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North Van municipalities ramp up cycling efforts
The city and district of North Vancouver are steadily rolling ahead with the implementation of the 2012 Bicycle Master Plan.
The North Van-wide cycling infrastructure strategy builds upon the work accomplished to date and serves as a guiding document for future cycling improvements.
By 2040, both municipalities are aiming to have 15 per cent of all transportation done by bike for travel within eight kilometres.
In the district, transportation engineers look at incorporating cycling infrastructure whenever road improvement projects pop up. For example, during the recent seismic upgrading of the Mount Seymour Parkway Bridge bike lanes were added in both directions.
And because bicycle infrastructure is relatively expensive, the district seized an opportunity to cost-share the $2-million seismic upgrade project with multiple funding partners including TransLink.
Steve Ono, DNV manager of engineering services, said cycling projects are layered within the district’s comprehensive transportation plan, which feeds into the overall Official Community Plan. Establishing better connections between the district’s core centres is a top priority under the 2012 Bicycle Master Plan.
Antje Wahl, chair of the North Shore committee of HUB: Your Cycling Connection, is encouraged by recent cycling improvements done in North Van — including the bike lanes on Capilano Road and the separated bike path along Lillooet Road.
“But bike-friendly and safe streets form still a very small share of the overall road network in the district,” added Wahl. “It is quite difficult, and often impossible, to get to destinations without having to ride on roads with lots of traffic — not something most people would consider doing.”
Wahl commutes daily by electric bike to UBC, using either the Second Narrows or Lions Gate bridge.
“The unpleasant and sometimes dangerous parts of my commute are going up Keith [Road] hill from Brooksbank Avenue and Third Street between Forbes [Avenue] and Second Street,” said Wahl. “Both spots have no bike lanes and no feasible alternate routes.”
The HUB North Shore Committee has provided district council with recommendations on how to make planned new centres in Lower Lynn, Lynn Valley and Lower Capilano more bike friendly.
As part of the Bicycle Master Plan process, cyclists were surveyed to help staff from both municipalities determine priority areas. The results showed that cycling infrastructure that provides physical separation from vehicular traffic is the favoured option.
“We have been thinking about whether or not it makes sense to do something like that,” said Ono, referencing the city’s first separated bike lane on Larson Road. “That piece of Larson, it’s a wide piece of pavement. There is only so many spaces [in the district] to put all these changes in. We are trying to superimpose biking infrastructure overtop of a car-centered community.”
The district is currently working on a design plan to add bike lanes on Welch Street between Garden Avenue and West Vancouver, as a continuation of the West First Street bike route. Another cycling project proposed for 2014 is at Mountain Highway at Arborlynn, where district staff are looking at permitting cycling on the sidewalks.
Ideally, HUB would like North Vancouver to have a bike network for people of all ages and abilities (AAA), where cyclists are separated from vehicle traffic. It’s an option currently being floated by city staff.
In a report to council two weeks ago, council was advised of the trade-offs involved in implementing AAA bicycle facilities in an urban setting such as the city.
According to the report: “For most of the City’s arterial roads the existing road space is not wide enough to accommodate separated bike lanes, on-street parking, and vehicles travel lanes for both directions.”
Staff have been directed to investigate the cost of creating an AAA bicycle backbone in the city, along with identify key north/south and east/west corridors.
In the meantime, the city has added colourful bike storage pods in the civic plaza by the entrance to city hall. Called BikeLids, the innovative storage system holds two full-sized bicycles and provides protection from the elements and theft.