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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.

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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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CycloTouring in California

 

For promoting cycling touring, information on closed sections of interstate and state highways needs to be easily accessible on the Internet.  Adventure Cycling maps do provide routes through the state and are useful, if you are going in the direction set out and if you have the time and energy for the defined routes.

CycloTouring in California, at this time, tends to be more for long distance cyclists who are either confident in cycling in fast moving traffic, are competent cyclists, or lean towards risk-taking. Cycling of families with children, as is frequently seen in Europe, would, most likely, be more restricted to some regions in the state that have good cycling infrastructure and multi-kilometres of bike trails. CycloTouring as a combined mobility trip with the Californian and Amtrak train systems is simple and provides opportunities for regional touring. Just take a train to a designation and start the trip from there and then take the train back. Train one way and return by cycling provides another opportunity to extend the trip in different parts of the state. With the trains providing bike space without the need for boxing bikes expands the opportunities for cyclotouring. The only exception is Amtrak’s Coastal Starlight train, which still requires boxing of bicycles. Hope this changes in the near future. How Amtrak’s bus system fits into this type of touring is uncertain to me as I have received different information when the question was asked. Also, it seems uncertain if a bike would be taken when you show up for a bus. Would suggest that bike racks on front and on the back of these buses, i.e. the Swiss method, would increase cyclotourists using these buses. (Combined mobility cyclotouring trips will be the subject of a future blog article)

Realistically, the only provincial / state entity in North America that has comparable European style cyclotouring capacity, which appeals to families and children is the Province of Quebec with its famous La Route Verté network and the province’s capacity for combined mobility with the intercity transportation providers (trains, buses).

California is a frustrating state to cycle in.  Actually, there was enough frustration during the trip where I did not want to cycle to another city and just wanted to get out of the state.  Discouraging was the number of occurrences where interstate and other highways were closed to cyclists along my desired route path.   This did not happen in other western states.

Yes, one could go way out of the desired direction to find highways to cycle on.  Many times these highway routings were not direct to the desired target city for that night.  It would have taken much longer to reach my final destination this way.

Replacing maps with GPS-based cycling computer.
Garmin Edge 800
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Trip planning for the next day, setting up the day course on my Garmin BaseCamp computer mapping software, and then downloading the information onto the Garmin 800 GPS took much longer than it did in other states.  Sometimes it took an extra hour.

The lack of readily availability of information on which section of interstate and state highways were closed to cyclists caused trip planning to be time consuming.

 

The dreaded sign on interstate and state highways. Time to get off. The highway not designed for cycling as a mode of transportation.
Redding CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

On one day, an unexpected cycling prohibited sign on a state highway forced rerouting and change of destination for the night half way through that day’s trip when uncancellable motel reservations were already made in another city 30 kilometres farther away.  This happened on a Saturday of a busy weekend, which drew many tourists to this area.  Hotels and motels were filled up.  Finally, an accommodation was found late in the day at the edge of that city.  As it turned out, it was the last room available in the motel.  A bit of luck, at least.

 

There was no advance warning signs that this would occur.  There were no cycling bypass route or signs.  The only alternative was to cycle 20 kilometres north and then another 20 kilometres west to meet up with a highway that would take me to my intended destination.  Now, the question became “Is the highway to the motel open for cycling?”  Not wanting to take that risk, the decision was to stay in the city with the prohibition sign and do a major reroute of the trip bypassing some places that I really wanted to cycle through.

A few days later I was cycling on a state highway when that highway split into two highways.  There was one of those cycling prohibited signs for the highway that I wanted to take.  Joyfully, I noticed a bike route sign leading to the other highway.  So I took it expecting that at some point I wild be directed back to the highway that I wanted to take.  After an hour of cycling I realized that would not happen.  Fortunately, a person at a service station could direct me back to the highway that I wanted to be on by using some local roads.  Confidence was now lost that I could depend on highways to be open for cycling along my intended route.

So, this is cycling in California!

 
 

Trip Planning, Finding Information on Highway Cycling

 

The Internet was a frustrating place to find the needed information.  Maps to identify open roads for cycling did not seem to exist.  There was conflicting and sometimes incorrect information on blogs.

CDOT District 2 Cycling Guide providing information on interstate and state highways open and closed to cyclists.
State of California

There was an exception and that was District 2 of the Californian Department of Transportation, a northern district. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This district had produced a very effective and informative document for cycling there (http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist2/pdf/bikeguide.pdf).  Open and closed highways to cyclists were identified on maps.  For closed sections, alternate routings were mapped out.  Other useful information was provided.   Internet search did not reveal the existence of such a document for the other districts in California.  It certainly is needed.

