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Should bikes be banned from major arterials or at least rapid-bus streets?

November 28th, 2011 · 159 Comments

This is an idea that Adriane Carr talked about during the election campaign, saying she had heard from bus drivers (or at least one bus driver) that it made it harder for them to keep to schedules and manoeuvre when they had to deal with bike-riders on major streets like Broadway.

I also saw this suggestion pop up in the city’s transportation-plan forums.

And I’m sure many of us have had the experience (I know I have, multiple times) of watching traffic jam up behind a cyclist who has decided to take up a lane on 12th or Hastings or Granville during rush hour, as people are too scared to swing around because of heavy traffic in the lane to their left and also too scared to try to squeeze past the cyclist in their own lane.

I can’t figure out why those cyclists do it. The one I saw yesterday on Broadway was a 50-something woman (wearing a straw hat) pedalling between a B-line rapid bus and me — something I’ve always heard all but the most testosterone-laden cyclists try to avoid.

And all she had to do was go one block over to 10th Avenue, where she could have been on far quieter and safer street that is so dominated by cyclists that cars now avoid it. But no, there she was, causing cars to swerve around her on a busy arterial. The question: Should she be banned? Or simply encouraged to move to a proper bike route?

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

159 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jesse // Nov 28, 2011 at 11:32 am

    In San Francisco some major arterial routes banned left-hand turns as well as bikes. If you want to turn left, three rights were deemed the Greater Good.

    In the defense of bikers, some are fast enough to keep up with rush hour traffic, so it’s hard to make the case they are slowing things down much.

  • 2 Paul T. // Nov 28, 2011 at 11:34 am

    This is an interesting idea… Personally I choose side streets when I bike instead of major streets with busses on them. Given the leisurely ride a side street offers, compared to a commuter road, the choice is pretty clear.

    The trouble with banning bikes is that we already have an unwillingness to enforce bylaws currently in place for cyclists. So while I agree with Ms. Carr that we should try to get bikes off arterials, I don’t think banning them is the way to go.

    Of course my opinion would change greatly if we saw a permanent bike enforcement team from the VPD to enforce bike laws. But with a Vision majority, I’m sure we’ll see pigs fly before that ever happened.

  • 3 Agustin // Nov 28, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I would suggest that the question is looking at the wrong culprit. I would bet dollars to donuts that busses are delayed more by cars (driving and parked) than by cyclists. (Thought experiment: how often do busses pull around cyclists on arterials? How often do they sit behind cars waiting to turn right? How often do they need to pull around parked cars?)

    So why don’t we start by removing on-street parking on arterials and putting in bus lanes? After all, if the problem we’re trying to solve is slow busses, let’s remove the obstacles that cause the most delay.

  • 4 Tessa // Nov 28, 2011 at 11:46 am

    If the city bans cars on 10th Avenue then we can talk about banning cyclists on Broadway. Otherwise, it’s called complete streets. All this proposal does is divide people, and 10th Avenue doesn’t helps someone who’s visiting a mid-block business on Broadway.

  • 5 Paul T. // Nov 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Well Tessa, you don’t drive a car expecting to park directly in front of the business you want to visit. (If it happens, lucky you.) But normally you walk about a block or so anyway. There’s nothing stopping bikes from riding side streets to the arterial and then walking to the mid-block business.

  • 6 Bill Lee // Nov 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Bikes go the same speed as most (city) buses with stops and so on. 15 km/hr if you count.
    10th Avenue (and you didn’t say where on the 20 km of Broadway this observation was) is a terrible route. Much of it has cars, and their opening doors, on both sides of the street. And a huge amount of unswept leaves on the pavement to slip and slide on, especially in frozen weather.
    I always take main streets — Not often at rush hour in the commuting direction– as I want to be seen, and to take advantages of goos they are selling. I dislike the city-designated back streets which have the equivalent of feral rabbits in the form of erratic drivers and poor cyclists 3 abreast.

    The local “Richard” bike nutter posted to many region wide (including a lot of surburban readaers) bike lists last months to keep out the Green candidate and go with his favourite Vision team instead.
    — quote
    From: Richard Campbell to a [half-dozen lists]
    Thu, 10 Nov 2011 11:08:07 -0800
    Her current position is really no better for cyclists. She is proposing bus only lanes like during the Olympics where cyclists would be banned from the curb lane and be forced to “share” the other lanes with motor vehicles. This, quite frankly, is rather dangerous and certainly won’t encourage people to cycle. Most will likely simply ride on the sidewalks which is neither safe for cyclists or pedestrians. It is simply not responsible to place speed and travel time even for buses above people’s safety.
    The proper solution would be to have separated bike lanes along the streets with the bus only lanes.
    http://www.straight.com/article-527016/vancouver/carr-modifies-position- bikefree-lanes
    Here is her quote from Oct 28
    “There are people I?ve talked to, frustrated drivers, who I?ve posed the
    question: what would make it easier for you to accept the bike lanes, and the
    response is consistently of things like, ?Well, maybe it would be good if they
    actually used the bike lanes and there were some streets where we didn?t have
    bikes.? ”
    That a Green Party candidate would repeat such anti-cycling comments from
    motorists is a real concern.
    Richard
    =========
    Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2011 17:12:20 -0700
    Yikes! What about people who live, work and shop on these streets? A better solution would be separated bike lanes. Anyway, with around 20 people dying and thousands being injured in motor vehicle collisions, the police I suspect have much better things to do to improve road safety than enforcing bike free
    streets.
    She also hasn’t bothered to look at other cities. Bike lanes are controversial in cities around the world at first but drivers adjust and some become cyclists.
    Lets keep city council Carr free.
    Richard
    ======== end quotes

  • 7 Morry // Nov 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I totally agree! I am an avid cyclist but I cringe when I see BOZOS riding on Broadway, 12th Ave, and other very busy high traffic roads… esp. during rush times : 3pm – 6pm

    There are plenty of designated cycling routes that would be safer and a better choice for all involved …

  • 8 Tiktaalik // Nov 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Yikes on 12th? There are cyclists that crazy?

    From a safety point of view alone there are some reasons cyclists should indeed stay away from some streets, but I can think of some issues with banning bikes from some main arterials.

    For one thing these main arterials the fastest, most efficient travel routes for not just cars but very often for cyclists as well and this is why cyclists continue to use them despite there being roads marked as cyclist routes. On some cycling routes one encounters the pattern of stop sign, roundabout, stop sign, roundabout and additional traffic calming measures whereas on the arterial a block away one would be able to travel unencumbered blazingly fast. If cyclists are ignoring the cyclist routes that the city would prefer them to use then the city should have a good look at whether the routes are good routes in general, or whether they’re 2nd class.

    Another thing we can’t ignore is that many of these arterials are major shopping roads as well and that’s why cyclists are there. While there are many commuters just passing through Granville, Hastings and Broadway there are also many people out running errands. Broadway in particular with MEC, an assortment of supermarkets and a large number of bike stores would be often used by cyclist shoppers. I can’t imagine those retailers would be in favour of banning cyclists from Broadway.

    Retailers on these arterials should be questioning the motives for banning cyclists. Wouldn’t they be in favour of having a street be welcoming for people who want to stop and park? If I were a store owner I don’t think I’d be in favour of something that would speed up the flow of traffic and turn the street into a psudo-highway.

  • 9 Eric // Nov 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    The only bus that ever passes me on Broadway is the 99. It’s generally in the centre lane. I pass all the other buses. This is a non-issue.

    That said, riders who cannot outpace a bus should probably stick to the bike routes or side streets.

  • 10 Heather // Nov 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Maybe this lady biking on Broadway had somewhere she needed to go, on Broadway. Banning bikes isn’t the answer, creating safer infrastructure and educating drivers, cyclists and pedestrians on how to share the road would be a better place to start.

    No one in a car should be ‘scared’ to share the road with a person on a bike. If the lane isn’t wide enough to share than yes, you should be patient and either slow down or pass on the left, like you would a slower moving vehicle. Also I really doubt anyone can claim bikes are causing all that many ‘traffic jams’ on Granville, Hastings or Broadway during rush hour.

  • 11 Agustin // Nov 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    you don’t drive a car expecting to park directly in front of the business you want to visit

    This is an inherent flaw in using cars to navigate a city. Cars take up a lot of space. Bikes don’t. It’s not feasible to design a system wherein the majority of car drivers can park in front of their destination, but that is not nearly as big a design limitation of a transportation system centred on people travelling by foot, on bicycle, or by public transit.

  • 12 Edward // Nov 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I write this as a motorist, a cyclist, and a bus rider:

    If one, as a motorist, is accustomed to being able to pass traffic on the right at speeds that are inappropriate for conditions, and often in excess of the posted limit, then it is not surprising that one will be irritated by bicycles riding in that lane. However, is that sufficient reason to conclude that the cyclist is exclusively the problem, or are there some other, more complex issues at play that are rarely addressed, passe dover in favour of attacking the interloper?

    One reason that cyclists want to ride on arteries is because they want to shop on arteries. Cyclists also want to ride on arteries because motorists are routinely using sections of bike routes as express lanes to cut between neighbourhoods, or simply avoid car-caused congestion on arterial sections, creating unsafe conditions on the routes that are alleged to be “safer”. It also doesn’t help, at this time of year, that many residents (in contravention of city by-laws) rake all of their leaves on to the road instead of bagging them for pickup, creating conditions at that are lot like black-ice. As a cyclist, I’ve had more near-death experiences on the Ontario bike route than I’ve ever had while riding on Main Street, primarily from being hit and/or almost being hit by motorists who barely slow down at stop signs before turning onto, or crossing, the bike route, even when I have the brightest headlight on the market and a neon yellow jacket (all the safety gear money can buy is no good if the driver doesn’t look). At least on the arteries there is a greater chance that cars will stop at the stop signs before entering the arteries (if only out of fear of being hit by another car). I actually feel SAFER riding on some of the arteries than I do on some of the bike routes. (Some are better than others.)

    And in reference to lane position on arteries, I often take the full lane *when there are multiple lanes for use* for very good reasons, particularly on narrower lanes, or on curved sections of the routes. If I try to be cooperative and ride near the side, cars will try to squeeze closely past me, often at absurdly high speeds. I’ve been clipped by mirrors many times in just this way.

    As for the concern for the buses… It’s interesting that bikes are seen as a critical impediment to bus movement, but little conversation takes place about cars impeding buses, which is 95% of what slows down and impairs the schedules of public transit in this city. Why single out the bicycle as an urban terrorist without any attempt to address the greater problems? I frequently ride along Broadway, and I frequently pass multiple buses – including B-Line buses – not because the buses are being slowed by other cyclists, but because the buses are stuck sitting in car congestion.

    The fact that someone is cycling in a straw hat is a bit of a straw man, too, in this context. If the topic is about congestion and road sharing, the cyclist’s alleged fashion taste and/or lack of concern for her cranium are completely irrelevant. Personally, having been hit by several vehicles in the past while cycling, I think anyone who rides in traffic without a helmet is a little touched already. However, bringing up her headgear may reveal a bit of unrecognised pre-existing bias against bikes, Frances, and I don’t think it is serving your primary thesis by adding it to the conversation. East Hastings is jammed with cars every afternoon to the point at which it is almost a parking lot (with rarely a bike in sight to blame, I might add), but if I complain that some of those motorists are not wearing seatbelts the discussion of congestions is not advanced, and is more likely to reveal that I have an unresolved grudge against motorists.

    There are indeed cyclists in this city with over-inflated senses of entitlement, just as there are motorists, pedestrians, and people in those scooters for the mobility impaired (many of whom seem to think pedestrians should all leap out of the way deferentially when we see them coming).

    By all means, initiate conversations about what we need to do to keep people moving efficiently in this city, but please try to avoid jumping onto the bandwagon of targeting one minority user group. I would recommend that you either write about traffic issues in general, including bikes and other users, or avoid the topic altogether. Frances, I generally find you quite thoughful and fair, but this post reads like you wrote it after reading an NPA talking point press release. I know you can do a lot better. (On the other hand, maybe you just like to start the week with a nice, easy bike post to get all the reactionaries riled up, and boost your web traffic!)

  • 13 Edward // Nov 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    @Paul T., you make an excellent point when you say “we already have an unwillingness to enforce bylaws currently in place”, but you reveal bias when you add “for cyclists”. I would suggest that we have an unwillingness to enforce laws generally, including those directed toward motor vehicles. In fact, I would suggest that that is precisely where we should start. If most of the traffic on the roads is motorised, and if most of those motorists are breaking traffic laws (I believe that’s a reasonable statement, as I am a frequent motorist), would it not make sense to correct the worst offenders, and then expect the minority offenders to shape up as well? I’m all for more traffic enforcement, as long as it is proportionally applied. Ticketing cyclists to make them behave in a certain way so that motorists can be better enabled to continue to drive dangerously and illegally is illogical.

  • 14 marvinduey // Nov 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Tiktaalik is correct that cyclists use main arterials because they are the most efficient routes to get about on.

