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Bicycle Infrastructure Ignorance 62

Vancouver Hornby Street Bike Lanes

Photo of Vancouver’s Hornby St Bike Lanes courtesy of Paul Krueger

An article in the Toronto Star newspaper yesterday brought to light a plan to bring a modest segregated bicycle network in Toronto’s downtown core. This news would have been significant even with Toronto’s previous mayor, the “bike-friendly” David Miller.

What makes this news drastically more significant in 2011 is the fact that the plan is being brought by the Rob Ford administration – a mayor who has historically said that bicycles don’t belong on our streets.

Toronto is a city with tens of thousands bicyclists, but has a terribly inadequate, poorly maintained, non-segregated, disconnected network of bike lanes and routes where bike lanes are often treated as temporary parking by delivery trucks and taxi drivers.

The Ford administration is bringing forward a plan to bring Toronto its first curb-separated cycle tracks on downtown streets that either contain inadequate bike lanes, or nothing at all.

The measure is being cautiously hailed by me and many others in the city. If Ford is able to deliver this network, I have pledged to become a Ford supporter.

However, the Toronto Star article comments contain some genuine ignorance (and opposition) toward segregated bicycle infrastructure. And as always, the disingenuous trolls were out there spreading deceitful rubbish.

There seems to be five primary arguments against bringing segregated bicycle infrastructure to Toronto:

Argument 1: Bicyclists don’t pay for the roads

Some people genuinely seemed to think that drivers singlehandedly pay for the roads. Others were just trolling by calling for mandatory bicycle licensing, testing and registration to pay for bike infrastructure.

We all know that our roads are paid for by municipal property taxes – which are paid for by everyone – including bicyclists. And since bicyclists can only use a subset of the roads that their tax dollars are paying for, bicyclists are actually subsidizing motorists.

Star Article comments:

jonno492 – It’s interesting:

there are some on this post who argue that the city should pay to have segregated lanes for bicycles and yet feel they should not have to license their bicycles to help pay for these lanes.

GMP – Roads are paid for by everyone?

I thought roads and highway infrastructure was paid by the high taxes that we pay on gasoline.

builder.m – Fair Share:

Tax air pump stations. Tax bike tires. Tax helmets. Tax accessories like bells and lights. Tax bike sales. Make insurance obligatory. Make biker-ed obligatory. Make lights, helmets and bells obligatory.

Snowbirds1 – license bikes for $20/$30 per year:

not only would this help offset the total cost ( the monies could also be used for additional bike lanes) but it could also help in an emergency situation, god forbid something happens but should a cyclist become incapacitated and not able to communicate with emergency services the license could be used. I also think our police should crackdown and ticket some of these cyclist who run red lights, stop sign, not wearing helmets…etc under the Hwy Traffic Act as per the act, the license could aslo(sic) be used for this purpose as they do for motorists and/or when proper ID is not available.

Uncle Cool – Bike registrations coming…:

If specific lanes are coming for cyclists, perhaps it’s time they paid for their part of the roads.

Commenter Joe LaFortune made some great points on why licensing bicycles makes no sense:

Inevitably in these, um, discussions, there are those who call for cyclists to be licensed. Here is why it is not likely to happen: motorists are licensed because they operate large, heavy, fast vehicles with the capacity to kill and severely injure. Toronto alone regularly sees about 60 deaths involving motor vehicles every year with several hundred serious injuries and billions of dollars in property damage. They are a serious threat on the roads to all other road users. Cyclists ride relatively light-weight, low-speed vehicles that cause few collisions (approx 10-15% according to TPS annual figures) and cause very little property damage. In other words, they are not a serious threat. Most adult cyclists are already licensed and insured drivers. Licensing has not made motorists any more law-abiding or safer (960,000 tickets issued by TPS in 2009 vs 2,800 to cyclists). Roads are public space to be shared by all.

Argument 2: Segregated Bike Lanes Don’t Work

There seemed to be a variety of arguments against segregated bicycle infrastructure, but most of them seemed to be made by people who have never left Toronto and haven’t seen photos or videos of bike infrastructure in other cities:

Star Article comments:

leBloque – curbs for separate bike lanes:

“someone better think this one through a little further. The curb will become a hazard for the cars! They are difficult to see because they are so low and it is very easy for a car to “mount” the curb, becoming trapped”

Rossvegas – No, No, No.:

I’m both a biker and a driver, and this proposed system won’t work for either constituency. 1. There will be a rash of cyclists getting “doored” on the passenger side of the cars, 2. How are these narrow paths going to be cleared in the winter time? and 3. There will be countless accidents from drivers making right hand turns (at both green and red lights) across the bike lanes.

rgibson2 – Curbs could make it worse for most cyclists:

Curbs to separate the bike lanes from the vehicles are a great idea, but only if the bike lanes are wide enough for cyclists to pass one another. Otherwise, only the slowest cyclist will be in the bike lane and the rest of us will be riding in the roadway. At the moment, most of the bike lanes are far to narrow for cyclists to pas each other and avoid the storm drains. In addition, Sherbourne St. should be repaved. It is a minefield of potholes and pavement seams and few cyclists use it because of its atrocious condition.

c9dxmo – And when it snows:

How’s the snow going to get plowed away….Use your brains people…Why are 99.99999% of the people being annoyed by .000000000000001% of the people.