 

Bike Routes Parallel to Highways.

 

Sometimes by chance, parallel bike trails were come upon through Internet searches, by chance, or avoiding restricted sections of highways.   Some of these trails were well marked with direction and destination signs.  Others were not.  Sometimes these routes used local and rural roads.  Some sections would have bike lanes and paved cycleable shoulders.  Some of the roads were shared roads, usually with a low amount of motorized traffic.  For the most part, bike lanes or cycleable paved shoulders were available on these roads.

Pacific Coast Bike Trail between Santa Cruz and Monterey CA. The well signed trail travels along county roads with sections of bike lanes, paved cycleable shoulders, and trails.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Pacific Coast Bike Trail between Santa Cruz and Monterey CA. The well signed trail travels along county roads with sections of bike lanes, paved cycleable shoulders, and trails.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bike paths next to a highway were frequently encountered as an entry to cities, while some started before city limits, up to 20 and 30 kilometres.  Some examples included Monterey with a path starting 30 kilometres before the city limit and Santa Cruz with a bike path starting at city limit.

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable as bike trails branch of state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Entering Santa Barbara CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable as bike trails branch of state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Entering Santa Maria CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable as bike trails branch of state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Entering Monterey CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable as bike trails branch of state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Entering Monterey CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

As some municipalities are approached, the adventure of entering is much more comfortable with bike trails branching off state highways. For some municipalities, the experience of leaving is also enhanced with bike trails.
Leaving Fairfield CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cycling Facilities in Urban and Rural Environment

 

As mentioned in a previous blog, the positive effects can be continuously seen while cycling in California of federal road programs which requires cycling facilities as part of the funding for new and rebuilt roads.  One continuously comes on these facilities in municipalities from the smallest to larger cities as well as on rural roads from county roads to state highways.  It is rare to cycle in any municipality that is without any bike lanes or trails.

Rural California, cycling made more pleasant with bike lanes or cycle able paved shoulders.
Half Moon Bay CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Rural California, cycling made more pleasant with bike lanes or cycle able paved shoulders.
Corning CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cities with a Network of Cycling Facilities

 

Cycling cities. Separated bike lanes in downtown waterfront area supporting retail.
San Francisco CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

When discussion turns to cycling cities in the US, normally Portland, as a US large cycling city leader, Seattle (3.5%), and San Francisco (3.5%) as an upcoming cycling city, are mentioned.  Sometimes the City of Davis is mentioned with its 22% cycling mode share. There the discussion tends to end.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

On this trip there were other medium size cities that should be recognized for their work towards building of a cycling network and for developing a sizeable cycling mode share. Municipalities passed through that have made an effort towards providing cycling facilities include Fairfield (0.2%), Vallejo (0.2%), Monterey, Avila Beach, and Santa Maria (0.5%).

Special mention goes to the efforts put out by the following cities: Santa Cruz (cycling mode share 9%, many innovative cycling features), San Luis Obispo (7%), and Santa Barbara (6.4%).

Cycling cities. Separated bike lanes making the commute more pleasant.
Santa Cruz CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling cities. Downtown bike parking on streets. Cyclists are good customers for retailers.
Santa Cruz CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling cities. Mass bicycle parking contributing to attainability of higher education. An indicator of the attraction of cycling for transportation when the environment is supportive.
Santa Barbara CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling cities. Cyclists are good customers for retailers.
San Luis Obispo CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling cities. Cyclists are good customers for retailers.
San Luis Obispo CA.
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Source of cycling mode share to work: League of American Cyclists, 2010 data on bicycle commute mode share (based on the US Census American Community Survey with data on 375 cities over 60,000 population).

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Comments from the Latest Cycling Touring Trip

The third cycling touring trip of the year is now over.  It started on August 28th, 2012 as I left Calgary, AB behind.  It ended seventy-two days later on November 9th with a train ride from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, B.C.  I sort of miss not doing the last segment by bicycle.  Other priorities cut out those last three days of cycling.  Still, I have done this segment of the trip a number of times using a variety of routes.  Nevertheless, the cycling touring trip covered 4,100 kilometres and the states of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California with the southern terminus being Santa Barbara.  The southerly cycle was by bicycle with the northern portion being a combined mobility trip of trains and cycling.  Time was a limiting factor on the northernmost section as the wonderful fall weather that I had been enjoying from the start of the trip now threatened to turn to winterly conditions, including the oncoming of fog in the morning hours as the length of daylight decreased quickly.

