rob MacDonald – he who led the vilifying campaign against separated bike lanes, and even spent close to a million dollars backing the NPA in the fight – should perhaps offer a full-throated apology, or at least a recognition that the apocalyptic op-ed that he penned back in 2011 – “Downtown bike routes are a disaster” – was maybe a tad overstated.
And that Dunsmuir is turning out way better than anyone really expected. Thanks to a bike lane.
Bike to Work Week is fast approaching! Register online before May 10th for your chance to win an Arc’teryx jacket.
No promise about the weather, though.
Peter Ladner inked to this from the Wall Street Journal (video available but article requires subscription):
If you think Seattle has problems, check out China’s bike share issues: thieves, vandals, pranksters and $1b investments in recent months. Shanghai has half a million shared bikes. When they’re working.
Little parklets are those exciting hacks of previous parking spaces morphing into things that well, ordinary people walking around can use. And one of the finest hacks as reported in City Lab is this absolutely brilliant reuse of a 24 foot sailboat now docked in a Ballard neighbourhood street outside a Seattle donut shop.
You are looking at the Endurance, which now “ only ‘floats’ on the road,” says Megan Helmer, a public-arts enthusiast whose husband founded the donut shop. “The keel has been removed, and the base of the hull cut and placed on cedar decking.”
Seattle actually has a City Department of Neighbourhoods that provides grants for such endeavours. With additional crowd sourced funding, Mighty-O Donuts and community volunteers began constructing the parklet.”
“The Mighty-O parklet is a great example of what SDOT’s parklet program is all about,” says Brian Henry at the transportation department’s Public Space Management Program. “They brought the community together to talk about what kind of public space should be created, and designed something that reflects Ballard’s maritime character and history. It shows how a neighborhood business can lead the way in enhancing the public realm, and creating more space for people.”
Seattle now has nine parklets that have developed in the last four years. This parket came after “one that encouraged leisurely reading with nearby “little free libraries” and another where people could paint stuff on a board with water and watch it evaporate to “witness the sobering truth that nothing in life lasts forever.”
Each one of these ideas is so wonderfully perfect.
Granville Island has a different history than the rest of Vancouver. The CBC has prepared a short precis of the creation of the island which also includes three short films. It’s worth taking a look at the link. The island was built on a former First Nations fishing bank in the 1890’s after the Granville Street bridge’s completion. Many industrial businesses were housed here until the 1960’s when demand for sawmills started to wane.
“While the city now controlled most of the south False Creek shore, Granville Island was still under federal jurisdiction — and the city preferred to keep it that way, fearing the liability. So the island was transferred to the federal government’s Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to handle the redevelopment.”
Ron Basford who was the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre championed the development of a mixed use space at this location. As local historian John Atkin notes“If Ron hadn’t picked up the baton and said, you know what, Granville Island’s going to be something interesting and unique, it probably wouldn’t have happened.”
After the city approved a redevelopment plan, “the public market opened in 1978, and what was originally the Vancouver School of Art moved to the island in 1980 after being renamed the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. ” Historian John Atkin states that what was different was the unique approach curating the changing uses on the island. Despite the fact that the times were all about major demolition of existing uses and redevelopment projects on massive scale, the island experienced “a gradual evolution” using the existing buildings.
Because this area was under Federal not municipal control, there were never proper sidewalks or separation of traffic from pedestrians. Industrial uses like the cement plant co-existed with retail uses. Some can celebrate this mix which as John says ” broke so many of the accepted rules of public space.”
I would also argue that it was because of the Federal jurisdiction that a shift to walking and biking modes on the island was not more supported. Automobiles could have been relegated to one holding area, and a tram (similar to the now defunct Downtown Historic Railway) could have connected users with the varying market areas.
Granville Island is now undertaking a process to determine its future in the next 40 years, but remains an important lesson in transforming spaces and uses gradually instead of in massive redevelopments. And as John Atkin notes “It’s part of that real seismic shift in the 1970s that creates the city we have today.”
Remember the Tom Tom Annual Survey of Traffic Congestion suggesting that Vancouver is a parking lot of traffic? And Minister of Transportation Todd Stone calling the Massey Tunnel one of the most congested places in British Columbia according to a Canadian Automobile Association Survey?
