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It is all about increasing cycling traffic. For each obstacle or perceived obstacle that is removed from the thinking process of potential cyclists, the greater will be the penetration of the potential cycling market.  The greater will be the daily cycling traffic.

For some, the ordinary bicycle, no matter the design, will not do for reasons that may range from personal energy levels to personal preferences.  E-bicycles reduce some of these obstacles for not cycling for part of the potential cycling market, the customers.

Electrically-Assisted Bicycle Vancouver BC ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013


Electrically-Assisted Bicycle
Vancouver BC
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013


When it comes to discussions on e-bicycles, we should be clear to all as to which type we are discussing:

Type 1 – The type that have normal bicycle frames and have an electric motor and battery attached.

Type 2 – The type that looks like mopeds and have pedals, which qualifies them as e-bicycles providing the maximum speed does not exceed 32 kph in North America.

Over the past few years, TransLink, the local transportation authority in Metro Vancouver, has been approached a few times for allowing the bicycle-framed type of electrical bicycles on transit vehicles. 

Read more …..

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If you wish to expand the size of any image, then click on the image.

Calgary AB, Winter Cyclist, Bow River Bike Trail, West of Downtown, Evening Winter Cycling Commute Home©Photograph by J Chong, 2012

Calgary AB, Winter Cyclist, Bow River Bike Trail, West of Downtown, Evening Winter Cycling Commute Home
©Photograph by J Chong, 2012

Want to increase winter cycling in your city?  So, What does it take to increase winter cycling?  Well, maybe a winter cycling program must be actively undertaken.  Such a program has a number of components, including the cycling infrastructure (including the roadway, road lighting, winter road maintenance), End of trip facilities (including bike parking, clothes storage, change facilities, clothes drying), efficient trip time from home to bike parking and to the office, and a social marketing component, focusing on selling the concept of winter cycling for commuting, for shopping, getting to transit stops with high service levels, and for other trip purposes. 

A cycling infrastructure needs to be there that is conducive to cycling in winter along with snow and ice clearing for bike trails, bike paths, bike lanes, and neighbourhood cycling streets, and maybe even some heated toilets.   As a lot of the winter commuting is done during hours of darkness, cyclists do not want the unexpected – black ice in intersections, build-up of water and ice at the side of roads, being forced by cars towards the curb with ice and snow build-up, and so on.  Adequate street lighting for commuting in the dark is a condition so that the challenges of the road can be seen in advance and in time for corrective action.

So, why should people cycle in the winter?  What is in it for the city?

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2012-06-01 Version

© H-JEH (Jack) Becker, Third Wave Cycling Group Inc. 2007-2012., Velo.Urbanism 2012

The City of Vancouver’s draft Transportation Plan 2040 contains some interesting strategic directions which will further the use of Active Transportation modes of travel while decreasing the dependency on car use.

Vancouver; TransLink; SkyTrain
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2010

Vancouver; Dunsmuir St. Separated BIke Lanes
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Vancouver; TransLink; Bicycles on Bus
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Vancouver; TransLink; Bicycles on Canada Line
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Now, if one steps away from the details of the plan and views the document from a macro point of view, then the plan feels like an incremental step forward from the past rather than a dramatic change in the way we travel in the next 30 years.  At this point in time, a dramatic change in travel is what we need, not crawling forward at past speeds.  Why is a dramatic change in the way we travel now needed?  Well, all the rational has well been debated from the desire of the residents of Vancouver for improved air and noise quality, personal health issues, growth of obesity and the contribution to that from modes of travel, health care cost, and so on.

The Draft Transportation Plan feels like a technical document, not a change agent paper.  There is a lack of a new vision in the document for transportation and for transportation’s role in creating a liveable, green, sustainable city community which has vitality and spirit that people can see, feel, buy into, and get inspired by.  There is a lack of connectivity of this draft document to the vision of the city and its key strategies that will make this plan’s contribution to move the city towards realizing that vision.

Perusing the many strategic directions for the modes of transportation in the document, some thoughts for additional strategic directions come to mind that may be worth considering:

In addition to focusing on directions for growing each mode of transportation, some strategies should concentrate on people and persuading them to make modal shifts to active transportation options.  One could argue that a strategy focusing on people and inducing mode shift could be the key strategy for a transportation plan.

In this article, the phrase “active transportation” includes walking, cycling, transit, and other modes that travel at the speed of walking or cycling (wheelchairs, skateboarding, in-line skating, etc.).

Streetscape – Toronto retail and commercial street, streetcar, bike parking – post and ring
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Nice Fr, Automatic bollards control car and truck access to walking street
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Strasbourg Fr; Asymmetrical street; traffic lane; tram; cycling lane; sidewalks
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Proposal for an Overriding Strategy for the Transportation Plan 2040

The Transportation Plan 2040 and its recommended infrastructure, toolkits, services, and programs shall be focused on social marketing of the preferred modes of transportation, be focused on reaching the plan’s target transportation mode shares, be contributing to reaching the stated city direction to be the greenest city in the world, meet the Kyoto commitment, and be a contributor to achieving a true green, sustainable, and vibrant city.   The implementation of the plan, including infrastructure, its design, and programs, shall focus on a target market and the customers of that market who need to be induced by alternate transportation modes to meet the city’s vision of a sustainable city and a world leader.

Streetscape – Nice Fr; Asymmetrical street; tram; traffic lanes; sidewalk
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Strasbourg Fr; Two-way cycling track in the middle of the road ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Madrid Spain; Traffic lanes; separated two-way bike lanes
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

For modal conversion to occur, motorists will need to have alternate forms of transportation available and to their liking for the Transportation Plan 2040 to be successful.  For growing suburbs and non-central core densification, it is highly desirable for active transportation options to be in place before decisions for home purchase are made.  Does one buy a car and a home or does one decide to use active transportation and have more money that normally would go to car driving and ownership be available for home purchase?  That is the choice for home purchasers when active transportation options are in place.  When not, what choice is there but to commute by car?

With a population expansion within any parts of a city, there is criticism of congestion.  The first choice option for congestion relieve for cities is to put in more road capacity.  As we know, road capacity expansion will only provide short-term congestion relieve.  If the city wants to be truly a green city, then it makes good sense to put active transportation measures in place, determine its impact on road congestion, consider if the level of road congestion is desirable to support use of active transportation, and then decide if road expansion is really necessary.

Strategy – Mobility Management – Transportation Demand Management

Active Transportation alternatives will be implemented and in operation for a minimum two years in any corridor before any assessment is made for increasing road capacity for cars and trucks, from simple improvements such as left or right turn lanes to additional lane capacity.

Streetscape – Madrid, Spain; Cycling and pedestrian lane
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Save for lack of personal financial resources, people will not make modal changes unless the alternative makes sense to them, fits in their lifestyles, are socially acceptable, does not impose an unreasonable discomfort, and the facilities are to their personal liking.  So, it makes sense to choose and focus on a target market and its customers and design for them very specifically, rather than follow some design manuals.  Target marketing versus the shotgun marketing approach to design of infrastructure facilities and cycling network should result in significant cycling traffic growth.

