Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cycling Investment Elsewhere

As summarized in the following table, jurisdictions around the world are investing significant amounts in cycling infrastructure. Some such as the Netherlands and Copenhagen already have high cycling mode shares and require investment to address capacity and safety issues. Others, such Winnipeg, Seville and Sydney, Australia, that have cycling mode shares lower than Vancouver, have committed to dramatically increase cycling in a short period of time.

Seville, the host city for Velo-city 2011, demonstrated the advantages of rapidly building cycling facilities. In four years, they invested $42 million to complete a network of 78 km separated bike lanes throughout the city. In addition, they also installed a 2,500 bicycle bike sharing system. As a result, bicycle mode share increased from 0.2% to 6.6% and cycling trips increased from 2,500 to 70,000 per day. Perhaps more importantly, it is now quite common to see children cycling in the city.[i]

The Netherlands
Dutch government expenditure on cycling has now reached an annual level of 487 million euros per year.[ii] Much money is now being spent on improving regional routes, for longer distance commuters, which leads to higher rates of cycling to work.

Munster, Germany

Munster, Germany (population 270,000) increase cycling trips up from 29% in 1981 to 43% in 1992 with an investment in cycling facilities of $112 million in today’s dollars.[1]

Sydney, Australia
The City of Sydney is investing $71 million over 4 years to build a 200km cycling network including 55km of separated cycleways.[iii]  Currently one per cent of trips into the city are made on bicycle - the city aims to increase this number by 10 per cent by 2016.

Portland, Oregon
Portland’s recently approved 20 year bicycle plan contains bicycle paths and other cycling infrastructure that is estimated to cost $613 million. Funding sources are being explored.[iv]

In 2010, Winnipeg invested $20.4 million in capital funding to build an extensive active transportation network throughout the city.[v]  The funding came from the three levels of government (the City, Province and Federal governments each contributing one-third, or $6.8 million). This active transportation program involves the creation of 35 projects that range from multi-use pathways to bike boulevards. Almost all of these projects are bicycle routes.

In Minneapolis, over $50 million was spent between 2000 and 2009 contributing to bicycle commute work trips more than doubling from 1.9% in 2000 to 4.3% in 2008.[vi] An additional $18 million is budgeted for bicycle facilities and programs in 2010. This includes federal investment through the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot (NTP) program. From 2000 to 2009 total bikeway mileage in the city increased from 95.5 miles to 127.8 miles. An average of $2 million per bikeway mile was spent during this period. The 2010 Bicycle Master Plan that aims to increase mode share to 10% by 2020[vii] will require an additional $500 million to complete and an additional $300,000 per year will be needed for maintenance. Non-infrastructure programs including education and promotion will cost $2 million per year to sustain.

Already Copenhagen stands out among other cities for its cycling infrastructure, counting more than 390 kilometres of bike paths. Between 2006 and 2010, it spent DKK 250 million in bike infrastructure and an extra 75 million kroner were allotted for 2011. Within the city, 55 percent of all commuters already travel by bike. Their goal is to hike the percentage of suburban commuters cycling to and from the city from the 37 percent it is today to over 50 percent by 2015.[viii]

[1] Ibid, p i.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Help Save the KVR Trail from ATVs

The Kettle Valley Railway Trail is being threatened by ATVs. They destroy the surface of the trail and create ruts making it very difficult to cycle on.

Photo -
From Trails BC:
Trails BC is expressing concern about a recent petition and a letter writing campaign by the provincial motor sports sectors, lobbying the provincial government for authorized motorized access to the Kettle Valley Trail (KVR) trails which are the backbone to BC’s portion of the national Trans Canada Trail as well as the province’s Spirit of 2010 Trail Network.
Spearheaded by the provincial ATV organization, the Quad Riders of BC, this campaign threatens to turn the KVR/Trans Canada Trail into an official motorized trail with major negative implications for non-motorized users. 
Over the last two years there has been resurfacing of sections of the KVR trail between Summerland and Faulder. In an attempt to maintain the integrity of these newly surfaced sections as well as to address other concerns impacting non-motorized users, the government of British Columbia Recreation, Sites and Trails posted official non-motorized signs on these sections just before the May long weekend. These non-motorized signs were immediately removed by unauthorized individuals. As a result, motorized users are still using these sections and the newly resurfaced sections are already degraded from motorized use. Such degradation discourages cyclists, the main intended user, from using the trail.
The KVR is largest component of the Spirit of 2010 Trail and the Trans Canada Trail in BC.
The Spirit of 2010 Trail is the first segment in the creation of world class recreational rails to trails product that will stimulate the development of incremental tourism infrastructure and incremental tourism visits across a significant portion of British Columbia. The Spirit of 2010 Trail is 750 kilometres in length and there is the potential to convert over 2000 kilometres of rail trails in total. The rails to trails movement has become an accepted model in North America for sustainable economic development in rural and urban areas. It is the conversion of former railway corridors into world-class recreational trails for use by cyclists, hikers, equestrians and Nordic skiers. It has enabled primarily rural communities to develop a sustainable business case for economic development using rail trails.
Marlene Gregory of Summerland reports:
Clear signs indicate that motorized vehicles are not allowed yet many of the cement blockades have been removed. Some refused to slow down, causing undue dust and one dirt bike rider narrowly missed hitting a cyclist in our group.
Parts of the trail are so soft that cycling and even walking are difficult.
Please write Premier Clark, Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and your MLA encouraging them to protect the KVR and other trails from motorized vehicles.