Business in Vancouver reporter Patrick Blennerhasset cuts through the congestion chat by talking to a transportation expert, City of Vancouver Manager of Transportation Steve Brown. Steve notes that we need to define what we mean by congestion. Congestion can also be a very good thing-if transit or biking or walking is more efficient and gets you to a place faster, then congestion is your active transportation friend. The slower traffic, the safer active transportation users are too-while only ten per cent of pedestrians will survive a vehicular collision at 50 km/h that rises to a 90 per cent chance of survival with a vehicular collision at 30 km/h.
Steve Brown has great logic-“the key for Vancouver to continue to relieve congestion lies in creating alternative transportation methods to automobile trips…Over the last few years, we have seen a lot more concerns over congestion. And because we’re kind of falling behind on some of our transit infrastructure investments, we’re seeing that there are tending to be more trips lately relying on the road network.”
So…bolstering active transportation and transit reduces congestion, actually making driving easier for folks that want to do this. But doesn’t that defeat the purpose? And that is where misinformation comes in.
“Last year, Langley City councillor Nathan Pachal compiled the 2016 Transit Report Card of Major Canadian Regions. He gave Vancouver a high ranking in terms of public transportation—second only to Montreal—using Canada Transit’s Fact Book 2014 Operating Data by the Canadian Urban Transit Association, which gathers its data from transit agencies across the country and Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey. Pachal also called into question the accuracy of the TomTom rankings. He said during the transit referendum in 2015, discussion around congestion in Vancouver reached a fever pitch.”
And back to those Tom Tom Statistics-those are predicated upon counting the extra travel time during peak hours for a vehicle versus the time taken to travel during no traffic conditions, and then multiplied for 230 working days a year. Remember that Tom Tom’s clients are drivers, and therefore cities with freeways and highways that provide a quick exit are ranked highly, with no ranking given to alternative transit modes or active transportation.
While Vancouver ranked as the 34th most congested cities for vehicle users according to Tom Tom, “the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, has ranked Vancouver 157th worldwide in terms of traffic congestion.” Why? Because INRIX a Kirkland, Washington-based transportation analytics company, analyzed traffic congestion in 1,064 cities for its second annual report. Its methodology calculates congestion at different times of the day in different parts of a city using 500 terabytes of data from 300 million different sources covering over five million miles of road. ” This is a much more sophisticated analysis on “overall travel times” as opposed to peak versus free-flow times.
But neither of these two approaches factor in active transportation or transit, and measure a city’s performance by the efficiency of this type of movement. While Tom Tom may be getting a lot of attention, the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard is perhaps a more accurate gauge. Here’s to an index that also factors in other users besides vehicular.
INRIX Global Traffic Index Scorecard:
TomTom Traffic Index ranking:
In one of those stories that just has to come from the Maritimes someone thought it might be a good idea to tow a couch behind an ATV and go through the drive in line at McDonald’s in Miramichi New Brunswick at 3:30 a.m. last Thursday.
“Miramichi police say an officer spotted the couch, being towed behind an ATV, at 3:19 a.m. Thursday in the drive-thru. Cpl. Lorri McEachern says the driver of the four wheeler took off after the officer turned on the lights atop his cruiser, stranding the two “intoxicated” men outside the restaurant.
She says the driver raced through the parking lot, across the highway and onto the frozen Miramichi River, still towing the couch through much of his escape.”
Two couch surfers were caught. The crime? It is illegal to tow a couch through a drive through. However it should be noted that both men were wearing helmets.Two local men, aged 28 and 39, will face yet-to-be-determined charges.
“For some reason, we’ve come to accept this road violence against pedestrians as part of the wallpaper of urban living – even as “walkable cities” are the holy grail of city planning everywhere.”
Peter Ladner in his latest editorial in Business in Vancouver calls it for what it is: we have an epidemic of Road Violence in Vancouver. Peter states in his editorial: “Never mind calling back Mayor Gregor Robertson from Mexico to clear our icy sidewalks. We should be asking him to stay home in January and protect seniors from being killed by cars. Vancouver is the pedestrian death capital of Canada, and January is peak month for pedestrian deaths in B.C. – expect more than seven.
Based on five-year averages, 61% of those killed will be 50 or older. Our pedestrian death rate is twice that of Toronto, where one pedestrian is injured every four hours, and 44 pedestrians were killed in 2016. In last October alone, 10 pedestrians died in five Lower Mainland municipalities. There were as many pedestrians slaughtered by cars in the city of Vancouver (11) last year as there were murder victims.