Strategy – Infrastructure Design

Designs shall meet the needs of people from the young to the seniors (8-to-80 or AAA concepts) and shall be specifically focused on the needs of the target market of customers (i.e. motorists that are open to change in transportation modes) that will need to be induced to use active transportation alternatives for the targets for transportation mode shares to be achieved.

Nice Fr – Other users of cycling infrastructure
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Toronto – Other bike trail users – People in wheelchairs
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Nice Fr – Cyclist, Shopping by Bicycle
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Nice Fr – Cyclist, Father and child
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Real growth of active transportation will be enhanced through change-inducing statements from traditional practices, rather than incremental enhancements of past practices.  Bold, clear statements that signal rapid change will result in creative solutions that residents of the city will see as explicit signals that modal change needs to happen and that they need to play an active part in making it happen.

Concepts that should be included in this plan:

People Street – Madrid, Spain – Late night shopping; some 24 hour stores; car and delivery access until 11:00am
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Walking – Direction should include a statement that the walking infrastructure and its support facilities (audible signals, signage, wayfinding, etc.) shall meet the needs of both the young and the seniors, who may have visual, balance, navigational, motor skills or other limitations.

Streetscape – Making cyclists movement through intersection highly visible to other road users, especially to motorists with closely placed sharrows©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Cycling – Market segmentation shall identify the characteristics of potential cycling customers.  Infrastructure design and social marketing programs shall focus on the needs of the target market segments and induce them to use cycling as part of their transportation options.

Streetscape – Two-way tram line on sunny side of retail street. Cyclists and trams co-exist. Nice Fr.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Cyclists and trams share the tram lines; Nice Fr;
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Cordoba, Spain; Separated lanes – cycling, bus, traffic lanes
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Transit – Work towards an effective transit system with service levels that will attract people away from using their cars.  Work towards a city being served by a full complement of transit layers, including streetcars / trams, maximizing the appeal of transit to the public.  Work towards maximizing the transit ridership growth opportunity through combined mobility strategies, infrastructure, and social marketing programs (transit and cycling).  Improve the quality of the air in the city and control of noise pollution with a 100% electric-powered bus and commuter train system.

Streetscape – On retail street; wide sidewalks; two-way tram lines; one-way shared lane for cars and bicycles, and limited car parking; Nice Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Asymmetrical street layout – Grouping modes together. Car parking on one side of street; two-way car lanes with median; two-way tram lines; Sidewalks on each side of street
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Motor Vehicles – The city shall remove itself from a non-essential city service of providing on-road and off-road car parking and reduce its road maintenance costs in the process, considering that there is private sector capability to provide such services from land owners, developers, residential complexes, private home owners and potential new entrants such as car parking condos for neighbourhoods.  City shall separate the sale of parking spaces in residential and commercial buildings from the sale of home and office units.  The city shall support such a separation by applying and invoicing municipal taxes separately for homes and offices and for car parking spaces.  City shall implement bylaws, which allows unused car parking spaces in residential and commercial buildings to be rented out for short-term parking and potentially long-term parking if short-term parking demand has been satisfied.

Streetscape – Strasbourg Fr; Asymmetric street with tram
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – People streets with restricted car and truck movement for designated hours each day; Bollards on edge of sidewalks restricting car and truck parking. Avignon, Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

People Street – Avignon, Fr; Bollards control motorized traffic on streets, including a local bus
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Car and truck traffic flow on street controlled with automatic bollards at intersection; Local residents and other approved vehicles can lower bollards allowing entrance; Dijon Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Land Use – Integrate transportation planning with land use, urban planning, urban form, and zoning bylaws through zoning densification levels in each neighbourhood along all corridors generating sufficient traffic for quality active transportation modes thus allowing active transportation facilities and services to be implemented on an economic case basis.

Streetscape – A shopping people street; Nice Fr.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – People street and the shoppers; Mom on VeloBlue public share bicycle; child on her own bicycle; Nice Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Early morning on a shopping, people street; Bollards restricting car and truck parking on the sidewalks; Nice Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Local farmers market on a people street; Merchants ready for the day’s business; Dijon Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Streetscape – Farmers market on a local street with a bike lane; Dijon Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Strategic Direction for Streetscape – The Transportation Plan should include a vision and strategy for people streets where car and truck access is managed and controlled to time of day for delivery of goods, municipal and emergency street services, transit, and local residents.

Transportation Plan 2040 Section on Cycling

The opening statement should include “and support significant cycling traffic growth by inducing people not to drive and use cycling or combined mobility of cycling and transit instead”.

Key Strategic Directions for Cycling

Want significant cycling traffic and use growth? Want continued snail-pace, incremental growth for the future?
If significant growth of cycling traffic is desired, then bold statements and bold visions are needed.  Paving the way for this level of growth requires strategic direction statements for:

The first policy should address a rapid implementation (5 year) of a high-quality cycling network, city-wide, to determine the amount of modal conversion from driving that can be achieved and to allow for wiser investment in road infrastructure for car traffic in the future.

The second policy should address the focus of infrastructure, network, infrastructure toolkit, network toolkit, and social marketing that would appeal to motorists to cycle instead, including combined mobility.

The third policy should call for quality, physical separation of cyclists and motorists (with barriers, not paint, thus  preventing cars and trucks from using cycling facilities) that would induce motorists to cycle instead.

Public bike sharing system station located by the entrance to a hotel and a performance centre; Toronto Bixi System
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

VeloBlue public bike sharing system; Nice Fr
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

The fourth policy should address the role of public bike sharing system in advancing cycling and cycling-transit usage.  The role should be directed to expansion of public bike sharing systems beyond the current model and usage.

The network policy should call for feeder networks from home to schools, transit facilities, shopping areas, and other destinations.  Provide suburban neighbourhoods the feeling of cycling that one gets when cycling along a seaside bike trail or on abandoned or operational railway lines.  This policy should also include providing seaside path type of facilities on interior local roadways, separated cycling facilities along retail streets, and separated cycling facilities along any roads adjacent to rapid transit lines (existing and new).

In general, the policy statements in the Transportation Plan 2040 document are very lightweight, not exemplary of a pacesetter city, and more indicative of a follower city content to be positioned behind American cities with little cycling enthusiasm.

Each municipality needs to make a decision. If that decision is to move towards Active Transportation and away from cars as the primary forms of transportation, then bold, visionary, leadership statements and strategic directions are needed.  As they say – no pain, no gain.  If no gain, then pain as personal health care issues continue to climb quickly, along with the tax burden that each person carries for maintenance of the health care system.

Some comments on the City of Vancouver’s initial draft of its Transportation 2040 Plan and the proposed Transportation Mode Share Targets

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H-JEH (Jack) Becker
Third Wave Cycling Group Inc., 2012-05-13

A recent radio interview highlighted the timeliness for Calgarians to have a comprehensive dialogue on separated bike lanes (SBL), especially local cycling advocates and those interested in better cycling facilities. The dialogue should start with the question of why have SBL and then continue into concepts and designs, fit into local streetscape and urban form.  Then the dialogue must include how SBL contributes to local business and to the city as a whole.

