Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bike Infrastructure in the South of Fraser

New separated bike lane in Surrey (192 Street at 73 Avenue). From tybuilding at SkyscraperPage Forum.

When I was away last week, Surrey unveiled it first separated bike lane. Separated bike lanes and off-street trails are important because research shows that 70% of the population would consider cycling if these facilitates were available. 10% of the population would consider cycling with or without traditional bike lanes, so in some regards building shoulder bike lanes like what you see along most of Fraser Highway may be a waste of money.

What Surrey has done in East Clayton should be an example for other cities in the South of Fraser to follow. Simply changing the typical road configuration from general travel lane, bike lane, then parking, to general travel lane, parking, then bike lane uses the parked vehicles as a buffer between fast moving vehicles and cyclists. One of the things I never understood was why this wasn't standard practices.

Things get a bit more tricky when there is no parking available, but in Chicago and even in Richmond they provide a larger gap from general traffic and install traffic delineators posts to provide cost-effective separated bike lanes.

One of the things that concerns me about Surrey's first separated bike lane is that eventually the parking lane will be converted into a general travel lane. I wonder if Surrey will add traffic delineators to keep the lane separated or if it will be transformed to a regular unprotected bike lane.

Elston Avenue protected bike lane, south of Division Street in Chicago. From Bike Walk Lincoln Park.

All in all I have to give Surrey a lot of credit for their commitment to cycling, and their willingness to try out new things. Surrey now incorporates cycling and walking facilities into every major road project. This is a vast improvement as Surrey spent almost nothing on cycling less than a decade ago. In addition to including cycling as part of major road projects, Surrey has also committed to spending $20 million on dedicated cycling projects over the next 9 years which works out to 4% of their transportation budget.

The Township of Langley is also seeking to increase funding for cycling. Just like the City of Surrey, the Township of Langley incorporates cycling and walking facilitates into major road projects. Currently, the Township of Langley spends $160,000 on dedicated cycling projects. Township engineering staff has requested that Township Council increase funding and allow $280,000 to be spent on dedicated cycling projects annually now that the Township's Ultimate Cycling Plan has been complete. I can only hope that Council approves this funding increase as part of the next year's budget. Today, the Township of Langley spends about 1% of their transportation budget on dedicated cycling projects.

The odd one out is the City of Langley. While the City includes cycling and walking facilities into major road projects, it does not spend a dime on dedicated cycling projects. Every year in their annual budget, funding for dedicated cycling projects get deferred. This is something that needs to change. The City is currently working on a new master transportation plan, and I'm hoping one of the outcomes will be dedicated cycling infrastructure funding in the City.


Tim said...

Some of the regular faster cyclists do not like the new lane because there is no where to go when there is a car door that opens. There really needs to be more room between the. I think the buffer will be part of the travel lane.

Anonymous said...

One issue I have seen along this section in Surrey is that the vehicles are parking beyond the actual parking spot and encroaching onto the bike lane itself. Maybe there should be a raised curb, bollards, or some other type of physical separator to help prevent this.

Nathan Pachal said...

Bollards would certainly help