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Teschke then studied what facilities are actually safest for cyclists and found they were largely the same.Through its Transportation 2040 Plan update, the city of Vancouver started reducing car traffic on bikeways, filling critical gaps in the cycle network, adding more greenways, and creating separated cycle lanes where motor vehicle volumes were too high to safely mix bikes and cars.
Between 20, for instance, bicycling was the fastest growing transportation mode in Vancouver, with 40% growth in the number of trips.
Ridership by girls and women increased 93% between 20.
While the traffic-calmed bikeways strive to provide a safe and convenient cycling option, the city builds greenways to appeal to an even broader set of riders who may be less confident or riding purely for recreation.
As city of Vancouver Sustainability Group Assistant Director Doug Smith explains: Greenways are like linear parks on streets that are designed to encourage pedestrians and cyclists to commute to their destinations by not only providing infrastructure to make the route safe like traffic calming, adequate space, and safe crossings of busy arterials but also elements like trees, flowers, gardens, public art, fountains, and rest stops that encourage people to walk and bike just to enjoy the experience even if they don’t have a destination.
Kay Teschke, a University of British Columbia professor who has researched what types of bike facilities encourage people to ride, set up a survey of Metro Vancouver frequent, infrequent, and occasional cyclists.
She found that all types of cyclists preferred off-street paths, traffic-calmed streets when sharing the road, and facilities that separate bikes from cars on busier streets.The Vancouver Greenways Plan approved by City Council in 1995 envisioned greenways crisscrossing the city in all directions and linking major parks, public facilities, and neighborhood hubs.Vancouver sees greenways as a two-fer: They provide urban open space and give everyone from toddlers to ultra runners to retirees a comfortable transportation option.That helps explain why the intersection of Union and Main was a collision hotspot for the city, and why that stretch had the bikeway’s highest number of crashes between people driving and biking.To make the route safer, Vancouver closed Union west of Main to vehicles.In the rest of this post, I’ll share some images from my family’s rides around Vancouver, BC, to show examples of the city’s local bikeways, greenways, and separated bicycle lanes.Local street bikeways are the cornerstone of Vancouver’s bicycle network.When reducing numbers of cars isn’t possible, the city has taken portions of bikeway routes and added separated facilities for cyclists to get them out of car and truck traffic.For example, along Ontario Street, the bikeway has a bicycle-activated traffic signal where it crosses a busy street. It was the city’s first local street bikeway, and it carries large numbers of commuters into downtown from east Vancouver.They’re supposed to be located on streets that don’t have a lot of cars to begin with, and where cars travel slowly enough that sharing the road feels comfortable and safe for cyclists.Bikeways have traffic calming features that prioritize bicyclists and pedestrians.