Separated bike lanes have been shown to be successful in instigating a shift from driving to cycling. It is a tool that comes in many configurations of designs and fit into local urban form. The type chosen has a direct impact on the degree of local acceptance and of success in increasing cycling.

So, what types of separated bike lanes do Calgarians want? Some of the dialogue should cover

  • Cycling traffic capacity

How wide should the separated bike lanes be?  Well, first it should be established what the objectives for the SBL should be.  Is it for the convenience of current cyclists?  Is it to provide capacity to meet natural cycling traffic growth or the city’s future cycling mode share targets?  Is it part of a city reshaping itself into a large city or world-class city form, instead of a sprawling metropolis?  What current barriers are hindering cycling growth that could be accommodated with SBL?  What human characteristic could be designed into SBL to cause significant growth?

Acceptance of SBL is greater by cyclists and by potential cyclists if they could see efficient trip time.  One of the factors, capacity to pass slower cyclists, is key.  The next big step into cycling growth is to move away from solitary cycling to accommodating social cycling of two people side-by-side deep into discussion.  Intersection passage time is also key.

  • Forms of separation

Generally, separated bike lanes comes in various forms of separation from vertical to horizontal, at general traffic lane level, on sidewalk elevation, outside of road right-of-ways, etc.  Separation comes in many forms from virtual where drivers’ observance of painted lines provides the separation to physical through various forms of barriers that will have negative effect on cars if drivers were not to observe the barriers.

Physical separation can be provided at various cost levels from minimal to sophisticated separation designs that fits well into urban and streetscape forms.

Observations of various forms of SBL in cities within Europe and North America indicate the need for physical separation where cars, trucks, and motorcycles are prevented from entering into bike lanes.

With virtual separation (painted lines or buffers) and half curb height separation (Copenhagen style), it is only driver decency that causes the bike lanes not to be used for passing motorized vehicles stopped for a turn, overtaken a slower vehicle, or parking, especially by delivery vehicles. Even car entry into bike lanes needs to be prevented for such bike lanes not to become parking lanes.  However, the form of separation should allow police and other emergency vehicles to use the lanes to efficiently get by street traffic.  This also tends to encourage width of bike lanes to accommodate a police vehicle and a cyclist.

  • Two-way bike lanes versus one way

A dialogue on this subject usually gets around to selection of one-way separated bike lanes on the same or adjacent streets to the use of two-way bike lanes.  There are many arguments that can be made for either solution that would better fit the needs of cyclists, motorists on the streets, local businesses, and urban and streetscape form.

Two-way separated bike lanes are self-levellers of traffic accommodating cycling traffic jams and supporting social cycling.  Bringing together into one space cyclists going both ways, the presence of cyclists on the road is much more evident to motorists, a bit of a marketing tool.  Motorists will see the lanes actually being used and become more aware that their driving style needs to adjust accordingly.  Another important benefit is the reduction of potential cross traffic of cyclists and motorists, limiting that to one side of a street.

  • Which side of road

One-Way Bike Lanes

Should two one-way bike lanes be located on one road, no matter if one of the lanes is contraflow or be placed on two neighbouring roads?

Two-Way Bike Lanes

Location of two-way bike lanes should recognize night cycling and the effect of car headlights shining into cyclists’ eyes with overhead lights often being too weak in intensity to overcome cyclists’ blindness or blocked out by tree leaves making sidewalk curbs or separation barriers difficult to be seen by cyclists.

Two-way bike lanes should be positioned on the roadway with direction of flow of cyclists and adjacent car traffic being in the same direction.  This will place contra-flow cyclists horizontally farther away from the headlights of cars moving in the opposite direction lessening light impact on cyclists.

The dialogue should include such factors of one side of the street to the other as to the number of ingresses and egresses from local properties, the volume of cars turning across the two-way bike lanes, visibility of cyclists to motorists who are making turns across the bike lanes (left side visibility of motorists of parallel cyclists versus right side), and visibility of oncoming cyclists to motorists at intersections.

  • Networking

Networking of cycling facilities is a cycling traffic growth factor.  A cycling facility leading to on-street, shared cycling will only draw a smaller portion of motorists who could be induced to cycling if the cycling facilities were to their liking.

The dialogue for downtown Calgary should include the priority of SBL extending a limited cycling capacity Peace Bridge facility into the downtown core along 6th or 7th St or both.  The dialogue should also consider an option of SBL extension into the working core of downtown Calgary within the catchment area of cycling facilities to cyclists’ work places.

SBL’s along these two streets would have limited value unless the SBL were continued and networked into the downtown core and underneath the railway tracks to the shopping areas of 10th to 12th Ave and to 17th Ave.  Considering the cycling unfriendly 5th St and 8th St underpasses for potential cyclists and also cycling infrastructure catchment area, 7th St may be a more desirable street for an SBL as a first level network infrastructure.

Some grey research that I have been doing over the last 10 plus years and supported by lower-level rigour research by others would indicate that catchment area of cycling facilities tends to be from 0 metres to 500 metres (5 blocks, 2 minutes cycling).

For downtown city centrum, a catchment area of 2 blocks each side of cycling facilities is a highly desirable, first level networking design with catchment area eventually being decreased to two blocks between cycling facilities as the second level and then adjacent major streets as a third level. 

From a networking perspective, any off-road bike trails such as that along the Bow River should also have on-road bypasses as cycling traffic will built up on bike trails that will cause commuter cyclists to want to use on-road facilities from a commuting time perspective.  This factor would encourage an on-road cycling facility parallel to the Bow Trail.

Considering cycling infrastructure catchment area, the location of the Bow Trail, and the concentration of downtown workplace, a two-way SBL should be provided on 6th Ave as a first priority or alternately 5th Ave connecting with the Bow Trail via 11th St in the west and 6th Ave through the East Village at the east end.

  • Right turn or left turn prohibitions across SBL’s

The dialogue should include discussion on intersection design especially motorists’ capability for turns across SBL.  A through understanding on current motorists turning pattern needs to be had on candidate streets and alternate routing options for motorists should full or partial banning of turns occur across SBL.

Cyclists trip time, cyclist’s’ visibility, and perceived safety for potential cyclists are driving forces for intersection limitations for motorists.

Especially full prohibition or alternately no turn on red signal phase will enhance the perceived safety of SBL for potential and current cyclists.  

  • Cyclists advance timing at intersection

The dialogue should also include an alternative to banning turns across SBL

Alternately to full or partial turning for motorists at intersections, a cyclists advanced signal phase to clear backed-up cyclists at a traffic signal first before car movement starts will enhance the cyclists’ experience and the attractiveness to potential cyclists.

  • Bike boxes to accommodate turns

The dialogue should also consider how to efficiently move cyclists with high visibility to motorists from SBL to intersecting streets and also bringing cyclists from these intersecting streets to the SBL.

Coloured bike boxes (especially environmental green colour) at intersections of streets with SBL and diagonal streets is a good solution.  At some streets up to 4-coloured bike boxes may be desirable.

  • Road maintenance

The dialogue should also include housekeeping and maintenance of SBL’s.  What type of equipment should be added to the city’s arsenal and what cleaning frequency should be built into the city’s budget and maintenance procedures?

