Bikes On The Drive

I went to a very interesting meeting last night organized by Sarah Fiorito and a group she has formed called the Commercial Drive Action Group. There were about 40 or more packed into the Britannia boardroom, nearly all of whom were young and active and keen to be cheerleaders for bikes, biking and bike lanes.

Chris Brunlett (the cyclist on Twitter sans paraeil) gave an introductory essay which had a lot to say about alternative uses for streets and sidewalks.  Then Sarah Fiorito, who was well prepared and researched, gave a thorough and well-illustrated presentation.  We then had about an hour of Q&A and discussion.

The admitted purpose of the meeting was to generate political pressure to support those City Councilors (i.e. mainly Vision) who support bike lanes.  It was also to generate a campaign against the BIA and its members that oppose bike lanes.  One fervent disciple even suggested a boycott of businesses that would not support bike lanes; but that wasn’t taken up.  Other suggestions included building parking structures at each end of the Drive — boy, they would be attractive!

There was a messianic fury about it all but, once I raised the issue of the difference between the Drive south and north of First, it became clear that Sarah and her followers, at least, would probably be happy to restrict radical action to the section south of First.  Eliminating two lanes of car traffic was the favourite proposal.

The key phrase they use is a bike lane that is “safe for all ages and skills” which is code for bikes lanes separated from traffic by god-awful ugly concrete blocks.  That’s an issue for me.  If we ever did get a car-free Drive (which would be my long-term preference), those things will be really expensive to remove.  In the meanwhile, they will get in the way of pedestrians crossing the street.

There was some talk of telling the BIA to be in touch with the BIAs where bike lanes have already been launched.  However, the Drive is different from each of those in Vancouver so far: the Drive is a two-way street with bus stops; not a situation faced to date downtown or on Burrard Bridge.

I also have trouble visualizing the design.  As I understand the concept for south of First, the outer lanes on each side would be bike paths, with the next lane for parking, and the third lane for traffic.  If that is so, how do the buses operate?  Are pedestrians forced to cross to the middle of the street to board the bus?  This design seems problematic in spades.

I only decided to go at the very last minute given the snow, but was glad I did in the end.

15 Responses to Bikes On The Drive

  1. Hi Jak… Thanks for attending the meeting. I am disappointed to see you take one off-handed suggestion in a brainstorming session re: a boycott, and blow it up into “a campaign against the BIA and its members that oppose bike lanes”.

    All of the other remarks were around starting a positive dialogue with the BIA and its members, supporting and frequenting bike-friendly merchants, and (perhaps) the establishment of a bike-friendly business district, to encourage people to shop and dine locally:

    Secondly, cycle tracks certainly don’t have to be built using “god-awful ugly concrete blocks”. See Carrall Street as a wonderful example.

    Regardless, I hope you continue to be involved with the group, provide your feedback, and perhaps eventually, your support.

  2. Ken Paquette says:

    Other than the one comment Jak latched onto (that not one other person supported) I did not hear anything at that meeting about a “campaign against the BIA and its members that oppose bike lanes.” What I did hear about was engaging businesses in a dialogue and there was an acknowledgment of the affect losing parking could have on them.

    You view was it was “messianic fury” I heard passion. I’m not sure why you refer to the people there “as Sarah and her followers”, are people who attend GWAC referred to as your followers?

    The use of “messianic and disciple” is belittling and patronizing (treat with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority).

    “The key phrase they use is a bike lane that is “safe for all ages and skills” which is code for bikes lanes separated from traffic by god-awful ugly concrete blocks” Assumptions at best.

  3. Drive safe Cyclist says:

    Block the number 20 bus?

    The second busiest in the city of Metros 221 routes with 9.3 million boardings per year.
    Page 29 of 62 pages of

    [ ]

    This gang of cyclists is nuts. Does under 30 explain their blindness.

    And did they mention the Lakewood (2 blocks east and the Woodlands (1 block west of Commerical) established and safe bike routes?

    These infants playing at politics are not looking at the whole picture.

