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Long 6-Month Winter Comfortably Above 0C 24

Vancouver Hornby Separated Bike Lanes

Photo of Vancouver Hornby separated bike lanes by Paul Krueger

In an opinion piece posted on straight.com (Vancouver’s Online Source) an ignorant political candidate named Ken Charko has proposed to make Vancouver’s bike lanes seasonal and turning them into metered parking for the “winter”.

Defining “winter”, Charko proposes closing the bike lanes down from October 1st to March 31st. Except the average mean temperature in Vancouver in October is 11.1 degrees Celsius (52 degrees F).

And the average mean temperature in Vancouver never goes below freezing, so snow in Vancouver is rare and when it does snow, it often doesn’t stick in the ground for any prolonged period of time.

The average *low* temperature is 2.7 degrees Celsius in January. That’s the average *low* temperature. The average median temperature is 4.8C.

Vancouver is an ideal place to use a bicycle year round, and shutting the bike lanes down “for the winter” shouldn’t even be conceivable for anyone with even a marginal level level of common sense.

Clearly the argument that “winter is 6 months long” is just an excuse that the anti-bicycling crowd uses to rail against a form of transportation that they feel threatens their way of life and their addiction to their automobiles (and there are many).

Unfortunately, this ignorance makes it more difficult for conditions to improve for cyclists, even though better conditions for bicycles would benefit car drivers because the more options people have for transporting themselves, the less cars there will be clogging the streets. More people can be moved more efficiently with less space.

Arguing against alternatives is actually making it worse for drivers.

And perpetuating the myth that winter is “6 months long” in Vancouver shows that this political candidate takes voters for fools. I’m confident voters will see through this deceit tactic.

Straight.com also posted this response from the Vancouver cycling community.

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • http://twitter.com/gussynichols Luke N

    I agree with you. I can tell you, i have Winter for 6 months, and i live in BC. I still cycle all year round. Average temp in January here is -12C.

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

      Agreed, aside from the odd day when you get 4 metres of snowfall, you’re “golden” (pun intended) :P

  • http://twitter.com/gussynichols Luke N

    I agree with you. I can tell you, i have Winter for 6 months, and i live in BC. I still cycle all year round. Average temp in January here is -12C.

  • Matt

    I was just visiting Vancouver this weekend, and if I ever moved there one of the big draws would be tossing the snow tires for my bike.

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

      True, you could trade in the snow tires for an umbrella I suppose :)

  • Matt

    I was just visiting Vancouver this weekend, and if I ever moved there one of the big draws would be tossing the snow tires for my bike.

  • http://twitter.com/alexwarrior alexwarrior

    From the article:
    “By earning that extra parking meter income, this solution would also help keep property taxes at or below the rate of inflation. Low property taxes equal happier home owners, lower rents, and a more affordable city that we can all call home.”

    I somehow doubt adding parking meters to one side of one street for half of the year is going to lower (or prevent an increase in) anybody’s rent.

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

      Especially since city parking is subsidized by taxpayers. Maybe he should instead be promoting raising parking fees on all streets to market level instead of adding parking meters on one side of a street for 6 months of the year…

  • http://twitter.com/alexwarrior alexwarrior

    From the article:
    “By earning that extra parking meter income, this solution would also help keep property taxes at or below the rate of inflation. Low property taxes equal happier home owners, lower rents, and a more affordable city that we can all call home.”

    I somehow doubt adding parking meters to one side of one street for half of the year is going to lower (or prevent an increase in) anybody’s rent.

  • Dieter

    Charko is ignorant. A point of clarification, though: winter in Vancouver is six months of rain. The six months of temps between 5 and 10 degrees and constant rain in Vancouver is far, far more miserable than the two months of -2 with dry streets and snowbanks on the side of the street that we get here in Toronto.

