Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for September 15th, 2010

Bicycle Diaries: Episode Four

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I was going to use the title “Who is Arthur Laing, and why does he hate cyclists so much?” but that would not be fair.

I was out yesterday trying out my newly modified bike. I went over the Canada Line bridge because that gave me an incline to try. The ramp is quite steep and the granny gears ought to have been useful. Well they might have been if the shifter had been set up properly: the bike is back in the shop this morning. The new front suspension is also amazingly noisy.

As reported before, the north end of the new bike bridge is not well connected to the network. In fact, on the bike route map all three bridge heads have that red circle denoting “zone of caution” (see below). Heather is the on street bike route but Kent is also marked as “neighbourhood street”. Either way you eventually have to deal with South West Marine Drive a “major street with shared lane” to come back over the Arthur Laing bridge. That was much less scary than I thought it would be – the grade is gentler than the bike bridge!

On Marine Drive a truck tried to wipe me against the side of a parked truck – I know he saw me since I saw his face in his mirror – and I will not forget that expression. He had plenty of room to move left but decided to move right. I was able to stop in time. By curious coincidence the Guardian this morning has a piece entitled “What’s the best way to keep cyclists safe from the monsters of the road“?

The message needs repeating as often as possible, but there must be a better way to avert the danger posed by lorries

Actually my problem was not with me riding on the inside of an eighteen-wheeler, but being overtaken by a four-wheeler –  a full-sized truck not a panel van.

Unlike the “look out for each other” campaign (top), this ad has nothing to tell the men in the cabs.

But the mindset that says bikes should not be on the road – even roads which are wide and have marked “shared lanes” (even if the lane is blocked by a parked truck) – is what I see all the time as the problem. Many drivers move over to get cyclists space: indeed that is about all the marked (unprotected) bike lane is supposed to do. And as we have seen the City of Vancouver recognizes more protection is needed  in order to encourage more cycling, when the simple presence of a “critical mass” raises motorist awareness of cyclists, even if it cannot do very much to get through the attitude that cyclists “need to be given a scare”.

Women on bikes in cities are in the vanguard of improving transportation, and arguably the whole urban environment, just by being there.

And that thought is also seen today in the Daily Beast – that more women are cycling

Cyclistas on the Arthur Laing

The traffic is keeping well to the left – but there happens not to be a truck is sight. The tricky bit is using the ramp up from the east side of the bridge (as well as getting to the ramp from the curb lane of Marine Drive): there is a “gore” with a curb you can put your foot on while you wait for a gap in the flow. But gaps are few are far between since the last traffic light is way back at Granville and traffic has been merging in from the industrial area on the north bank of the Fraser (Milton Street) and from UBC on SW Marine. The grade over the bridge is notably gentler than that used for the ramps on each side of the Canada Line Bridge. But there is still a switchback.

On Sea Island there are off street paved paths but a considerable duplication of distance – and a further loop back under the new Canada Line Middle Arm bridge – then a bit of street which seems to have no other purpose which dead ends in a “banjo” with a little gap through the barrier for the path which comes out near the Delta Hotel  under the swing bridge. This all seems to fall under the authority of YVR, and probably satisfies the recreational cyclists who like to get to Iona Beach and the long flat stretches of Grauer and Ferguson roads. But is seems to me that it doesn’t really look like commuters – for instance the people who work at YVR or go to school at the new BCIT campus – or work in the offices along Cessna drive were really considered.

Cycle routes near the bridges

The purple line on the map seems to suggest that you might be able to somehow get underneath the offramp from the bridge and ride “wrong way” on the Middle Arm bridge ramp but that is not the case so far as I could see. Some of those black bridge markings seem to have been omitted from the map – for example look at those crossings of the Canada line. The map  is available as a pdf from Translink. And, so far as I can see there is still no off street paved route eastbound connecting Great Canadian Way to the “Canada Line SkyBridge”.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm