Monday, October 3, 2016

Better Bike Lanes (Protected) Pave the Way to Increasing Bicycle Ridership - My Recent Vancouver, BC Bicycling Experience

By Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director

I’m honored and privileged to have the opportunity in my position here at the Bike Coalition to occasionally attend a local, national and in this case international conference where my colleagues in bicycle advocacy, planning and governance come together to share best practices so we can all learn and be inspired to continue our work to improve bicycling safety and the overall quality of life in our own communities. I recently traveled to Vancouver, BC to attend the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference.

Indeed I was inspired. Not only by the creative and successful stories from leaders that I heard from but more importantly by the city I visited, Vancouver, British Columbia. A strikingly beautiful city surrounded by water and urban parks and a transportation network that moves some 2 ½ million residents around so efficiently.  Riding my bike to get around was easy, safe and quick and it was clear to me that city leaders and planners there place a high priority on bicycling as a primary mode of transportation. What I experienced is what we are striving for here, a connected and protected system of bike lanes that get you safely to the places you need to go whether that be your office, home, restaurants, shops, museums or parks.  It’s all right there and as I learned, it’s been an incredible success story for the city to achieve and exceed their own bicycle mode share goals. In simple terms, in Vancouver, they aim to get more people biking, walking or taking transit than driving in their city and that’s exactly what’s happening. In fact, Vancouver has already reached the goal of 50% of their citizens commuting by biking, walking or transit years ahead of schedule. Amazing.

In the intermittent sessions where I was not out on a bike seeing things for myself, I also heard over and over again the common theme by which these changes came about: political will. The elected officials we heard from understood there was risk involved in making changes that will encourage less people to drive, and they were willing to take those risks for the betterment of the entire community. We often say when we talk about bicycle advocacy and safe infrastructure, “If we build it, they will come”. Well, that’s more than a cliché, it’s the truthful reality I saw in Vancouver that’s also taking place in major American cities across our own country. Our plans here are in motion, Downtown Mobility, Uptown, North Park-Mid City and more but it’s time to get these projects built and get more people riding now. Not only to achieve our own Climate Action Plan goals of 6% bicycle mode share by 2020 and 18% by 2035 but to make San Diego a truly world class destination for everyone of all ages and abilities to enjoy by bicycling and walking. Until these projects that include their own networks of protected bike lanes are in place, we will be continuing to fall behind cities who are attracting Millennials and a workforce that wants to live in vibrant cities where they can get around without a car.   It’s time to get moving San Diego and take action on implementation of our local and regional bike networks. We CAN get there and we know when it’s built, they will come. 

Please help us bring Better Bike Lanes to our cities in San Diego County, give today at: