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Old Posted Sep 2, 2009, 11:52 PM
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Cycling in Canada

I've done a lot of cycling a lot lately here in Halifax and I got thinking about how little cycling infastructure there is out here.

So I was wondering what your city is like in regards to be bicycle-friendly and how would you rank it?

Typical Halifax bicycle lane (Dunbrack Street):


Credit: Me
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  #2  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2009, 11:59 PM
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3 types of bicycle lanes in Montreal

Segregated bike-lanes for the more important ones, most of them in the downtown area (Maisonneuve, Berri...)

paulhilldson.com


"Semi-segragated" lanes for other important paths in other areas of the city (Rachel...)

www.streetsblog.org


Other bike-lanes (Saint-Urbain...)

lloydalter.typepad.com


Finally, a map of the bike-lanes network in Montreal (sorry for the large size)



The most impressive is probably the one along the Saint-Lawrence river and Canal Lachine that goes all the way from Old Montreal to the western tip of Montreal island, and the other one that stretches along the Saint-Lawrence Seaway in the middle of the river and then to the islands, with a breataking view of downtown on your left.

Last edited by le calmar; Sep 3, 2009 at 12:37 AM.
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  #3  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 6:39 PM
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This thread starts and ends with Montreal lol

Heres a map of bixi stations:

http://montreal.bixi.com/the-stations

100 more stations will be added in the next weeks for a total of 400 stations around town. Thats a shitload of bikes.
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  #4  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 7:04 PM
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Halifax's network of bicycle lanes is a huge joke. For the longest time they were just painted on whenever a section of street was resurfaced. I am guessing it is the same story these days. There are major streets where the lanes randomly begin and end and there is none of the real infrastructure that is actually helpful - separate paths, signalling for cyclists, "islands" for cyclists crossing wide streets, etc.

The municipal government there is exceptionally weak and directionless and this is one of many symptoms.
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  #5  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 7:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
Halifax's network of bicycle lanes is a huge joke. For the longest time they were just painted on whenever a section of street was resurfaced. I am guessing it is the same story these days. There are major streets where the lanes randomly begin and end and there is none of the real infrastructure that is actually helpful - separate paths, signalling for cyclists, "islands" for cyclists crossing wide streets, etc.

The municipal government there is exceptionally weak and directionless and this is one of many symptoms.
That statement's still accurate. I contacted my local councillor recently with suggestions and he say it depends on what streets are getting resurfaced ...

There is only one seperate path of sorts but its only a few metres long and is really just a resting stop on the insanely dangerous and nerve-wrecking narrow Bedford Highway bicycle lanes.

As of 2008 there was about 48km of bicycle lanes in HRM. Mind you none of the lanes interconnect and are randomly placed over the urban/suburban area.
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 8:41 PM
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Calgary sucks. Sure we always boast about having the most amount of pathways in North America or something like that, but the fact of the matter is that most of that pathway is completely useless to the bike commuter.

Our bike lanes in the inner city and CBD are non-existant and one is taking a chance with their life sharing the downtown roads with most motorists here.

I envy the system that those Montreal pictures show.

Edit: If Calgary was to spend any money on dedicated bike lanes and the such we'd have all the usual whiners come out of the woodwork complaining that it is a waste of money and we are a winter city so nobody will use them.
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  #7  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 8:52 PM
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Calgary is good for commuting if you live close to one of the river valleys, as those paths take you downtown with very few road crossings.

But like Bigtime said, no bike lanes downtown or near downtown.

Recreational biking is pretty good, but for commuter biking, more bike lanes are needed. Pathways aren't always very good for that, as the law requires you (technically) to dismount and walk across roadways.
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 9:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigtime View Post
Calgary sucks. Sure we always boast about having the most amount of pathways in North America or something like that, but the fact of the matter is that most of that pathway is completely useless to the bike commuter.
Thank you! One of my personal pet peeves is when people bring up the amoutn of pathways when it comes to bicycle infrastructure. These paths generally do not take you where you want to go in the most efficient way. Even the river pathways aren't all that efficient. The same problem exists in Ottawa which has a pathway system fairly similar to Calgary. On average I could shave 10 minutes biking downtown from my apartment right on the river by taking surface streets that went in straight line. This meant a 15 minute vs 25 minute commute.

Toronto is an interesting case when it comes to cycling. The actual bike infrastructure is pretty lackluster. There are a number of inner-city streets with decent bike lanes but nothing separated like Montreal. On some of these routes you still have to contend with parked cars and the threat of the infamous door prize.