    A prime example is Cornwall/Point Grey. For cyclists going from Downtown to Kits, this arterial is clearly the fastest (and flatest) route. However, riding in the right lane clearly has some effect on traffic speeds (perhaps for the better given the degree to which some drivers speed here). It is often the case that some drivers will risk narrowly passing a cyclist in the right lane in order to get ahead. For better or worse, this encourages cyclists to ride “defensively”, and like motorcyclists, to ride further into the middle of the right lane to remove the temptation for drivers to pass dangerously. The effect on buses is mixed however. As often as a bus is forced to leapfrog a cyclist, a cyclist will be forced to leapfrog a bus stopped in the right land to service the heavily utilized #22 bus route.

    Until the City seriously addresses the significant speed difference between riding on Cornwall/Point Grey and the alternatives, close calls between cyclists and drivers will continue to occur on this route.

  • 15 Paul T. // Nov 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Edward… I’m not entirely certain where this is coming from, but I feel that you are probably incorrectly trying to defend a point I wasn’t trying to make. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on traffic enforcement. Red light cameras, counter-attack blitzes, speeding blitzes, seat-belt checks… You name it, it’s enforced.

    You can’t claim that cyclists are already proportionately being monitored and charged with the same frequency as drivers. And if you are claiming that, please provide proof.

    In any case, my point is -

    The current administration is not likely to increase enforcement (I made no mention if I wanted it or if it was even necessary) but the fact is, without enforcement a ban is useless.

  • 16 Bill Lee // Nov 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    @Edward // Nov 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm #10
    Yes!
    Both cars and cyclists like a bit of smooth macadam road.
    Maybe the road surface is too smooth for cars and a bit of “roughage” in the form of speed bumps at stop signs or roundabouts would be a slight hinderance and control behaviour?
    The is the little problem of rainwater/ice accumulation, and difficulty in ‘scraping’ the road clean.

    Backstreet Roundabouts seems to make cars want to go faster. I have certainly been knocked down going straight around a roundabout by a car zooming at right angles. Lights, reflective tape on tubes, reflective vest, the whole works, but they don’t see us.
    Taking the full lane. Yes. Basic John Forester technique (Book: Effective Cycling. many editions http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/bikebooks.htm )
    And we do keep up our speed, typically 25 km/h or more. So once in front of a bus, we should outpace it. Some motorists take it as a challenge to get as close to a cyclist as possible. ( Aha for helmet video-cams ). Motorcyclists have the same troubles with cars but a bit more noise and speed puts some motorists off.

    So has bringing up a cycling topic increased FrancesBula traffic after the enthroning of Vision is over, as Mme Bula said she would do in a gentle mocking tweet?

    So, what about Adrian Dix proclaiming that all land in Vancouver will become affordable housing?
    30 storey Council Flats in Dunbar, Southlands?

  • 17 James Twowheeler // Nov 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Brave Bula broaches bicycles again! Good luck sorting out this comment thread!

    Paul T. raises the good point that a ban would be unenforceable, a waste of police time etc. as the current helmet law. In response to Tessa he also states no driver expects to park in front of the store they’re shopping at, which is great news if true.

    Agustin suggests a car-free (or car-fewer) street would be easier for buses than a bike-free street.

    Tessa makes the excellent point that shunting cyclists off to side-streets (only to appear suddenly at intersections, like mice behind a wall) does nothing for general public acceptance as a normal mode of transport.

    Edwards notes that it’s impossible to find storefronts on broadway if you’re on 10th.

    I believe the best cost/return policy for broadway would be separated shared bus-bike lanes in place of curbside parking thus http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/lanes/images/DSC00103%20bus%20bike%20lane1.jpg

    Parking could even be retained by losing one of the through-lanes: those don’t benefit local businesses at all.

  • 18 Edward // Nov 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    @Paul T. I’m not claiming that proportionality in the application of traffic laws exists or does not exist. I am responding to your complaint that we “have an unwillingness to enforce bylaws currently in place for cyclists”. I would not be perturbed, nor would I disagree, if you had said that we “have an unwillingness to enforce bylaws currently in place for all users, including cyclists”.

    My view is that there is a distinct lack of effective traffic law enforcement generally. Your statement “You name it, it’s enforced” is, in my opinion, untrue in any effective sense. There is enforcement, it’s true. But it’s worthless and just a waste of money if it isn’t effective enforcement, if it isn’t applied to an extent that it actually makes any tangible difference. If there are three hundred cars an hour speeding along Kingsway, and the police write one speeding ticket a day, that can’t really be considered enforcement, for it is doing nothing to change the behaviour of the critical mass of speeders. I drive a car, I know what the roads are like. It’s traffic law anarchy out there. One can hurtle about the city at 70km/h in two tons of steel while talking on the phone with virtual impunity, but you seem to be suggesting that the the police should devote more resources to going after the scourge of the relatively low number of people on 40 pounds of aluminum cruising along at 25km/h.

    Go ahead and ticket the bad cyclists, I say (please!), but just make sure that the anti-traffic crime resources are being applied with appropriate proportionality, and I don’t think that creating a “permanent bike enforcement team” is moving in the direction of the equitable application of the law. Rather, it picks one minority group to go after while failing to address the bad behaviour of the majority users.

    We already have a permanent bike enforcement team, it’s called the Vancouver Police. They should be applying traffic laws everywhere, against all unlawful road users in keeping with the numbers in the user groups and the rates at which they break laws, with sufficient intensity to make a difference to road safety, and without regard to how strong their voices are politically.

  • 19 spartikus // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I think, for a proposal like this, that actually knowing how many cyclists are using major arterials daily is the first step. As it stands it’s all anecdotal.

    I suspect the vast majority of cyclists prefer side streets if not bike routes, as I do.

    Continuing to build up the carrot of a practical bike network so that conflicts b/w cyclists, pedestrians and drivers are minimized seems preferable to the stick of banning modes of transportation from certain streets.

  • 20 Erin Green // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Having bicycles on major arterials is definitely an issue of public safety. Those roads are overstimulating enough as it is, its easy to miss the bicyclist weaving in and out of traffic and parking lanes. Of course, combining bike lanes with buses is also a safety issue as bus drivers often do not see cyclists because of all the other things they have to pay attention too.

    I think a law banning cyclists from these streets may be extreme, costly and ineffective and so perhaps is not the answer. More improvements to cyclist infrastructure will at least have a positive and lasting results.

    As a cyclist I really appreciate the car-only road blocks around the east van area, the one way streets and the segregated bike lanes downtown and across the viaducts (with some caveat). I would like to see more of all of those things in parallel to all major arteries.

    I think most neighbourhood streets have room for 3 lanes, comfortably.

    1) a parking lane
    2) a one way vehicle lane
    3) a bi-directional bike lane

    All this with just enough room for your garbage can to sit between the driving lane and the bike lane for the streets without alleys.

    Something does have to be said for commercial arteries that commonly have lots of cyclist traffic that could not be easily re-routed. Take Commercial Drive for example. It would not be too difficult to insert a metre wide bike lane between sidewalk and the parked cars without elaborate redesign, fancy sidewalks and flower boxes. The approach downtown was unnecessarily costly and showy rather than functional and sensible.

  • 21 Julia // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    We can talk walking, transit, shopping all you want. Fact is, when you start stripping parking, you negatively impact the adjacent retailer for those hours that parking is gone.

    Kill the retailer or squeeze his revenues, you also kill the jobs that go with it.

    I know I am reluctant to squeeze by a cyclist and I am a confident driver. Can’t imagine what the bus drivers must feel when there is literally 2 feet of room to spare to navigate their lane.

    Why a bike rider would want to tango with a bus route to start with is beyond me. Any wrong move and the cyclist is toast.

    Perhaps we do more with our alleys.

  • 22 Guest // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I agree that roads are shared among all users – and with a variety of users you’ve got the rate-limiting step, lowest common denominator, etc. It’s like the elderly person walking in front of you on the sidewalk, or the slow car (or bus) in front of you on the road. Be patient and then pass.

    Point Grey Road is an example of a worse situation because there is no passing lane – but the City hasn’t eliminated on-street parking (likely due to resdients’ need for parking – and drivers just wait til it’s clear then pull out and pass.

    Better that the cyclists are on the street than on the sidewalk.

    Of course there’s a common sense element to where cyclsits ride. I don’t think that a someone would ride from Broadway & Commercial to UBC on Broadway – they could just be filling the last block gap on Broadway.

    The City has also supported cyclists on arterial streets – i.e. look at the installation of bike lanes on Cambie St. despite the adjacent Ontario bike route.

  • 23 Sarah // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I was just talking about this very thing yesterday! I’ve been a serious cyclist since university, and commute to work every day by bike. I’d never take a main artery, even though it may save me five or ten minutes on my usual detoured bike route only journey. I can’t imagine why anyone would risk the ire of motorists, as well as their own safety by riding in traffic. But they do….saw a cyclist on Clark Drive the other day, foolhardy and ripping in and out of heavy truck traffic. Us seasoned cyclists know that it’s just not worth it, and we’re lucky enough to live in a city where there is always a more quiet alternative route.

  • 24 Craig // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Full disclosure I do have a road bike and I do ride it. I do support the bike lanes – it’s a lot less stressfull riding downtown with my kids. I also believe many of us who have to where suits and go to work before most people’s alarms go off pay a heck of a lot in taxes and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    About a month back I was driving into work late (close to 10:00 a.m.) and came upon a cyclist right where Pt Grey road jogs right and becomes Cornwall. Early in the morning (6:00 my usual commute time) there are two lanes open as parking is prohibited. However at the later time there is the occasional car parked leaving open spaces in the right lane that can be anywhere from 50 -300 meters in length. The bicyclist in question was riding at the far left of the inside lane (literally on the lane divider). As I was about to go buy him I was worried he might not be aware that I was passing and that as he had a 300 meter space between parked cars that he might want to move a foot or two towards the curb. So I tapped my horn and he turned gave me the finger and swore at me. The light turned red up ahead and I thought I would role down my window and explain why I honked and ask him what his problem was.
    Now, I’ve always told my kids when they are riding on busy streets to be respectful of other people whether they are pedestrians, other cyclists or motorists. If there is space to move over then do it, if there isn’t you have just as much right to be there as anyone else. When the gentleman pulled up before I could say anything he spat in my window at me and then rode off (through the red light) yelling “honking means danger “. It took every ounce of control not to run him down and if I see him again I will drive ahead, park and remove him from his bike so we can have a little chat.

    Unfortunately the road system was designed for motorists. I’m not saying that was wise but that’s the way it is. If your bicyclist you have to be aware that even if your right it’s not always going to be “right”.

    Change the system through educating, politics, and being respectful of others – that’s all I’m saying.

  • 25 brilliant // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    In before Richard posts, his spidey senses should have been tingling by now!

  • 26 DB // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Guest leaves a great comment.

    Be patient and then pass.

    I know that’s a lot to ask (of all modes), but surely that’s part of living in a city where they didn’t knock everything down to widen all the roads.

    As for Point Grey Road, that’s a sad case because so many of the riders there are recreational/family, just trying to experience the seawall and beaches, and having to suffer some pretty tough conditions between Kits and Jericho. Happily >95% of drivers are pretty understanding through there, though the other <5% can really be agressive.

    Also agreed re: common sense. Most cyclists you see on an arterial are just going a couple of blocks to get to the shop/restaurant/etc – it's pretty high stress to ride all the way across town on a busy road like that. For all the kvetching about Tenth Avenue, it's really a lot more laid back and relaxed than Broadway.

    To address the source of the post though, hopefully Adrienne Carr can push for more bus priority. CoV and TransLink have been yapping for ever about signal and lane priority, but very slow to act. Every time a full 84 UBC-VCC bus has to wait for the light to turn yellow in order to turn left into VCC SkyTrain, that's CoV and TransLink telling us what really counts, and it's not transit riders!

  • 27 Bill McCreery // Nov 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Frances’ comment about the ladies hat created an image of someone sauntering along at a leisurely pace oblivious to her surroundings. And that should be a part of this conversation. That image would not be one of Vancouver’s typical ‘cyclists’ would it? There seem to be at least 3 types of cyclists:

    1) commuter, point A to Bers;
    2) lollygogs, as per the straw hatted example above; and
    3) family and recreational cyclists, mostly evenings and weekends.

    All of these groupings could benefit from an on-going education programme, perhaps at the start via a licensing programme similar to cars [that should get some response] and backed up by enforcement + say 10 points = take a refresher course in biking road safety. In the process of this education the pros and cons of the use of bike routes vs. arterials could be front and centre.

    Adrian raised the bus/bike conflict during the election, but I didn’t hear her offer any solutions. In fact the City already has tried to offer separate off-arterial routes parallel to them. If they’re not being adequately maintained, then the City should address that shortcoming [and cyclists should be pestering them to do so rather than, say in this discussion, using the arterials]. Maybe safety at round-abouts can be improved via electronic motion sensors and flashing lights in the round-about [expensive]. But, you’re right it’s often hard to see cyclists, especially at intersections.

    The City already has, to a degree, addressed Adrian’s message from the bus driver via separated lanes and of-arterial routes, but obviously that is not enough. What’s left to do? Well, there’s enforcement, perhaps the more far-reaching education/enforcement programme and making the off-arterial routes more user friendly as I suggested above, and/or an out-right arterial ban. Does anybody have any other viable solutions?

