To the editor:
I would like to make some comments on a letter to the editor in the April 18 issue from Richard Campbell, President of the B.C. Cycling Coalition. I drive, cycle, take transit, and walk to get around Vancouver. Mr. Campbell would like to see separated bicycle lanes along main streets like Broadway, Main, and Commercial. I assume he is referring to a design similar to the recently installed Hornby Street and Dunsmuir Street two-way bike lanes. Streets like Broadway and Main are critical public transit routes, and buses and taxis should be given primacy on these routes.
Bike lanes, whether separated or not, can result in conflict either with bus movements, or with bus passenger movements, as the various modes cross each other's paths. Encouraging cyclists to use streets just off the main routes, like 10th Avenue, 7th/8th Avenue and Ontario Street, avoids the inevitable conflicts with buses, taxi's, pedestrians, moving vans, and delivery trucks that are part of cycling on an arterial route like Broadway. Partly for the same reason the off-arterial street routes are much faster for cyclists, as they have to deal with far fewer traffic lights, and they can even control many of the traffic lights on their route.
Due to the extra turning rules and restrictions that separated bike paths require, all vehicles, including taxi and transit vehicles ( and bicycles) will be slowed down. For cyclists, turning into or out of a separated bike lane onto an intersecting street can be a very challenging operation, requiring excellent bicycle and traffic skills, while looking for bicycles, pedestrians and cars, all three of which could be going in either the same or the opposite direction of the cyclist. Furthermore, installing separated bicycle lanes on any of the streets Mr. Campbell recommends would result in one less lane for other forms of transportation, including buses, taxis and motorcycles.
As for ease of access to shopping destinations on the arterial, it is a simple matter of turning off the relatively quiet bike route that runs parallel and close to the main road, cycling to the main road, and walking or cycling no more than a half block to one's destination.
Last, but certainly not least, the cost of building separated bike lanes along the three mentioned arterials would be in the tens of millions of dollars initially, with more operating costs for years after.
Rudy Roelofsen, Vancouver