On the other hand the general attitude towards biking and awareness of drivers is much better than other cities I've biked in. I basically have no problems biking anywhere south of Eglinton, which is a considerable area to say the least. Now there are a few streets I will avoid, such as Dufferin and Yonge, but on the whole it's pretty good. Oddly enough I enjoy the presence of streetcars for biking despite the dangers of the tracks. One of the worst things in Ottawa about biking on surface streets were the frequent buses that pull all the way over to the curb and are quite dangerous. Streetcars stay put in the middle of the street and set the speed of traffic nicely for biking. Just have to make sure to stop when the doors open.

The city really needs to catch up on proper bike infrastructure and the tide seems to be turning in that direction. Of course there is considerable backlash against this with ridiculous accusations of a "war on cars" that is reaching a head now with the recent death of a bike courier by Michael Bryant. It's kind of pathetic really. On the plus side most people I talk to (car owners included) seem supportive of bike infrastructure and it seems to just be a vocal minority that are vehemently opposed.
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 9:34 PM
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Yeah, Calgary's off-street trail system is amazing, but it is useful more for recreational riders (of which there are many) unless you live reasonably close to the rivers. I used to commute from the NW suburbs to downtown for a summer on the Bow River Pathway and it was really effective - pretty much a B-line. Having a 10km commute, 9.5km of which is on a dedicated bike path is great. On street lanes are practically non-existent - it's sad. Outside the CBD and parts of the Beltline though, it is pretty easy to navigate quiet side streets on the inner city grid.

One other aspect of cycling in Calgary is the AMAZING urban mountain-biking. Parks like Bowmont, Nose Hill, Fish Creak, Weaselhead are something else. I lived on my mountain bike as a kid in Calgary- screw the street and paths!

Toronto's biking population is growing a lot downtown. The streets are tight so there isn't a lot of room for cyclists, especially on busy commuter streets like Queen. With regard to streetcar tracks, they can be pretty hazardous. I have a colleague that crashed on his bike on a streetcar track a few months back - totally decimated his knee.

Last edited by Wooster; Sep 3, 2009 at 9:49 PM.
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  #10  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 9:37 PM
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That statement's still accurate. I contacted my local councillor recently with suggestions and he say it depends on what streets are getting resurfaced ...

There is only one seperate path of sorts but its only a few metres long and is really just a resting stop on the insanely dangerous and nerve-wrecking narrow Bedford Highway bicycle lanes.

As of 2008 there was about 48km of bicycle lanes in HRM. Mind you none of the lanes interconnect and are randomly placed over the urban/suburban area.
Quinpool, Robie (maybe Agricola or Gottingen), Rainie/Brunswick and something along Lower/Upper Water and then Barrington would be great. To minimize hills, maybe North St. and Spring Garden would work as access points to the waterfront.

A good first start would be to install a network in and around the Dal campus.

Hali's a natural bike city. It has beautiful neighbourhoods, a compact central city, relatively sane drivers and a sizeable bike-friendly population.

The biggest challenge is to convince businesses to give up their precious, on-street parking. Despite the fact that it's been proven over and over again that business improves after making the switch, you still hear the same tired old arguments against bike lanes. They seem to think that only car owners ever buy anything!
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  #11  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 9:50 PM
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Toronto is a work in progress but the progress is pretty impressive although I doubt they will meet the 1000 km mark but 2012. There has been a huge uproar with the loss of a single lane of traffic on Jarvis but it seems a pretty isolated case. I haven't heard any complaints in my neighbourhood which has lost 4 of 8 downtown commuter lanes of traffic along Eastern and Dundas.
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  #12  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 9:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by You Need A Thneed View Post
Calgary is good for commuting if you live close to one of the river valleys, as those paths take you downtown with very few road crossings.

But like Bigtime said, no bike lanes downtown or near downtown.

Recreational biking is pretty good, but for commuter biking, more bike lanes are needed. Pathways aren't always very good for that, as the law requires you (technically) to dismount and walk across roadways.
The 'paths through parks', while nice for recreational biking, are the low-hanging fruit that politicians can use to say "Look! We already have ___ hundred km's of bike lanes, why do we need more?".
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  #13  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 9:55 PM
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The 'paths through parks', while nice for recreational biking, are the low-hanging fruit that politicians can use to say "Look! We already have ___ hundred km's of bike lanes, why do we need more?".
Exactly, and that makes it the biggest problem in Calgary since people are always so quick to proclaim our abundance of pathways.

