Hey, comment on Victoria’s Cycling Master Plan!

Hey, comment on Victoria’s Cycling Master Plan!


The City of Victoria is coming out with a master plan for biking . They would really like to know what you think about biking in the city and what improvements you like to see in their master plan. Here’s where you can contribute. Look at the poster above for places where the City’s holding consultations and workshops.

If you’re looking for some ideas, the Greater Victoria cycling coalition recently released their thoughts on the city’s master plan (pdf) (disclaimer I am on the board of the Greater Victoria cycling coalition, though my contribution to the report was mostly proof-reading) . Some highlights for you in case you need some ideas to contribute to the city:

  1. Improvements to neighbourhood arteries such as Haultain, Vancouver, and more
  2. Protected or buffered bike lanes on heavier traffic roads such as Pandora (The city is currently planning a one-way track on Pandora).
  3. Clearer road markings on intersections, and the use of “bike boxes” at traffic lights so people on cycles can safely and visibly get ahead of traffic

There’s more. Read the report, it’s not very long.

Here is some of my personal feedback (beyond everything in the report) based mostly on the parts of the city I cycle in,. and the parts where I feel changes would make a big difference.

  1. Protected (buffered) lanes, or cycle “tracks” downtown and beyond: Lanes where cyclists are not buffeted by cars and buses have the potential to increase cycling among those hesitant to ride in traffic. The city is planning to build a buffered lane on Pandora from Cook all the way to Wharf. This is a good start, and needs to be doubled, either with a two way lane on Pandora (which the city is very hesitant to do), or a corresponding cycle track on a street going east. Also, View street is already not a convenient throughway for cars, wonder if a buffered bike lane would fit there.  
  2. Vancouver street: Vancouver is a nice and peaceful street to ride on, wide, only one lane of car traffic each way, residential and mostly flat. Vancouver is already a widely used bike way for people going North-South, especially from Fairfield and Cook street village and North Park. But, there are some difficult stretches. Firstly, Caledonia, where cyclists need to pass a busy street with speeding cars. While cars are not allowed through north on Vancouver street past Caledonia, my near misses and my friends’ similar stories tells me that many car drivers don’t listen. Let’s fix this, either with more enforcement, or actual physical barriers to slow vehicles down/stop them. Also, there are a number of stop signs on Vancouver that result in a choppy cycling experience. Changing these stop signs to allow through traffic on Vancouver would improve the cycling experience. There is marginal car traffic on those east-west roads anyway, so I think this would be an easy fix. While we are at it, changing car speed limits to 30 kph would calm Vancouver down even more. Vancouver’s connection past Bay is also currently a bit klunky and needs improving.
  3. Haultain. This is my favourite street to cycle on in Victoria, and one I use regularly. Haultain, while not on Victoria’s current official cycling network, is well set up for biking, with physical barriers preventing through traffic both at Shelbourne and Richmond, leading to a fantastic cycling experience from Cook street all the way into Oak Bay. From my perspective, Haultain mostly works, but connecting it west past Cook and making an easier path for cyclists coming off the Bay bridge would be useful. The turn onto Cook from Haultain also needs some attention, it’s difficult in peak hour traffic. Also, while bikes are supposed to trigger the Shelbourne light, this seems to not work for me much of the time, which means I wait a while for this light to turn, especially unproductive when there’s little traffic on Shelbourne after peak hours. I wish this light could be turned in to a simple stop/yield, with an optional bicycle/pedestrian triggered light to be used in times of “heavy” traffic on Shelbourne.
  4. portland_bike_boxRight turn lanes and cyclists. Many of our streets without bike lanes, Johnson is a prime example have this feature where the right-most lane becomes a turn-only lane. This may be convenient for cars, but it means cyclists have to keep merging left into traffic, stressful even for experienced riders in traffic and disruptive for motor vehicle traffic as well. It’s here that painting bike boxes could be very useful. But they won’t help when traffic is moving. Cook and Johnson now have a marking where the right-most lane is right-turn only except for buses and cycles. So, when traffic is moving, cyclists could just pedal through, but when it is stopped, they could use the painted bike box. The city should do this at every intersection.

Many more thoughts, but please contribute. The city especially needs to hear from the people I think constitute the heart of cycling in the city, those who cycle, but would not identify themselves as cyclists per se (human is the preferred identity!). You know who you are, speak up (It’s an election year, BTW).

Drivers: Cyclists, pedestrians and Glare

Drivers: Cyclists, pedestrians and Glare

Two cyclists were taken to hospital Wednesday after each went hurtling into a windshield in what police said were “almost identical” accidents just 23 minutes apart. Both drivers were somehow blinded by the sun, neither of them seeing the cyclist.

Two cyclists hurt in separate collisions.

This is sad, because it is avoidable. Most drivers know that visibility during  morning and evening driving when the sun is low is problematic. They can see massive objects like other cars, trees, or buildings, but pedestrians, animals and bicyclists are frequent victims to what is called “sun glare”. But do drivers get adequate training on how to avoid sun glare?

Insurance BC (ICBC) driver’s licence guide has a chapter that they call See-Think-Do, about being a smart driver. It doesn’t mention the sun or glare. I have not taken driving lessons here, so I don’t know if this is something that comes up during instruction.  Just in case, here’s a shortlist of things drivers can do to avoid injuring other people, courtesy the smart motorist, and moi.

  1. Take the bus! Why is this first? Because it is foolproof, you can’t personally injure people when you’re not driving, and you can be assured that your professional driver likely knows more about driving than you ever will.
  2. Know when the problem is worst:  Early spring and early fall when the sun rises due east and sets due west, and roads are laid out perfectly east-west, and north-south.
  3. Driving in glare causing conditions is as dangerous as driving in fog or rain, so drive anticipating danger. It’s a beautiful sunny day without consequence when you’re sitting in a bus watching the sun rise over the ocean, or playing hooky from work, not while piloting a dangerous vehicle.
  4. Aerodynamic tilted windshields make you more vulnerable as they increase scattering. No, don’t go out and buy a boxy SUV, you’ll injure more people that way.
  5. Light coloured dashes are out, get darker interiors. Yes, it may get a little warmer on a few days in the summer, but the solution to that is a sunshade, and cracking your windows.
  6. Avoid, as in avoid ghastly cleaning products that shine up your car’s insides. Yes, shiny is often associated with clean, but might I add, that an understated clean shows more polish 🙂
  7. Clean windshields. That buggy, dusty windshield will scatter more light, keep it clean. Also, older windshields eventually get micro-scratches from all that dust, and all the cleaning in the world will not improve things. I wonder if one’s insurance company will pay for a replacement if the windshield becomes a safety hazard. I mean, it is more honest that a strategic stone throw, or other devices.
  8. Polarised sunglasses. Surprising that sunglasses are not mandatory while driving, they really really help. I should know, having never worn one for many years. I got a prescription pair five years back, and I can’t imagine driving, biking, or walking in the sun without one.
  9. Attention. Of course, texting, talking, eating, changing channels, berating your children, vacuuming your car, polishing your dashboard, etc.

If you are a visual learner, here’s a helpful, very short video from consumer reports.

Image courtesy bootbearwdc’s flickr photostream used under a creative commons licence.