Review of the City of Vancouver’s 5-year Bike Plan


The City of Vancouver’s (CoV) 5-year cycling network map is encouraging for those who enjoy cycling and especially those who rely on active transportation for commuting and moving about the city day-to-day. People who ride bikes in the downtown core will experience a remarkable upgrade and expansion of cycling infrastructure. Seeing as this region houses the greatest population density it is sensible to focus the majority of efforts there. However, relative to downtown, the exterior routes remain sparse and in some cases disconnected.

Connections to UBC

Data compiled by Campus and Community Planning (C&CP) show cyclists currently comprise 1.3% of mode share and a 3-year rolling average projects over 2000 weekday bicycle trips to and from UBC per day¹,². C&CP plans that by 2040 at least 16% of trips will be made by people either walking or cycling2. To align with this plan, infrastructure will need to be substantially upgraded and expanded to attract and maintain the influx of new cyclists looking to access the campus. UBC is accessed by five main cycling routes — University Boulevard/Blanca/Off-Broadway, Chancellor Boulevard/4th Avenue, Northwest Marine Drive, 16th Avenue, and Southwest Marine Drive. Below, we provide commentary on current concerns for each of these routes which we hope can be addressed in future plans.

University Boulevard/Blanca/Off-Broadway and 10th Avenue

This is the primary route for cycling onto campus, connecting directly to UBC’s core. We welcome plans to add infrastructure to Blanca and to upgrade the 10th Avenue bike route to All Ages and Abilities (AAA) status, as that is a major thoroughfare for students living in Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant and East Vancouver. However, in its current form the cycling network map is void of plans to install an AAA bikeway between 10th Avenue — or any other arterial routes — and the University Endowment Lands (UEL). The AMS Bike Co-op feels this is a considerable oversight. We hope plans will soon be made to complete this AAA route by upgrading the Off-Broadway bike route to connect 10th Avenue and Blanca.

Chancellor Boulevard/4th Avenue

This route is appealing for upgrade, due to its proximity to the AAA route from Jericho Beach to Downtown. Issues remain with the bike infrastructure along Chancellor, including the lack of lights, high traffic speeds and poor connections, and we are working with HUB, Bike-Walk UBC, and the MOTI to address these. However, on the Vancouver side, the connection between the AAA route and Chancellor remains unsatisfactory. While we welcome the proposal to upgrade Highbury, the remainder of the route along 4th Ave consists of narrow painted lanes and in some places sharrows along a high-traffic road. We strongly encourage the CoV to also consider upgrading the existing infrastructure along 4th, so that there is a AAA route connecting Downtown to the edge of the UEL.

16th Avenue

16th Avenue is an important bike route connecting to the Dunbar and Kerrisdale neighbourhoods, where many students live. Unfortunately, the painted bike lane on the UBC/Province side disappears at the CoV border at Blanca. We welcome the addition of infrastructure to Blanca to connect to 16th avenue. However, as many commuters live in the Dunbar area, the section of 16th Avenue between and Blanca and both the Dunbar and Valley bike routes represents a gap. To follow the “Vision Zero” initiative of the City, sections of bike lane running parallel to roads with speed limits in excess of 30km/h should have protected lanes due to elevated risk of fatality³. There is ample room on this section for parking-protected or fully-protected bike lanes.

Southwest Marine Drive

Southwest Marine Drive is a major connector to UBC from South Vancouver. We welcome the planned upgrades to the painted lanes along that route, but hope that it can be considered for AAA upgrades in the future.

Northwest Marine Drive

Technically an AAA route onto the edge of campus, but more of a leisure route than a direct commuter route. Also, a lot of that “AAA” route is hard-packed gravel, which is not exactly commuter friendly. The connection between NW Marine Drive and Point Grey Road through Jericho Beach Park is unpaved and shared with pedestrians. Even though we encourage the bicycle use as leisure, we also recognize the potential conflicts between commuting cyclists (transportation-focused, fast-riding) and promenading pedestrians (leisure-oriented, possibly with dogs).

Summary

To maximally improve the current state of commuting to UBC we suggest the CoV prioritize the addition of 1) 8th avenue from Trafalgar to Blanca 2) 4th avenue between Highbury and Blanca and 3) 16th avenue between Valley drive and Blanca to their catalog of AAA bicycle lane projects. Provided these new routes, the AAA cycling network would be able to safely funnel bike commuters from East Vancouver, Kitsilano, Downtown, and Dunbar to UBC. While at present many of these connections are not at AAA status on the UBC side, we are working with the province and local groups to upgrade these, such that their inclusion in the City’s five-year plan is appropriate. UBC’s daytime population is approximately 60,000 people and nearly one-tenth of the entire population of Vancouver proper¹. Considering this, the scale of impact on Vancouver cyclists justifies these proposed cycling network expansions.

Other Comments on the Plan

Kent Avenue and SW Marine Drive Connections

The map also shows no connecting routes between SW Marine Drive, Kent Avenue, and Hudson Street, limiting their utility for some commuters particularly those riding with young children or who are inexperienced. Further examples are Commercial Drive, Bute, Gore, and West Waterfront Road.

Representation of Infrastructure at UBC on Maps

We welcome the inclusion of on-campus cycling infrastructure in Figure 2 – Five-Year Cycling Implementation Map (November 2015). However, we note that all the infrastructure is shown as being equal, and not reflective of the diversity of infrastructure, which ranges from highly uncomfortable painted lanes along high-speed routes (16th, Marine Drive) to much more comfortable car-free pedestrian malls. Better-harmonized bike map data would aid both the public and decision-makers. We hope the CoV can continue to work with UBC C&CP to this end.

Trial of Skateboards and Push Scooters on Bike Infrastructure

Finally, the AMS Bike Co-op supports the pilot for skateboarding and scootering in protected bike lanes. If collision data generatedover the course of the pilot suggest no significant change in the number of accidents between cyclists and people riding skateboards, push-scooters and using skates, the protected bike lanes should become permanently multi-use. Further, we support the motion to limit the narrower on-street bikeways to only people riding bikes due to closer proximities and necessarily quicker reactions.

References:

1. Campus and Community Planning UBC. UBC Vancouver Transportation Status Report Fall 2014. http://planning.ubc.ca/sites/planning.ubc.ca/files/attachments/UBC2014-
TransportationStatusReport-FINAL_0.pdf
2. Campus and Community Planning UBC. UBC Transportation Plan 2014. http://planning.ubc.ca/sites/planning.ubc.ca/files/documents/transportation/plans/UBC-Transportation-Plan-2014_Oct.pdf
3. Kim, J-K., Kim, S., Ulfarsson, G.F., & Porrello, L.A. (2007). Bicyclist Injury Severities in Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Accidents. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 39:238-251
4. City of Vancouver. Census and Local Area Profiles 2011. http://data.vancouver.ca/datacatalogue/censusLocalAreaProfiles2011.htm