    As it is, any bikes on the outside of a street will crash into any people alighting from a bus.
    Stand on the Drive for an hour or two around 5 pm and watch the cyclists stupid enough to use the the Drive in rush hour rather than Woodlands Drive only a peaceful block away: zip through red lights, ride without helmets, or fixies without brakes, or zoom in and out of pedestrians crossing rather than give way.


  4. Melissa Nunes says:

    Its hard to say a majority was under 30. I saw a room full of healthy active people under 65.

    It is also unfortunate to see a brainstorming and ideas session where people are free to speak openly get described as a conspiracy hatching group of lunatics.

    If drivers cant share, so be it. They can use Clark! One poster already mentioned that this is one of the busiest routes for transit in the region. Maybe that is a good point to argue to make the Drive bus, bike and service vehicle only! Lets clear up the roads for faster buses!

    • Melissa Nunes says:

      I should mention no one in the meeting was calling for a car-free drive. I personally wouldnt be opposed to that, but that isnt what the meeting was about.

      • jakking says:

        I never suggested it was. Straw man arguments are for the weak of mind.

      • ken paquette says:

        I see Jak chose to insult you then close off anymore comments.

      • Melissa Nunes says:

        Yup. Looks like commenting is back.

        I was just pointing out that if he is interested in logical fallacies, that he should check out ‘argumentum ad hominem’ and that my statement clarifying that the meeting wasnt about a car-free Dirve, was because MY earlier comment might have implied that.

        He also deleted and closed commenting on the related blog post “Update on Bikes on the Drive” AFTER I had made another comment that he couldnt argue with.

        Jak, I think making the Drive and city more cycling, transit, and pedestrian friendly is an important issue to have open discussions about. It would be nice if we can keep the discourse about that focused on the issues instead of distracting the story by painting those having the conversation as extremists and lunatics and resorting to personal insults when frustrated.

  5. Ariane says:

    I wasn’t at the meeting, so will skip whatever politics there are around what was or wasn’t said, but I do have a comment about what I feel would be appropriate as a plan…

    As someone who is no longer under 30 but not far off, but who lives with at times debilitating chronic illness (yet not severe enough to qualify as disabled), the bikes over cars agenda does leave me with a sour taste in my mouth. I’d like to see fewer cars on the road and more trips by other methods as much as the next person, but in certain circumstances ableism and a different kind of privilege (that of physical ability and athleticism) rears its head.

    That said, of course the more appealing options there are, the more people will choose to leave their cars at home! I was able to invest in an electric assist bike last year, and it has been an amazing and pretty life changing experience for me. On good days, I can now whiz around the neighbourhood, wind in my helmet, getting groceries, going to the post office, etc. and relegate the car only to longer distance trips, yay!

    We have to be mindful that bikes aren’t always an option for everyone, and frankly the #20 service is horrible. It stops a mere 2 blocks from where I live, and yet I quit taking it (if I can help it) ages ago. It’s frequently late (I at times waited for it for 40 mins to get home after work!) and the stop that I board at does not have a shelter or a bench for people who aren’t able to stand for long durations.

    What I believe would be a more equal and wonderful plan for the drive:

    South of 1st, as Jak seemed to agree with, take over one driving lane (on each side?) and add bike lanes. I agree with Chris and would actually prefer the Carrall St. style lanes over the large barrier. As a cyclist I might feel more protected with the large barrier, but they’re more expensive to install, and as a driver, many spots on the barrier style bike routes are impossible for me to actually see the cyclists over no matter how vigilant I am looking out for them! Something like this could be adequate

    North of 1st, personally I am quite fond of using Salsbury Dr. when I bike (I don’t feel safe riding on either Commercial or Victoria), and I use it almost all of the time when I am headed in that direction. It’s very comfortably traffic calmed, and I’ve just had to memorize what intersections my usual destinations are at. The only thing that would make it work so much better is to make it easier to get onto, so I’d suggest appropriating one lane of parking on the east side of Commercial for the one block north of 1st, and creating a 2 way bike lane there that would connect to Salsbury. Leave the rest north of 1st as is.