Wind tends to move dirt and garbagy materials left behind by cars and especially trucks into SBL.  Water ponding on SBL’s can be a significant problem for cyclists especially during freeze-thaw periods.

Maintenance procedures should be providing quality of cycling service that reduces the chances of tire flats for cyclist and provides for safe operation of bicycles at any speed.

  • Winter operations and snow and ice clearing

With a SBL network the desirability of cycling during rainy weather and winter increases significantly.  While initially SBL were convenient places to dump road snow, slowly these SBL’s are now being maintained throughout the winter in some cities with much more snow than Calgary and heavier snow to move with a bicycle.  In Copenhagen, the cycling facilities are cleared of snow before road lanes.  As we know now in Calgary, snow clearance on the river bike trails starts early in the morning.

Ice removal from SBL before morning commuting cycling starts is critical for making SBL desirable to potential winter cyclists.  Reduction of cyclists’ injury and associated health care costs results from such a program.

Road snow removal procedures will need to change.  Today, the procedures usually call for two or more passes with the first pushing the snow to the curb or also on the pedestrian walking facilities and then followed by a number of trucks and loading equipment to carry away the snow.  One-pass snow removal would make winter walking in Calgary much more pleasant and safer, especially for seniors and those with disabilities.

One-pass snow removal procedures are in place in many cities and may safe time, cost, and greenhouse pollution production from snow clearing trucks for Calgary.

  • Urban and streetscape form

The discussion contribution should be focused on a dialogued on SBL being a tool for shifting the appeal of downtown Calgary streets from places to avoid to people streets that attract Calgarians to spend time after 4:30 pm when the streets now become very deserted.

Various forms of separation designs can enhance the visual appeal of downtown streets and softening the austere look of 1960 designs of car-moving streets.  Street functionality can be enhanced with restricted-time, commercial drop-off zones, although neighbouring buildings should really provide that.  Bus loading zones can be designed to allow for pedestrian level crossing of SBL.  Bike parking can be built into the SBL design.  Even motorcycle and moped parking can be incorporated.

Downtown Calgary streets are already well situated for SBL with sufficient off-street parking for cars and lack of street facing retailing.  On-street parking is not required nor should not be encouraged.  In fact, SBL may encourage more street retailing.

  • Local retail business activities

Any change on a street that affects on-street parking tends to be a rallying point for retail businesses to call on city politicians to do nothing.  The reality of retail marketing, as one vice-president of a major Canadian property company once stated to a municipal council, is that retail businesses need people traffic.  People traffic is critical for retailing success.  The source of the people traffic is not that important.  Bringing cycling to a street increases retailing traffic.  One car parking spot can be converted to 10 to 14 bicycle parking.  About 80 to 100 bicycles can be parked along one side of 100 metre street block that could only accommodate up to 10 to 13 cars.  It is understandable that retailers are very reluctant to let go of the umbilical cord of car parking that is now starting to fail strip malls, which were designed for the car driving customers.  The marketing model for retailers must continually change with time along with its customers or these businesses will go bankrupt.

The influence of cycling customers and differences in purchasing capacity are now slowly being documented by researchers.  Without a car, a person has about $10,000 more available to spend each year.  Without a second car, that may be about $5,000.

The dialogue should be around how to make that happen by focusing on urban form, cycling, and combined mobility of transit and cycling.

If retailers cater their products to cyclists, then a 10-fold increase in street traffic is a potential.  With retailers offering the right product mix, people will cycle to stores.

  • Congestion

Dialogue would be worthwhile to explore this further.  The usual “NO, do not change anything from a car-oriented street” argument is that congestion will increase, meaning car congestion not cycling growth, transit growth, or walking growth, all of which should happen.

“Car congestion is good” is an argument used by some people.  It is argued that congestion or any other type of roadblock, which could include increased car trip time  due to car congestion, more car collisions and negative impacts to personal health, finances, obesity, and health during the aging process, causes people to consider which transportation alternative is in their best interest.

For people to make the transition from car transportation to another mode the infrastructure must be there and to a level that is appealing to them to make a change.  This includes peak and off-peak transit capacity and service level, combined mobility capacity whether it is car-cycling or transit-cycling supported by cycling infrastructure from home to local rapid transit and high service bus routes, safe and dependable bike parking in all weather, and a cycling network that is appealing from home to final destination including for commuting.

Introduction of SBL on a road should be with expectation and target that car traffic will reduce as a result of people make the shift in transportation mode from car-based, not as a facility that is being imposed on top of a car traffic level that will continue to increase in the future.

  • The final direction

With extensive dialogue, it will be become very apparent that downtown Calgary needs a network of connected SBL’s as another tool for reducing driving into the downtown core and reducing already beyond acceptable and historically high levels of greenhouse pollution.  

Back in the 1970’s, people wanted to come to Calgary for health reasons since allergies, sinus discomforts and health side effects improved for them.  Now these sufferers look for other cities to improve their health:  even in January, brown pollution clouds can be seen on Nose Hill, with much contribution from the high level of driving in the city.

With carefully thought-out design parameters for SBL and the resulting reduction of driving, the downtown core will become more of a people place  after business hours, increase downtown retailing, increase vitality of the city core, and will be more of a place to attract tourists beyond the Stampede.

Yes, it is a first phase in the introduction of public bike sharing system, as Paris proved so successfully.

 

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Strapping down collapsed 4 tier storage wire cart for closet. At Ikea store before cycling 15 km. home. 2011. Photo by J. Chong

Strapping down collapsed 4 tier storage wire cart for closet. At Ikea store before cycling 15 km. home. 2011. Photo by J. Chong

Costco bulk shoppers are the same as utility cyclists:  they buy groceries and schlep them homeward.

Uber Feasible Cycling Leads to Streamlined Living
However, the caveat is a purchase- laden cyclist can’t afford the temptation of buying junk food or anything superfluous:  she or he has to tow it home.

The no junk pre-condition makes the lifestyle cyclist, utility and commuter cyclist, more uber efficient in clean, free transportation, fitness and living only with what they need and treasure without the frills. Especially if they are only shopping within a 10 km. radius or less.

Leaving store with several large new boxes for moving 2010. Photo by J.Chong

Leaving store with several large new boxes for moving 2010. Photo by J.Chong

 Prep Time for Shopping by Bike Same as Finding Car Parking
Six months ago, we moved our stuff from a home to  new place,  just 2 blocks away. It wasn’t a big deal since there wasn’t much stuff.  We did rent a small van, not a truck,  to move a bed, large computer table and 4 large boxes of belongings. But the rest, was walked and also biked over by several small trips.

Moving around daily by bike, does require planning, especially for a particularily heavy or awkward, large load.  But probably no more time, than cruising around in a car and trying to find a parking spot in a busy shopping neighbourhood area. It helps to live near at least a bike route that does not have much car traffic or any at all especially when you are loaded down with an extra 30-40 lbs. of groceries and household goods.

 Packed in 2 side panniers from rear bike rack in 1 trip from store. 2011

Packed in 2 side panniers from rear bike rack in 1 trip from store. 2011. Photo by J. Chong. Hidden behind larger produce include tomatoes, tangerines, yogurt, 1 tin of clams, pasta & anise bulb.