Premier Christy Clark

Hon. Steve Thomson
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

cc your MLA

As well, cc:,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Closing a gap in the TransCanada Trail

The TransCanada Trail on Vancouver Island leads south from Nanaimo to Shawnigan Lake, where it currently ends, just short of the Capital Regional District (CRD). Cyclists and hikers destined for Victoria must travel over the Malahat, a busy highway, or take the ferry across Finlayson Arm to Brentwood.

Now, the CRD has announced that it is in negotiations to complete the final 750 metres of trail that would establish a link to the Galloping Goose in Langford, allowing users to continue on a "Rails to Trails" multi-user facility into Victoria, or, once south of the Malahat, up the Saanich Peninsula to the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay.

The CRD expects to finish this link within three years, enabling a "triangle route" from the Lower Mainland via BC Ferries to Nanaimo, south to Victoria and back to the Mainland (or the reverse, of course!)

Read more (including a map) in the Times-Colonist newspaper article at

Beyond this, we can all hope that the existing trails north of Nanaimo can be linked together, to provide a facility all the way to Courtenay, where you can take a ferry to Powell River and the Sunshine Coast. That would be a very popular "circular tour" of some of BC's best country!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Five is the New Twenty - The Advantages of Quickly Completing Cycling Networks

Often a city or town will produce a fairly good cycling network plan. Due to financial considerations, the implementation plan will call for a route or two a year to be built. At that rate, it could take twenty to thirty to complete the network. The first bicycle path will open with a fair amount of fanfare with the mayor and other dignitaries cutting ribbons and perhaps even jumping on their bikes. Unfortunately, more often than not, even for high quality separated bicycle paths, the first route or two is not that well used and the good plans start to lose steam.

Some communities are taking a much bolder approach. They are planning and building whole networks of high-quality routes at once, essentially treating the network as one project. Instead of a twenty-year build out, they are completing their networks in three to five years.  The result is dramatic increases in the number of people cycling over a short period of time and the community experiences the benefits much sooner.

Better Bike Bang for the Bucks
By enabling more trips per route, complete networks help maximize the investment in cycling routes by increasing safety, decreasing GHG emissions, increasing physical activity and reducing congestion. As construction costs rise over time, the total cost of building a network rapidly is likely even less than building over several decades. This is basis for the BCCC's recommendations to the Provincial Government in Realizing the Benefits of Accelerated Investment in Cycling.

Seville Cycling Network
Seville perfectly demonstrated the advantages of rapidly building cycling facilities. In four years, they invested $42 million to complete a network of 78 km separated bike lanes throughout the city. In addition, they also installed a 2,500 bicycle bike sharing system. As a result, bicycle mode share increased from 0.2% to 6.6% and cycling trips increased from 2,500 to 70,000 per day. Perhaps more importantly, it is now quite common to see children cycling in the city.

Sydney, Australia
The City of Sydney is investing $71 million over 4 years to build a 200km cycling network including 55km of separated cycleways. Currently one per cent of trips into the city are made on bicycle - the city aims to increase this number by 10 per cent by 2016.

Why Complete Networks Work
There are several reasons why complete networks can dramatically increase the number of people cycling.

1. More Destinations
One route serves few destinations and thus is useful only for a few trips. A complete networks enables people to safely and comfortable cycle from anywhere to anywhere.

Due to network effects, the number of trips per route increases significantly as the number of connected routes increases. This is illustrated in the following figures showing a very simple network where each of the squares represents a destination.

Figure B
Figure A
In Figure A, the one route allows each of the six locations to access each of the other five locations. Thus, the number of possible trips is 6 x 6 = 30. The number of trips per route is 30.

In Figure B the 12 routes allows each of the 36 locations to access each of the other 35 locations. Thus, the number of possible trips is 36 x 35 = 1260. The number of trips per route is 1260/12 = 105.