    People have this misconception that Vancouver is a shangri-la for winter riding in comparison with Toronto, when it’s actually worse, as you’re wet and cold all the time! Toronto is fine for year-round cycling. On the days we get snowstorms you simply make other arrangements. We probably lose two weeks of riding all told when the snow on the ground is too unwieldy for your average cyclist. The rest of the time it’s fine.

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

      Great point, I do prefer cold weather over rain too, and Toronto has great cycling weather aside from the odd snow storm in the winter. But the rain still doesn’t justify taking out the bike lanes of course.

  • Dieter

    Charko is ignorant. A point of clarification, though: winter in Vancouver is six months of rain. The six months of temps between 5 and 10 degrees and constant rain in Vancouver is far, far more miserable than the two months of -2 with dry streets and snowbanks on the side of the street that we get here in Toronto.

    People have this misconception that Vancouver is a shangri-la for winter riding in comparison with Toronto, when it’s actually worse, as you’re wet and cold all the time! Toronto is fine for year-round cycling. On the days we get snowstorms you simply make other arrangements. We probably lose two weeks of riding all told when the snow on the ground is too unwieldy for your average cyclist. The rest of the time it’s fine.

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

    Great point, I do prefer cold weather over rain too, and Toronto has great cycling weather aside from the odd snow storm in the winter. But the rain still doesn’t justify taking out the bike lanes of course.

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

    Especially since city parking is subsidized by taxpayers. Maybe he should instead be promoting raising parking fees on all streets to market level instead of adding parking meters on one side of a street for 6 months of the year…

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

    True, you could trade in the snow tires for an umbrella I suppose :)

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

    Agreed, aside from the odd day when you get 4 metres of snowfall, you’re “golden” (pun intended) :P

  • http://bicyclestc.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    Hasn’t Montreal started to keep most of their “seasonal” bike lanes open year round? Also, the ones that do close in Montreal close in November, not October.

    I will say one thing though, +5C and rain is harder on my system then -15C and snow :p

  • http://thecitycyclist.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    Hasn’t Montreal started to keep most of their “seasonal” bike lanes open year round? Also, the ones that do close in Montreal close in November, not October.

    I will say one thing though, +5C and rain is harder on my system then -15C and snow is :p

  • Dr J

    That must be one of the most ridiculous ideas I have ever heard of. It is good they did not come up with something this stupid in Boston. Still, we usually have get 2-3 heavy blizzards every winter and sometimes bike lanes are not getting plowed at all. They serve as a place for storage of snow piles.


    http://bostonbybike.blogspot.com

  • Dr J

    That must be one of the most ridiculous ideas I have ever heard of. It is good they did not come up with something this stupid in Boston. Still, we usually have get 2-3 heavy blizzards every winter and sometimes bike lanes are not getting plowed at all. They serve as a place for storage of snow piles.


    http://bostonbybike.blogspot.com

  • http://onespeedgo.blogspot.com/ John Romeo Alpha

    We have “bike lanes during certain hours” in Phoenix, which turn into “whoops I didn’t know you couldn’t park here during those hours” lanes. Part-time parking becomes full-time parking with lack of enforcement, and ITTET parking enforcement is not getting much focus.

  • http://onespeedgo.blogspot.com/ John Romeo Alpha

    We have “bike lanes during certain hours” in Phoenix, which turn into “whoops I didn’t know you couldn’t park here during those hours” lanes. Part-time parking becomes full-time parking with lack of enforcement, and ITTET parking enforcement is not getting much focus.

  • Jo

    Ken Charko did not win a seat on council. I like to think this was at least in part to his bone-headed idea that revealed his embarrassing ignorance. Did cyclists get their vote out in large enough numbers to effect the election? Could be. In any case we have a cycling-friendly city council for another 3 years in Vancouver and I am very happy about that.

  • Jo

    Ken Charko did not win a seat on council. I like to think this was at least in part to his bone-headed idea that revealed his embarrassing ignorance. Did cyclists get their vote out in large enough numbers to effect the election? Could be. In any case we have a cycling-friendly city council for another 3 years in Vancouver and I am very happy about that.