 Squirreling Away Essentials Like Everyone Else
What is required, especially living in snow-prone areas of Canada, is to plan and buy perishable food when the prices and weather are right for cycling.  So yes, I did load up at the farmers’ markets with veggies and fruits galore in my panniers every weekend. Threw in the pasta and cereal into my panniers (or on top, held down with bungie cords) whenever there was a sale at the store. 

I half joke that I must be making a toilet tissue pack investment for the next few winter months since there are packs squirreled away in my storage areas. But my attitude is no different than the car driving shopper piling up their  bulk supply from Costco.

Bike transport of bins with this older model are becoming rarer. Changzhi, China 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Bike transport of bins with this older, but sturdy model are becoming rarer. Changzhi, China 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 Usually I make my heaviest grocery bike trips on weekends, when the car road traffic is quiet and less congested.  This has been true for the cities of Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary where I’ve lived, biked and shopped.  In all of these cities, it was possible to use bike routes for shopping  that included bike lanes, dedicated paths as well as on the road for a few kilometres. Depending on where we chose to shop in any of those cities, one-way distances were from 4 to 16 km.  

Stacked bins on back bike trailer. Vancouver BC 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Stacked bins on back bike trailer. Vancouver BC 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

  Of course in the winter, it was limited to under 8  km.  But truly we got everything we needed.  Any cycling for shopping further out, was more of a treat for  ourselves.  In such situations, we did sometimes use a blend of cycling and bringing bikes onto public transit trains or using the bus bike racks.

Jack has even cycled home with 4 unassembled dining room chairs, all boxed up on the bike trailer from the furniture store. It was only a 6 km. trip, partially on a busy road, then onto the bike path.  But it is possible with all the right roping, bungie cords and knowing the bike route well enough in advance to maneouvre the trailing, oversized packages along.  Another time, he slowly transported a pair of skis.

Returning with plastic caddy for storing cleaning agents. With some additional padding and secure cords, caddy could have stored more for journey home.

Return with plastic caddy for storing cleaning agents and grocery filled panniers. With some extra top padding and secure cords, caddy could store more for journey home.

 Bundled Cache of Bungie Cords- A Transportation Lifeline
Unlike him, what is annoying to me, is the fussiness of unraveling a bunch of bungie cords. So I keep my supply low –3.  He keeps over 10 different bungie cords in his panniers  –talk about seriously over prepared.  But admittedly, I’ve borrowed one or two from him.

For a 98- lb. person, it’s an excellent way for me to keep fit and build some strength when we go long distance cycle-touring later, with our pannier weight on cycling vacation trips.

So I don’t worry about dabbing on my make-up and choosing the right, colour coordinated purse before I leave. Instead I make sure my keys, wallet, lock and bungie cords are stashed away in my panniers.

Bike lane leads up to shopping mall, with signed bike parking area on right hand side by front entrance. Copenhagen, Denmark 2008. Photo by HJEH Becker

Bike lane leads up to shopping mall, with signed bike parking area on right hand side by front entrance. Copenhagen, Denmark 2008. Photo by HJEH Becker

  Cycling Infrastructure Supporting Retail Shopping – HJEH Becker
Shopping by bicycle is much more feasible when quality cycling infrastructure is available on routes to retailing areas of cities. 

Quality cycling routes where cyclists are not apprehensive of passing motorists, comes first.  At shopping destinations, nearby bike parking that leaves a bike and shopping already done secure, especially in front of stores not down the block, is paramount.  Depending on trees and signposts for bike parking 

Family cycling with packages, including the boy with packages in his rear basket.  Downtown Karlsruhe, Germany 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Family cycling with packages, including the boy with packages in his rear basket. Downtown Karlsruhe, Germany 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker. This core area is heavily used by commuting cyclists with shops and restaurants, as well as bike parking areas and racks.

 just is not adequate.  Walking half a block from parking spots to stores is beyond the catchment areas for cycling shopping.  Some retailers understand marketing and how to attract cycling customers, considering that they have disposable money not spent on maintaining and operating cars.  These merchants even offer bike parking inside stores.  In larger shopping areas where visits to multiple of stores on a shopping trip is common, electronic, trip rental lockers or secure bike cages and corralled parking with restricted or attended access give higher level of comfort to cyclists that bicycles and shopping will still be there when one returns.

In Copenhagen, one of the large indoor-style shopping centres has bike lanes from the nearby arterial road through the internal road system to the indoor bike parking area located right adjacent to the main front entrance to the shopping complex.  In Calgary, major big-box shopping areas are connected to the bike trails along the river system and from the C-Train rapid transit stations by bike paths on road right-of-ways providing relaxing and pleasant cycling to stores.  Such a network allows for comfortable and pleasant shopping 15, 20, or even 30 kilometres from home. 

Bike path from Elbow River bike path to Marlborough shopping mall area. Calgary, AB 2011. Photo HJEH Becker

Bike path section connected from Nose Creek bike path, to Marlborough shopping mall area. Calgary, AB 2011. Photo HJEH Becker

 Calgary’s winter maintenance program of its bike trails along the river system extends the cycling-shopping right through winter as bike trails are cleaned of snow with the same priority as streets and only the minus 15 to minus 30 degree C  weather provides the hurdle to overcome.  Combining cycling and the C-Train rapid transit system makes such shopping trips more comfortable as total cycling distance can be managed to prevailing conditions.

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Am wearing a cycling lycra skort --the closest concession to a skirt. During a cycling trip in Portland 2009

Am wearing a cycling lycra skort --the closest concession to a skirt. During a cycling trip in Portland 2009

 I really do get it:  the Cycling Chic movement is not about wearing fashionable street clothing while cycling around.  It is more about making cycling accessible for anyone to jump onto their bike in ordinary street wear  and not invest extra cash for bike clothing.

What is Cycling Chic?
The Cycling Chic movement was sparked by a Copenhagen cycling consultant, M. Colville-Andersen who has a blog dedicated to primarily photos of locals cycling in anything, but bike specific clothing.*  It’s a great marketing tool to fan more cycling passion  by promoting cycling as a daily activity or at the very least, as another way of dressing for lifestyle transportation.  Cycling Chic movement has spawned a worldwide plethora of cycling chic blogs which feature urbanites in cities cycling in street wear — fashionistas as well as the plainly dressed folks.
 
What I mean by lifestyle transportation, rather than utility cycling, is that my choice of daily transportation mode means I choose a lifestyle that integrates my transportation choices. For me, it is primarily cycling combined at times with 

Business casual wear with black jeans for a work commute ride.

Business casual wear with black jeans for a work commute ride. Fleecy for warmth under a $200.00 lined business jacket. Outfit only worn twice on bike --for fear of ripping the jacket lining. 2012.

 transit and walking in inclement weather. My lifestyle transportation is cycling for commuting, shopping, daily fitness and vacation travel. I have been car-free for the last 30 years.