  • 28 Edward // Nov 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    @Bill, I’m not necessarily opposed to a bike licensing/enforcement program, but I wonder, if we already have a licensing/enforcement program that is, at best, of questionable effectiveness at protecting motorists from motorists (some 74,000 collisions in BC in 2007), how effective can we expect a licensing/enforcement program based on the same model, but targeting cyclists, to be? I foresee an expensive bureaucracy that achieves little but increases taxes. Also, at what age would we require cyclists to be licensed? Will children under 16 be banned from cycling?

  • 29 mezzanine // Nov 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I would also think that banning cyclists outright from arterials would be bad, for many reasons (a ban would be less needed in off peak hours, issues with actual enforcement, etc). I’m sure a lot of ppl can list off anecdotes, but i am unsure of hard data of delays from cyclists on buses. I can list of a lot of anecdotes when i am a bus rider wrt cyclists, but i find more delays at rush hour on 1) vehicle right turners yielding to pedestrians crossing on very stale light or 2) postal/UPS trucks doing afternoon pickups.

    I would think that directed PSAs to cyclists on broadway would be the most that is needed telling them to use parallel routes, versus a ban on arterials.

    Or perhaps ban hat-wearin’ fancy ladies from biking. Set up the check point at anthropologie on granville and we’d get enough fine revenue to build skytrain to UBC…

  • 30 Glissando Remmy // Nov 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    The Thought of The Day

    “It’s not the bikes… stupid!”

    Biking & #Vancouver
    No One IMHO Is Against Bikes. That Would Be Idiotic! First Wish For Most Kids, In All The World, Is To Own A Bike! And I Was No Exception!
    #1/2

    Biking & #Vancouver
    However, Biking Is The Acquired Taste For An Exotic Fruit. Unfortunately For This City, @Vision’s Kitchen Is Serving It By… Coercion! #2/2

    Till I hear differently…

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • 31 Richard // Nov 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    The obvious solution is separated bike lanes on the arterials especially those with shopping. That way everyone gets their own space and buses and cars are not stuck behind cyclists nor are cyclists stuck behind the congestion at intersections.

  • 32 Silly Season // Nov 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    You know, having bikes go down quieter parallel side streets streets makes so much sense, I can’t beleive it hasn’t been brought up before.

    Frankly, it doesn’t make sense to me to stream all vehicular traffic down the main arterials. I call that “creating gridlock” regardless of the type of vehicle you use: bus, car or bike.

    Myself, I do my best to stay of the main streets. The ride is far more enjoyable, and i feel safer. I also think that buses do need those dedicated lanes so cyclists in them defeat the whole purpose of mass transit getting peole to where they need to go as quickly as possible.

    And Edward, people can on bikes can get to shopping areas on main streets by travelling a parallel route then deking down a side street to the main road.

  • 33 Bill McCreery // Nov 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    You’re quite right Silly Season, “creating gridlock” by funnelling all means of transport into main arteries does not make any sense, and it doesn’t work in practice. One of the 1st principles of transportation planning is to separate differing modes as much as possible. Hence, the parallel off-arterial street as bike routes such as 10th Ave. and Ontario which the City has already implemented.

    I like your “ride is far more enjoyable …” observation. I’ve had similar experiences.

  • 34 Richard // Nov 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    @Silly Season

    That is fine. I respect your choice not to cycle on busy streets. But please respect other people’s right to cycle on them. “Deeking” to side streets might not always be safer as it could mean crossing more intersections. Also, the sidestreets that intersect busier streets are often clogged with traffic so it might not even be safer on them.

    If it is only two or three blocks to ones next destination, all this deeking around is really inconvenient and probably not that safe. It certainly would not encourage more people to cycle.

    Anyway, congestion caused by too much car traffic is a far bigger problem for buses and cars for that matter than bicycles.

  • 35 gmgw // Nov 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Re any proposal to ban (automobile) parking from arterials: Most of the streets adjoining those arterials are residential. If you ban cars from the arterial you will be sending large numbers of transient drivers into the side streets looking for places to park and creating no end of problems for residents, who would rightly scream bloody murder if the City tried to put such a proposal into effect. Residential areas adjoining busy arterials– think Commercial Drive, Broadway west of MacDonald, west Fourth– are already plagued by transient traffic comprised of drivers either looking for a space they were unable to find on the arterial or looking for a non-metered space (Meters are already spreading into side streets from metered arterials). Banning parking altogether on the arterials would create a completely untenable situation. Quite apart from the noise, pollution et. al., many people living on residential streets park on those streets as well.
    And creating residents-only parking may help to alleviate the problem but it does not solve it. It doesn’t keep drivers from looking, for instance, hoping to get lucky. And consider the nature of the neighbourhoods– a good many residents on the side streets off the arterials I’ve named, unlike those in, say, the West End or False Creek South– live in either single-family residences or converted SFRs. And when you perspective on traffic along your street is from near- street level rather than from 10 stories up, an excess of car traffic along your street becomes much more noticeable– and annoying. Whoever came up with this scheme had best think again.
    gmgw

  • 36 paul c // Nov 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I feel the bigger question. Is whether the woman in question even knew that there are other options, in regards to where she could cycle. That might be safer for her. But somehow I get the feeling that even if she did know it would not have mattered.

  • 37 Bobbie Bees // Nov 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I find it amazing that cyclists would even show up as a blip on a bus driver’s radar.
    Did you know that armoured cars (brinks trucks) are specifically exempted from no-stopping and no-parking bylaws. There was one armoured car that always blocked the right hand turn lane at Pender and Burrard. Traffic would back up behind it and would have to pull out into the traffic flow where it would then block the flow to make a right hand turn. Any talk of banning armoured cars from stopping where ever they want? Nope.
    Taxi’s are another bane of bus drivers. No matter where I ride the bus in this city there’s always guaranteed to be at least one taxi blocking the bus stop or bus lane.
    Canada post trucks are almost as bad as the armoured cars.
    But the #1 thing that seems to drive most bus drivers nuts is the nervous Nelly who needs a personal invitation to make their right hand turn.
    Don’t believe me? Head down to Davie and Howe and watch the number of #6 Davie drivers that have to lay on the horn in order to get the car driver to make their right hand turn.

  • 38 rob_ // Nov 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    @Frances re: why was the cyclist on Broadway instead of 10th?

    Perhaps she was only going to few blocks or was headed to a business on Broadway. I will often use 10th for longer rides but will go down to Broadway for the last block or two if that is where my destination is.

    @Craig

    It sounds like this cyclist was a bit of a problem but it should be remember that cyclists are allowed to take the full lane and often that is the safest thing to do.

    Also the BC Driver’s Manual states that drivers should “Avoid honking their horn” at cyclists. You may want to review driving guidelines.

    @Paul T re: “…. already have an unwillingness to enforce bylaws currently in place for cyclists…”

    The VPD handed out over 3,000 tickets to cyclists in one month alone. I see no evidence of this “unwillingness.”

  • 39 Sean // Nov 28, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Before the separated lanes downtown I’d ride along Pender street, where the official designated bike lane is shared with the bus-only lane. I always found it to be terrible to be forced to play leapfrog with the buses, passing them (if there’s a break in traffic) when they stop to pick up passengers and being passed by them pulling away from stop lights. The separated lanes are in a completely different league – to a cyclist they feel like a limited-access freeway compared to shared street space.

    In the other parts of the city I have always avoided the arterials like Broadway and Main and used the bike routes on parallel streets like 10th and Ontario. Even when my destination is on an arterial, I stick with the bike route until I’m in the same block and then cut over to the arterial to reach my destination, usually walking my bike on the sidewalk rather than risking the busy traffic. As such, a ban on biking on arterials would have little effect on me.

    One thing I’d like to point out, though, is how effective the bike routes actually are. In my experience bikes on arterials are quite rare compared to bikes on the parallel bike routes. I don’t think non-cyclists realize just how many bikes use those routes, particularly during the commuting hours. So the problem has ALREADY mostly been solved. What’s left over is the “1%” who are probably going to be a problem no matter what you do. Banning bikes from the sidewalks doesn’t stop the 1%, and banning them from the arterials probably won’t, either.

    All in all, I suspect any legislation wouldn’t really solve anything and so I can’t really support it.

  • 40 Frances Bula // Nov 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    @Rob. I can’t claim to know where every cyclist is going when I see them on an arterial. Sometimes I can tell they are on the arterial for the long haul because we keep leap-frogging them on the bus or in a car. Other times I can’t be so sure, but they never seem to be like people who have just swung over for the last few blocks. (Like with the guy in the puffy yellow vest I saw this morning who was clearly commuting some distance, first along Broadway, and then down Main, where I saw him several times.)

    I particularly don’t understand those who use 12th (yes, really, I’ve seen it several times on possibly the worst, tightest arterial in the city, and in rush hour) and Broadway, when the 10th Avenue bikeway is right there. Craig McInnes from Victoria said one problem with side streets is the frequent stop signs, but 10th is not like that, so I really don’t get what the thinking is there.

  • 41 Downtowner // Nov 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Sweet! I was so disappointed when the recent elections confirmed that biking is supported by the majority of Vancouverites. Where oh where could I go hate filled rants against cycling in the media? But then Frances comes to the rescue. Thanks for the vitriol fix!

  • 42 mike0123 // Nov 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    The city has major and minor arterials that have a retail and pedestrian focus, some that are residential and not that busy, and some that are traffic sewers. They should be treated differently.

    I think there’s a place for separated bike lanes especially on some of the minor, retail-focused or quiet arterials like Commercial or Victoria or West Broadway. Some retail streets would better fill their role as the hearts of their districts if traffic moved slower. I don’t think that any harm would come from removing a lane of traffic for separated bike lanes on Commercial between 1st and Broadway or the length of Victoria or Arbutus, for example.

    There are also some arterials with a retail focus where buses are slowed by cars. Removing lanes from some of these streets, like 4th from Granville to Macdonald, should significantly increase the speed and reliability of buses where other traffic moves slowly now – and should move slowly.

    There are some even some arterials that already feel safe to bike on, like Broadway between Alma and Larch. After playing chicken with a few aggressive drivers on the 8th or 10th Ave bikeways, I feel safer riding on this part Broadway than the adjacent bikeways. The width of these bikeways does not leave enough room to safely pass a car going the opposite direction at 50 km/h. It’s better to ride on the arterial. A similar case could be made for Cypress with Burrard, and many other bikeways that ineffective traffic calming.

    There are some other practical reasons for biking on major arterials: the grades – built for streetcars – are often more gradual than parallel side streets, they’re continuous and legible – going from one end of the city to the other, and there are better sightlines with parking not permitted so close to intersections.

  • 43 voony // Nov 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Bike hater explains us that cyclists need to comply to the MVA because they are considered as a vehicle…right:

    so let’s do it: cyclist are vehicle and as such have no less right to occupy the street than other vehicle!

    If you a have tractor on the road, you follow him…and according the BC MVA tractor=bike

    Ditto!

  • 44 rob_ // Nov 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    @Frances

    I agree that there is some behavior that doesn’t make sense. Maybe people don’t know that there are bike routes. I often find those new to cycling aren’t aware of where the bike routes are located – even long term Vancouver residents.

  • 45 rob_ // Nov 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    and remember Main is a designated Bike route – so the cyclist was doing the right thing by riding there.

  • 46 Richard // Nov 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    @Frances
    10th is absolutely horrid to cycle on during rush hour in the section between between Oak and Cambie. There is a lot of traffic and cyclists get stuck behind the congestion. It is not surprising that many chose to use Broadway or 12th.

    Many of sections of the other bikeways around the city have pretty high levels of traffic too.

    Also, for east-west streets, there can be significant hills to climb cycling between them. It is not surprising that cyclists also chose a direct route even if it is on a busy street to avoid going blocks out of ones way going up and down hills.

  • 47 CT // Nov 28, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Frances, it’s been repeated a few times already, but Marvinduey put it as clearly as anyone: the reason why cyclists block traffic is because “…some drivers will risk narrowly passing a cyclist in the right lane in order to get ahead.”

    For myself, if I’m stuck on a street with a lot of motorized traffic–something I avoid but can’t always prevent–and it is not safe, in my opinion, for a motor-vehicle to pass me, I will signal my intent, and move to the center of my lane until it is safe for me to move back to the right. This is also what I do on the frequent occasions when on-street bike lanes are blocked by taxis or buses (or, more frequently in Vancouver, cement trucks…)

    @craig: it’s slightly off-topic, but your opinion is neither more nor less valuable because you pay high taxes. Our franchise is based on citizenship, not taxation.

  • 48 Frances Bula // Nov 28, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    @Downtowner. Anything I can do to help! Though I think this discussion is actually pretty civilized. I am learning some things about why cyclists do things that puzzle me.

  • 49 Tessa // Nov 28, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    @Paul #5: Actually, one of the advantages of not taking a five-metre-by-two- metre hunk of metal with me wherever I go is that 90 per cent of the time if I’m on my bike I do park my bike within a few measly steps of where I’m going. It’s quite nice. I do really think that banning bikes on arterials, if enforced, would push cyclists to sidewalks.

