Cycling Infrastructure

Julie here. I have been involuntarily sojourning in Vancouver for the last 3 weeks with my husband, who is currently a resident of VGH – that’s Vancouver General Hospital for those of you lucky enough to have never darkened its doors – and, in the course of running errands, I have cycled through quite a bit of the city.

Vancouver – to the untutored eyes of this Island girl – is amazing. You can get anything here. There is so much to see and do. And there is space for bicycles!

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Even though most of the infrastructure is rather obviously cobbled together from lower-traffic streets, it’s still exciting to see space made just for us.  l feel like a little kid presented with a child-size item that actually fits me.

I suppose that’s part of the problem.  Cyclists shouldn’t feel shocked to have space made for them and we shouldn’t feel privileged to have a sign posted with a bike on it.
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Vancouver is also an ‘easy’ city to cycle – largely undulating terrain and gentle inclines. Nanaimo is fine if your idea of cycling begins and ends at the Queen Elizabeth Promenade.

It has become clear, through examining other cities’ initiatives and the cycling culture in pro-bike communities, that bicycle-focused infrastructure is the only way to successfully promote cycling and ensure the safety of cyclists.

Fighting ‘car culture’ is difficult when community planners believe that sticking up a sign is enough to make people share space on roads. Also, cities cannot designate ‘bicycle lanes’ that are difficult to travel, have steep grades, and suffer from lack of maintenance and expect cyclists to keep to them.

Hopefully, Nanaimo’s cycling advocates and infrastructure planners will avoid the pitfalls of trying to please everyone and give cyclists the space they need and deserve.

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