Thursday, March 22, 2012

Multi-modal Vancouver

New installation on Vancouver Sky Train helps cyclists on train and keeps bike from obstructing other transit users.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Copenhagenize Victoria

Urban Systems Ltd.

The Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition

invites you to attend

Copenhagenize Victoria

With speaker:

Andreas Rohl, Bicycle Program Manager, City of Copenhagen and Cycling Specialist, Urban Systems Ltd.

Thursday, March 29th, 7-9pm

St Ann's Academy Auditorium
835 Humboldt St., Victoria


RSVP required:

Andreas Rohl - Manager, Bicycle Program, City of Copenhagen

Andreas manages the City of Copenhagen's Bicycle Programme (Cykelsekretariat) and has recently joined Urban Systems Ltd. for an 8-month term in their Metro Vancouver office. He is participating in a range of active transportation projects throughout Western Canada, including the development of an Active Transportation Master Plan for the City of

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Recently I had a conversation with an old friend of mine. “Oh I’m too much of an economic conservative for that”, he said, when asked if he would support a network of cycling facilities in his community. “Being an economic conservative is precisely the reason you should support these facilities”, I responded. Still, I understood exactly where he was coming from. There is a widely perpetuated myth that cyclists are not paying for their share of the road.

In the Capital Regional District (Victoria, BC), as in most jurisdictions across Canada, local roads are primarily funded through local property taxes. If you own property, you are paying realty taxes; if you rent you are paying indirectly.  Regardless, you are paying a share of the cost of roads that are used primarily by cars. Anyone who cycles or walks as their primary mode of transportation actually pays much more than their fair share.

Bicycle facilities use a fraction of the space required for automobile infrastructure and are much cheaper to build and maintain. The real pinch to the wallet may be that roads for cars are not even that efficient at moving people relative to other modes of transportation.

Source: Sallis 2007
The cost imposed by the automobile that are not paid for directly by the user are called external costs. There are many studies concluding that drivers do not carry all the external and hidden costs associated with the car.

Many people have the perception that the taxes they pay on gas and vehicle licensing pays for the road they drive on. Tax revenues from gas taxes and vehicle licensing only cover about half of what it takes to build and maintain roads for automobiles. Every linear kilometer of new road built adds about $2,500 to an annual road maintenance budget.  So the local tax payer subsidies the balance, whether they drive or not.

In Canada, we have a well-developed system of socialized parking, as it is a cost that most drivers fail to consider. Free parking on street is paid for by all taxpayers who rent or own property.  So-called free parking at shopping centres means you are paying those costs in every purchase whether you drive or not. The average parking space is 7.2 m². In metropolitan Victoria this land could be valued at tens of thousands of dollars. As a result of high land and labour costs, the average parking spot in the Capital Region is worth more than the cars that occupy them. Also, because a single car needs 3 to 5 parking places we have many more parking space than cars and the majority of those spaces are vacant 80% of the time. If a parking space costs $20,000 and every car requires an estimated 4 parking spaces (home, work, shopping and other) that is an extra $80,000 per car - a cost imposed on all taxpayers for the benefit of the private vehicle owner, yet paid for by others.

Source: Shoupe 2005
Its not only the infrastructure that contributes to the hidden cost of the car. For example, motor vehicle congestion has a direct impact on our national economy. Time spent commuting is time that can not be spent working or with family. Traffic congestion causes frustration, stress and reduces access to employment and leisure activities as well as increased pollution. Congestion also increases shipping costs and adds disruption to production schedules. Developing a good bike network with quality cycling facilities is a highly effective and cost efficient means of reducing congestion. Furthermore, people who cycle to work, even occasionally, are healthier and are more productive employees.
The space for one car could accommodate 12 bicycles
Automobile centered development encourages low density land use which adds to the hidden costs. The direct land requirements for roads are very high. A road system consumes the equivalent of four times the space for every car it services. Since roads are built for peak traffic hours it is typical to see one car in an area that could hold twenty cars.

Due to space requirements, development for the automobile has lead to the construction of scattered developments and poor accessibility between co-dependant land uses. Robert Burchelle, a research from Rutgers University, estimates that cities across North America devote 15-50 percent of their land to automobiles. Sprawl can increase the price of an average house by up to $50,000, due to the additional cost of services such as local roads, sewer lines, school buses and fire protection spread out over a greater area at lower density.