    I also do take issue with your argument that driver enforcement is everywhere while cyclist enforcement isn’t. I know several people personally who have been caught in helmet checks, where police officers were sitting by the bike lane specifically targeting cyclists without helmets. There has also been several media reports of police sitting by stop signs to get rolling stops, even when cyclists look both ways and are clearly being safe. And to ask for proof is a little absurd, considering you provided none yourself. But here you go: http://www.vancourier.com/Vancouver+cycling+advocates+peddle+stop+sign+rule+change/3465515/story.html

  • 50 mezzanine // Nov 29, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Case law is quite specific – a cyclist should take the whole lane in tight or unclear situations to avoid being put in blind spots.

    a 2010 case established this precedent. A cyclist was riding in a right lane nearing an intersection in surrey – it was extra-wide to accommodate right turns. The cyclist stuck to right of a passing vehicle instead of taking the whole lane behind it, and was struck by someone turning left from the opposite direction. The judge found the cyclist 50% at fault.

    http://bc-injury-law.com/blog/bc-court-appeal-finds-cyclists-50-fault-cycling-lanes

    While Mr. MacLaren did the right thing by moving out of the curb lane, he should have moved in behind the vehicles travelling toward the “through” lane, not beside them. By cycling between lanes Mr. MacLaren did not show sufficient care for his own person to avoid a finding of contributory negligence. Taking a lane was the only way, in my view, that a bicyclist could have satisfied the mandate of s. 183(2)(c) to safely travel as near as practicable to the right of the highway…

    of course, this would also be avoidable by upgrading bike route infrastructure.

  • 51 gmgw // Nov 29, 2011 at 1:24 am

    @Frances #40″
    if you really want to experience the “worst, tightest arterial in the city”, or at least a leading contender for that dubious honour, try driving along 4th from Fir to Balsam on almost any afternoon (Saturdays, paradoxically, are often as bad as weekdays). The traffic along that stretch– in both directions, but especially westbound– has become horrendous. I caught the #84 UBC express bus westbound at 4th & Fir one recent Saturday and it took the driver a good ten minutes just to force his way through to 4th & Vine. And this was, as I’ve noted, an “express” bus! Traffic conditions have notably worsened in the past decade. My private theory is that part of the blame must rest on the all but uncontrolled development of housing in recent years on the the UBC campus. These have spawned a large new population of far Westside commuters. If my theory holds up, and since UBC seems hellbent on continuing to develop every available square meter of the Endowment Lands that isn’t parkland, we can expect the traffic on 4th to get steadily worse.

    Re the wisdom(?) of eliminating on-street parking on 4th in favour of bus lanes, see my previous post (#35). It might be worth trying, on an experimental basis, between, say, 3:30 & 6 PM– although the merchants would be extremely unhappy- but 24/7? No way.
    gmgw

  • 52 Paul T. // Nov 29, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Oh Tessa, please read what I say before slamming me. Nothing is stopping a cyclist from riding side streets, dismounting, then walking to the business mid block. If you want to leave your bike a half block away, go for it. But I would also recommend bringing it with you.

    As for that article…. 1. it really doesn’t mention any stats. And 2. It says Meggs is with COPE. I’m not about to trust anything in that report. Give me a study or real numbers. Not just anecdote.

  • 53 Richard // Nov 29, 2011 at 7:44 am

    @Paul T.

    Serious? With all the problems in the world you are focusing on forcing cyclists to walk at least half a block for no particularly good reason. Are you proposing that with around 20 people per year in Vancouver being killed by dangerous driving that the police start ticketing cyclists who are not endangering their safety or anyone else’s safety.

    And often, it would not be walking just to mid block. If the destination is near a major street, the nearest side street will be further away. The walk would be at least a block. Further if the cyclist does not want to go two blocks out of their way and cycle across a busy intersection.

    In the case of Granville, it would even be worse as Fir and Hemlock are busy streets on both sides of Granville.

    In the case area from Burrard to Oak from 16th to 37th, there are no side streets that convenient routes through. What then?

    Please really think through what you are proposing first. If you want to discourage cycling, this would be an excellent way to do it.

    A much better idea would be building separated bike lanes along the arterials as Copenhagen has done. They first tried to get cyclists off the arterials by building bike routes along quiet streets. But they found people still were cycling along the main streets because that is where the destinations were. So they build separated bike lanes and now they are one of the best cities for cycling in the world.

  • 54 Dave Duchene // Nov 29, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I haven’t ever witnessed a bus slowed down by a cyclist, but if the drivers are saying it happens, fair enough. With regards to arterials, I think a ban would make sense on those streets where the typical driving pattern is very aggressive. I’m thinking of Broadway and perhaps the eastern parts of Hastings. For other arterials where the driving is more orderly, having cyclists in the mix is fine. FWIW, writing as an avid cyclist.

  • 55 Dan // Nov 29, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I dont have the time to read other peoples comments so excuse me if I’m repeating, but I think a significant deterrent to side-street cycling (such as e. 10th ave or west 8th) is that they are much slower. The round-abouts and few stop signs force you to–at the very least–slow down at the end of every block, which for a cyclist, is much more burdensome as you have to change gears and get back up to speed again. On major routes you generally have the right of way until you hit a red light.
    That being said, you wouldn’t see me use Broadway instead of West 8th. However, I do opt for Sherbrooke over Maisoneueve’s bike lane in Montreal because of the higher speeds due to less lights and two-wheel traffic… I suppose I just un-concluded.
    Regardless,
    I support a ban but only for bus-only lanes.

  • 56 david hadaway // Nov 29, 2011 at 9:05 am

    “… the mandate … to safely travel as near as practicable to the right of the highway …”

    Well, if the cycling topic runs out of steam, I’d like to know why nearly every driver in this city does the opposite, that is trundle down the center lane until they encounter someone turning left, then at the last moment swing into the right without indicating.

  • 57 Ron // Nov 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

    It’s the cars which make 12th the tightest arterial. Plenty of room for bikes.

    Cyclists pay for ALL the streets in this city. It’s time they were safely accommodated on ALL the streets. We need separated lanes on all arterials, particularly commercial zones where cyclists work, shop and entertain.

  • 58 Roger Kemble // Nov 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

    In enthusiastic support of cyclists!

    57 comments and counting . . .

    Why, sin embargo, hasn’t the Woonerf, (for pics, click on RK), living street, system of road sharing come up in this interminably, repetitive discussion (three years and counting)?

    The Harper, (a toupee is not a crown), government is presently discussing an issue, potentially, of great impact on pedestrians, cyclists, TX-users and drivers.

    TPP, NAFTA of the Pacific . . .

    http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27928

    . . . might be good idea to pay attention: it may deflate your tires . . .

  • 59 Paul T. // Nov 29, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Richard… By no means am I saying anything like that. I said NOTHING IS STOPPING cyclists who aren’t comfortable on arterials from riding side streets and then walk a block (with their bicycle in tow) and then locking it up mid-block.

    The whole point of the post is that Carr wants to ban bicycling on some routes where bus/bike conflicts are allegedly an issue. I disagree with her.

    We then digressed to which route cyclists prefer more. I choose side streets over arterials. And I’m perfectly comfortable dismounting and walking half a block to a business. It’s safer than riding on a busy street and really doesn’t take much longer. And I really can’t see any good argument why anyone else wouldn’t want to do the same.

    But again, see my first point, I’m not in favour of banning cyclists. It’s a useless bylaw that wouldn’t be enforced and probably shouldn’t be. I’m always in favour of people learning how to share the space that’s available.

  • 60 Richard // Nov 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

    @Paul T.

    Thanks for the clarification and my apologizes for not reading your previous posts. It is difficult to follow the conversation with so many posts.

  • 61 Jean Jacques // Nov 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

    It is ridiculous that there are no separated bike lanes on major arterials. There are sidewalks for pedestrians, multiple lanes for motor vehicles, but none for cyclists forcing them to risk their lives biking alongside motor vehicles. The ‘designated bike routes’ like Ontario and 10th are ridiculous routes with motor vehicle traffic, parking, uncontrolled intersections (roundabouts), etc – not at all safe for cycling.
    Perhaps Adriane Carr and Frances Bula will support banning motor vehicle traffic from one lane of each major street until separated bike lanes can be built on each of them. Then they will not have to suffer the inconvenience of driving behind a cyclist and the cyclist won’t have to face the threat of being tailgated by an impatient driver.

  • 62 MB // Nov 29, 2011 at 11:25 am

    We don’t have a bicycle conflict problem. We have a car conflict problem.

    Most European cities evolved with narrow, pre-car trails, which became roads. London’s Kings Road, Fulham Road, Portobello Road, Victoria Street etc. etc. etc. are all of two lanes that widen out to four at limited points. Finding a ground-level 6-lane job like Broadway or Main Street within 5 km of Central London is like trying to find a Molson’s Canadian at a typical London pub. Who’d want to do that anyway?

    These famous two-lane roads are chock-a-block with double decker buses and punctuated every kilometre or so with Underground stations, many with access to several lines, not just one.

    Get people out of their cars by building cities with European-like transit systems over the next few decades and a tremendous amount of road space will be alleviated for pedestrians and bikes.

  • 63 brilliant // Nov 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

    @Ron 57 When you start paying licensing fees come back and tell us what your infintesimal minority is entitled to.

  • 64 Max // Nov 29, 2011 at 11:51 am

    @Dave Duchene #54:

    If you grab a bus heading north on Burrard during morning rush, you will more than likley experience being stuck behind a cyclist at some point – even though the separated bike lane is one block over.

  • 65 Jeff L // Nov 29, 2011 at 11:59 am

    @Max #63:

    And curiously enough, you will find cars on Hornby even though a major arterial (Burrard) is one block over.

    We could solve it by putting separated bike lanes on all arterials though. I just don’t think Burrard is the next highest priority for that type of investment.

    @brilliant #62:

    When your vehicle license fees start covering all (or any of) the costs of the public roadways come back and tell us what you want to do with those roads.

  • 66 Jeff L // Nov 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I am not in favour of banning bicycles from certain routes (which is being discussed here) but I do see the logic of restricting vehicles from certain lanes (which is closer to what Carr was proposing to speed buses along). If we want to take away parking, and restrict all vehicles (cars/armoured trucks/bicycles) from dedicated bus lanes that is an option, but I can’t see shop owners or vehicle operators liking it much, especially when the bikes move over to share a lane with cars.

    Since we are supposed to brake for buses, why don’t bus drivers signal and then pull out around cyclists that are holding them up, and why don’t car drivers let the buses in so they can do that? That would seem to be the most efficient approach.

  • 67 Richard // Nov 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    @brilliant

    Cars and guns are licensed because they are deadly devices whose improper use endangers other people. In fact, world wide around 1.3 million people are killed per year by motor vehicles and tens of millions more are seriously injured. In BC, the cost of the 25,000 injuries per year is paid for by us taxpayers regardless of whether we drive or no. These costs should really be paid by ICBC from premiums.

    Careless use of a bicycle mainly endangers the person on the bicycle. By someone cycling instead of driving, the roads are made safer for drivers and pedestrians.

  • 68 IanS // Nov 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    *sigh* Bikes again.

    IMO, there’s little justification in banning bikes from arterial streets, as they are no more likely to delay buses than are cars. The real solution, if you want to keep buses moving, is to create, and rigidly enforce, bus only lanes. However, as pointed out, less on street parking will likely be harmful to local merchants.

    Further, given the lack of enforcement with respect to existing bylaws, why would anyone expect such a rule to have any real effect? AFAIK, bikes aren’t supposed to be on sidewalks, yet cyclists ride down sidewalks all the time in Vancouver.

  • 69 AnnetteF // Nov 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    @ Richard

    “Careless use of a bicycle mainly endangers the person on the bicycle.”

    I have to disagree with you on this one.

    As someone whose main mode of transportation is on foot I am starting to fear cyclists more than cars in this city. I now look both ways before I cross a sidewalk and I cannot tell you how many times I have nearly been run down by a cyclist while I was in a crosswalk.

    We had a man killed by being hit by a cyclist earlier this year (I have no idea whether the cyclist or the pedestrian in that incident was being careless). An elderly man was killed by a cyclist on a sidewalk in Ontario recently.

    I do support increasing cycling in the city, but wish that it was not coming at the expense of pedestrian safety.

  • 70 spartikus // Nov 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    However, as pointed out, less on street parking will likely be harmful to local merchants.

    To paraphrase an occasional commenter here – Let’s see some stats on that!

    Here’s mine.

    For the streets under discussion, each storefront has, what, 2 to 3 street parking spaces out front – and they have time limits b/w 2 to 3 hours, which is to say it’s not a high-turnover space. Not all of those who park are customers of the store.

    Losing those on-street spaces, hypothetically speaking, doesn’t seem to strike me as being a death blow.

    But if you and Julia have evidence to the contrary, please post.

    Note – I’m not personally advocating for their removal.

  • 71 IanS // Nov 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    @spartikus #69,

    I’ll concede the point. Removal of the on street parking would not be a “death blow”.

  • 72 mezzanine // Nov 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    @gmgw;

    Re the wisdom(?) of eliminating on-street parking on 4th in favour of bus lanes, see my previous post (#35). It might be worth trying, on an experimental basis, between, say, 3:30 & 6 PM– although the merchants would be extremely unhappy- but 24/7? No way.