The next few blog articles will reflect on some observations from the trip on network and infrastructure design toolkits that affect cycling touring.

Federal Government Funding Programs for Cycling


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The trip showed the effectiveness of federal programs that mandate that a specified portion of grants for any road construction or rebuilt be spent on cycling facilities.  While the cycling facility design toolkit being used on these builds may not appeal to non-cyclists, the end product will appeal to more confident and more risk-taking people who now cycle to use arterial roads with bike lanes.

Reflections on cycling in the States, I started to expect that every hamlet, village, town, or city, no matter the population, would have bike lanes guiding me through it.  In rural roads, I expected either to see marked bike lanes or paved shoulders allowing for confortable cycling.  Definitely, the federal transportation program had a very positive effect on cycling facilities. It is amazing to think back and reflect on the limited distances that I cycled where there was not a bike lane or cycleable paved shoulders.

Chemult OR, Population 300, Hamlet, Bike lanes on the main road.

Chemult OR, Population 300, Hamlet,
Bike lanes on the main road

Moro OR, Population 370,
Village,
Bike lane on the main road.

Polson MT, Population 4,500, Town,
Bike lane and bike path within
road right-of-way through town.

Madras OR, Population 6,000, Town,
Bike lane next to car parking
lane and curb.


























Bend OR, Population 78,000,
Small city, Bike lane on
restricted highway
through city.

Santa Cruz, Population 60,000,
Small city, Cycling mode share 9%,
Separated bike lane entering
downtown.

Portland OR, Population 600,000,
Larger city,
Cycling mode share 6.3%,
Bike lane on an arterial street
with traffic control pavement
marking and green lane through
intersection.
























Fairfax CA, Bike Lane, Width measured from face of curb, Asphalt and Concrete surfaces, Separation starting at materials interface.

Being able to cycle on bike lanes was great.  The widths of the cycling facilities ranged from meagre to very comfortable.  Sometimes, the 1.5 metres bike lane widths were measured from curb faces making them uncomfortable.  Frequently, the concrete extensions were great storage places for dirt, branches, garbage, and other obstacles, making this space useless for cycling.  Frequently, the road asphalt did not extend to the curb face.  Unfortunately, having both asphalt and concrete surfaces in bike lanes also brought poor cycling conditions with safety issues as the meeting of these two materials may be unsmooth, may have difficult raised humps, or separate and ready to eat up a wheel.





Interstate Highway I-90, Washington State, Wide paved shoulder for comfortable cycling, Rumble strip separation from motorized traffic.

Interstate Highway I-90, Washington State, Wide paved shoulder for comfortable cycling, Rumble strip separation from motorized traffic.

Washington State Highway, With wide paved shoulder and rumble strip separation from motorized traffic, Comfortable cycling.















Generally, the bike lanes were designed to the second wave level with frequent, undesirable conditions at intersections where bike lanes would disappear when newer cyclists needed them the most.  So, for determinant, skilled, or risk-taking cyclists with limited fear, these second wave design bike lanes provided separation from cars and an acceptable cycling environment.  Certainly, these facilities would not draw out motorists from their cars to cycle instead.  This was evident by the number of people cycling.  Third wave cycling designs are needed to increase cycling traffic beyond the current cyclists.

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During the winter my cycling habits do get abit stuck in a snowbank whenever there is snow or ice.  In Toronto, my bike never saw sunlight from within the 

Bike parked in snow bank. Leavenworth, Washington 2009. Photo by J. Chong

Bike parked in snow bank. Leavenworth, Washington 2009. Photo by J. Chong

bike storage cave for the whole winter.  But then, I lived 16 kms. in the suburbs, away from downtown and separated by ravine parks and a cold lake waterfront where snow and ice stuck around for awhile.  

In Calgary, I’ve only kicked out my winter cycling abstinence by a notch:  I will cycle for grocery shopping,  if the pavement looks reasonably ice-free without me wandering out into the middle of the road to avoid an ice patch. The City does try to clear snow off its downtown riverside bike and pedestrian paths close to home.   Drier prairie air means drier snow for easier removal.

Winter Use of Bike Lanes:  Cycling Count Statistics vs. Flash Observations

Dunsmuir St. separated bike lane. Vancouver, BC Mar. 2010. Opened a few weeks after Winter Olympics ended. Photo by HJEH Becker

Dunsmuir St. separated bike lane. Vancouver, BC Mar. 2010. Opened a few weeks after Winter Olympics ended. Photo by HJEH Becker

In Vancouver, I  cycle-commuted to work  when I worked downtown on certain winter days. Otherwise, on weekends,  I ventured out for a brisk bike ride usually under 15 kms. at near freezing temperatures..  I confined my bike routes where possible, to quieter roads and bike paths (where there were just less pedestrians and joggers anyway). I preferred bike lanes. 