My son was walking to work across a marked intersection at Pender and Jervis, on a green light, at 7:30 on an October morning two years ago when a car knocked him to the ground. He is still suffering from the concussion he incurred. The driver stopped and leaned out the window to ask if he was all right, then drove off. It turns out his situation is typical: according to a BC Coroners Service report, 40% of pedestrians killed in Greater Vancouver were struck at intersections and in crosswalks and two-thirds were crossing while the light was green. It might also be the case that many of the pedestrians who got hit were, like him, wearing dark clothing. In some Nordic countries the widespread use of reflective clothing has greatly reduced road violence.
But it’s too simple to blame pedestrians. I remember the first time I saw the 30 km/h zone painted boldly on Hastings Street around Main – the most dangerous pedestrian intersection in the Lower Mainland. My first reaction was: “Why should I slow down because impaired people choose to lurch into oncoming cars?” Then I sobered up and reframed the question: “Why should saving a few seconds of driving be more important than killing someone?”
Peter notes that when some European countries adopted laws where vulnerable road users, not road drivers were assumed to be innocent, injury and fatality rates dropped by 70 per cent. HUB cycling recommends a 30 km/h speed limit on non arterial streets-the survival of a pedestrian crashed into at 30 km/h is 90 per cent at that speed, and only 15 to 20 per cent at 50 km/h.
Peter points out that it is the Province-Minister of Transportation Todd Stone-who could implement this and who “is not interested. Nor is he interested in photo radar and red-light cameras. Research in Europe found there were 42% fewer serious injuries and fatalities where photo radar and cameras were installed.” Minister Stone dismissed this as a “tax grab”. Peter suggests this is the same as saying “Seniors are expendable if it gets me votes from car drivers who want the freedom to kill them by breaking the law and letting ICBC pick up the bills.”
Getting to zero pedestrian fatalities needs ” lower speed limits, safer intersection design, better pedestrian signals, tougher enforcement to stop speeding and distracted driving (none of us should be taking calls from people while we’re driving), more reflective clothing, cyclists using lights and more. But mostly it means getting serious about this ongoing car violence against mostly seniors, in every neighbourhood, especially in January. “
The second 2016 Gordie for Happiest Transportation Story goes to the new kid in town:
Happiest Transportation Story
Mobi on the road in Vancouver: Finally a bike share in the City of Vancouver- “another transportation option. Expansion, please.”
Four more Gordies will be awarded in the next four working days. Stay tuned.
The Toronto Star and its reporters are to be commended for talking about what others have ignored for so long-the tremendous grief, carnage and cost to families, friends, the insurance corporation and the health system caused by pedestrians and cyclists being maimed and killed by vehicles-it was called road violence at the start of the twentieth century, and that term is returning to use now.
I have been writing about the awful year that the City of Toronto has had with over 40 deaths and hundreds of severe injuries. We like to think that in Vancouver we have this under control, with our well thought out transportation hierarchy that gives pedestrians the first priority. Those triangle graphs are lovely,but as a Price Tags commenter noted yesterday, there’s a real gap between what we say and what we do in Vancouver. While I am concentrating on the road violence in Toronto because there is a true will to do something about it, it should be noted that Vancouver’s pedestrian deaths, at over one person being killed a month is per capita twice the rate of Toronto’s. Where is the reaction?
Road safety or the lack of it is being recognized as a major public health problem. Our own Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall identified road violence as a major cause of fatalities and serious injuries in his report Where the Rubber Meets the Road released this spring. Dr. Kendall notes that 280 people die and another 79,000 people are injured on roads in British Columbia every year. Vulnerable road users (those people without the protection of an enclosed vehicle) make up 45.7 per cent of serious injuries in 2011. Vulnerable road users were also 31.7 per cent of fatalities in 2009 and that increased to 34.9 per cent in 2013.
In Toronto, City staff are now perceiving road safety as a major public health problem, where 1500 pedestrian and 950 cyclist collisions with vehicles have been reported to October 30. There is a 20.7 per cent hike in pedestrian injuries being treated at Toronto’s main trauma centre. That is not acceptable.
“Ward Vanlaar, chief operating officer of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation in Ottawa, said until the last decade or so, road safety was thought of as a transportation issue. “The take on it was that we have a price to pay for mobility, and the price is that certain people will die and that was considered to be acceptable,” he said. Vanlaar said that in recent years he’s seen a shift in thinking about traffic safety, both globally and across Canada. “People working in this field, and also in other health-related fields have had this epiphany almost, like ‘Hey, there are really a lot of people dying,’” he said.
