The Post-Bikelash Era?

Building protected bike lanes in Canada isn't as controversial as it once was. Maybe there's hope for the United States?

October 7, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Bridge Bike Lane

Just some "standard-issue" civic infrastructure that caused some columnists to predict the imminent demise of the city of Vancouver when it opened. | Steve Rosset / Shutterstock

The Globe and Mail's editorial board dares to ask if the "war against bike lanes" is finally coming to end in Canada—with people on bikes emerging as the unlikely victor in this battle for public space.

The latest bike lane projects in Vancouver, under construction on Richard and Smithe streets on the city's downtown peninsula, moved forward without attracting controversy, , according to the editorial board—the opposite of bike lane projects in the late 2000s.

Take, for example, the opening of the city's first protected bike lane on the Burrard Bridge:

 ‘Chaos’ feared, blared one headline. “Doomed to failure,” opined a columnist. All that proved incorrect: The Burrard Bridge bike lane, billed as the busiest in North America, saw 1.4 million rides in 2020, 40 per cent more than its first full year a decade earlier.

The relative peace of the two latest projects in Vancouver tell a story that repeats all over the county, according to the editorial board:

Penticton, in the British Columbia Interior, this summer opened its Lake-to-Lake bike lane; it plans to invest $15-million over the next five years. Sarnia, Ont., is extending its bicycling network. In Halifax, about a third of a planned 57 kilometres of protected bike lanes is complete. It includes Hollis Street through the heart of the city. Montreal last November opened a long north-south route on Saint Denis Street as part of its Réseau express vélo network.

Toronto, spurred by the pandemic, has installed protected lanes across the city. One new segment on Bloor Street East opened in late September. These lanes are billed as temporary, but it would be a short-sighted mistake to reverse course.

What was once a "political flashpoint" and an "ideological signifier" is now "standard-issue" civic infrastructure.

Monday, October 4, 2021 in The Globe and Mail

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