    Never say never. Jarrett Walker had a nice post detailing seaparated bus lanes in Paris in a previous post. They are extra wide to accomodate buses and bikes, although separate bike lanes can also exist in the same route. the lanes are separated by a low curb, so other traffic doesn’t stray into the lane but low enough to allow easy access to emergency vehicles.

    some of these separated lanes exist on very narrow streets.

    as mentioned above, removal of on-street parking won’t be a ‘death-blow’, especially if you factor extra traffic from transit passengers.

    certainly more study is needed, but I can see this being successful on broadway while we are waiting for skytrain to be built. This is why i was disappointed with the stance from Ms. Carr, instead of advocating for new solutions, she reverted to a policially safe solution. I am unaware of any other non-freeway route in metro vancouver that bans bicycles outright.

    http://www.humantransit.org/2010/07/paris-the-street-is-ours.html

  • 73 gmgw // Nov 29, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I think it was spartikus who, for reasons best known to himself, came up with the hyperbolic term “death blow”. What I pointed out is that banning parking on arterials will only exacerbate a problem that already exists on side streets adjoining arterials, that being increased traffic volume as too many transient drivers chase too few parking spots. MB in #62 makes an excellent observation when he points out that Vancouver, unlike European cities, is severely lacking in efficient mass transit. Until you provide drivers with a comprehensive, comfortable, fast and efficient alternative to their cars, they will be unmotivated to leave said cars at home. But as I am about to relate, even cities with great Metro systems still have major problems…
    @mezzanine #72: I have been unable to find the Jarrett Walker post you refer to. But having visited Paris a number of times, most recently two months ago, I can tell you that the dedicated bus lanes have no discernible impact on traffic volumes, at least on the major streets— often even on the minor as well. For instance, I had occaasion on our recent visit to take a bus from St. Germain to the Port de Clignancourt, away up in the north end. The route is complex, following a maze of narrow streets, and I was soon out of my reckoning. While the bus lanes did permit a fairly fast trip, the sheer volume of cars crammed into the lanes reserved for them was staggering. And let’s not even talk about the busier areas. We took a taxi on our arrival from the Gare du Nord to our hotel in the Seventh and the cabbie made the mistake of following a route laid out by his GPS unit– something that would never happen in London, whose cabbies are required by law to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s streets and thus have multiple routes to choose from. The result was that after about ten minutes we became completely trapped in right-bank gridlock the hapless driver clearly had not anticipated (he had never heard of the very well-known street on which our hotel was located, hence the GPS– we had to spell it for him). We spent at least twenty minutes there before we managed to escape. It was about three in the afternoon; traffic was not yet at its daily worst. Bus lanes or not, Metro or not, this happens every day in Paris, for hours on end. Traffic volume in the center of the city is immense. You should probably cite a better example– perhaps Toronto?
    gmgw

  • 74 spartikus // Nov 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I think it was spartikus who, for reasons best known to himself, came up with the hyperbolic term “death blow”.

    Not that it matters, but Julia #21:

    Kill the retailer or squeeze his revenues, you also kill the jobs that go with it.

  • 75 mezzanine // Nov 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    @gmgw

    a link to Jarrett Walker’s post is at the end of my post #72.

    NYC is another city where they are carving separated bus lanes from streets. Closer to home, Montreal is doing the same, but i don;t have a lot of detail on their plans.

    http://www.stm.info/english/info/a-voiesres.htm

    Until you provide drivers with a comprehensive, comfortable, fast and efficient alternative to their cars, they will be unmotivated to leave said cars at home.

    but it’s a chicken/egg issue – a separated bus lane will greatly increase transit reliability and speed and make it more competitive to the car. Cynically, but truely, you also make the car less competative and you attract/discourage ridership in that way.

    one would also look at the transit corridor and regional importnace of the route. the Kits/4th ave commercial area is nice, but not much of a regional draw for drivers outside the area allowing for encouragement of walking/transit and cycling as a way to provide access. to accomidate car drivers who need to drive (eg, families, seniors who still can drive), perhaps we can introduce zoning to allow for parking to be built and paid for accodingly by the users/landlord (eg. a mulitstory parkade that allows for validation. i live in dowtown, and shopping at T+T, iga at burrard and smyth, etc allows this and i do not feel my life is difficult with this).

    not every street should have a separated busway. 4th may not need this if we supply skytrain to UBC and traffic returns to local users predominantly.

  • 76 brilliant // Nov 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    @Jeff L 65 You make the typical cyclists error in assuming you derive no benefit from car owners. You do in hundreds of hidden ways. And if you think motorists aren’t paying their fare share, lets remove gas taxes that subsidize transit shall we?

    @Richard fortunately for the bike lobby cyclists on cyclist accident stats from Europe aren’t readily available.

    I’d encourage everyone to google “bicycling craze”. Every few decades cyclists are convinced their time has come, only to have their dreams dashed when a more comfortable and convenient method of transport comes along and the majority deserts their cause.

  • 77 Bobbie Bees // Nov 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I’m generally in favour of anything that will reduce the use of private automobiles. Why as a taxpaying citizen of Vancouver, I have to be held hostage by cagers hell bent on polluting the air i breath just because they have to drive four blocks to pick up a box of Ding-dongs from the local 7-11 is beyond me.

    Over 2500 Canadian are killed every year in car accidents. That doesn’t include the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed by careless drivers either. Over 250,000 Canadians are injured ever year in car accidents.
    Read this: –>
    http://www.cite7.org/resources/documents/Pedestrian%20Signals.pdf
    When CITE came to town to look at our pedestrian controlled intersections, they were completely blown away by how many car drivers completely ignored the stop signs posted. And in their table of figures, you’ll note that they didn’t indicate seeing a single cyclist ride through a stop sign.

    It’s time that car drivers stopped being selfish by expecting me and all the others who don’t drive cars, to sit back and inhale your toxic exhaust fumes, which are a proved carcinogen, just so you can whip down to Walmart to pick up the latest fashions by J-Lo.

    And seeing as how we’re so bent up about people not following rules. How about some of you angelic car drivers come down to Beach Ave and enforce the 30 km/h speed limit? A lot of your fellow drivers seem to treat this 30km/h zone as if the speed limit was 80km/h.

  • 78 Bobbie Bees // Nov 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Here’s an interesting little story:
    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2011/11/can-you-afford-not-to-use-your-bike-for.html

  • 79 brilliant // Nov 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    LOL BobbieBees got to love your blog example featuring a cyclist texting while riding and apparently transporting a child! Now that IS smart.

    The rest of your condescending tirafe is typical of the pretentious urbanite convinced that is 500 sq ft neo-urban tenament is “winning”.

  • 80 Julia // Nov 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Spartikus, I am a little confused by your comment. Are you suggesting that I am exaggerating?

    How much money do you think these small Mom and Pops make? Do you know realize that a 4 day snow storm, or transit strike is enough to move a business from the black into the red. A simple change in transit schedules or routes is enough to pull hundreds of potential customers off a street and change the entire viability of a company.

    The notion that businesses out there are making buckets of money with loads to spare is simply ignorance.

  • 81 Bobbie Bees // Nov 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Awwww. Poor poor brilliant. Did I hurt your feelings by not worshipping car-culture? Nice of you to completely miss out on the benefits of cycling or the map showing the obesity rate through out America. And yes, texting anywhere is bad. My personal pet peeve are pedestrins in shopping malls who text while they walk around like zombies not looking where they’re going. But that’s nowhere near as bad as car drivers who still, even though there is a law against it, text while they drive.

    Oh, hey, look at this –>
    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2011/09/cycling-with-contractions-to-hospital.html

    It’s a pregnant woman cycling to the hospital.

  • 82 mezzanine // Nov 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    @ Julia,

    Spartikus didn’t say anything, except to quote you directly. then provided a link to a toronto study where business impacts to a separated bike lane were much less than anticipated when actual surveys were done of patrons.

    If anything, according to the link he provided, people arriving to the area by bike or foot spent more money than those coming by car.

    Trafic and gridlock can’t be good for the mom and pops either.

  • 83 Julia // Nov 29, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Mezzanine, truth is… gridlock can be a retailers friend. Same with transit. People have time to look in a window, observe what is offered, get a geographical lock, have time to be enticed… all good for that little shop trying to grab there few minutes of recognition.

  • 84 Jeff L // Nov 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    @brilliant #76

    Before you accuse me of being a cyclist making the usual cyclist errors, you should know that I am a motorist. And a transit user. And a pedestrian. And occasionally a recreational cyclist, but not a commuter cyclist. I pay those fuel taxes. I don’t think it helps to portray this as an Us vs Them issue.

    And yes, I believe that SOV drivers are not paying their fair share. It goes all the way from dysfunctional communities (just look at what is under the viaducts…) to high health care costs, degradation of the environment, and the cost not just of building roadways, but of maintaining them (which we can’t reasonably ever hope to do, given that we subsidized much of their creation with real estate speculation)

  • 85 mezzanine // Nov 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    @Julia @84

    I suppose that might be an upside to gridlock, although there are big downsides to it as gmgw can attest to.

    I’d like to think that one of the keys of living in a city is interconnectedness access to all sorts of people, neighbourhoods and local resources. If i lived in in kits, i’d like to have a lively ‘hood with places to eat and shop, but |I would also like to access DT, YVR and other regional draws easily.

    To that end, IMO improving cycling and transit would help us get there, along with more market-based costing of the use of the car.

    Free /low-cost parking is a classic tale of how subsidies, use restrictions, and price controls can steer an economy in wrong directions…
    Higher charges for parking spaces would limit our trips by car. That would cut emissions, alleviate congestion and, as a side effect, improve land use.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/business/economy/15view.html

  • 86 Julia // Nov 30, 2011 at 3:50 am

    City of Vancouver has themselves in a pickle. They rely on parking revenue to offset the city budget and the many projects they hold near and dear. Price the parking too high, and revenue goes down. Price the parking too low and it messes with their vision for the city.

    It’s as odd as gas tax. We add on the tax to discourage the use of cars but we need and spend every dollar that is collected to fund government.

    What happens if we all stop driving and parking?

  • 87 Agustin // Nov 30, 2011 at 8:48 am

    What happens if we all stop driving and parking?

    Then the costs to maintain the system go way down and we don’t need to build new highways or parking structures.

    Furthermore, when transit routes have high utilisation rates, they can pay for themselves. Just like the Broadway corridor routes do. (Sorry I don’t have a citation for that; I heard the claim from a Translink official on the radio.)

    We’ll also save money on health care (fewer collisions as well as increased fitness), the streets will be quieter, the air will be cleaner….

    Shall I go on? :)

  • 88 Julia // Nov 30, 2011 at 9:43 am

    we still need roads to transport goods to the grocery store we ride our bike to. We still need roads so the ambulance can get to your house, we still need roads for the buses to run on.

    The grid we currently have is not going anywhere and needs to be maintained. So, where will that money come from? Whether it is a goat trail or a 6 lane arterial, buildings have been built and without bulldozing the whole thing… we have to share it and fix it.

  • 89 Agustin // Nov 30, 2011 at 10:40 am

    @ Julia: I didn’t say we’d get rid of the roads.

    Yes we all share the roads. My point is that car drivers do not subsidize the system.

    So, where will that money come from?

    The same place it mainly comes from now: property taxes.

  • 90 Glissando Remmy // Nov 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

    The Thought of The Day

    “It’s good to be in a Hollyhock state of mind.”

    Augustin #87…
    As Real Estate prices high rockets in Vancouver, people move outside the capricious, walkable city; jobs move outside the city’s limits as well.
    The bedroom city aka the Flip-Flop city is becoming a city of commuters. Sleep in Vancouver, tinker in Burnaby or Richmond, or Surrey.

    Live in Surrey, work in Surrey, spend in Surrey, “Thank You Mrs. Watts!” maybe, cross Vancouver to go to the Cypress , Horseshoe Bay, or Whistler.

    In 2011 you cannot live like in a “Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” novel, buddy, sure you can pretend that it’s fun and doable, same as telling me that white-washing your fence with is lots of fun, and would only cost me … my marbles! :-)

    “We’ll also save money on health care (fewer collisions as well as increased fitness), the streets will be quieter, the air will be cleaner….”

    Pick up a copy of the latest book by Vancouver Photographer Fred Herzog, will you? Do me this favor. Peruse it vigorously, look at all those 1950′s pictures, no cars, no trucks, no color… other than the occasional Coca Cola ads, Shell Stations and SALE signs, and lots of Neon.

    The city was smaller, less denser, they wore almost identical clothes… you want to know why?

    Because their lives were as miserable in the city then, as they are today, and for different reasons.

    They produced less, consumed less, wasted less.
    Life was frugal. were they happier? Dunno.
    But sure thing they wanted one day to own that 1949 Packard Station Sedan.

    I don’t believe they were healthier, and definitely they were not wealthier.
    The car meant freedom, exploring, vacationing, opened the possibility for growth.

    Canada… is not the crowded Europe, Vancouver it’s not freakin’ Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, London, which btw are… flat; have you even visited or lived in any of those cities?

    This is North America, vast stretches of land, in all directions eager to be populated and enjoyed.
    By everyone.