There is a major change in seeing safety being more important than mobility, and having that applied to vulnerable road users too. If humans make mistakes that can cost human lives, then a transportation system needs to be designed to” mitigate those risks and basically eliminate those instances where, because of human error, people will die.”
Monica Campbell, a spokesperson for Toronto Public Health, said traffic safety falls within the realm of her department.“If you invest in safer roads, safer streets, better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians – does that reduce the burden on the healthcare system? Absolutely it does,” she said.
So there you have it-traffic safety and the safety of vulnerable road users is a public health priority at the municipal level in Toronto and in British Columbia at the Provincial level. Now we just need to start designing our streets as if every users’ life truly does matter. It is the difference between injury, life and death.
This article in The Guardian is important because it underscores how a careful review of data can make profound changes in cycling safety. In London England over 50 per cent of all cycling mortalities and over 20 per cent of all pedestrian deaths result from trucks with poor sightlines/visibility from the truck cab.
“Road safety campaigners have long called for action against some types of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), especially high-wheeled construction lorries, which have significant blindspots.”
The Mayor of London will be developing a “five star-based safety rating” for these trucks based upon the vision clearance the operator has from the truck cab. Those that have obstructed vision (mainly construction trucks ) will be banned, with trucks with a three star ranking or more allowed to drive within the city.
Here is the heart-breaking statistic from the Mayor of London’s office: in the last three years the 35,000 trucks operating with severely limited visibility from the cab were responsible for 70 per cent of the cyclist deaths. Similar to the pedestrian shaming campaigns that tell pedestrians to wear bright colours to avoid being crashed into, the advice for cyclists was to not cycle near the sides of trucks. But trucks often overtake cyclists, and then don’t have sight lines from the driver’s cab to see a cyclist when turning a corner.
The move was welcomed by the London Cycling Campaign. “Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and operators of HGVs all stand to gain if modern designs with minimal blindspots become the norm for on-street use – no one wants fatalities and life-changing injuries to continue to happen,” said Tom Bogdanowicz, its senior policy manager.
There is of course pushback from the trucking association regarding the restricted use of trucks with limited visibility. In the Vision Zero world of road safety, the impact of restricting these vehicles from causing further mortalities is priceless. Lets hope other cycling cities follow London’s lead.
This is irresistible:
The idea of licensing and registering bicycles like motor vehicles gets bandied about frequently in the endless debates over whether cyclists are freeloading on infrastructure the Good Lord (or at least, the tax code) intended for cars and trucks when they ride on public roads. (Here’s a good study on why bicyclists are in fact paying more than their fair share to use roads, in case you feel one of these debates coming on.) A handful of municipalities do require such fee-based licensing, however. And it’s not always a complete and utter waste of time, money, and resources. (However, it usually is.) …
Probably the best examination of whether licensing succeeds on any of these fronts comes from … Toronto, where, from 1935 to 1957, bicyclists were indeed required to register their rides for annual licenses, for 50 cents per year. There was a metal license plate and everything, according to this very thorough website from the City of Toronto. The law was scrapped for a delightfully Canadian reason—the fear that licensing “results in an unconscious contravention of the law at a very tender age,” which can lead to “poor public relations between police officers and children.”
Still, efforts to revive velo-licensing surfaced several times in the 1980s and ’90s, only to be batted down by voters. The first and best reason: It would be too expensive to run the required bureaucratic machinery. “If cyclists were asked to cover the cost of licensing, in many cases, the license would be more expensive than the bicycle itself.” …
Another example is Salt Lake City, Utah, where there’s also a state law requiring licensing. “Both are somewhat lightly used,” says Becka Roolf, the city’s bicycle/pedestrian coordinator. She’s not sure how long the laws have been on the books. The license itself consists of a sticker; it costs up to $2, but this local nonprofit will pick up the tab for you. “It’s largely to aid in returning stolen bikes,” she says. “It’s definitely not a moneymaker.” … And, of course, there’s the inconvenience of losing your license every time you ride beyond the city limits.
The inherent goofiness of this situation, Roolf admits, reflects a deeper disconnect about bicycles in American life, a confusion that continues to foil even good-faith efforts to integrate these devices into our civic fabric. “It’s an interesting dynamic. Sometimes our laws are set up based on the idea that a bike is toy, and sometimes it’s a form of adult transportation,” she says. “As a society, we don’t seem to have worked that out.”