Guardian Aspect – This will only create problems:

… when cyclists, with an illusion of safety, zip into an intersection, right into the blind spot of a truck who was there first and was just about to turn right. Then it will be chalked up to the driver’s carelessness, despite the fact that these kinds of accidents are entirely caused by poor design. In fact a study in Helsinki found that segregated bicycle lanes actually *increased* the rate of accidents! This dogmatic, impractical, ideological project is one gravy train that Ford needs to bring to a stop.

ADSAM – Curbs on Bike Lanes:

Curbs between bike lanes & driving lanes are a ‘ridiculous idea’. In an urgent situation, emergency vehicles need close safe access to the sidewalks, as do vehicles stopping toa(sic) drop off, children, seniors or handicapped people who would need to negotiate an extra curb to get to the sidewalk. Snow removal & street cleaning too, would be slower & more expensive because the equipment & plows woulds(sic) need to Double Dip, roads, & bike lanes separately. Curbs will also jacks up the installation costs of new bike lanes.

First of all, segregated bicycle infrastructure needs to be wide enough to allow bicyclists to overtake other bicyclists – that is true. Montreal and Vancouver have segregated two-way bike lanes that allow bicyclists to go into the on-coming lane (when clear) to overtake a bicyclist (if there isn’t enough space).

European cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam typically have cycle tracks that are plenty wide enough to overtake another bicyclist.

To prevent “door prizes” when parked cars are present, a buffer zone should be built in. New York’s 9th Ave is a good example of how you can have a buffer zone beside parked cars – however, this requires more space.

Vancouver’s Hornby bike lane and Montreal’s segregated infrastructure don’t have this issue because for the most part, cars aren’t allowed to park directly beside the curb. But in the places where cars are allowed to park next to the curb, the curb is wide enough to create a buffer for car passengers to get out without impeding bicyclists.

Regarding curb visibility, drivers don’t currently have any issues avoiding the curbs on our existing sidewalks, so I don’t see how this will be much different.

But even if this was considered an issue, you could always use bollards (like they use in Montreal), fences or grass islands like they use in China, or parked cars like they use in New York City.

For clearing the bike paths of snow, Toronto already has small plows it uses to clear sidewalks and the waterfront recreational trail in the winter. There’s no reason why they couldn’t use these plows to clear segregated bike lanes.

Argument 3: Our climate won’t support bicycles year round

A common argument is that Canada has 4-6 months of winter. In Toronto, this certainly is an exaggeration.

Toronto’s average high temperature is only below zero degrees Celsius for two months out of the year (January and February), and on average there are only a handful of days each year that it gets enough snow where riding a bicycle in the city is challenging.

If you’re still not convinced, leave it to the Dutch to convince you that bicycling can be done year round – even through one of the worst winters the Netherlands has ever seen (2009/2010).

Star Article comments:

Sneaky Long – Good use of tax dollars?:

I understand the safety issue. Just curious if we know how many people actually use these bike lanes? During our 4-6 months of winter? Cover of Macleans “Stuck in Traffic” and how we spend 32 working days per year stuck. Sure more bike lanes will help with that. How much does all this cost?

bigbrother – Wow, thats(sic) dumb!:

What about snowmobiles, will they have a dedicated lane too? How will snow be removed from these tiny bike lanes? These lanes are nothing more than accomodating(sic) someones(sic) recreation, our climate does not allow bikes as a proper method of full time transportation.

westender – Sounds like a snow nightmare:

You guys are working on the assumption Toronto is right next to Miami Beach.

Argument 4: Bicyclists don’t follow the rules, don’t deserve infrastructure

This is the silliest argument I have ever encountered: that all bicyclists don’t obey the rules, so we don’t deserve proper infrastructure. If this was a pre-requisite for building roads, then we wouldn’t have any roads, because many motorists break the rules every single day as well.

In fact, on the highway, you would be hard pressed to find a single car that isn’t breaking the maximum speed limit law.

Furthermore, motorists breaking the rules can severely injure or kill other people, so if we are concerned about traffic safety, we should be trying to increase enforcement of motorists for breaking the rules.

 

Star Article comments:

busterx1 – Never in my lifetime:

If cyclists want access to more bike lanes with better protection they should learn the rules of the road FIRST. If I drove my car they way cyclists drive around the city I’d have my license taken away. Tax the bikers. Require registration fees, police MUST enforce the rules of the road and require licensing with testing just like cars. If I can’t drive drunk or weave in and out of traffic at will then the cyclists should suffer the same fate.

DTR2 – No need for bike lanes:

bikers ride on sidewalks all the time. Yesterday I was almost hit by a madman at Bloor and Avenue Road. He was zig-zagging between cars and pedestrians.This happens every day all over TO, Cops do not seem to care.

