So far it has been an eventful summer in the Metro Vancouver area. A lane closure on the Burrard Street bridge in Vancouver caused no end of commotion an “weeping and gnashing of teeth” with predictions of grid lock and angry motorist reactions. In typical fashion the media jumped on an anti-cycling bent and only further inflamed the situation with dire predictions of traffic jams and motorist angst over being delayed in their commute. The reality of course was that the lane closure came into effect on July 13 and traffic flowed easily with little or no delay for motorists trying to get to and from work. The benefits of course were quickly realized, pedestrians could use the sidwalk safely as could cyclists use the seperated bike lane keeping them and pedestrians safe. As expected by most truly sensible and objective observers, the increase in safety for cyclists resulted in higher than normal cycling traffic across the bridge with cycling ridership up by 30-40%. The real test of course will come in September when traffic levels increase with school back in session and most workers back from vacation. Kudos to the City of Vancouver council and staff for sticking to their well executed plans in spite of objections. More information is available at the Burrard Bridge Lane Trial site. For those interested on the stats of Burrard Bridge traffic levels before and after check it out here.
There has also been a flurry of bad journalism regarding cycling issues in the last month or two. First there has been an epidemic of editorials from journalists who failed to do even some basic research before posting their inaccurate and misleading information. I am speaking of the “time to end the free ride for cyclists” diatribes that have circulated in several Metro Vancouver media outlets of late. Even basic research will refute every one of their assertions. An excellent source of information about transportation infrastructure can be found on the Victoria Transport Policy Institute web site. I won’t get into the details and rebuttals here, but here is a link to information that is available to all wanting to know just how our transportation infrastructure is funded.
As if this wasn’t enough local media, specifically the Vancouver Province (with a little help from the VPD) printed a story predicting chaos and riots for the Friday July 31 Critical Mass ride. It made things worse as the Province had to close the comments section because of the threats of violence being posted (beating, shooting and vehicular assault) against cyclists. The truth as usual was that other than a couple of verbal exchanges, the event was “uneventful” and was reported as such by the Vancouver Sun the next day. While I have not yet decided on the effectiveness of the Critical Mass Rides, I do support their right to protest. Ah well, I guess the newspapers are losing market share and need to write something to sell their product even if it’s totally false and misleading.
On a positive note, I came across a great video done by the fine people of StreetFilms about the “livable streets movement” in Bogota Columbia. Officials re-assign 70 miles of streets every Sunday 5 AM to 5 PM for a Ciclovia (spanish for bike path) event. These streets are closed to vehicular traffic but only open to cyclist, walkers, joggers, roller bladers, skate boarders etc. Here is the video.
Fortunately there has been a lot more postive happening in Metro Vancouver area even with the bad press of late and I will be focussing on these things in my next postings.