The last in a series by John Whistler:
The BC Government review of the Sunshine Coast fixed-link options is treating the existing BC Ferry services as the baseline. They have not provided the option of improving the ferry services for discussion purposes. This is unfortunate as this option may be a low-cost solution that can stimulate economic development while preserving the “island” lifestyle that is attractive to many residents.
It is also unfortunate that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) does not normally fund related initiatives that will mitigate the negative impacts of their projects. As such, it usually falls on the municipalities and regional districts which typically do not have the resources to manage unintended consequences.
Support will be needed for public transit to adapt to the impacts from any fixed link. Increased subsidies will likely be needed. A solution to manage long-distance public transit from Powell River to Vancouver is also important. It is unfortunate that MoTI is focused only on highways and they do not take advantage of the synergy of incorporating public transit into their projects.
In the case of the Langdale fixed-link options, the provision of a passenger ferry service from Gibsons to Vancouver or Horseshoe Bay would be helpful. This would retain an important origin/destination for local public transit, would maintain the long-distance link for the southern coastal area and would facilitate other transportation options.
Support to encourage rental and affordable housing is also needed as a fixed link is liable to drive up housing costs. In addition to social equity reasons, this is also needed to ensure that there are homes for the trades people that will be needed to build the additional homes that can be expected. Perhaps there is an opportunity for MoTI to partner with BC Housing as a routine strategy to manage their projects. The negative impact to housing affordability is not unique to the Sunshine Coast proposals.
It will be interesting to see if the announcement that the final investment decision to proceed with Woodfibre LNG will impact the route options and implementation timeline. This development would likely favour the Langdale road link as it would allow for road access to Woodfibre and because of the marine impacts of the bridge link.
The BC Government consultation process ends on Tuesday Nov 8. Now is the time to give your comments.
The fifth in a series by John Whistler:
One of the prime reasons for a fixed link to the Sunshine Coast is the perceived economic benefits. While resource development has potential, the ability to achieve this benefit is questionable as it will be subject to satisfactory arrangements with the local First Nations. There would also likely be some economic benefits for tourism and other businesses associated with increased automobile access.
Clearly, the most significant economic benefit would be to real estate. So what is the potential scale of this benefit?
The census notes that there were 16,498 residences in the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) in 2011 (Powell River Regional District not included). The July 2014 MLS Benchmark dwelling price for the SCRD was $353,900. This gives a ball-park estimate of $5.8 billion for the total value of residential real estate in the SCRD.
If it is assumed that a fixed link, over a period of 10 years, will cause an increase in property values of 50 percent and will stimulate construction of an additional 50 percent more residences, the potential benefit would be $7.25 billion in additional real estate value.
One question that may not be asked enough: Is it desirable to increase property values by 50 percent and to stimulate a 50 percent increase in residences?
This would depend who you are. It is clearly a benefit for property owners and developers. It may not be a benefit to existing residents who do not own property and are struggling with housing affordability.
A high number of residences are second homes or recreational properties – 22 percent in the SCRD compared to the BC average of 9 percent. Increasing the stock of recreational homes is unlikely to benefit existing renters who are negatively impacted by low vacancy rates.
My nephews are a good example of who may lose out. They grew up in Sechelt and are now in their twenties. They have found work locally in the trades – work that is important to support increasing the housing stock and for resource development. This career choice excludes them from the Metro Vancouver real estate market. Today, it is possible for them to buy real estate in their home town, though a stretch financially. They would be priced out with a 50 percent increase that could occur from a fixed link.
Another question: If real estate will be the significant economic benefit from a fixed link, how would it be paid for?
One option would be a surcharge to the Property Purchase Tax, similar to the recent surcharge implemented in Metro Vancouver for foreign buyers. This would directly target the increased values generated from the fixed link.
Another option would be a regional development cost levy. This would directly target new developments that are stimulated from the fixed link.
A regional PST surcharge could be a possibility and would capture the materials associated with new developments. Unfortunately, because of the complexities of BC’s PST regime, this option would likely create a bureaucratic nightmare and unintended consequences.
Tolling is a frequently discussed option. The BC Government is silent on this issue as it would apply to the Sunshine Coast. Given the current government strategy to only toll new highway infrastructure that has a no-cost alternative, this option is a wild card.
Of course, there is the historical precedent used throughout BC’s colourful history of highway building, to pay for it from general revenues.
Regardless of the financing option(s) that will be used, it is unexpected that this project will be subject to a local referendum. Christy Clark has made it clear: referendums are for public transit projects only.