But I have to tell you I hate the "we are a winter city" excuse that gets trotted out a close second. I've known people in Calgary that bike commute YEAR ROUND. I think they are crazy, but I also think people pulling the "winter city" card are a bunch of pansies.
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 10:12 PM
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Cities have to do more than simply paint lines on the side of the road and call it a bike lane. More often than not, they become convenient temporary parking for cabs, delivery trucks etc. Painted lines are fine for quiet residential neighbourhoods but for busy streets you need protected lanes or bollards.

In order to create a truly usable network, lanes have to go where people need to go, they have to be interconnected and they have to be cleared in the winter. Separted lanes encourage more people to bike (older people, kids, families) and create a demand for even more lanes. It's a win-win situation!
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  #15  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigtime View Post
Exactly, and that makes it the biggest problem in Calgary since people are always so quick to proclaim our abundance of pathways.

But I have to tell you I hate the "we are a winter city" excuse that gets trotted out a close second. I've known people in Calgary that bike commute YEAR ROUND. I think they are crazy, but I also think people pulling the "winter city" card are a bunch of pansies.
To people like that I always retort "Well, since were a winter city, I guess we don't need pools, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, patios.." That usually gets them thinking!

I rode for the first time last winter. I still didn't ride in snow but I think I'll try it this year, at least on the part of the winter network that the city keeps open year-round.
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  #16  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by habfanman View Post
To people like that I always retort "Well, since were a winter city, I guess we don't need pools, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, patios.." That usually gets them thinking!
Very good rebuttal, so obvious that I've never even thought about it!
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  #17  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Wooster View Post

Toronto's biking population is growing a lot downtown. The streets are tight so there isn't a lot of room for cyclists, especially on busy commuter streets like Queen. With regard to streetcar tracks, they can be pretty hazardous. I have a colleague that crashed on his bike on a streetcar track a few months back - totally decimated his knee.
Streetcar tracks definitely can be hazardous and I've known a number of people who have hurt themselves quite badly (shattered collarbone being the worst). I still maintain they are a better option than buses for biking as long as you are paying attention and cross at an angle. Though I might be a bit jaded after being almost killed by buses in Ottawa a few times. I've heard comments on blogto and spacing about how impossible it is to make left hand turns from Spadina to College/Dundas/Queen due to the sheer number of tracks but I do it just about every day on my commute with no problem. I'm pretty comfortable switching lanes across the tracks on Dundas to make a left turn onto my street. This is with 1 1/8" tires that theoretically can get stuck very easily. Not sure I'd want to do it with a fixie, but then again I still don't particularly understand that culture even though people I know ride them.

Most of the people I know who have been injured by streetcar tracks there was another factor that led them to ride into the tracks without thinking. Usually avoiding getting doored and swerving to the left, which is pretty dangerous regardless if there are tracks or not.

Interestingly enough I've talked to people who are terrified of biking on all but a few Toronto streets and are horrified when I say that I have absolutely no problem biking on Bloor or Queen and do it fairly regularly. Having attempted to bike in other cities I would take either over pretty much any major surface street in Ottawa or Calgary

Quote:
Originally Posted by habfanman View Post
To people like that I always retort "Well, since were a winter city, I guess we don't need pools, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, patios.." That usually gets them thinking!
I need to use this one sometime! Winter riding isn't too bad in my experience as long as you aren't doing it while it's snowing. The worst part for me wasn't the road conditions, but the bizarre feeling of overheating due to excessive layers while freezing in the extremities at the same time.
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 10:49 PM
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Streetcar tracks definitely can be hazardous and
Interestingly enough I've talked to people who are terrified of biking on all but a few Toronto streets and are horrified when I say that I have absolutely no problem biking on Bloor or Queen and do it fairly regularly. Having attempted to bike in other cities I would take either over pretty much any major surface street in Ottawa or Calgary



I need to use this one sometime! Winter riding isn't too bad in my experience as long as you aren't doing it while it's snowing. The worst part for me wasn't the road conditions, but the bizarre feeling of overheating due to excessive layers while freezing in the extremities at the same time.
I find it's all a matter of the speed, not volume, of the traffic on any given street. Space is a definate factor as well.

Where I live in Montréal, I can take two separated paths downtown (Rachel or the rail corridor) but I often take St. Joseph instead even though it's busy and has no lanes. It's spacious and has good traffic-calming measures in place, and I can hook back into the lanes Bréboeuf or Clark and then continue to Berri-de Maisonneuve, Prince-Arthur, Viger, Notre-Dame, de la Commune.. depending on where I'm headed.

No worries on using the retort, just make a charitable contribution when you use it (I'll give you my account number!).