Dressing for Lifestyle Transportation
I still dress for lifestyle transportation when I bike  in clothing designed for cycling, because it allows me the greatest flexibility to go spontaneously and comfortably on a short or long ride.  Not much worry because  I’m dressed for comfort and for any weather changes.  Since I am in cycling clothing, I am not worried about a frustrating garment wash or  an expensive dry cleaning bill.
 
I wear cycling shoes with  hard soles for riding more comfortably and  faster whenever I want and for protecting my dress shoes for the office.  I have worn customized orthotics for many years which already limits me from wearing a range of women’s fashion shoes.  Forget about cycling chic high heel style. I still have to walk around off the bike.

Hunt for Elusive Women’s Bike Commuting Shoes
What is noticeable now and an increasing  problem for cycling commuter women in the past few years, is the lack of  choice for walkable cycling shoes for 

New cycling shoes for commuting snapped up for a discount.

New cycling shoes for commuting and touring, snapped up for a discount. Women's cycling shoes for commuting and touring are becoming increasingly limited in choice. Manufacturers maybe mislead by impression that some regular cyling women don't want comfort?

commuting purposes –without a cleat-like rock underneath my sole.    I have gone for 2 years straight, in a grand hunt for such shoes whenever I passed a local bike shop or elsewhere on vacation.   Maybe now, retailers think more women want to cycle in their high heel pumps, ballet slippers or tall leather boots.  I don’t .  I ride with toe clips to prevent my foot from slipping off the pedals accidentally.

Saving Business Wear from Cycling Activity
For me to even  wear ordinary street clothing for cycling, actually means investing more money in more clothes.  Much of my off-bike street wear and business work clothes, either doesn’t work for cycling movement or it’s expensive.  In the women’s wacky world of vanity sizing these days, I range from size 0 to 2.  Or extra small.

Only twice, I have worn a $200.00  lined black wool gabardine jacket for  work  while biking under 5 km. from one workplace to another.  I’m afraid of ripping the lining as I stretch myself slightly over my bike.   So this jacket is reserved for off-bike wear, which means it’s worn many times at the office.

Late summer bike commuting wear.

Late summer bike commuting wear. Yes, a tendency to wear cycling clothing for visibility. Drivers in the elevator at work, have told me they appreciate seeing cyclists at night.

Street and business clothes shopping for a petite, mid-life woman is a headache. The further I stray from big North American cities, the more difficult it gets because there’s just less choice.  The caveat is:  Unless I want to spend alot more money for properly fitted clothes without looking like a teenager.

I don’t wear long flowing skirts anymore.  No, I don’t want to wear a tight skirt  on a bike and rip it.  Already I am left with   only one  business skirt above the knee, with a ripped inner lining.  The hunt for a skirt petite proportioned for me, has been now 2 years long and it’s not over.  I find it difficult to locate tailored shirts for the office without spending  a lot of money.   Cycling around in my lovely creamy white dress shirt and making it more slightly sweaty around the neckline, means more frequent  washing and wearing out the garment sooner.

Priorites: Cycling Chic Or Paying a Mortgage
I continue to be amazed,  bemused how some cycling chic women who cycle daily, have such a wide range of dresses, skirts, heeled dress shoes and lovely leather boots.  Unless I want to spend a ton of time cruising the  second-hand clothing stores, I know I will not be able to make my mortgage payments by having a  revolving lovely chic wardrobe with a few new pieces every year.  
 
Please don’t tell me to sew:  I used to sew over 80% of my wardrobe for over a decade.  It does require several hours per month. That creative fun time is now replaced by cycling time, blogging and when I get around to it, art work.

Cycling from the market with light shopping load 2012.

Cycling from the market with light shopping load 2012.

  Also more time in stores, takes me away from cycling time after work and on weekends.  Ever since cycling passion bit me 20 years ago, I have spent far less time window shopping and schlepping around in shopping malls.  A two hour stint at the retail stores is replaced by a two hour long blissful ride.  Most of my shopping haunts via bike are to grocery stores, pharmacy and household goods outlets.

So there’s little point of  me abandoning my collection of cycling jerseys and chamois-less cycling shorts and tights that I’ve acquired over the years. I have spent the money over the decades, so I’ll wear my cycling shorts and tights.  It is actually cheaper for me to wear a pair of cycling shorts  and hence, have one pair of hard-to-find petite dress pants last several years longer.  

I have been a regular cyclist for the past 20 years.  So judge me not, for not wearing my street clothing  nor business wear on bike: I’m trying to save money to make such clothing last longer.

Cycling in streetwear for transportation. By chance, I met of Bike Bike, a local bike store. Calgary, AB 2012.

Cycling in streetwear for transportation. By chance, I met Nadia Smiley, partner with store owner, Sean Carter of BikeBike, a local bike store. Calgary, AB 2012.

It makes me and my street-business wear wardrobe happy for a long time.

Postscript:
While bundling up groceries onto my bike at the store, by chance, I met the partner to the owner of the local bike store, Bike Bike. She felt she would have not returned to cycling if she had to buy cycling-specific clothing.  However for certain, I know for myself, I would have not stuck to cycling for so many years and would have not travelled so far by bike, by wearing only ordinary clothing.

*For unknown reasons, alot of the cyclists featured in his blog photos, are riding fairly clean looking bikes. Strange, it can’t be right. Or maybe some of us just live in dustier parts of the world.

Further Reading:
Blue, Elly and Kristi Tieche.  Bike vs. Bike: Cycle Chic Debate.  In Momentum.  Oct. 17, 2011.

Chong, J.  Losing My Cycling Identity in the World’s Cycling Nirvana: Copenhagen. In Third Wave Cycling Blog.  Sept. 29, 2010.

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Hotel view of a interesection for a 10 lane road bisecting a 6-lane road  to watch traffic ballet. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Hotel view of an interesection for 10 lane road bisecting a 6-lane road to watch traffic ballet. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 Arriving late at night at a five-star hotel, my  first impressions were the number of smiling hotel staff  that looked after the guests :  from pushing the elevator buttons to cleaning the buttons after each use.  It seemed that there was more staff than guests.  Staff were very polite, smiling, and provided excellent service.

Cyclists navigate their way on same wide road among trucks, cars and motorcycles. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cyclists navigate their way on same wide road among trucks, cars and motorcycles. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 Watching Traffic Ballet:  10-Lane Road Bisecting 6-Lane Road
However, from a transportation viewpoint, the melodic sounds of car and truck horns playing out an unorchestrated concert at seven in the morning , was the first introduction to the city’s streetscape in front of the hotel.   The room looked down onto a 10-lane road intersecting a six-lane road.  The ten-lane road was divided with two lanes on each side, separating the inner six lanes with small medians of trees.  The traffic seemed to be equally divided with just slightly more cars and trucks than bicycles.  Some of the bicycles seemed more like a motorcycle – two and three wheel variety, outfitted to carry goods and work material.