Snowclearing machine or perhaps, a big snowbrush for dry, prairie snow on bike-pedestrian path. Calgary, AB 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Snowclearing brush machine for removing dry, prairie snow on bike-pedestrian path. Calgary, AB 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

 So is it really true that bike lanes are severely underutilized  in bad weather when there is heavy rain, some snow or ice?  It’s a favourite rant among drivers and other observers, especially when a separated bike lane was implemented by reassigning part of the road pavement real estate. 

Yes, right:  If this  short 1-3 min. observation was from a  driver waiting at a traffic light or whipping along the road.  Some cynics proclaimed their observations during the first year in Vancouver for  separated bike lanes on:  Burrard Bridge, Dunsmuir St. and perhaps, Hornby St. 

Vancouver cycling count statistics for 2010 proved otherwise for sample separated bike lanes:

  • Burrard Bridge: Bad weather days – 300 to 400 cyclists daily. Otherwise, normal winter days range – 800 to 1,000 cyclists peaking to 3,000 daily (Winter 2009-Mar. 2010 including during the Winter Olympics with road closures starting, Nov. 2009-Mar. 2010.)
  • Dunsmuir St.: 1,000 to 1,600 cyclists daily (Oct. 2010)
  • Note: Vancouver installs bike counter equipment which generates data to support implementation of new cycling facilities. This cycling metrics program has been in place for last 2 years.

    Winter cycling on bike-pedestrian access ramp. Calgary, AB 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

    Winter cycling on bike-pedestrian access ramp by Bow River. Calgary, AB 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

     Is this cynicism really a motorist-blinkered perception?  Do they realize that residential streets and some downtown streets, are often at true traffic peak volume for approximately 1 hr. each during morning and late afternoon.  Meanwhile for the rest of the day, car traffic peeters out to occasional cars ambling calmly down the road every few minutes.

    That’s a short amount of daily optimal road use by cars for alot of wide, long pavement real estate.

    In fact, in engineering circles, there is a common design principle for roads designed to accommodate peak car traffic volumes for approximately 1 hr. each day. (Several decades ago, peak car volume was 15 min. or so. It must have been shortly just after the car speedsters were still celebrating after the horse and buggy disappeared.  Or perhaps when cities and towns were smaller.) 

    Downtown Calgary 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

    Downtown Calgary 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

     Bike Commuting Away from Peak Rush Hours
    Based on my daily cycling patterns during off-peak hours on business days over several months, most definitely there were streets simply safer and quieter to cycle.  My cycling schedule was oriented around  cycling during lighter car traffic periods after 9:00 am or before 7:00 am.  I avoided impatient car commuters and the congestion of parents dropping off their children at school.  In Vancouver, I had been living downtown for several years.

    One job required a long,  multi-modal commute of cycling, transit rail, bus and then a walk to work site.  I wrote about this commute in an earlier blog article.   But my bike ride was stress-free, since I started early morning at 5:30 am and later, homeward from the transit bike locker after 6:30 pm.  At both ends of the day, I dealt with little car traffic even though the bike commute did include some major road intersections.  The route did include a blend of bike lanes, multi-purpose bike-pedestrian paths and quiet residential streets. Major commercial streets only covered less than 5 kms. of a 13 km. one-way bike route.

    Hornby St. separated bike lane. Vancouver, BC Dec. 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker. Bike lane opened after considerable debate and public consultation with business owners and general public.

    Hornby St. separated bike lane. Vancouver, BC Dec. 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker. Bike lane opened after considerable debate and public consultation with business owners and general public.

     Just like car drivers testing out new roads and bridges, it takes several years for cyclists to change their riding routes to integrate sections of recently built bike lanes. So don’t be surprised that winter and rainy season cycling traffic is lower but growing. After all, with Vancouver’s winters far more balmier than most other Canadian cities, there is good reason that bike lane use will increase.

    After all, go to the website, Copenhagenize, where during the winter months there are many photos of Copenhageners cycling through snow and rain. The city makes it a priority to clear their separated bike lanes over cars, because their daily cycling volumes are high. 

    Within the last few weeks, snow-removal of bike paths and lanes was a hot Internet topic on a North American listserve for the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. Perhaps this reflects an increased appetite for winter cycling.