    The Equation that Vision & Friends are trying to solve is simple, bring a farm/sailor/juice boy down from Cortes to raise chicken, tend to bees LOL, plant some wheat, bake a bread, bike five blocks in the Big City and voila, the B&W ‘Vancouverville’ suddenly becomes ‘Smallville’ in Technicolor!
    Everybody’s happy, are having coffee with James Dean, listen to Jethro Tull and their main activity is fishing with their kids by the pier at Science World…

    If that’s the case here’s a naughty idea. Cut all city staff salaries in half. The higher the salary bigger the cut. Top salary not > 100K.
    Start with Penny!
    Considering the many talents of CM Ballem that’s overpaying, but hey, I am in a generous mood right now.

    IMHO some of the members of the Council and Mayor himself shall be doing Volunteer work instead. Just like all the people sitting on all these committees, you know, hard working, professional, real honest bread & butter citizens, the ones that the ‘paid’ representatives use to laugh at.

    Anyhoo…

    Oh, those Viaducts, and the brouhaha surrounding them, par example, Stratchona residents aka Vision’s Base Voter Area, are crying wolf, not because the traffic is impacting them and their lives so horrendously, but because the potential for reaping some greatly adjusted house prices is too attractive to pass. Period.

    I remember one interviewee saying re. Viaducts “And look at all this Residential here (Tinseltown & neighbors) The Viaducts don’t fit…”
    Of course thy don’t, now you’ve noticed?
    The Viaducts sat erect for the past 50 years, hard to miss when you bought your shitty condo overseeing them, but I know, the realtor promised you that…

    But here’s the kicker.

    The Future, like it or not, is in Communications and Movement of Goods. And fast.
    First, Faster, Cheaper.
    Communities closest to airport hubs, are going to see the biggest growth in the future years.
    Hail Richmond!

    And what are you going do Augustin? Are you going to advice us to take the Fred Flinstone approach to flying?
    You may fancy a trip on a Pterodactyl, aisle or window, but I don’t.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGjfzu3Gz20

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy, Ra Ta Ra Ta Ra…

  • 91 Tessa // Nov 30, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I forgot to mention in my previous comments but something jogged my memory: The city has a transportation hierarchy, that is they are supposed to support specific modes of transport over others. That hierarchy is: pedestrian, then cyclists, then transit, then private vehicles. To ban cyclists from certain roads over concerns about car and bus conflicts specifically contradicts city policy, though admittedly it wouldn’t be the first time, as the Burrard Bridge cycling lanes contradict that policy, too, placing cyclists before pedestrians.

  • 92 brilliant // Nov 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    @Agustin 87 please provide us with a list if all transit sysyems worldwide that cover all costs with fare revenue, not just direct operating expenses. Hint-it won’t take long.

  • 93 AnnetteF // Nov 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    @ Tessa
    I’ve read about this hierarchy before, but my suspicion is that it exists only on paper.
    If pedestrians were truly the priority then the city would be doing more about educating the expanding cycling population on the rules of the road (eg don’t ride on sidewalks, you must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk).
    They would also get rid of those advanced right turn signals that become death traps for pedestrians as most motorist run them well past the orange stage, making it nearly impossible for pedestrians to cross the street safely without having eyes in the back of their heads (eg Howe and Nelson).

  • 94 mezzanine // Nov 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    @ 92 brilliant,

    It won’t take long b/c there is a good reason why we can’t maximize revenue from ridership.

    http://www.humantransit.org/2009/12/yet-another-transit-isnt-green-because-of-empty-buses-story.html

    If public transit agencies were charged exclusively with maximizing their ridership, and all the benefits that follow from that, they could move their empty buses to run in places where they’d be full. Every competent transit planner knows how to do this. Just abandon all service in low-density areas, typically outer suburbs, and shift all these resources to run even more frequent and attractive service where densities are high, such as inner cities. In lower-density areas, you’d run only narrowly tailored services for brief surges of demand, such as trips to schools at bell-times and commuter express runs from suburban Park-and-Rides to downtown. If you do such a massive shift of resources, I promise your productivity (ridership per unit of cost) will soar, and you won’t have as many empty buses.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, transit agencies have to balance contradictory demands to (a) maximize ridership and (b) provide a little bit of service everywhere regardless of ridership, both to meet demands for ‘equity’ and to serve the needs of transit-dependent persons.

  • 95 boohoo // Nov 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    “This is North America, vast stretches of land, in all directions eager to be populated and enjoyed.”

    So we fill it all up and then what?

    Why do we have to make the same mistakes others made because we can?

  • 96 IanS // Nov 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    @mezzanine #94,

    That makes perfect sense as to the reason why transit needs to be subsidized. I believe the point Brilliant was making is that much of that subsidy comes from gas taxes.

  • 97 IanS // Nov 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    @boohoo #95:

    “So we fill it all up and then what? ”

    Expand to other planets and, ultimately, TO THE STARS!

  • 98 mezzanine // Nov 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    @IanS,

    Agustin @87 was referring to certain routes, like the broadway route – not really the whole system, not neeeding a subsidy due to high ridership.

    If anything it helps me to think of it as not reducing a subsidy to personal vehicles, but making them pay a truer share of the external costs of driving.

    I agree about the need for deliveries, commercial business like contractors and emergency vehicles – this applies to personal driving.

    Concept: externality
    An externality is a situation in which the private costs or benefits to the producers or purchasers of a good or service differs from the total social costs or benefits entailed in its production and consumption. An externality exists whenever one individual’s actions affect the well-being of another individual — whether for the better (positive externality) or for the worse (negative externality).

    external costs of driving and biking googleable or available upon request. :-)

  • 99 Mira // Nov 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Glissando Remmy #90,
    :-)
    I don’t know about the others frequenting this blog , but me, when I come across your posts, it’s like I’m getting a mouthful of oxygen. The way you print your message is so narrative, so melodic, so double meaning and in most cases bang on, that I am left speechless. I don’t know where to start. It’s like the old fable storyteller… the modern version.
    “Everybody’s happy, are having coffee with James Dean, listen to Jethro Tull and their main activity is fishing with their kids by the pier at Science World… ”

    Just picking throughout your post:

    “The bedroom city aka the Flip-Flop city is becoming a city of commuters. Sleep in Vancouver, tinker in Burnaby or Richmond, or Surrey…”
    “Live in Surrey, work in Surrey, spend in Surrey, “Thank You Mrs. Watts!” …”
    “In 2011 you cannot live like in a “Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” novel…”
    “Pick up a copy of the latest book by Vancouver Photographer Fred Herzog, will you? Do me this favor. Peruse it vigorously, look at all those 1950′s pictures, no cars, no trucks, no color… other than the occasional Coca Cola ads, Shell Stations and SALE signs, and lots of Neon.”
    “They produced less, consumed less, wasted less.
    Life was frugal. were they happier? Dunno.
    But sure thing they wanted one day to own that 1949 Packard Station Sedan.”
    “The car meant freedom, exploring, vacationing, opened the possibility for growth.”
    “Everybody’s happy, are having coffee with James Dean, listen to Jethro Tull and their main activity is fishing with their kids by the pier at Science World… ”

    This next one is the one I would second in a jiffy!

    “IMHO some of the members of the Council and Mayor himself shall be doing Volunteer work instead. Just like all the people sitting on all these committees, you know, hard working, professional, real honest bread & butter citizens, the ones that the ‘paid’ representatives use to laugh at.”
    Considering that all those people are “advising” the Council and Mayor for FREE!
    “The Future, like it or not, is in Communications and Movement of Goods. And fast.
    First, Faster, Cheaper.”
    “And what are you going do Augustin? Are you going to advice us to take the Fred Flinstone approach to flying?
    You may fancy a trip on a Pterodactyl, aisle or window…”
    Like a bits and pieces from a Norman Rockwell painting.
    Thanks GR!

  • 100 Max // Nov 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    @Jeff L #65

    Shockers, cars on dedicated road ways – who would have thought.

    What does a cyclist tying up the morning commute by slowing plugging along Burrard Street only to hit Georgia and turn right – when they could have easily used the dedicated bike lane one block over, have to do with car traffic on the roadway on Hornby?

    Nothing.

  • 101 IanS // Nov 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    @Mezzanine #98,

    Not really disagreeing, but we may be talking at cross purposes, possibly in part because I am picking up on a point raised by someone else (Brilliant).

    I think his point was that public transit systems do not pay for themselves and require subsidy. Part of that subsidy comes from gas taxes. Hence, a reduction in that source of income would make it more difficult to pay for public transit.

    Your point as to the reason subsidies are necessary – public transit’s obligation to provide services even where the routes are unprofitable – would seem to support his point, at least in part. However, neither of those issues really relates, at least in my mind, to your point about paying for the “externality” of driving.

    As to that point re externality, it’s an interesting one and one which might bear some discussion, not just with respect to cars, but with respect to any number of activities which might be said to have a negative externality, such as smoking, drinking, drug use etc.

  • 102 mezzanine // Nov 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    @IanS,

    But I don’t think we should be worried about funding problems for transit if revenue from fuel tax is lessened. To me that’s like worrying about lower tax revenue from smoking if smoking rates drop.

    Public service can always raise other taxes or cut services to accomodate for that change, but that’s another argument.

  • 103 mezzanine // Nov 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Another bike-related post surpasses 100 replies FTW!

  • 104 spartikus // Nov 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Another bike-related post surpasses 100 replies FTW!

    And I don’t think we’re any closer to understanding if cyclists on Broadway or 12th Ave holding up cars or buses is a bonafide problem.

  • 105 Agustin // Nov 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    @ IanS and brilliant:

    This statement from mezzanine elegantly sums up my point:

    But I don’t think we should be worried about funding problems for transit if revenue from fuel tax is lessened. To me that’s like worrying about lower tax revenue from smoking if smoking rates drop.

    @ brilliant, #92: I like debating but we have to do it properly. I referred to the fact that some routes within systems are profitable, not that the entire system is profitable. I’ll engage you more readily in debate if you stay away from informal fallacies like the straw man argument.

  • 106 IanS // Nov 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    @Mezzanine 102,

    You write “But I don’t think we should be worried about funding problems for transit if revenue from fuel tax is lessened.”

    I’m not really worried about it.

    But I do think it raises an interesting issue. If, one day, there’s a significant drop in driving because of a shift to transit, the need for increased transit funding will be matched by a decrease in such funding.

  • 107 IanS // Nov 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    And, FWIW, I think that circumstance distinguishes it from the analogy you raise (and which Augustin thinks is applicable, ie. “To me that’s like worrying about lower tax revenue from smoking if smoking rates drop. ”

    In that case, the drop in revenue would (one would assume) be matched by a drop in health care costs.

  • 108 brilliant // Nov 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    @Agustin105-You make the assumption your argument is correct. You said car owners don’t pay their fair share. Alright lets take that share I do pay towards transit and put it toward my “fair share”. And don’t throw out the straw man of how transit makes my car commute easier. I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice some more minutes of my time cossetted in air conditioned, heated seat, satellite radioed comfort to ensure my fair share s being paid towards auto infrastructure.

    As Ian elaborated transit would be starved if you wished away cars. Similarly mezzanine’s Vision of a trunk route only bus system would be a hub deprived of spokes. And if bus routes along low density areas are such money pits, why has the #3 Main traditionally been one of the busiest routes? Last I checked Main is largely flanked by single family homes.

  • 109 Agustin // Nov 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    @ IanS,

    In that case, the drop in revenue would (one would assume) be matched by a drop in health care costs.

    Right. I think that if there were a severe drop in car use, we would also experience drops in health care costs as well as road maintenance and capital projects. (I know they are all financed through different mechanisms but at the end of the day the question is about where the money will come from, and I believe there will be less need for money overall.)

    In other words, I am saying that car use does not subsidize the system; it merely pays for some of the costs it causes society to incur.

  • 110 Agustin // Nov 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    @ brilliant, 108:

    @Agustin105-You make the assumption your argument is correct.

    This is true: I’m not simply playing devil’s advocate.

    You said car owners don’t pay their fair share. Alright lets take that share I do pay towards transit and put it toward my “fair share”. And don’t throw out the straw man of how transit makes my car commute easier. I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice some more minutes of my time cossetted in air conditioned, heated seat, satellite radioed comfort to ensure my fair share s being paid towards auto infrastructure.

    I’m not sure what kind of system you are envisioning. Is it one where each person pays only for the portion of the transportation system they use? If so, I think you’d find that car drivers would have to pay more than they currently do. Most of the transportation system is currently funded by property taxes (in the case of municipal funding) and overall revenues (in the case of provincial and federal funding).

    As Ian elaborated transit would be starved if you wished away cars.

    I didn’t get that from reading IanS’s posts, but I may have misinterpreted them.

    At any rate, I disagree with this contention. I think that public transit is altogether a more cost-efficient way of moving people around cities like Vancouver than driving cars.

    Similarly mezzanine’s Vision of a trunk route only bus system would be a hub deprived of spokes.

    I’m not getting that from mezzanine’s posts either.

    And if bus routes along low density areas are such money pits, why has the #3 Main traditionally been one of the busiest routes? Last I checked Main is largely flanked by single family homes.

    I’m not sure what you are hinting at. That some bus routes in low density areas can also be profitable?

  • 111 IanS // Nov 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    @Augustin #109,

    “In other words, I am saying that car use does not subsidize the system; it merely pays for some of the costs it causes society to incur.”

