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A grey morning.  Snow falling and whipped around by the wind.

Ahhh, winter has arrived.  Time to mount the studded tires on to the city bicycle.

For the last years now, removal of snow for facilitating winter cycling has increased in interest in North America.  In fact, a conference on winter clearing of cycling infrastructure will be held in Winnipeg this winter.  2nd International Winter Cycling Congress, 2014-02-12-13, http://wintercyclingcongresswinnipeg.org.

Now, in Copenhagen, clearing of the cycle tracks takes priority over the roads.  In Calgary, the city started to clear some of the pathway system along the Bow and the Elbow Rivers years ago.  This followed years of where cyclists kept the paths open with their own snow blade pulled by the first cyclist on the way to work or to home each day.  Public demand keeps increasing the city’s snow clearing effort.  More and more the pathways along these two rivers and along Nose Creek are added to the program.  Snow clearing starts at 7:00 am in the morning or earlier.

©Courtesy of Bike Calgary, 2013

©Courtesy of Bike Calgary, 2013

Last year, bike lanes on roads were added to the program and is in the teething stage of snow clearance.  The local Bike Calgary organization is providing daily reports on the snow clearing performance of the city.

Snow Ploughing the Separated Bike Lanes, 7th St., Calgary AB. ©Photograph by Jean L Chong, 2013

Snow Ploughing the Separated Bike Lanes, 7th St.SW, Calgary AB. ©Photograph by J.L. Chong, 2013

This year, the new separated bike lanes in downtown Calgary were added to the program.  The path and separated bike lane snow clearing crew were out early beating the road clearing crew to 7th Street SW.Cyclist after Snowfall on the Separated Bike Lanes, 7th St., Calgary AB. ©Photograph by Jean L Chong, 2013

Cyclist after Snowfall on the Separated Bike Lanes, 7th St.SW, Calgary AB. ©Photograph by J.L. Chong, 2013
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©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

The distance from Vancouver BC to Seattle WA is about 230 km from downtown to downtown along major roads, expressway and interstate highway. Is it a dream that some day there may be a separated route for cyclists to make this journey?

Cycling from Toronto to Montreal can be done along the Waterfront Trail. These cities are about 550 kilometres apart. The trip can be cycled in 3 days to 5 days depending on one’s personal stamina. The trail has various forms of separation along the way including bike lanes and paved shoulders along with some minor roads with very light car traffic. The Province of Québec’s portion is on one of the La Route Verte’s routes.

A trail has been developed from London, England top Paris, France with the same type of infrastructure and a ferry crossing of the English Channel.

So, is it a dream to hope for a separated trail between Vancouver and Seattle or is it an emerging reality? While it may be more distance between the two cities by cycling than driving, already 40% of the direct distance has bike trails and additional distance can be covered on roads with bike-lanes and paved shoulders.

If one decides on the Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC option, then the Anacortes Bike Route and the Lochside trail provides additional separated bike trail distances.

There is still 2.3 km of rail-trail to be completed on the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County. In Vancouver, cycling enthusiasts are calling for the development of the Arbutus rail-trail that would connect downtown to the bike path on the Canada Line Bridge to Richmond. Within Richmond, there is opportunity to extend the Shell Trail. In Surrey, a bike path through a bird sanctuary could be added to a cycling route reducing the distance on roads. There is work being done with First Nations and the local city on developing a trail from Blaine to Tsawwassen to Ladner and the George Massey Tunnel. All of these initiatives would move closer to the dream.

What other developments or cycling advocate visions are there to make a separated bike route between these two cities a reality, providing a cycling option for people of all ages, abilities, and cycling risk-taking?

The dream lives on while some trips between these two cities are being completed by cycling or by combined mobility trips using Amtrak Cascadia trains with its bike racks in the luggage cars and with reservable bike space. No longer is boxing a bike required on these trains. Just wheel your bicycle up to the luggage car and let the car attendant put it into a bike rack.

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H-JEH Becker, Velo.Urbanism, 2013

©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013, unless otherwise noted. If you wish to expand the size of any image, then click on the image.

2013-06-06

The last time I cycled from downtown Montreal, Quebec to the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport in Dorval, the last kilometre was a challenge or should I say a game of risk. 

Cycling out of Downtown Montreal is very pleasant, starting with separated bike lanes just a block from the hotel.  Then come the bike trail along the Lachine Canal that continued along the St. Lawrence River to Dorval.  The bike trail is also known as La Route Verte number 5 (http://www.routeverte.com/routeverte_carte/index.php?langue=en). 

Then the cycling infrastructure becomes a combination of bike lanes, bike trails, and separated bike lanes, past the airport to the Ontario provincial line.  From there the route becomes the Waterfront trail that follows the mighty St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario and Toronto and then on to Fort Erie.  Now, the trail continues along Lake Erie, the Detroit River, and Lake St. Clair to Detroit and to Sarnia and then along the Georgian Bay to Lakeshore. (1,400 km; http://www.waterfronttrail.org)
 

©Modified Googles Earth image by H-JEH Becker, 2013

©Modified Googles Earth image by H-JEH Becker, 2013

For this trip, the destination was a gate lounge in the airport.  So twenty-three kilometres from the heart of Montreal that is preparing for a car race this weekend, Rue de Dorval appears. 

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Suburbia, Signal Hill Calgary AB ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Suburbia, Signal Hill
Calgary AB
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

One way to look at the two options is the need to own a car (car dependency) or having a choice of whether one needs to own a car.  For suburban sprawl, it can be said that the right of choice, which we so treasure, is taken away from us and suburban city designs makes us prisoners to owning a car.  When we live in suburbia, how quickly we forget that choice of how we spent and enjoy about $10,000 per year, after tax, is not available to us.  It must be spent on a car, not on a nicer or larger house, not on pleasurable things we like to do.  When a home is an apartment, the decision to not have a car or to use car share allows about $30,000 to $50,000 to be spent on a nicer apartment or on other pleasures.