Straight Shooter – Dumb:

This seems like a huge waste of cash, and cash is something that Toronto does not have. Why not just increase the penalties for motor vehicles hitting cyclists and also increase the penalties for cylcists(sic) driving like maniacs? If cyclists want respect, they need to stop driving with little reguard(sic) for any laws.

socialactivist – there are people riding bikes at night…with no lights or reflectors…:

I am just amazed regarding idiot bikers…who expect…car drivers to see them at night with no reflective gear…Time to change the rules for bikers….to focus on safety…….on the road…

Argument 5: Bike lanes cause traffic congestion

Bike lanes “cause” traffic congestion, right? No, cars cause traffic congestion, not bicycles. The more people that drive, the more traffic congestion we have.

The more people we get on bicycles, the more space there is on the roads for motorists. Bicycles only take up a fraction of the space that cars take, so as far as capacity is concerned, bicycles are far more scalable than automobiles.

To make bicycling more enticing, proper infrastructure is important, and the more desirable bicycling is, the more room drivers will have for their cars on the roads.

Star Article comments:

Spliceit – Bike lanes in Montreal are a whole lane wide:

Toronto is not full of one way streets and taking away a live lane to accomodate(sic) a few bikes will cause more polution(sic) from cars idleing(sic) in the traffic. Just like those stupid HOV lanes, more polution(sic) is put in the air due to the traffic jams caused by taking a live lane out of the equation. The engineers/planners who thought that up should be fired.

tax to death – Change the traffic light policy not put more concreate(sic) in:

How about stop frustrating drivers, by timing the lights to make you stop at every intersection.(each light is connected to a centralized computer system with software designed for this purpose) It would make it safer for both Pedestrians and Cyclists. I go to cities where the lights are timed to facilitate the movement of traffic. People are friendlier drivers and less aggressive.

Johny Smith – Are you kidding me?:

Seriously?!? Enough with the bike lanes. Traffic is bad enough. If it’s not more streetcars, it’s more bike lanes… It’s us drivers that pay for the roads, so when do we get consideration? They ruined Dundas St. E. and Eastern Ave with bike lanes. Traffic crawls and there’s rarely any bikes…

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645 David Hembrow

    As it happens, cycling infrastructure has been shown to reduce congestion.

    And you don’t need particularly small snow-ploughs if you have sensible size cycle paths. Ours are the size of small trucks as you can see in a photo here.

    We have a problem not in that the ploughs are too wide for the cycle paths, but actually that they are a bit narrow, which means that cycle paths in winter are narrowed to the width of the truck and plough.

  • Anonymous

    Where motorist claim to be paying for the roads through all the extra taxes they pay, they conveniently forget that the cost to society from the use of motor vehicles is far greater than just the cost of road building and maintenance. As this British example shows even if they do pay more tax, they are still subsidise by the non motorists.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10834503055085746194 timoohz

    I’m from Oulu, Finland and we have segregated bikeways. They are a big reason for our high number of cyclists and they are a big reason why women 45+ years cycle two or three times more often than men. They are convenient and safe.

    The segregated bikeways are even more important in the winter.

    True, our cycling numbers also drop to one third of summer levels. But if we did not have them, almost nobody would cycle in the winter. We’d have only a few of the 1% ‘Strong & Fearless’ class of cyclists around.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02904471622090523980 Alexwarrior

    Since they put the separated lanes in d/t van, it’s like night and day compared to before… You see families with kids riding downtown for the first time. No more risk from people parking in the bike lane, no door zone hazard, no close passes. Downtown used to be the most high stress part of a ride, now it’s the easiest part.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06199983680204710885 Mr. S.

    Hmmm… I am less a fan of bicycle lanes than I am of proper traffic enforcement, mainly for the reason that most accidents happen at intersections, which lanes do not help with; there is also the fact that Toronto can be depended on to do lanes wrong. However, since what humans perceive is more important to them than what is real, having the lanes will bring the critical mass of cyclists that will make it safer for all cyclists. Still, enforcement can be achieved within a season, whereas any infrastructure in Toronto seems to require a decade.

    Enforcement against dangerous driving (cars kill, not bicycles, so %$#@ your reckless bicycle arguments), and the kind of ads we had in the seventies against drunk-driving are the key. Here’s a slogan: ‘Would you murder your child? Drive safely.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 James D. Schwartz

    Mr. S. Agreed, it has been shown that most collisions happen at intersections, but segregated bicycle lanes *can* solve this by having traffic signals that prevent cars from impeding with bicyclists.

    Anyway, even if the proper traffic signals aren’t implemented and safety is no better or worse than before – the lanes still provide a level of comfort and perceived safety (or subjective safety as David Hembrow calls it) that will create an incentive for more people to use bicycles in the city. And more bicyclists means safety in numbers, so I still think it’s a positive thing.

    Which cities have you visited that had segregated infrastructure that you feel were not adequate? I’m just curious, because I know some cities do it better than others.

    I haven’t yet been to the Netherlands or Denmark unfortunately, but I’ve seen some pretty decent segregated infrastructure in China, NYC, Montreal and Vancouver.

    Cheers

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06199983680204710885 Mr. S.

    I can’t answer your question properly: “Which cities have you visited that had segregated infrastructure that you feel were not adequate?” Well, maybe I can: Toronto. I have recently ridden in urban areas significantly only in the 416, 905, Tokyo and suburbs of Tokyo. I cannot comment on northern European cities, NY, or even Montreal, where I lived a couple decades past.

