Sep 12 2008

MyLife: I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike…

Published by at 3:36 pm under Uncategorized

Riding a bike is THE thing to do in Vancouver, as ubiquitous throngs of helmeted traffic scofflaws will tell you. I expect my almost daily jaunts around my neighborhood will be curtailed soon as the autumn rains return, since I’m not all that confident about getting out on slippery roads. But it has been fun while it’s lasted. And nice to be in a city where the activity is encouraged as a public good, rather than looked upon as an activity that provokes a police beating (as seen in the startling video below).

Some fun facts about biking in Vancouver (Lyle, hold your breath!) from one of my recent articles, We Like to Move It, Move It:

– Cycling trips in Vancouver are up 180 per cent from 10 years ago.
– Each day, 50,000 cyclists take to our streets.
– My bike is waaaaaaay cooler than your bike. Probably.

As an aside, these days I’m much, much more cognizant of the fact that way too many of my fellow cyclists blow through stop lights on major arterial roads.

Look, even I don’t always fully stop at stop signs on empty side-streets. But if cyclists really are traffic, then we all need to stop showing off behavior that we would be horrified to see in drivers of motorized vehicles.

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “MyLife: I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike…”

  1. Earnest Canuckon 13 Sep 2008 at 1:56 am

    I was in fact holding my breath, Jon, for these bicycling stats. But are they really gasp-worthy? Without quizzing you too hard on where this 50,000 number comes from, I gotta say that just by spending some time near the Lions Gate or Burrard bridges, it seems pretty clear that pedallers in suppository-shaped helmets constitute nothing more than a trickle, against the roaring flood of internal-combustion-propelled Vancouverites. I know it’s anecdotal — I’m just a guy who smokes dope near bridges — but I’d put the proportion of vehicles:bikes at 500:1 or more. I s’pose that’s environmentally sad, and it’s true that a lot of the cars are carrying just a single commuter, which does seem wasteful. However, zero percent of the bicycles are carrying passengers; and zero percent of ’em carry any kind of cargo or freight. So what’s their economic significance?? Again, dude, while I don’t think self-powered transport should be *discouraged* as such, the phenomenon just seems too trivial and insignificant to factor into our traffic decisions. I’d also like to point out that I once had a moderately-cool 21-gear purple bike m’self; but like virtually every damn bike in this damn town, it got stolen. I think bigger jails would be a better investment than pricey empty bike lanes, myself.

  2. jnarveyon 14 Sep 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Hey Lyle, glad I got your attention. The 50,000 number comes from the strategic transportation plan out of Vancouver city hall, so the stats are about two years out of date, but still reflective of the trend.

    I’m not certain what exactly the proportion of cars to bikes is. For all I know, it’s 1,000 to 1. But in my daily treks along side streets (since I’m waaaay to chicken to ride my bike on arterial roads just yet) I’m much more aware of how many “safety-first” cyclists are simply avoiding the main thoroughfares as much as possible. Much of the cycling traffic is simply hidden from motorists on the main streets.

    That bikes don’t carry cargo doesn’t seem to be a problem for probably 90 per cent of commuters (try to remember the last time you needed to bring a duffel bag or a suitcase to work).

    MindI totally agree with you that bikes are completely inefficient machines when it comes to transporting large quantities of goods — trucks and trains will be around for a LONG time. Which is a good thing, because one day I’d like to see what happens when a truck slams head-on into a train, with both going at least 100 km per hour.

    Anyway, let me explain why I think the growth in popularity of cycling is not trivial. Let’s say something like 15 or 20 per cent of trips in the city are by bike (I forget the exact number — I really should read my own stuff). So, every day, we’re lowering gas demand, which in turn (theoretically) lowers gas prices, and since we’re plugged into a world market, this means that the Saudis have less cash to dole out to schools and mosques that are mass-producing jihadis — assuming enough North American cities follow Vancouver’s lead. That’s just one benefit, but one that I think we’ll both agree is significant.

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