Setting aside the monetary perspective, for suburban sprawl it can be said that it is a retreat from people, from crowds, from street sounds, from simple access to vibrancy of cities.

Recently in the Calgary Herald,

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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 …..

Recently, Dr. Eric Miller from the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Toronto spoke in Vancouver on the third revolution of transportation within cities.  If he had been teaching back when I was there I might have focused more on transportation and urban planning than trying to learn how to design large buildings and bridges. In hindsight, it is amusing to reflect that I moved into transportation, the movement of goods, three years after receiving my undergraduate degree.

Canada Line at Yaletown TransLink, Vancouver BC ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Canada Line at Yaletown
TransLink, Vancouver BC
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

He talked about how revolutions in transportation have effected the shaping of cities.  The first two revolutions, wheel on steel (rail) and then car-based, meant more speed in transporting people allowing for homes to be farther removed from employment and facilitating creation of urban sprawl.  The third revolution, the one that we are in now, is different as it is not about technology advances.  It is about social forces and drivers.  It is about the rebalancing of transportation options.  The last revolution was car based, speed based, that created such a demand for road space for cars that cannot be satisfied physically in cities, both from responsible land use and financial health of city governments.  Now, a correction is needed.  Yet continuously, there are still initiatives by governments, landowners, and developers to run against the fact that car growth is not economically sustainable by cities or beneficial for the health of the population.

During the excellent lecture there seemed to be three influencers that were missing in the arguments presented:

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TransLink’s SkyTrain
Entering Main St Station
Vancouver BC, Canada
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

There has been too much tradition in building rapid transit lines as projects in themselves, without consideration for urban communities that will be services by this faster form of transportation. The billions of dollars invested in rapid transit lines are now in competition for ridership with the adjacent streets. There is nothing like governments creating competition with themselves, one form of transportation with another.
 

Cambie St Retail Corridor
After the Canada Line construction
Vancouver BC, Canada
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

It is all about building vibrant, liveable, sustainable, green communities where people can live healthily and happily. Clean transportation is one of the options to get there. If neighbouring communities do not benefit from rapid transit lines, then significant chances to move the liveable community agenda forward will be lost. If residents of local neighbourhoods do not see improvements that would benefit them, they may become vocal.

There are principles, believes, and values that should be part of any political actions for approval of any new rapid transit line investments.
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from Local Streets to People Streets; in Support of Brownfields; the Opportunity for Greening;

In a posting on an upcoming international conference in Stockholm on “Future of Places”, it is noted; “why cities need to embrace a people-centred approach in order to achieve positive urbanization and avoid falling victim to the negative attributes often accompanying urbanization” and “the inability of cities to manage growth to best utilize limited space….in pursuit of sustainable urban development.”
 

Narrow Street; Olympic Village, Vancouver, BC;©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

 
On another thought, venture capitalists, corporate turnaround hawks, and activist shareholders come into corporations, look at invested, idle capital at hand, look at potential returns that could be generated, and conjure up opportunities for increasing their financial gains from the idle capital. Why should cities not do the same, look at their streets, and maximize the revenue from that asset?

 
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H-JEH Becker, Velo.Urbanism, Third Wave Cycling Group Inc., 2013 

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

the Thoughts of Separated Bike Lanes on a City Street,

Brings out the Emotions of Motorists and Cyclists

The Dialogue; Proposal for separated bike lanes (SBL) on 7th St. SW, Calgary AB

Image courtesy of the City of Calgary

Image courtesy of the City of Calgary

Reaction to Proposals for Separated Bike Lanes (SBL)

It is interesting to observe the dialogue from city politicians, staff, the public (both motorists and cyclists), and from the media when there is any movement to propose installation of separated bike lanes.

The Motorists

Motorists tend to express their desire towards where the status quo is the best policy.  After all, they pay directly for the investment in roadways and their maintenance, not the pedestrians nor the cyclists.  The fact that these motorists may live in other suburban communities and drive to work on the candidate streets for separated bike lanes do not distract them from coming forth with strong objections.  Desire for having a vibrant, liveable, sustainable and green city where air pollution from cars is reduced seems to leave their thinking process and emotions takes over.  More on this later.

The Cyclists

Now, cyclists are not a homogenous group and come out quite vocal, as well as motorists, for their favourite solutions.  In the dialogue, the best solutions for growing cycling traffic seem to leave their thinking process, as well.  Considerations do not seem to come into the debate for what it will take in infrastructure designs to persuade motorists that they should leave their cars at home and cycle instead.  Considerations do not come into their dialogue for what will it take in cycling infrastructure designs to persuade parents with children of ages of preschool, primary school, or young teenagers to let these children cycle with or without their parents, as is the case.

The Media

To frequently, the media seems to be too interested in firing up some debate to sell papers, airtime, or ad space.  So, if they sense that a controversy can be started, they are too willing to go for it.

Read the full text of this article…

Montreal QC, Berri St Separated Bike Lanes Curb and Post Separation ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Montreal QC, Berri St
Separated Bike Lanes
Curb and Post Separation
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Vancouver, Hornby St Separated Bike Lanes ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Vancouver, Hornby St
Separated Bike Lanes
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Vancouver, Carrall Greenway Separated Bike Lanes Sections of Cycle Tracks and Bike Paths on Road Shoulder ©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

Vancouver, Carrall Greenway
Separated Bike Lanes
Sections of Cycle Tracks
and Bike Paths on Road Shoulder
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2013

©H-JEH Becker, Velo.Urbanism, Third Wave Cycling Group Inc., 2013

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