    As for Toronto’s bike-lanes, the city should be held for criminal-negligence: too few, discontinuous where cycling is most endangered by drivers, and within the door-zone. And Tokyo? There are almost no bike-lanes, but the legal consequences of hitting anyone are so high, that the traffic fatality rate is one-third, and the majority are frequent cylists. I’ll take that over infrastructure any day!

    Correct me if I am wrong, but all of the statistically safer cycling societies have more onerous consequences for automobile collisions. I do not believe it is bike-lanes, or even a critical-mass of cyclists that are the primary cause of safety, but the result.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 James D. Schwartz

    Sorry, I meant physically separated bicycle infrastructure. I agree that Toronto’s current implementation of bike infrastructure is weak and doesn’t add much safety (although it does allow bicycles to squeeze past traffic congestion which is a bonus).

    I have yet to ride on physically separated bicycle infrastructure and think to myself: “man, I really wish I was out there on the road with automobiles passing me too closely”

    I agree too that putting more liability on motorists would help increase safety, but I think these two things can work together – as evidenced by the safety record in countries that have done both.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00d83452660069e2 Abram Bergen

    Thanks, first of all, for writing this rebuttal to some of the silly remarks to the Star article. I get frustrated very quickly reading comments below any newspaper or magazine article as they almost always devolve rather quickly into arguments ad absurdum and other verbal excrement facilitated by internet anonymity. However, you did a good job extracting some of the more commonly held false arguments to offer rebuttals.

    “I agree too that putting more liability on motorists would help increase safety, but I think these two things can work together – as evidenced by the safety record in countries that have done both.” I have read a great deal lately on vehicular cycling lately, mostly from the US, and tire of the heels-dug-in approach to the argument between those advocating separated/segregated cycling infrastructure and those arguing strictly for complete integration. I truly think a combined approach can be most useful. One need only look at the places in the world where cycling percentages are really high. And I’m not talking just in Europe: there are decent examples emerging in North America too.

  • kfg

    “I have yet to ride on physically separated bicycle infrastructure and think to myself: “man, I really wish I was out there on the road with automobiles passing me too closely”"

    And yet; while I ride on physically separated infrastructure on a fairly regular basis, my rather timid 78 year old mother pootling along on her one speed now declines to do so, because she feels safer on the road with the cars. Many of the roads she rides on are too narrow for the traffic and speeds on them, so she’s really “mixing it up” with the cars.

    When the idea of reading about “vehicular cycling” was broached to her she said, “I’ve been driving for nearly 70 years,” (she grew up on a farm), “I know how to use the roads.” I’ve followed her. She does.

    On the flip side it’s also worth noting the John Forrester comes under a certain amount of attack these days because he is not wholly opposed to separated infrastructure, advises rolling stop signs, pedestrian turns when needed and even splits lanes while riding.

    He has never said anything as goofey as “Bikes are cars,” that’s why he called it “vehicular” cycling, not “automotive” cycling. He’s old enough to remember when most vehicles were not automobiles; and yet there were still right of way rules.

    So not all of these issues are as straight forward as they are often presented as being.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00091979562710126547 Paul Krueger

    Great article, and a minor correction. Vancouver’s Hornby bike lane does have stretches with on-street car parking next to the bike lane. The approach is to (a) provide a wide enough buffer to prevent door-prizes and other conflicts, and (b) raise the path to the level of the buffer and sidewalk to maximize crossing accessibility.

    Bus stops get the same treatment: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pwkrueger/5133809157/in/set-72157625160007617/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 James D. Schwartz

    Thanks for the correction Paul. Last time I was in Vancouver (October) the Hornby lanes were still being built, but the stretches I came across had no parking beside them. Re-worded the article (very slightly). Cheers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15589492356827998591 Ryan

    I’ve been slowly teaching myself to resist the urge to read comments from on-line forums such as CBC, the Star etc.

    Most of these people would find something else to complain about even if cyclists paid insurance, licenses and so on.

    In most cases these are “professionals” who do nothing but surf the internet to comment on things to be deemed “leftist”. At least that has been my experience.

  • Anonymous

    “but most of them seemed to be made by people who have never left Toronto and haven’t seen photos or videos of bike infrastructure in other cities”

    You said it, brother. The ignorance pool is so deep in T.O. that I can’t read comments anymore on anything but Blog TO and Spacing, where at least there is some intelligence to be found. Don’t even get me started on the Sun…