    I can’t say you’re wrong, as you’ve roped together so many types of expenditures involving (as you concede) many different funding sources, I can’t begin to unravel how one cost would be offset by another.

    Intuitively, I don’t think you can reduce all of that to a single pot of money and do the math as if it is, though. But who knows? Maybe it would balance out over the long run.

  • 112 Agustin // Nov 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    @ IanS, 111: You’re absolutely right – it is tough to parcel things out. At the moment some of my assertions are left a bit naked and I probably could do some homework to back them up.

    Intuitively, however, it makes sense to me that cars are expensive for the health care system. I’m thinking of the consequences of the air pollution, collisions, and sedentary lifestyles.

    It also makes sense to me that cars are expensive for the transportation system itself. Those bridges and highways are not cheap.

    Granted, busses and subways are not cheap either but I can’t see how they’d be more expensive per person than private cars.

  • 113 mezzanine // Nov 30, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I would agree with agustin and IanS that large swings to the price of gas and resulting demand for driving and fuel tax revenue versus transit would make planning policy diffiucult.

    FWIW, I talked about trying to get private motortists to pay for more of the external costs of driving. this is a research paper that came up on the first page of a google search. The came up with 5 external costs not borne by US drivers: 1) global warming costs, 2) health costs from emmissions 3) health costs from crashes 4) congestion costs and 5) land consumption costs.

    In BC, the carbon tax helps to pay for some of these external costs.

    Not surprisingly, external costs were greater in a congested urban area with high land costs and less in rural areas. Larger vehicles had larger external costs than smaller ones.

    http://www.ce.utexas.edu/prof/kockelman/public_html/trb08vehicleexternalities.pdf

  • 114 mezzanine // Nov 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    and the external costs of cycling? minimal, aside from the cost of cycling injuries.

    to offset that, there are postivie externalities with improving health of riders in general. and studies looking at switching from driving to biking and looking at multipe variables like crash costs for both groups, noise pollution etc, there is a net benefit to society with biking versus car driving.

    and those cycling injuries are preventable with further bike infrastucture improvements and PSAs to drivers and riders.

    http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/knowledge/pedestrians/promote_cycling_and_bicycle_helmets_or_not/promoting_cycling_changes_to_expect.htm

  • 115 CT // Nov 30, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    To those of you theorizing that a decrease in driving might result in a decrease in revenue for transit, I think you’ve got things inside out.

    It was already mentioned, further up the thread, that certain popular transit routes pay for themselves. I think that this becomes somewhat *more* likely in the event that large numbers of people stop driving. I think it’s entirely likely that transit revenue would increase in such a situation (provided that the former drivers use transit all or much of the time).

    Consider: the tax per litre that goes to Translink is $0.15 [1]. Assuming an average full tank to be around 60 litres, that’s $9 per tank, not all of which goes towards transit–some of it is used for other transportation initiatives such as bridges and whatnot.

    But even assuming all $9 per tank of gas is used by translink to provide bus, seabus and Skytrain services, that’s the equivalent of less than two two-zone round trips on transit (each one-way trip is $3.75) [2]. For an individual’s gas taxes to provide more revenue to Translink than a two-zone monthly pass ($110), you’d have to buy something like TWELVE 60 litre tanks of gas per month. Even assuming a person makes only ten round trips per month by transit–fewer than half of all the working days–the revenue to the transit system is still $75. This is still the more than all the taxes collected for Translink from eight tanks of gas.

    Obviously this is not the whole story since, for example, a person abandoning a private vehicle might decide to make all or most of his or her trips via bicycle or by walking, and providing transit services to a new user costs the transit system *something*. But the claim that transit revenue automatically declines with declining use of private motor-vehicles doesn’t seem especially believable.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_fuel_taxes_in_Canada
    [2] http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Single-Fares.aspx
    [3] http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Monthly-Pass.aspx

    – ct

  • 116 gmgw // Nov 30, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    @Glissando #90:
    Paris & London, “flat”?? That will come as a considerable surprise to the folks who live in Highgate, Hampstead, Montmartre or Belleville/Menilmontant.

    Also:
    “This is North America, vast stretches of land, eager to be populated and enjoyed…”

    One of the things I “enjoy” the most about North America, as opposed to Europe, is the relative absence of people from those vast stretches of land. Long may they remain under-populated. There are many other, better places to spend one’s time than in high-density urban environments.
    gmgw

  • 117 S. Morris Rose // Dec 1, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Now let’s have a rant about motorists going more than a block on residential streets. And let’s get pedestrians to walk a couple of blocks to an intersection with a traffic-control device. Clearly, what we really need is a licensing system where mommy can approve each trip.

    Like everybody else, bicyclists choose a route based upon their start and end points. Have you noticed that destinations tend to be concentrated on arterials? That observation should help us understand why we might find some bicyclists riding there.

  • 118 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

    @ Mezzanine 113:

    “FWIW, I talked about trying to get private motortists to pay for more of the external costs of driving. this is a research paper that came up on the first page of a google search. The came up with 5 external costs not borne by US drivers: 1) global warming costs, 2) health costs from emmissions 3) health costs from crashes 4) congestion costs and 5) land consumption costs.”

    I’m not opposed to any of this on principle, as long as the externalities are properly quantified and the funds raised are used to ameliorate the negative externality. Some of those externalities will be difficult to quantify (global warming) while others (such as health costs from accidents) would not (I suspect those costs are already factored into insurance).

    But, of course, why stop there? If we accept the principle, why not apply it to other activities? Shouldn’t smokers, drinkers and other drug addicts be paying a greater share of health care costs? Or perhaps the Occupiers should be shouldering some of the additional policing and clean up costs associated with the recent occupation.

  • 119 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

    “Shouldn’t smokers, drinkers and other drug addicts be paying a greater share of health care costs?”

    My understanding is that those kinds of behaviours shorten life expectancy. In the long run people with those kinds of addictions are pretty cost efficient w/r/t healthcare, esp. if they die quickly.

    Regardless, the idea of barring people from public space because they lack an expensive technology shouldn’t even come up for discussion in a free country. It should be a non-starter without significant life and safety benefits to be gained. Shaving two minutes off a half-hour commute isn’t reason enough to ban people from using a road IMO.

  • 120 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 9:15 am

    @Chris Keam #117,

    “My understanding is that those kinds of behaviours shorten life expectancy. In the long run people with those kinds of addictions are pretty cost efficient w/r/t healthcare, esp. if they die quickly. ”

    Interesting point. You may be right, though my understanding is that a disproportionate portion of health care costs go to treating those who abuse themselves in that way. I haven’t reviewed the actuarial data, but I believe that insurance companies charge more for health insurance for smokers.

    “Regardless, the idea of barring people from public space because they lack an expensive technology shouldn’t even come up for discussion in a free country. ”

    Really? I would have thought that a “free country” would allow and encourage all kinds of debate about all kinds of topics.

  • 121 Agustin // Dec 1, 2011 at 9:36 am

    @ IanS,

    But, of course, why stop there? If we accept the principle, why not apply it to other activities? Shouldn’t smokers, drinkers and other drug addicts be paying a greater share of health care costs? Or perhaps the Occupiers should be shouldering some of the additional policing and clean up costs associated with the recent occupation.

    Smokers and drinkers do pay a “sin tax” which contributes to the province’s coffers. I don’t know if it fully accounts for the additional health care costs borne by the system as a result of the drinking and smoking, but it does exist.

    Drug addicts are a different beast. There are a few considerations: one is that adding cost to the drugs will not curb consumption and may lead to increased desperate and harmful acts as addicts try to get more drugs. Another is that drugs are largely illegal, which makes their taxation rather difficult to implement. (In fact this is an argument in favour of legalizing some drugs such as marijuana. A second argument in favour of legalizing marijuana is that doing so would decrease enforcement and incarceration costs.)

    The Occupy movement presents yet other subtleties. One effect of levying fines or taxes on protesters is that it discourages protest. I believe that as a society we value the ability to protest very highly, and therefore it is worth paying the cost of policing and clean-up.

    (On a somewhat related note, Gordon Price had some interesting thoughts about passing on the cost of policing the riots to the Canucks.)

  • 122 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

    @IanS

    “Vanderbilt University economist Kip Viscusi studied the net costs of smoking-related spending and savings and found that for every pack of cigarettes smoked, the country reaps a net cost savings of 32 cents.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/08/how-much-does-smoking-cos_n_184554.html

  • 123 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:00 am

    @Chris Keam #120,

    As I said, you may be right about that.

    Or you may not.

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:GfzUMd1KgksJ:www.lung.ca/_resources/Backgrounder_smoking.doc+cost+of+smoking+to+health+care+canada&hl=en&gl=ca&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjpwwzkiTW7AdsU2kHnX6F-bAhfItyoOV976Q1qx93h4baxUdeZ3AJrKUvrs2d6AWFFaAZ7Li0F4zh8j5pmXIWuDlFVXYuI2qXVPwQmxWySjPh7Llv62BALB1Ouye9DhicAZ36T&sig=AHIEtbQ1yA-QNIJHZiH7Pd9SEgRWsW9tkg

    Regardless, I still think the principle is sound.

  • 124 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    @Ian, the doc ument you link to seems to support my original comment:

    “In health care, tobacco use costs Canada billions of dollars each year. Despite the
    reduced rate of smoking, health care costs have increased steadily since 1966.”

  • 125 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:09 am

    @Augustin #121:

    You write: “Smokers and drinkers do pay a “sin tax” which contributes to the province’s coffers. I don’t know if it fully accounts for the additional health care costs borne by the system as a result of the drinking and smoking, but it does exist.”

    Yes. And drivers pay taxes on fuel, including carbon taxes. IMO, this supports my musings regarding the application of the approach proposed by Mezzanine.

    You write: “Another is that drugs are largely illegal, which makes their taxation rather difficult to implement.”

    Well, I’m in favour of legalizing all drugs and taxing them, but that’s not my point here. I was referring to additional health care costs.

    You write: “The Occupy movement presents yet other subtleties. One effect of levying fines or taxes on protesters is that it discourages protest. ”

    I’m not suggesting levying fines or taxes on protest. Rather, having the “protestors” bear at least some of the costs associated with activities which breach bylaws. Surely, no one could argue that they should not be responsible for the costs associated with cleaning up the Occupy site?

    Please bear in mind that I’m not necessarily suggesting that these kind of fees or charges be imposed across the board. My point was this: if we accept Mezzanine’s proposal to have drivers bear the cost of the negative externalities (something I’m not necessarily against), it stands to reason we should apply that same approach to those who create other negative externalities.

  • 126 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

    “I still think the principle is sound”

    Sorry Ian, but it’s not. There’s no assurance we will save any money trying to initiate and administrate an over-arching ‘lifestyle’ tax, no real reason to suspect it would save any lives, and it could only serve to open up the floodgates for charging everyone from cyclists to recreational skiers a fee for their choices, to support a tax that would probably have (IMO) as its chief benefit the fact that it almost covers its costs for admin and paperwork.

  • 127 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

    @Chris Keam #124,

    Here’s the full paragraph.

    “In health care, tobacco use costs Canada billions of dollars each year. Despite the
    reduced rate of smoking, health care costs have increased steadily since 1966.9 In
    2002, tobacco use accounted for $4.4 billion in direct health care costs and an additional
    $12.5 billion in indirect costs such as lost productivity, longer-term disability and
    premature death.”

    I think I disagree with your interpretation.

  • 128 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Hi Ian:

    You can disagree, but I’m saying your link doesn’t support your contention, but does seem to support mine.

  • 129 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

    @Chris Keam #128,

    This is silly, but I’ll follow you there if you like:

    I’m saying my link does support my contention, and doesn’t seem to support yours.

  • 130 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

    @Ian:

    Smoking went down and healthcare costs rose. How does that support your theory?

    My quick read of the document you linked to doesn’t even show a discussion of what other scenarios might entail, it merely lists the costs to our society for smoking, not the costs of not smoking.

  • 131 Agustin // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I’m not suggesting levying fines or taxes on protest.

    By what mechanism would Occupiers shoulder the policing and clean-up costs, then?

    Rather, having the “protestors” bear at least some of the costs associated with activities which breach bylaws. Surely, no one could argue that they should not be responsible for the costs associated with cleaning up the Occupy site?

    I would argue that. If it’s against by-laws, charge them with breaking by-laws. But to ask them to pay for the clean-up is not a good idea.

    I think your argument might be coloured by the fact that you don’t have empathy for the Occupiers.

    Not that long ago (at least in the US) it was illegal for black people to go to certain places. Massive protests were organized. I’m sure there was clean-up required, and certainly police spent money trying to stop the protests. Should the protesters have been asked to pay for those clean-up and policing costs? It just doesn’t add up.

    My point was this: if we accept Mezzanine’s proposal to have drivers bear the cost of the negative externalities (something I’m not necessarily against), it stands to reason we should apply that same approach to those who create other negative externalities.

    Yes, and my point is that negative externalities are only one part of the picture. They have to be weighed against the positive externalities as well as the side effects of internalizing the negative ones.

