Did you know that Outside Magazine, champion of all things outdoors and active, ranks Vancouver as one of the best cities for cycling in North America?
In its October 2012 issue, Outside gives us credit for our network of bike lanes, especially the attention given to creating safe routes for cyclists in high traffic spots like downtown and the bridges; the seawall; cycling-friendly transit options; and events such as the annual Velo-palooza cycling festival.
The latest proposal to make our city more cycling friendly is the improvement of the Cornwall Avenue-Point Grey Road corridor.
The city is examining options to create a safe, convenient connection for cyclists and pedestrians between the Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach.
This week saw three lively, well-attended open houses in the neighbourhood as the city gathered ideas and feedback from residents.
I'll admit to having a vested interest in this particular proposal as I cycle from Kits to the downtown core for my daily commute.
There's no question that it's not the most cyclist-friendly route in the city, especially as you come off the bridge and merge with vehicles and pedestrians at the Cornwall intersection.
Especially on dark and rainy days, skirting the fast-moving traffic on a bike can feel like taking your life in your hands.
Possibilities for improvement include separated bike lanes on either Cornwall/Point Grey road or nearby side streets; complete closure of parts of the road to vehicle traffic; and enhancement of the seaside greenway that runs between the road and Kits Beach.
Regardless of which option (or combination of options) is eventually chosen, improving the route for cyclists and pedestrians while balancing the needs of other road users will be challenging.
Street parking on both Cornwall and Point Grey is at heavily used, especially during the summer months, and up to 30,000 cars use certain sections of the route each day.
On the Cornwall stretch, businesses between the bridge and Yew Street could be negatively impacted by changes that reduce parking options or move the main flow of traffic elsewhere.
Excited though I am by the clear benefits to cyclists that an improved route would bring, I also very much hope that the final solution will be one which also considers the needs of residents, pedestrians, and businesses.
Developing cycling infrastructure is hugely important as a means of encouraging environmentally-friendly transportation and improving the overall livability of our city, but doing so in a measured and balanced way is vital to ensure the goodwill of the community.
If you have strong feelings about the development of a cycling route on the Point-Grey Cornwall corridor, another round of community meetings and open houses is scheduled for April once the city has finished gathering feedback and traffic data from the preliminary consultation.
The city planners are looking for your input - don't miss the chance to give it.
Kay Cahill is a cyclist and librarian who believes bikes are for life, not just for commuting. Read more at sidecut.ca, or send a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.