Debating Bike Infrastructure in Vancouver

Bike infrastructure is a source of political controversy, even in cities where biking is already popular.

1 minute read

January 3, 2017, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Complete Street Vancouver

Paul Krueger / flickr

In Vancouver, British Columbia, about one in every ten commuters bikes to work. Despite that relative success compared to most North American cities, residents in the city are debating the best ways to build bike infrastructure.

"Urban-planning and transportation experts have long feted Vancouver’s extensive system of bike-friendly side streets as a cheap and uncontroversial way for bike-resistant North American cities to create the infrastructure that gets people out of their cars and onto two wheels," according to an explanation of one side of the debate by Mike Hager.

But the side street approach is only part of the equation, writes Hager:

Networks of traffic-calmed streets can be an important – and politically feasible – middle step for a city to make cycling safer and easier for many, but, ultimately, separated lanes on busy streets are the key to getting more commuters peddling to work, according to Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former director of planning.

Protected bike lanes, however, have a tougher political hill to climb in Vancouver, just as in other cities. According to Hager, for instance, conservative political and media figures have fomented a "bikelash" campaign against protected bike lanes. 

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