    Additional pipe dreams for me:

    – Add way more bike parking like you find near the JJ Bean (ride in, on street) up and down from Venables to Broadway.
    – Axe the #20 bus and replace it with a sweet light rail line connecting the Skytrain station to Hastings (or better yet, run it all the way down the 20 route into downtown). Make it run on a reliable schedule, have sidewalk level boarding for accessibility, and you will see people flee their single occupancy vehicles in a flash. A girl can dream. ;)

  6. If you need help visualizing how separated bike lanes can coexist with bus stops you should take a ride down Dunsmuir (or Smithe). I ride that route daily and it works pretty well. Cyclists slow down and yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians keep an eye out for cyclists.

    Bus stop islands are a pretty common design around the world. Here is a gallery of pictures from Vancouver, Copenhagen, Utrecht, Berline, Seville, Daejon, Seattle

    Bus stop on the Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane
  7. I find your characterization of the meeting extremely incendiary and misleading. In your post, you referred to the attendees as “nazis,” and here you called us “followers” and “cheerleaders,” and I’m concerned that this attitude of yours has prevented you from hearing what was actually discussed at the meeting.

    I’d like to remind you that this is a democratic grassroots effort. You can choose to put your fingers in your ears and lash out at the citizens around you, or you can listen and contribute. I’d like to point out that the former choice will result in all of us being out-maneuvered by developers who would love to see Commercial Drive lined with luxury cars and rid of the likes of all of us. The latter might actually see a better quality of life for all of us.

    —“The admitted purpose of the meeting was to generate political pressure to support those City Councilors (i.e. mainly Vision) who support bike lanes.”

    That’s simply not true. Bike lanes were a part of this conversation, as was improving pedestrian safety. We talked about maintaining visitors who arrive by cars, but reducing traffic of motorists who speed through the neighborhood. A few people argued that we could get the support of Council for this, but that hardly makes us cheerleaders.

    —“The key phrase they use is a bike lane that is “safe for all ages and skills” which is code for bikes lanes separated from traffic by god-awful ugly concrete blocks.”

    That’s a pretty bizarre interpretation, especially at such an early stage of deliberation. I’m very interested in researching better road treatments that work for various users. There are a lot of innovative designs and products being produced here and in Europe. Many solutions are attractive. Some are even designed to be cheap and easy to move around Some only require paint or plastic bollards, which are about as cheap as it gets.

    —“I also have trouble visualizing the design. As I understand the concept for south of First, the outer lanes on each side would be bike paths, with the next lane for parking, and the third lane for traffic. If that is so, how do the buses operate? Are pedestrians forced to cross to the middle of the street to board the bus? This design seems problematic in spades.”

    I don’t think anyone has any idea of what a final design will look like. This isn’t a conspiracy, it’s an open forum, and a first meeting at that. We still need to gain the input and support of a *lot* of people and perspectives that weren’t represented that night. After all that, it will be the engineers who ultimately design how the roadway will look. At that point, we’ll probably deliberate back and forth a few times before we get the final design, as one woman in attendance pointed out.

    Please attend another meeting, and bring your constructive criticism, but please don’t call me a “nazi,” “cheerleader” or a “follower”. Don’t misrepresent the deliberations, or cherry-pick the most salacious brainstorms to lampoon in your blog.

    It’s hateful, offensive, undemocratic, and wrong.

  8. In your post, you referred to the attendees as “nazis,” and here you called us “followers” and “cheerleaders,”


    AT THE MEETING, you referred to the attendees as “nazis,” and here you called us “followers” and “cheerleaders,”

  9. Matt Taylor says:

    I was pushing for reducing commercial drive to 3 lanes south of 1st during the community planning meetings. This came from the perspective that it would improve the traffic safety and operations – and that the additional space for other uses was just a side benefit.

    Click to access WhitePaper_RoadDiets_PBIC.pdf

    “Road diets can be seen as one of the transportation safety field’s greatest success stories. Total crashes might be expected to decline by an average of 29 percent by converting from four, undivided lanes to three lanes (plus other uses such as bike lanes).

    Burden and Lagerwey (1999) provided traffic volume data for 18 road diets from four states and Canada, including the nine Seattle locations described by Welch. “Before” traffic volumes from the 18 road diets described in Burden and Lagerwey were between 9,700 and 23,000. In each case except one, traffic volumes were maintained or increased after the conversion.”

    Glad to see there is some interest in this.

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