    Further Reading:
    City of Vancouver.  Bike Vancouver for updated cycling statistics on key bike lanes and routes. Including Burrard Bridge, Dunsmuir and Hornby separated bike lanes.

    Chong, Jean.  Biking to Work in More Challenging or Isolated Work Areas.  May 22, 2010.

    Copenhagenize web site.

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Wheelchair User in Two-Way Separated Bike Lane. Berri St., Montreal QC 2005. Photo by HJEH Becker

Wheelchair user in two-way separated bike lane with cyclists. Berri St., Montreal QC 2005. Photo by HJEH Becker

For years, cyclists have been demanding their own space on roads.  After all, pedestrians have had their space, physically separated from car and truck traffic by curbs and vertical elevation from road surfaces.  So, why should cyclists not have their space?  Safety and inducement for more people to cycle and not drive, is the call of the marginalized cyclists.

So life in North America is slowly changing.  Slowly, bike lanes are making their way into city landscape.  Just like neighbourhood streets in Vancouver which were traffic calmed to attract cyclists,  now other road users have come to bike lanes.  While Vancouver’s cycle streets attracted car drivers, bike lanes are attracting three and four-wheeled vehicles as well.  In this case, it is the wheelchair users along with in-line skaters, skateboarders, and the occasional binners with their shopping cart.

Wheelchair user in bike lane. Pacific Blvd., Vancouver BC 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Wheelchair user in bike lane. Pacific Blvd., Vancouver BC 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Some countries in Europe even allow smelly, gas-driven mopeds and motorcycle.  Even four-wheeled electric cars are allowed on cycling facilities in the Netherlands.  Hope that North America never goes that far.  Fast speeding electric mopeds and e-bikes with their pedals removed, are drawing cyclists’ irritation.

So, what is it about?  Is it not about placing same speed movements together for everyone’s comfort and safety?  First there is the speed of pedestrians, joggers and runners.  Then there is the speed of cyclists, wheelchair users, in-line skaters and skateboarders all moving in the same speed range.  Then there is the speed of cars within urban streets, mopeds and moped-like e-bikes, some with their speed-either bypassed or removed.

Meanwhile, there is nothing like an elderly person driving his wheelchair at a speed passing a cyclist churning up a steep hill.

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 A Canadian major, national retail store representative once stated to Council that:

  •  Cyclists spent less than drivers on the average per trip to their stores
  • Cyclists come more often to their stores than drivers
Cyclists at Cambie & 7th Ave. large retail store. Retailer provides an air pump just by the bike rack. Oct. 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cyclists at Cambie St. & 7th Ave. large retail store. Retailer provides an air pump just by the bike rack. Oct. 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

  This means for retailers:

  •   more opportunities for impulse purchases
  • a retailer’s dream
Bike lanes on both sides of road by this corner at a major national retail store outlet. Vancouver BC Oct. 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Bike lanes on both sides of road by this busy corner at a major national retail store outlet. Vancouver BC Oct. 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

So why are retailers complaining when bike lanes are going into their streets? 

  • Why are their stores not drawing in cycling customers? 
  • Is it because of:
    • No bike lanes, separated bike lanes, or bike paths leading to their retail stores?
    • No bike parking in front of their stores or in their stores?
    • Or is it the product lines that these retailers are selling?

Maybe these retailers should do a scouting trip to Cambie and 7th Ave with its bike lane and watch the action on a Saturday as a continuous stream of cyclists come and go, doing their shopping.

If one follows the line of the retailers that bike lanes will reduce the sales revenue of their stores, then the question may come up of where do cyclists go 

Cambie near 7th Ave. Vancouver BC Oct. 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Cambie St. near 7th Ave. Vancouver BC Oct. 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

to spend their money.  The concept that cyclists are thriftier and hoard their money will most likely not play well in the world of reality.  So, where do these cyclists go and why not to the stores of the merchants who fear bike lanes on their doorstep?  After all, cyclists are not a homogenous group of people.  They are young and old.  They are single, in couple relationships, and with children of all ages.  They are of all income levels.  They are of a broad spectrum of taste.  They buy a broad spectrum of goods.  So, what is lacking with these retailers’ stores?

Related Articles:
Becker, HJEH.  Bike Helmets on Customers Expose Unnoticed Business For Retailers.  Jan. 11, 2010. 

Chong, Jean.  Cycling is for Foodies and All: Getting the Retail Connection Right. Jun. 2, 2010.

Becker, HJEH.  European Retailers Prosper from People Streets, Downtown Vancouver Retailers Trudge Along with 1960’s Retailing  Models.   Sept. 12, 2010.

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