Cyclists on 10-lane road. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cyclists on 10-lane road. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

  Bus Drivers, Motorcyclists and Cyclists Dance to Avoid One Another
At the intersection, cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians did a ballet to the sound of the horn-orchestra to make their way through the intersection.  Dancing, pivoting, swerving, weaving, and coming to a quick stop, were the ballet steps.  In some strange way, it was all harmonious.  A few days later, I was taken to the airport through the intersection, in daytime by taxi.  The perspective from the back seat, was much different than from the hotel room, as cyclists veered to avoid the taxis that were not stopping for anyone.  A transportation planner commented that the days for these types of intersections, were coming to an end.

Occasional worker-cyclist with his utility tricycle for transporting loads. Changzi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Occasional worker-cyclist with their utility tricycle for transporting loads. Changzi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

  There was another 10-lane street through the heart of the city again with treed-medians separating two lanes from the inner six-lanes and thoroughly clogged with traffic.  For this street, a design exercise was under way to consider how two lanes of traffic could be reassigned to bus lanes.  The thought was to take two lanes away from one side of the street.  Nowhere in the discussion was consideration given to taking any lanes and reassigning them to cycling.

Umbrella toting cyclists while riding were quite common and nonchalant. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Umbrella toting cyclists while riding were quite common and nonchalant. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

  In the city core, the roads were so congested with cars that the traffic moved slowly.  Somehow cyclists managed to make their way through it all.  “Slow motorized vehicle driving speed at approximately cycling speed encourages cycling”, so goes the hypothesis.  The question remains:  how may cyclists will be drawn to slow speed?  Just a borderline few cyclists or the mega throng that used to cycle and now drive?  Now the question also may be posed as:  how many drivers will be drawn from their cars if cycling facilities were installed that really appealed to drivers?  Some insight to this question is being seen with evidence-based data in some cities, such as Vancouver, where a comprehensive cycling traffic volume monitoring program has been undertaken.  24-hour monitoring is being done on separated cycling facilities and bike lanes as well at other locations.

Cyclist and motorcyclist travel through a centuries old village section within Changzhi, China

Cyclist and motorcyclist travel through a centuries old village section within Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 Meanwhile, in an older part of the city with walled blocks, and a 300-year old Buddha temple where personal income may  not be so high, there is light traffic with most of it by a very basic moped.

The mayor and the deputy mayor both iterated that they want Changzhi to become a model city of sustainable transportation for China.  The statements came forth with conviction at private lunches with the two officials and the speakers of a Shared Transport Forum in October, 2011 where I had the privilege of being invited to speak.

What a difference between the airports of Beijing and Changzhi.  Beijing is a very modern, high traffic, and high efficient airport where passengers are  

Cyclists pouring down their 2 lanes by a treed lane in a 10 lane wide road. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cyclists pouring down their 2 lanes by a treed lane in a 10 lane wide road. Among the traffic confusion with cars and trucks. Changzhi, China Oct. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 moved through quickly.  Changzhi airport is a reminder of the airports that I used to fly into during the 1970’s in Northern Ontario  — very basic with extremely limited service where one took only 5 to 10 minutes to go from the parking lot to the departure gate.  Somehow, and sometimes expansiveness such as Beijing airport, does not mean efficient travelling.

Changzhi is a city of  approximately 700,000 people within the Province of Shanxi.  Shanix has a population of about 3.2 million and is  located  650 km. south-west of Beijing.  It is a transportation and industrial center. Manufacturing includes iron and steel machinery.  Coal, iron ore, and asbestos are mined nearby.  It is regarded as a medium comprehensive industrial city.

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The Seoul Ditch – Better Known as the Cheonggyechon Stream

Cheonggyechon Stream in downtown core of Seoul, South Korea. Uncovered after expressway torn down. This section of bubbling natural water offers walking stones for pedestrians to cross over to the other side 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cheonggyechon Stream in downtown core of Seoul, South Korea. Uncovered after expressway torn down. This section of bubbling natural water offers walking stones for pedestrians to cross over to the other side 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

  A place for commuting,  walking, exercising, thinking, reflecting, talking, resting, enjoying the arts, being entertained, and communicating with nature.

When I first arrived, I read or heard somewhere that the stream brings a wind of fresh air into the central part of the downtown core in Seoul.  And that was the first thing that I noticed as I took the steps from the street to the water’s edge.  I heard that the stream decreased the air temperature by a few degrees Celsius.  So, I also noticed that.

Looking down Cheonggyechon Stream with downtown skyline of Seoul, 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Looking down Cheonggyechon Stream with background downtown skyline of Seoul, 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 One has to salute the wisdom and foresight of the conceiver of this idea:   tear down an expressway that covered over an old stream that was then, very polluted and replace it with a linear park. 

As I walked the full length of the 8.3 km stream before it joins a river, I kept looking for fish.  Halfway to the river junction, my search ended as large fishes swam about.  If they are bottom suckers or fish that thrive in clean water, I do not know.

Eight Kilometre Stream with Character Changes Along the Way
One has to admire the creativity of the designer for this stream.  Can one find things to complain about? (Of course, as we are good at that.)  However, one must admire this new wonder of the world.   It combines all the elements that 

Various public art installations along the way, including sculpture of woman carrying a water jug. Cheonggyehon Stream. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Various public art installations along the way, including sculpture of woman carrying a water jug. Cheonggyechon Stream. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 makes it a complete design.  Elements of breathing fresh air, exercise, sports, the arts from visual to sensual, performance, mosaics to statue, places to sit and think, relax, to listen to the city and its creatures, light as artistic expression and live art that changes regularly with new themes. 

It is a stream that changes character constantly from urban sterility to touches of rural trees and vegetation.  From new concrete pathways and walls of today, to rocks that cross the stream as bridges and have seen centuries behind them.  From bare concrete-faced walls to hanging natural, living wall cover that reflects the colours of autumn. 

Bike-pedestrian bridgfe further out from downtonw. Variety of areas along the Stream exhibit different personalities. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Bike-pedestrian bridge further out from downtown. Variety of areas along the Stream exhibit different personalities. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

This area of the stream and pedestrian walkway was devoted to a breast cancer fundraising event for a few days. Seoul,South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

This area of the stream and pedestrian walkways, was devoted to a breast cancer fundraising event for a few days. Seoul,South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 At lunchtime, the walkway is congested as any street in large cities.  At other times, it is not deserted as people walk, sit and contemplate, or exercise along the stream.  From formal exercise equipment to stretching along the path,  

Occasionally there are exercise machine installed for anyone to use by the stream. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Occasional fitness equipment installed for anyone to use by the stream. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

people do their thing.  Closer to downtown, pedestrians are occasionally joined on the too narrow walkways with a few cyclists. 

More Cyclists On Well-Designed Bike Path
However, further east there is a very well designed two-way bike path, coloured green with edge and centre lines, frequent cycling stencils and with street lighting for darkness.  The path sweeps down from a parallel street along the stream and continues out to the river.

The few cyclists in the downtown sections are now replaced with a continuous stream of cyclists of all ages – the old, the soon to be old, the ones making progress in their life, and the young.  Now commuting and exercising becomes the drive for cycling.  Some have bandannas covering their mouths.  Others have them close by, just in case.