I have the same problem with clothing. I start off freezing, soon find my 'happy temperature', then arrive a steaming ball of sweat!
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  #19  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2009, 10:52 PM
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Very good rebuttal, so obvious that I've never even thought about it!
Oh it works. Stops them right in their tracks (lanes?).
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  #20  
Old Posted Sep 4, 2009, 1:56 AM
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Despite having the second-highest number of bicycle commuters per capita of any city in Canada (I believe Victoria claims the highest, by a wide margin too), improving cycling infrastructure continues to be a challenge for Saskatoon. As is the case for most Canadian cities, accommodating the automobile remains top priority.

But there is hope...( )

'Reduce the asphalt,' Gehl says
Architect touts bike-friendly culture
By Jeanette Stewart, The Star Phoenix September 2, 2009 Comments (14)

Jan Gehl (centre) went on a walking tour of Saskatoon Monday. Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The Star Phoenix

When it snows in Copenhagen, the bike lanes are first to be cleared. Then the sidewalks. If there is money left over, the roads are next.

While it may be a radical concept for a winter city such as Saskatoon, Danish architect Jan Gehl is in favour of transforming Saskatoon into a pedestrian-oriented, bike-friendly city.

"Reduce the asphalt in Saskatoon," he said to strong audience applause at his presentation Monday night.

"The traffic you have is a matter of how much asphalt you have," said Gehl, who in his four-decade career has studied and supported the transformation of Copenhagen into one of the most bike-friendly sustainable cities in the world.

The temporary bike racks outside Persephone Theatre were nearly full Monday and Tuesday nights as people from across Western Canada gathered to hear the world-renowned architect deliver two sold-out presentations.

Making car drivers "happy when they are driving and happy when they stop" has been the No. 1 priority in planning cities for years, Gehl said. The "car invasion" will get worse every year until something is done.

"If you invite more driving, you have more driving," he said.

A nearly $300-million project is underway to build Saskatoon's newest bridge, which will have six lanes and seven kilometres of connecting freeway. Three contractors are working on proposals for the project, with an expected completion date of Oct. 1, 2012.

Though the project seems to contradict Gehl's ideas, city Coun. Pat Lorje said the bridge will take traffic out of the downtown and get trucks out of the city's core.

Lorje said her e-mail and voice mail were full of messages from the public Tuesday, with many in favour of Gehl's ideas.

The councillor spent Tuesday on a cycling tour with the architect. One of his most striking suggestions was incorporating family housing downtown near the River Landing water park instead of the proposed high-end condominium development. Having families downtown would put "more eyes on the street" and better use the facilities the city has built, Lorje said.

During a question-and-answer period Monday, Gehl dismissed questions about how to plan around Saskatoon's harsh climate.

"I know you have a bad winter," Gehl said. "I do think you have many more good days than bad days."

"All of us need an attitude tune-up," said Lorje, who believes Gehl's message speaks to more than just bicycles and transit.

"Bicycles are the vehicles for his ideas. What I took away was the importance of making cities back into what they used to be, which is people places," Lorje said.

Public places enhance civic participation and improve quality of life, Gehl said. While it might be an option now, an impending energy crisis will force people to move closer together.

The ideas apply to all cities regardless of size, Gehl said. The urban design expert has worked as a consultant around the globe, in cities as small as Saskatoon and as big as New York City.

But he was asked how the attitudes of a "car-obsessed" population can be changed.

"They say that every place," Gehl said. "When you start to humanize the city, you hear no more."

"Even the businessmen can feel it in their turnover," he said. In Copenhagen, the number of sidewalk cafe seats has increased from zero to 7,000 in his time working there.

jstewart@sp.canwest.com

Copenhagen:
- Cyclists have special lights that turn green six seconds before traffic lights
- If cyclists travel 20 km/h, they hit a "green wave" and will not hit any red lights
- All taxi cabs must be equipped to carry two bicycles
- All trains must have space for bicycles and bicycle racks
- More cyclists enter the Copenhagen city centre every morning than cars
- Bicycle lanes can transport five times the number of people than car lanes
- Bike lanes are often placed on the inside of parked cars, with parked cars protecting cyclists

Saskatoon:
- This year, the city spent $30,000 painting bike lane signs on roads
- As of 2006, Saskatoon had the second-highest number of bicycle commuters per capita of any city in Canada
- $7 million in government funds will be dedicated to creating exclusive bicycle lanes, widening roads and accommodating bicycle lanes

© Copyright (c) The Star Phoenix

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Not all markings are positioned in the parking lane...


Proposed cycling network for downtown.

Source

An outdated city wide network plan (2003).

Source

As previously stated, the number one excuse for not investing in cycling infrastructure: winter.
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