Each private vehicle imposes large social costs on the community as described above.  Is my old friend convinced?  It may take time to see the sense that increased investment in cycling facilities will save tax payers money in the long run.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cycle Track Cross Sections

I have encountered some comments recently by people who feel cycle tracks will slow down their commute. Just think of it as a bike lane, but more fun.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cycling Victoria: Roundabouts

Recently I have been privy to several heated discussion on cycling roundabouts. I like the idea of roundabouts. They are an efficient means of managing traffic flow and more effective than traffic lights. However, the majority of roundabouts in North America create ambiguity and fail to communicate a clear action for cyclists. When a cyclist enters an intersection controlled by a roundabout they too often encounter no self evident path through the intersection.

Pedal Forward recently produced this little video to help local cyclists navigate our roundabouts.

Please check back soon. There will be more to come on roundabouts and how they can be improved for cyclists.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cycling Victoria: Bicycle Parking

Bike parking facilities are one of the primary considerations for people when determining if they will choose to ride their bike or not. The City of Victoria has recognized this and in 2011 commissioned a report, titled the Victoria Bicycle Parking Strategy, to help the City provide better bike parking.

The inverted "U" is the most common bike rack found on Victoria streets and provides high quality on-street short term bike parking.
New signature/iconic Victoria bike rack

High quality bike parking is an easy way to encourage more people to go by bike. Unlike other cycling facilities, bike parking does not usually involve measures that could be perceived as impeding or obstructing the flow of motor vehicle traffic. Bike parking is also low cost and has little if any impact on motor vehicle parking spaces. For these reasons bike parking is highly palatable to the general public.

Efficient and well designed bike parking, like the new City of Victoria signature bike racks, create brand identification and this branding process will have multiple positive implications for cyclists.

Bike parking that looks smart and chic helps establish a positive public image. A good public image will encourage more people to cycle and generate greater respect among those who will never consider cycling.

Clean and elegant bike parking is also an excellent public indication that bikes belong here. The brand becomes symbol to all road users that this is a place where cycling is not only accepted but encouraged.

Alternatively poor cycling lockups will frustrate and discourage existing riders and unlikely to encourage new ones. Dirty or rundown bike lockup and storage facilities will tarnish the image of cycling in Canada's cycling capital.
The City of Victoria provides covered bicycle racks at all City owned parkades. However, these bike parking spots are not actively  monitored by parking attendants, placed in secluded locations and removed from eyes of busy downtown streets. The results are bike parking  less secure than most on street parking facilities. 
The 2011, Victoria Bicycle Parking Strategy outlines some of the strengths and weaknesses of Victoria's current bike parking supply and the policy context. Victoria has a very high bike parking spot to cyclist ratio. Although the number of spots is more than sufficient the type and quality of bike parking is not meeting the needs of Victoria cyclists. The issue is not providing more bike parking spots. The issue is being smarter about what type of bike parking is provided and where it is located.
The City of Victoria has no publicly accessible fully secured short, medium and long term bike lockup facility (bike station) such as this one in Cambridge England.
Bike stations provide a very high sense of security for cyclists. At all times of the day or night riders are able to leave their bikes at this station knowing, with near guarantee, it will be their for them when they get back.
Also indicated in the report is that the city does not provide guidance on the over all quality of bicycle parking.  Currently the policy of the local government does it allow for reductions in automobile parking if the number of bicycle parking spaces exceeded the City's minimum requirements.

This covered bike parking in Downtown Victoria is popular, but poorly designed. If the rack and the shelter were properly placed twice as many bike would be able to fit at this location. Guideline should be considered to help us get good value for our bike parking dollars. 
Some excellent design guidelines and general policy recommendations are provided in Victoria's 2011 Strategy. However, what the Victoria Bicycle Parking Strategy is not, is an implantation plan. The City of Victoria should consider specific plans, designs and policies to fill the gaps outlined in the 2011 Parking Strategy. Bike parking in Victoria is not bad, but if we want good value for our bike parking dollars we need to build on the excellent work that has been done to date.