  • Crgslister

    I can assure you, living as I do in Vancouver, that bike lanes most decidedly DO cause traffic congestion if implemented the way they are being done in Vancouver which is to ram them down the citizenry’s throats at the most politically and ideologically effective places rather than where transportation needs would dictate. We have had a car free street in Vancouver ( Granville ) for decades but was that used for bicycles. no no.. no. That wouldnt have the same congesting effect. You see, there is an agenda here that goes beyond transportation. Get rid of parking downtown, get rid of road space downtown and you increase traffic snarls ( congestion if you want to use the greenspeak word for it ). Gradually reduce parking year by year as was done in Copenhagen and make it unpleasant to use a car ( Oh the Danes also triple the price of your car with road tax just to be sure you use a bike). Also, build lots of condos downtown ( ecodensity ) and you can save the planet. Unfortunately, the math doesnt work. Permanently removing ALL the cars from the streets of ALL of Metro Vancouver would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions locally by the equavalent of 1/3 of a coal fired electric plant of the kind being built in China at the rate of 1 per week, every week. Well right now, bikers are only about 3 percent of the commute to downtown where these lanes are and most commutes are not to downtown. The bike lanes do nothing for GHG. And I do mean nothing because the gasoline that is not burned in Vancouver, would have to be sequestered for longer than nuclear waste to prevent it from being sold to the USA ( now second in the world in car consumption) or CHINA ( now the largest consumer of cars in the world).
    In either instance, they will not sequester but will convert it to CO2 no matter how hard you pedal this biking dream.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Bike lanes don’t create traffic congestion – too many cars and infinite, free use of a finite resource (roads) creates traffic congestion. Creating more parking spaces and more road space *induces* traffic. Just like reducing parking spaces and lanes has the opposite effect and reduces demand. Comparing Vancouver to China is ridiculous. The Chinese have a far lower rate of consumption per capita than Canadians. If everyone in China lived the lifestyle of your average Vancouverite, then there wouldn’t be enough physical space to put all the cars and not enough landfills to store the waste generated.

      There are dozens of reasons beyond GHG emission reduction to encourage bicycle use (pollution, health, more space, less noise pollution, better productivity, less debt, less oil spills, etc, etc, etc).

      The Chinese own just 128 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people compared to Canada’s 563 per 1,000 people, and the US rate of 779 for every 1,000 people. Don’t blame the Chinese to justify your lifestyle choices.

      • Craigs

        Well James, I guess, rephrased, what you said is..reducing parking spaces and lanes ( ie MANUFACTURING CONGESTION) .. reduces demand. Well yeah, like ploughing up ashphalt reduces demand too. As I pointed out, your comments and that of the article are ideological in nature, and not to do with transportation.

        And of course, you would twist my words and state that I was ‘comparing’ Vancouver to China, so that YOU could do a comparison that you have Wiki ecostats handy for. I was merely pointing out that going to bikes to save GHG is a pointless exercise and that you won’t save a drop of fuel by even taking ALL the cars off Vancouver’s roads since we are not in the driver’s seat in China. The Chinese are and they are ditching their bikes as fast as they can afford to ( my comment rephrased ahem) . Well, you pull out your Wiki ecostats about vehicles per 1000 people..It isnt about cars per 1000, James, it is about how MANY CARS. Gasoline is a per CAR thing, not a per person thing. But either way, there are about 600 Chinese for EVERY metro vancouverite, and there are already 160 MILLION cars rolling in China, so there will be a very large market for that gasoline in the USA and in China for the foreseeable future and that is what would happen to the gasoline not burned by bikers in Vancouver. Ergo, bike lanes in Vanouver will do squat about that. Even an indoctrinated deep greenie knows this to be true.

    • http://twitter.com/alexwarrior alexwarrior

      Granville is not car free, it’s just that the blocks between Smithe and Hastings are Bus and Taxi only, and together make this a busy transit corridor. Nothing like a separated bike lane at all.

      • Craigs

        Yea I got that wrong alex but so did you. See, I do remember Granville as a child when cars and streetcars plied a vibrant business area and I do remember when it was in fact turned into a car free zone. I also remember how all those businesses soon DIED and the south end gradually became a drug infested street beggar’s rathole which has gradually spread north all the way to Georgia.

        But hell, if you want car free. Granville once was that.

    • http://twitter.com/BehoovingMoving Steven Fleming

      Hi Crgslister, you had my attention when you said bike paths are being planned for “ideologically effective places rather than where transportation needs would dictate”, but your argument degenerated when you said wait for China. What you really want to say, is that bike paths should go where they don’t bother people like you, who will justify their own lifestyles until the grave. It would be best if you simply let cyclists know all the parts of Toronto that you and your kind like to frequent, so they can request bike paths anywhere else. Everyone’s happy then :)

      • Craigs

        Actually Steven, I dont think I have to justify anything. If anyone needs to justify, it is those that want to divert millions in taxes to switch to very low useage, low capacity bikeways over high capacity vehicle lanes. Not saying it shouldnt be done, but only if it can be justified and if there isnt an easier way ( and there is ). And if anyone is justifying lifestyle to the grave, heaven and beyond, it has got to be biking zealots ( example being Critical Mass maniacs).