2. Shorter Trips
With a system with only a few spread out cycling routes, people will often have to go out of their way to get to the cycling routes increasing travel distances. A complete network minimizes travel distances and times decreasing the effort required and increasing the number of trips that are in reasonable cycling distance.

3. Less Time in Bad Weather
Shorter travel times also means less time exposed to the cold, wet, heat and snow making cycling more comfortable.

4. Safer
Shorter travel distances decrease the chances of being involved in collisions and allow cyclists to better avoid nasty intersections.

5. Less Effort
Shorter distances require less physical effort making cycling more accessible for more people for more trips. This is especially important to young and old cyclists. Even for people in great shape, reducing effort reduces sweat making cycling more attractive especially for work and business trips. Complete networks also make it easier to avoid hills.

6. No Maps Needed
Well, at least no maps to find the bicycle routes. Just like drivers, cyclists still may need maps or a GPS to find the best route to their destination.

7. Less Bicycle Congestion
Too many cyclists maybe the furthest problem from people’s minds in communities just starting their cycling networks. However, cycling congestion both slows people down and creates potential safety problems. A dense, complete network, spread the bicycle traffic out over more routes allowing people to get to their destinations quicker.

On the Ground
The value of complete bicycle networks is demonstrated in Davis, California and Boulder, Colorado. With around 20% of trips by bicycle, these communities have the highest levels of bicycle usage in North America. This high level of cycling is facilitated by mature networks, which include bike lanes on almost all of their arterial roads and extensive off-road commuter bicycle paths.

Residents can simply get on their bicycles with confidence knowing there will always be a safe route to their destination.

N. Keates, Building a Better Bike Lane, Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2007, W1.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ontario Doctors Support Cycling Safety Through Collision Reduction

As tweeted by Share the Road, the Ontario Medical Association has just released an excellent policy paper, Enhancing cycling safety in Ontario. Their recommendations are very similar to the BCCC's policy Cycling Safety Through Collision Reduction with the focus being on investing in infrastructure improvements and education. The report also highlights the need to improve intersections.
Transportation planners must be charged with implementing bicycle safety solutions that have been proven in other jurisdictions, and work to solve any additional challenges that intersections pose for cyclists and drivers sharing the road. Similarly, the OMA recommends that both driver and cyclist educators emphasize intersection-specific challenges.
 They also address the issue of a lack of places for children to safely cycle.
Apart from the dangers of cyclists riding off the sidewalk into traffic, or crossing intersections or crosswalks when drivers don’t expect them to be there, sidewalk riding is not ideal for pedestrians or cyclists. If there were safer, designated places to ride, children might feel more comfortable riding on streets and their parents might be more willing to permit this.
As an overall goal, Ontario’s doctors believe that a cycling infrastructure of bike lanes and paths should be safe and seamless enough for parents to feel comfortable letting their children ride on the road in these lanes. It is especially important that bike lane networks are connected, and cyclists aren’t left stranded in mixed traffic.
Here is their list of recommendations. It would be great if the BCMA would produce a similar set of recommendations or even better, the BC government implements such policies.
  • That both provincial and municipal transportation departments do more to make cycling safer.
  • That the provincial government develop policy and programs, including funding, to facilitate safe cycling routes. 
  • That municipal governments, which have the responsibility to build a significant portion of the much-needed cycling infrastructure, redouble their efforts to do so.
  • That bike lane and bike path networks should be safe and seamless enough for parents to feel comfortable permitting their children to ride on them.
  • That bike lane networks be connected so that cyclists aren’t left stranded in mixed traffic. 
  • That transportation planners in Ontario be charged with implementing solutions that have been proven in other jurisdictions, and work to solve additional challenges that intersections pose for cyclists and drivers sharing the road. •
  • That investments in cycling infrastructure be made in suburban settings as well. 
  • That connected networks of roads with paved shoulders are needed in rural settings, to allow for the much needed separation between cyclists and fast-travelling vehicles on rural roads. 
  • That the Ontario Drivers’ Manual be revised to include a comprehensive section on vehicle-bicycle interaction, and furthermore that the Ontario’s Drive Test include this in the examination of new drivers.  
  • That the ongoing delivery of bicycle safety education for young children through such programs as Can-Bike be supported, and that such training be mandatory for all Ontario primary school students. 
  • That education material for both drivers and cyclists emphasize intersection-specific dangers.  
  • That the use of bicycle helmets is strongly recommended, on and off road, for children and adults alike.
Note that helmets are mentioned last. Like the BCCC, while strongly recommending helmet use, their focus is on collision reduction.
... the prevention of collisions and falls is the much preferred solution. There are many head injuries that bicycle helmets cannot protect against, so the ultimate goal must be to prevent the falls and collisions that result in cyclists hitting their heads.
The only major point they missed was the importance motor vehicle speed reduction but still, great work by the CMA.