    In the case of driving, the contention is that the negative externalities (health impacts, environmental impacts, etc.) outweigh the positive ones (some convenience, some speed, etc.), and the side effects of internalizing the negative ones are desirable (more funds available for public transit, etc.).

  • 132 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

    @Chris Keam #130,

    The article states that: “$4.4 billion in direct health care costs and an additional
    $12.5 billion in indirect costs such as lost productivity, longer-term disability and
    premature death.”

    Hence, the conclusion that smoking produces negative externalties, as we have been using that term in this discussion.

    But, as I said several posts ago, this really is secondary to the point I was making, which was directed at the principle of requiring those who cause such negative externalities to bear the cost thereof.

    In my comment regarding the application of such costs to drivers, I wrote “I’m not opposed to any of this on principle, as long as the externalities are properly quantified”. If, as you suggest, there are no properly quantified negative externalities to smoking, then I stand by that statement.

  • 133 mezzanine // Dec 1, 2011 at 10:53 am

    @IanS 118

    I’m not opposed to any of this on principle, as long as the externalities are properly quantified and the funds raised are used to ameliorate the negative externality.

    We both agree there are negative external costs to persoanl driving. But getting an exact figure to charge and applying the funds to the negative external costs would require +++ regulation and may be unworkable.

    I would aim for something simple. BC’s carbon tax was a good start -simple, clear and easy to administer. a vehicle levy with increasing rates for less effecient cars is another transparent and easy-to-implement method. Increasing parking rates (like with TL’s parking tax) and decreasing mandated parking requirements are also simple ways. Tolling is more complex, but is the next step in this process.

    All of these methods are relativly easy to impelement (compare with a cap and trade) and clear to the user on how to avoid paying more – drive less and use less fuel.

  • 134 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

    “the principle of requiring those who cause such negative externalities to bear the cost thereof”

    tends to achieve little beyond creating a black market for those goods and services burdened by sin taxes. You’d like more taxes on cigs, I’d like more taxes on non-essential air travel. At the end of the day, any sin tax is a mostly moral decision bound by one’s prejudices. That’s why they should be minimized as much as possible.

  • 135 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 11:14 am

    “If, as you suggest, there are no properly quantified negative externalities to smoking”

    I didn’t suggest that. I maintain, and there’s plenty of data to support this belief, that smokers cost society less in the long run than a wheatgrass-drinking, regularly exercising fitness freak who lives to be 99 years old. Which makes the idea of taxing people for bad habits unfair.

  • 136 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

    @mezzanine #130,

    I think I can agree with most of that, but the devil really is in the details. I also think Chris makes some good points. Unless the fee is tied to some specific, costed negative externality, it amounts to little more than taxing people for a bad habit. Perhaps not such a good idea?

  • 137 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 11:39 am

    @chris keam #135

    “tends to achieve little beyond creating a black market for those goods and services burdened by sin taxes. You’d like more taxes on cigs, I’d like more taxes on non-essential air travel. At the end of the day, any sin tax is a mostly moral decision bound by one’s prejudices. That’s why they should be minimized as much as possible.”

    As it happens, I agree with that almost entirely.

    My proposition is that, IF we are going to charge one group for negative externalities associated with a particular activity, we should charge other groups.

    The qualification I suggested is that the negative externality be properly quantified and that the charge go towards amelioration. Personally, I thought of it more as a user fee than a sin tax.

    If we are talking a general “sin tax”, then I think we are on the same page.

  • 138 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

    @Chris Keam #135,

    “I maintain, and there’s plenty of data to support this belief, that smokers cost society less in the long run than a wheatgrass-drinking, regularly exercising fitness freak who lives to be 99 years old. Which makes the idea of taxing people for bad habits unfair.”

    Well, I’ll stand by my earlier comments on this, though I will add that, if we want to start taxing wheatgrass drinking fitness freaks extra, then I’m all for it. ;)

  • 139 mezzanine // Dec 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    @ IanS

    Unless the fee is tied to some specific, costed negative externality, it amounts to little more than taxing people for a bad habit. Perhaps not such a good idea?

    I would respectfully disagree. I think this is where the analogy between cigarette smoking, sin taxes and paying for external costs for personal driving falls apart. You can go to blaine to get cheaper gas, but the example falls apart if you do things like supplying less parking in a neighborhood to supply a transit/bus lane.

    and if you did want to keep regulation to a minimum to the economy and maximize choice for individuals, I would avoid insisting on trying to pay for the negative externalities. the regulation would be cumbersome and promote unintended consequences. As market behaviour reduces driving from your intervention, your external costs of course would drop.

    Tha’ts the nice thiing about introducing market-based charges for personal driving. Adam Smith’s invisible hand will start to correct for those external costs without further regulation. :-)

  • 140 brilliant // Dec 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    @CT 115- Your hypothesis is unsound. That is proven by the fact virtually no transit system in the world covers all its cost, even in cities with far higher populations, density and ridership than Vancouver.

  • 141 Agustin // Dec 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    @ brilliant, 140:

    @CT 115- Your hypothesis is unsound. That is proven by the fact virtually no transit system in the world covers all its cost, even in cities with far higher populations, density and ridership than Vancouver.

    A better test of the hypothesis would be whether systems with higher ridership have lower transit subsidy requirements, not whether those transit subsidy requirements are zero.

    An even better test would be to examine subsidy requirements for overall systems (including all modes of transportation) as the transit ridership varies.

  • 142 Agustin // Dec 1, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    @ Chris Keam,

    At the end of the day, any sin tax is a mostly moral decision bound by one’s prejudices. That’s why they should be minimized as much as possible.

    I disagree with this point. I think that, like every other tax, sin taxes are highly politicized, which makes them less than optimal. But I think there is a place for some sin taxes. The calculation I would make is whether an activity is good or bad for society and whether diminishing its occurrence by taxation would make things better or worse.

    Who judges whether an activity is good or bad for society? We all do, via our governments. We’ve decided that the consumption of cigarettes and alcohol is something we’d like to mitigate. We have decided that GHG emission is something we’d like to mitigate.

    This doesn’t only apply to the so-called sin taxes. The same tool can be used to encourage/discourage different types of business transactions (think trust funds), investment activities (think capital gains taxes), etc.

  • 143 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    @mezzanine #139,

    “I would respectfully disagree. I think this is where the analogy between cigarette smoking, sin taxes and paying for external costs for personal driving falls apart.”

    well, IMO, it depends on how you characterize the charge. If it’s a “sin tax”, then I think Chris raises some valid points. If, OTOH, it’s more of a user fee, then maybe it’s different. Just talking off the top of my hear, I think the distinction relates to the quantification and identification of the externality, which is one of the points I raised initially. If, OTOH, it’s just a matter of “activity X is bad, therefore we will tax it”, the justification seems weaker.

    “the regulation would be cumbersome and promote unintended consequences”

    That might be the case, which is an argument in favour of not embarking on such a course of action.

    “Tha’ts the nice thiing about introducing market-based charges for personal driving. ”

    If they’re truly market based. If they’re just judgment based sin taxes, I tend to agree more with Chris.

  • 144 mezzanine // Dec 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    @IanS 143

    If, OTOH, it’s more of a user fee, then maybe it’s different.

    That I can agree with. I think I raised the issue with smoking and the private costs of driving as a rhetorical point, but perhaps we can move away from the idea of “sin taxes” to “User fees” of driving.

    This would go with the “tragedy of the commons” idea in economics.

    The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen.

  • 145 mezzanine // Dec 1, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    The limited resource, of course, being road space and parking wrt to driving.

  • 146 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    The better justification for taxes (or user fees) on fossil fuel is that it is a non-renewable resource. Significant funds are going to have to be spent in research and development to find the alternatives to fossil-fuel based products such as fertilizer and internal combustion industrial uses such as shipping and emergency services. We certainly don’t have any real substitutes for these applications waiting in the wings.

  • 147 brilliant // Dec 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    @Cris Keam 146-What about all-electric cars?

  • 148 MB // Dec 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    @ brilliant 108: “As Ian elaborated transit would be starved if you wished away cars. ”

    A few of us could start a page entitled Correcting Brilliant.

    With only about 8 cents reurned of every dollar in gasoline taxes sucked out of the Metro by senior governments, it behoves one to prove your statement.

    Apparently over 90% of gas taxes is put into the general revenue coffers in Victoria and Ottawa with only a few dribbles devoted to the cities from whence they came.

    There is huge room for improving transit funding without ‘shortchanging’ car infrastructure. In fact, given the auto subsidy levels and a built-in political bias for asphalt, the system is so lopsided it’s absurd.

    “And if bus routes along low density areas are such money pits, why has the #3 Main traditionally been one of the busiest routes? Last I checked Main is largely flanked by single family homes.”

    According to VanMap roughly 5.2 km of Main served by the #3 bus is multi-family with a large part of it continuous street retail. about 2.9 km are single family mostly south of 33rd, with a pocket of low rise multi at 41st.

    Note also that many of the buses on the the #3 short-routes at 41st Ave or 49th Ave during rush hours, thereing returing buses to the most heavily travelled portion of Main. The #3 also connects with several other major bus routes from Hastings to Marine Drive.

    There is sufficient density and connectivity (not to mention significant efficiency gains at redesigned bus stops through the Showcase project a few years back) to make Main one of the highest ridership non-express routes in Western Canada.

  • 149 Higgins // Dec 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Stuffy in here, like in a Boys changing room, bikers, middle age men in Lycra suits, strap-jacks … Brent Toderian is laughing his ass out after reading your advise, he has his own ideas, you know! Ha, ha, ha…

  • 150 Chris Keam // Dec 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    @brilliant.

    All-electric cars aren’t going to solve the problems I specifically mentioned in the post you reference. If you are going to ask me to engage you in a conversation, I’m going to ask you to actually read my post. OK? Seems a great inconvenience I know, but I’m sure you can manage.

    cheers,
    CK

  • 151 IanS // Dec 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    @ mezzanine #144,

    Well, subject my qualification regarding the identification / quantification of the externality and the use of the funds raised through the fee, I think we agree. I mention that because, in my mind at least, there’s a substantive difference between a user fee and a “sin tax”.

    I also maintain that the same reasoning applies to other activities which might have such negative externalities. After all, services such as health care area also a limited resource.

  • 152 brilliant // Dec 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    @Chris Keam 150-Its blatantly obvious that the cycling lobby is anti-car, not anti-fossil fuel. If 89% of the vehicles on the road today were replaced by Nissan Leafs tomorrow the whinging would continue.

    And, just to puncture your smug tone, how much of your bike is constructed from non-renewable resources?

  • 153 Paul T. // Dec 2, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Gotta love the dutch…

    http://youtu.be/FlApbxLz6pA

    Here’s what you get when you actually consult and make things SAFER.

  • 154 Tessa // Dec 2, 2011 at 10:14 am

    @Paul T. 52: didn’t notice your comment. I find it sad that you consider it your right to post anecdotes and no stats whatsoever yourself when arguing that drivers are heavily policed, yet expect much more of others simply for disagreeing. I’ve provided more information than you did on your point. If you want more, go ask the cops.

    @Annette93: yes, that is my suspicion, too, especially with the Burrard Bridge bike lane trial, but it is official city policy and so it ought to be enforced.

  • 155 Chris Keam // Dec 2, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Brilliant:

    You just never seem to live up to your name.

    Point 1 – Transportation systems based on automobiles have a wide range of problems associated with them far beyond fossil fuel usage. So, yes, the ‘whinging’ would continue, from urban planners, affordable housing advocates, food security experts, healthcare professionals and law enforcement… because all those groups, along with cycling advocates, can see that auto-dependency is a dead-end and in the long run, unnecessary.

    Point 2 – Comparing the 30 pounds of rubber, plastic, and steel that makes up my day-to-day bike (now in its 11th year of supplying zero-emission travel) with the resources required to build and operate an electric car is just ludicrous. As is the expectation that everything be made of hemp and recyclable unicorn farts.

  • 156 Kiki // Dec 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Bikes are a good plan…Buses aren’t. Works in Denmark…it is all a mindset. North American love affair with cars. I recently took a bus mid-day from Metrotown to Market Crossing. I was just about the only person on the bus 50% of the time. That is a lot of gas and medal to take one person a short distance. Wish I had my bike it was a all downhill trip.

  • 157 zalm // Dec 2, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    THe City Streets Bylaw No. 2849c already prohibits slow vehicles (including bycycles) from travelling on arterials at too slow a rate of speed.

    [i]92. (2) No person shall drive a vehicle on any City street at such at rate of speed
    as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic
    except when reduced speed is necessary for safe driving or operation or in
    compliance with the law. [/i]

    Anybody for some enforcement?

  • 158 mezzanine // Dec 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    except when reduced speed is necessary for safe driving or operation or in
    compliance with the law.

    asked, answered.

  • 159 Everyman // Dec 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    @Kiki 156
    Market Crossing is one of the worst examples of the kind of development that drives people into cars. Why in heaven’s name was a shopping centre approved that is located so far away from any residential area?

    I’d agree with whomever pointed out upthread that Vancouver is going to have to step up its game on removing leaves if it wants to encourage more cycling and walking. Only now are city crews making their way slowly across the city’s roads, and sidewalks clearing is left to the goodwill of residents. Why is it that snow must be removed from sidewalks by law, but not leaves?

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