  • Crgslister

    I can assure you, living as I do in Vancouver, that bike lanes most decidedly DO cause traffic congestion if implemented the way they are being done in Vancouver which is to ram them down the citizenry’s throats at the most politically and ideologically effective places rather than where transportation needs would dictate. We have had a car free street in Vancouver ( Granville ) for decades but was that used for bicycles. no no.. no. That wouldnt have the same congesting effect. You see, there is an agenda here that goes beyond transportation. Get rid of parking downtown, get rid of road space downtown and you increase traffic snarls ( congestion if you want to use the greenspeak word for it ). Gradually reduce parking year by year as was done in Copenhagen and make it unpleasant to use a car ( Oh the Danes also triple the price of your car with road tax just to be sure you use a bike). Also, build lots of condos downtown ( ecodensity ) and you can save the planet. Unfortunately, the math doesnt work. Permanently removing ALL the cars from the streets of ALL of Metro Vancouver would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions locally by the equavalent of 1/3 of a coal fired electric plant of the kind being built in China at the rate of 1 per week, every week. Well right now, bikers are only about 3 percent of the commute to downtown where these lanes are and most commutes are not to downtown. The bike lanes do nothing for GHG. And I do mean nothing because the gasoline that is not burned in Vancouver, would have to be sequestered for longer than nuclear waste to prevent it from being sold to the USA ( now second in the world in car consumption) or CHINA ( now the largest consumer of cars in the world).
    In either instance, they will not sequester but will convert it to CO2 no matter how hard you pedal this biking dream.

    • http://www.facebook.com/GeneralSecretary Sean Lenin

      So your argument is that “China is worse” so why bother? Like all car-centric people you ignore the fact that the reasons to bicycle are multi-faceted. We have a problem with obesity as well, something that cycling would help with. Among other things. It appears that the billions spent by the automobile industry on propaganda have been well spent with so many people parroting such nonsense.

  • http://twitter.com/alexwarrior alexwarrior

    Granville is not car free, it’s just that the blocks between Smithe and Hastings are Bus and Taxi only, and together make this a busy transit corridor. Nothing like a separated bike lane at all.

  • henry

    Excellent stuff, James. Don’t forget about the vehicle ownership rate for the Danes and Dutch. ;)

  • henry

    Excellent stuff, James. Don’t forget about the vehicle ownership rate for the Danes and Dutch. ;)

  • henry

    Excellent stuff, James. Don’t forget about the vehicle ownership rate for the Danes and Dutch. ;)

  • Markk02474

    Motorists pay user fees for roads while bicyclists pay none. The user fees are in the form of gasoline tax and tolls. They don’t cover the entire cost, much like public transit fares. User fees that cover the whole cost include air fare, cab fare, private bus fares, private rail fares etc.. Admittedly, its hard to charge cyclists because the perceived value is not great enough.

  • Markk02474

    Motorists pay user fees for roads while bicyclists pay none. The user fees are in the form of gasoline tax and tolls. They don’t cover the entire cost, much like public transit fares. User fees that cover the whole cost include air fare, cab fare, private bus fares, private rail fares etc.. Admittedly, its hard to charge cyclists because the perceived value is not great enough.

    • http://www.facebook.com/GeneralSecretary Sean Lenin

      Motorists don’t pay anywhere near enough taxes to cover the costs of our streets and roads. And, in most places, the local streets are paid for using municipal taxes– none of it comes from the gas tax. But go right on believing what you want. You can’t help it that you’ve been programmed to think car-centricly– all those billions of dollars paid out by the automotive industry for propaganda are hard to overcome.

  • Kleinzaches

    Thank you for this excellent article. The idea that gas taxes are too high in Ontario is ludicrous. In Germany, taxes are 0.86 Euro/litre ($1.16/litre). In Denmark they are 0.90 ($1.21). And arguably, taking account of the damage the internal combustion engine does to the planet and the quality of everyday life, this is still much lower than they should be.

  • Kleinzaches

    Thank you for this excellent article. The idea that gas taxes are too high in Ontario is ludicrous. In Germany, taxes are 0.86 Euro/litre ($1.16/litre). In Denmark they are 0.90 ($1.21). And arguably, taking account of the damage the internal combustion engine does to the planet and the quality of everyday life, this is still much lower than they should be.

    • http://www.facebook.com/GeneralSecretary Sean Lenin

      Agreed. I think gasoline should be $10 a gallon minimum, so whatever taxes are needed to get there should be implemented. These taxes can be used to rebuild public transit as well as to improve the infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.

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  • http://twitter.com/BehoovingMoving Steven Fleming

    Good work James. Engaging with trolls can be taxing. Would someone living near James, please buy him a beer!

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      That’s the nice part about having a blog Dr., I can engage with the trolls once a year and it will still be relevant almost a year later. When the trolls show up I can just direct them here for dismantling ;)

  • http://twitter.com/BehoovingMoving Steven Fleming

    Good work James. Engaging with trolls can be taxing. Would someone living near James, please buy him a beer!

  • http://twitter.com/BehoovingMoving Steven Fleming

    Hi Crgslister, you had my attention when you said bike paths are being planned for “ideologically effective places rather than where transportation needs would dictate”, but your argument degenerated when you said wait for China. What you really want to say, is that bike paths should go where they don’t bother people like you, who will justify their own lifestyles until the grave. It would be best if you simply let cyclists know all the parts of Toronto that you and your kind like to frequent, so they can request bike paths anywhere else. Everyone’s happy then :)

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    That’s the nice part about having a blog Dr., I can engage with the trolls once a year and it will still be relevant almost a year later. When the trolls show up I can just direct them here for dismantling ;)

  • Syeda Anum

    I’m one of those car drivers who wants to start biking but is nervous about road safety. I live in a newly-developed section suburbia, and I don’t even feel safe walking to the grocery store 15 minutes away because there are no pavements to the store… just lots of road and gravel. It certainly is true that you can gear a population to a certain method of transportation by making it an inconvenience to use anything but a car. But I don’t see it as a sustainable habit at all, especially in urban areas. Commuting while shut off from the entire world is neither fun nor healthy, in fact it’s downright depressing with all the money that goes toward gas costs. Gah just a frustrated driver probably ready to make a leap into the cycling world..