Bike paths along Cheongyyechon Stream are generally well-marked for cyclists. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Bike paths along Cheongyyechon Stream are generally well-marked for cyclists. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

One of several pedestrian bridges crossing the Stream, each a different character. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

One of several pedestrian bridges crossing the Stream, each a different design. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Bike share system near Cheonyyechon Stream and bike path.  Located abit away from downtown to serve weekend cyclists. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Public bike share system by Cheonggyechon Stream and bike path. Located abit away from downtown to serve weekend cyclists. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Finally, I stumbled onto a public bike share system station, the only one I saw.  It is well positioned to service the weekend crowd that wants to go for a spin.

Cycling in the City
Downtown, a fair amount of cycling is done.  Much of it is on sidewalks although even in rush hours you see some cyclists taking up the inside traffic lane.  Some were in ordinary work clothes, others were in their spandex and helmets with their fancy bicycles.  Many had very utilitarian bicycles with a back rack and a high extension to put on too many goods for delivery.

In the urban core, the only cycling facility that I came across was a red coloured bike in front of the palace grounds where it was  too packed with touring buses and cars, not cyclists. 

Cycling on a bike path by the Stream  with the pet dog in side bike basket.  Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cycling on bike path by the Stream with the pet dog in side bike basket. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cyclists and electric wheelchair user out on a fall, crisp day. Some cyclists wear bandanas over their mouths --though it wasn't very cold nor smoggy. By Cheonggyechon Stream, bike path. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cyclists and electric wheelchair user out on a fall, crisp day. Some cyclists wear bandanas over their mouths --though it wasn't very cold nor smoggy. By Cheonggyechon Stream, bike path. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

 As one leaves the downtown core, then cycling facilities started to appear.  On the road paralleling the Stream, the one-way road has a bicycle lane on the left (not right) side, well-marked but not coloured.

There seems to be a good system of bike paths along the rivers, usually coloured.  In suburbia, coloured bike lanes on new roads appeared regularly.  Some were physically separated from motorists and pedestrians, others were not.  Bike paths  are also parallel to the main railway line and highway to the Incheon airport.

Jumping blue dolphin sculptural art work in the Stream. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Blue dolphin sculptural art work seems to jump-dance in the Stream. Seoul, South Korea 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Making Seoul a More Liveable, Shopping City
Priority number one, get the motorcycles and mopeds off the sidewalk. Step two, remove car and truck parking on sidewalks.  Then remove cyclists from sidewalks.  Follow the Paris lead.

With the Cheonggyechon Stream breathing more life into its downtown core now, the heart of Seoul becoming a more dynamic, lively place.

Further Reading:
TransLink.  Removing Freeways and Reforming Buses: An Interview with Dr. Kee Yeon Hwang President of the Korea Transport Institute.  In Buzzer Blog, Mar. 28, 2011.

Hand painted outdoor tile wall art, seen while walking along Cheongyyechon Stream 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

Hand painted outdoor tile wall art, seen while walking along Cheonggyechon Stream 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

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Deception Pass, Washington state. On a bike trip that combined ferry ride, cycling and train between Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Seattle. 2010

Deception Pass, Washington state. On a bike trip that combined ferry ride, cycling and train between Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Seattle. 2010

I’ve been wanting to write this article for awhile:  how cycling can change your spending habits.  I should know –I haven’t lived in a household with a car for over the past 30 years. Yup. It really has been a car-free joy “ride” to financial liberation.

Panniers packed on our bikes. Ready to cycle to France. Morning street with cycling commuters and others. Freiburg, Germany 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Panniers packed on our bikes. Ready to cycle to France. Morning street with cycling commuters and others. Freiburg, Germany 2010. Photo by J. Chong

I have been cycling  over the past 19  years.  By moving to a cycling lifestyle, you redirect your money for things you really want, instead of sitting in car-clogged traffic while gas money is literally vapourizing away.

So if I may offer, over a quarter century of homespun, financial savvy on what it truly means to live a cycling lifestyle, dollar-wise:

  •  Less  impulsive purchases
  • Buy what you need, what you really want  –that includes buying less  junk food. After all, you have to cart the weight away by bike  and chug up the hill with loaded panniers.
  •  Buy less fashionista clothing –my attention is more on cycling clothing.
  • No knowledge of gas prices and pricing wars.   I have been blissfully ignorant for over a quarter century.  I am psychologically freed from vehicle gas costs. I’m only aware of fuel costs  –when I pay for a plane ticket.
  • Less window-shopping.  I am more focused when I shop.  If an area doesn’t offer a place to lock up my bike safely, I go somewhere else.
Trip included Strasbourg, France --after cycling from Germany 2010. Pedestrianized street which allows bicyclists that cycle slowly.

Trip included Strasbourg, France –after cycling from Germany 2010. Pedestrianized street which allows bicyclists that cycle slowly. Photo by J. Chong

So really what have I done with the money I have saved by not owning nor driving a car, for all these years?  I have redirected my  precious dollars:

  • Bought my own home —mortgage-free.
  • Several memorable cycling vacation trips, in Ontario, Quebec, Maritimes, Alberta, British Columbia, Hawaii, New England, Washington,  Oregon, California and some  European countries.  I support  the local economy as a cycling tourist.
  •  3 bikes   –all add up to less than cost of a used car.
  • Cycling clothing and equipment  –equivalent to car tune-ups and repairs costs.
  • Nice restaurant meals on bike vacation trips.  “Fuel money” for our body. Instead of gas.
  • Money  to take other plane trips to see family. So yes, from car fuel to plane fuel, which I can only justify because I don’t do it often.  However these trips are essential for my soul.
  • Occasional evening art courses over the years. ( I created some of my own art which adorn my walls.)
  • Replaced 1 desktop computer with another new computer plus a new couch and bed.
Cycling around in a neighbourhood designed for walking and cycling. Roads for cars were not built for cars. Malmo, Sweden 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Cycling around in a neighbourhood designed for walking and cycling. Here, roads are not built for cars. Malmo, Sweden 2010. Photo by J. Chong. Bikes parked by home, not cars.

I am pleased to say that I have reaped the benefits of living within a 15 min. walk or less from public transit and cycling infrastructure for the cities of: Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

All three cities do have areas that are more time-consuming, transportation-wise  but I simply focused only on neighbourhoods where I could  live a car-free life.  There are trade-offs but  a peace of mind and healthier lifestyle, is what draws me to cycling lifestyle and walkable-bikeable area.

Cost of Car Ownership and Driving
For major Canadian cities, a parking spot for a residential building costs approximately $30,000 – $50,000 with Vancouver at the higher range.   In 2010 the Canadian Automobile Association estimated cost for a small car at $18.00  daily which includes owning and driving a car (based on 18,000 km. mileage annually or 49 km. daily).  Add on parking and now total costs could be easily be $30.00 daily.

Gourmet lunch of sandwiches and lovely cake slice. Vancouver 2011

Occasional treating oneself to gourmet lunch of sandwiches and lovely cake slice. Vancouver 2011

Thanks to 30 years of car abstinence, I have $328,000 to spend on other things.

If you still don’t believe this money-saving wizardy, check out your car credit bills.

Further Reading:

Driving Costs: Beyond the Price Tag. Understanding Your Vehicle’s Expenses. Canadian Automobile Association, 2010.

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