    • http://www.facebook.com/GeneralSecretary Sean Lenin

      What’s amazing to me is how, only a few decades ago, a much less affluent nation once built sidewalks going everywhere. Here in Kansas there are many crumbling and dying little towns but the consistent thing is that the older parts of these places all have sidewalks. On both sides of the street.

  • Syeda Anum

    I’m one of those car drivers who wants to start biking but is nervous about road safety. I live in a newly-developed section suburbia, and I don’t even feel safe walking to the grocery store 15 minutes away because there are no pavements to the store… just lots of road and gravel. It certainly is true that you can gear a population to a certain method of transportation by making it an inconvenience to use anything but a car. But I don’t see it as a sustainable habit at all, especially in urban areas. Commuting while shut off from the entire world is neither fun nor healthy, in fact it’s downright depressing with all the money that goes toward gas costs. Gah just a frustrated driver probably ready to make a leap into the cycling world..

  • Craigs

    Yea I got that wrong alex but so did you. See, I do remember Granville as a child when cars and streetcars plied a vibrant business area and I do remember when it was in fact turned into a car free zone. I also remember how all those businesses soon DIED and the south end gradually became a drug infested street beggar’s rathole which has gradually spread north all the way to Georgia.

    But hell, if you want car free. Granville once was that.

  • Craigs

    Well James, I guess, rephrased, what you said is..reducing parking spaces and lanes ( ie MANUFACTURING CONGESTION) .. reduces demand. Well yeah, like ploughing up ashphalt reduces demand too. As I pointed out, your comments and that of the article are ideological in nature, and not to do with transportation.

    And of course, you would twist my words and state that I was ‘comparing’ Vancouver to China, so that YOU could do a comparison that you have Wiki ecostats handy for. I was merely pointing out that going to bikes to save GHG is a pointless exercise and that you won’t save a drop of fuel by even taking ALL the cars off Vancouver’s roads since we are not in the driver’s seat in China. The Chinese are and they are ditching their bikes as fast as they can afford to ( my comment rephrased ahem) . Well, you pull out your Wiki ecostats about vehicles per 1000 people..It isnt about cars per 1000, James, it is about how MANY CARS. Gasoline is a per CAR thing, not a per person thing. But either way, there are about 600 Chinese for EVERY metro vancouverite, and there are already 160 MILLION cars rolling in China, so there will be a very large market for that gasoline in the USA and in China for the foreseeable future and that is what would happen to the gasoline not burned by bikers in Vancouver. Ergo, bike lanes in Vanouver will do squat about that. Even an indoctrinated deep greenie knows this to be true.

  • Craigs

    Actually Steven, I dont think I have to justify anything. If anyone needs to justify, it is those that want to divert millions in taxes to switch to very low useage, low capacity bikeways over high capacity vehicle lanes. Not saying it shouldnt be done, but only if it can be justified and if there isnt an easier way ( and there is ). And if anyone is justifying lifestyle to the grave, heaven and beyond, it has got to be biking zealots ( example being Critical Mass maniacs).

  • Markk02474

    For all the pontificating from cyclists about green house gas and how evil cars are for it, I don’t know any cyclists having renounced their oil and gas heat in winter.

    • Alix

      Perfect example of the all-or-nothing attitude that ultimately gets us nowhere. Being car-free or car-lite isn’t about eschewing modern society and living off the grid in the woods. It is about making conscientious decisions to reduce the harm done to this planet as well as enhancing our personal and collective welfare.

      Recycling only cans is better than not recycling at all. When trying to become healthier, reducing your red meat and alcohol intake is far more beneficial then not reducing these food items at all. As in all areas of life that can use some improvement, doing anything is better than doing nothing.

  • Markk02474

    For all the pontificating from cyclists about green house gas and how evil cars are for it, I don’t know any cyclists having renounced their oil and gas heat in winter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/GeneralSecretary Sean Lenin

      You’re an idiot.

  • Alix

    Perfect example of the all-or-nothing attitude that ultimately gets us nowhere. Being car-free or car-lite isn’t about eschewing modern society and living off the grid in the woods. It is about making conscientious decisions to reduce the harm done to this planet as well as enhancing our personal and collective welfare.

    Recycling only cans is better than not recycling at all. When trying to become healthier, reducing your red meat and alcohol intake is far more beneficial then not reducing these food items at all. As in all areas of life that can use some improvement, doing anything is better than doing nothing.

  • Alix

    I’m an American citizen, who has lived in Munich, Madrid, and Barcelona car-free the entire time. I currently live in what would in no way be considered a car-free friendly Midwestern city, but I am. It’s concerning to the see the complete lack of vision and imagination from commentators who are against or believe bicycle infrastructure and/or argue car-free and car-lite living is too challenging. I can empathize with the latter, but I have nothing but frustration for the former.

    Like popular line from one out of maybe three decent Kevin Costner movies: “If you build it, they will come.”

    I realized the US needs an attitude change. Not so much in Madrid, but in both Munich and Barcelona, bicycling is quite common and have bicycle infrastructure. Barcelona, especially, has been having a bicycle culture boon ever since they installed the Bici bike share program. From what I gathered – mostly from riders’ own words – the existence of bicycle infrastructure was cited as a major reason why they’ve decided to take up riding. The average person is simply hardwired by years of evolution to take a great distaste to riding a bike right next to cars driving 40 mph. From my own experience, I absolutely loved using segregated bike lanes and was sad to leave them behind for the dangerous vehicular driving of the US with it’s pathetic excuse of painted bike lanes (almost always blocked by parked cars) and the aggressive, entitled attitude of motorists. Take it from me, it’s way more relaxing when you don’t have to constantly be on your guard for the some texting motorist who may not see you or some careless person opening their door without looking.

    These three cities are examples, and not even the best examples, of well-designed livable urban areas. But you can’t even expect to compete with car-culture in the US until you give it a run for it’s money and make it more convenient and feasible for Americans to go car-free/car-lite. It starts with better urban design, public trans, and bicycle infrastructure. Vehicular bicycling advocates keeping saying that’s the way to go, but clearly after all the years spent advocating, it isn’t working. I believe it’s no mere coincidence that the cities with the highest bike ridership also have segregated bike lanes. My Midwestern city has ZERO. Is it surprising then that we have virtually no bike culture here? Well, there are some more noticeable bicycling in the condensed urban areas around the private colleges and turn-of-the-century mansions, but noticed how I said “condensed urban area.” Probably the best place to live car-free in the entire city.

    But I know that it is such an uphill battle of the Mr. Everest kind trying to convince the general public of all of this, which would then allow the money to go into these developments. Like I said, build a more sustainable, alternative transportation-friendly city and people will jump on it. However, people simply won’t loosen their grip on their steering wheel and even consider there’s another way of doing things unless they can see it and believe it. How is a pollution-free, cheap, and healthy way of getting around town not worth promoting? Hey, I’m not calling for the end of cars. I’m calling for the end of car addiction.

    Bonus: In these cities of walking, public trans, and bicycling most of the citizens are within a healthy weight range unlike most Americans. Coincidence, I think not. ;)

  • Alix

    I’m an American citizen, who has lived in Munich, Madrid, and Barcelona car-free the entire time. I currently live in what would in no way be considered a car-free friendly Midwestern city, but I am. It’s concerning to the see the complete lack of vision and imagination from commentators who are against or believe bicycle infrastructure and/or argue car-free and car-lite living is too challenging. I can empathize with the latter, but I have nothing but frustration for the former.

    Like popular line from one out of maybe three decent Kevin Costner movies: “If you build it, they will come.”

    I realized the US needs an attitude change. Not so much in Madrid, but in both Munich and Barcelona, bicycling is quite common and have bicycle infrastructure. Barcelona, especially, has been having a bicycle culture boon ever since they installed the Bici bike share program. From what I gathered – mostly from riders’ own words – the existence of bicycle infrastructure was cited as a major reason why they’ve decided to take up riding. The average person is simply hardwired by years of evolution to take a great distaste to riding a bike right next to cars driving 40 mph. From my own experience, I absolutely loved using segregated bike lanes and was sad to leave them behind for the dangerous vehicular driving of the US with it’s pathetic excuse of painted bike lanes (almost always blocked by parked cars) and the aggressive, entitled attitude of motorists. Take it from me, it’s way more relaxing when you don’t have to constantly be on your guard for the some texting motorist who may not see you or some careless person opening their door without looking.

    These three cities are examples, and not even the best examples, of well-designed livable urban areas. But you can’t even expect to compete with car-culture in the US until you give it a run for it’s money and make it more convenient and feasible for Americans to go car-free/car-lite. It starts with better urban design, public trans, and bicycle infrastructure. Vehicular bicycling advocates keeping saying that’s the way to go, but clearly after all the years spent advocating, it isn’t working. I believe it’s no mere coincidence that the cities with the highest bike ridership also have segregated bike lanes. My Midwestern city has ZERO. Is it surprising then that we have virtually no bike culture here? Well, there are some more noticeable bicycling in the condensed urban areas around the private colleges and turn-of-the-century mansions, but noticed how I said “condensed urban area.” Probably the best place to live car-free in the entire city.

    But I know that it is such an uphill battle of the Mr. Everest kind trying to convince the general public of all of this, which would then allow the money to go into these developments. Like I said, build a more sustainable, alternative transportation-friendly city and people will jump on it. However, people simply won’t loosen their grip on their steering wheel and even consider there’s another way of doing things unless they can see it and believe it. How is a pollution-free, cheap, and healthy way of getting around town not worth promoting? Hey, I’m not calling for the end of cars. I’m calling for the end of car addiction.

    Bonus: In these cities of walking, public trans, and bicycling most of the citizens are within a healthy weight range unlike most Americans. Coincidence, I think not. ;)

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