Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bring visibility to cycling on rural roads

When talking about how to make our roads safe and inviting for all modes of travel –walking, cycling, driving– it is normally in the context of an urban or suburban settings. The focus doesn’t tend to go to rural areas.

One of the interesting things about South of Fraser communities like Surrey and the Township of Langley is that large areas of them are rural. When I was working on cycling advocacy through the Greater Langley Cycling Coalition (cycling advocacy in Langley is now done by HUB), we recognized that we needed to address improving cycling infrastructure in both the urban and rural context.

The rural areas of Surrey and the Township of Langley are popular places for both sports and recreational cycling. The terrain, variety of cycling opportunities, and beauty of the area draws people to these communities to cycle. While Surrey, the Township, and Metro Vancouver have been busy improving cycling infrastructure within parks and along greenways, it is a bit of a different story on-road.

One of the things to recognize is that some tools used in the urban context may not work in a rural context. While off-road paths work in both a rural and urban context, separated bike lanes would likely not be built on rural roads. Due to lower volumes of traffic on rural roads and the Agricultural Land Reserve, even multi-use paths on the side of a road could only be built for the busiest of rural roads. Many people also want to ride on a road. In the rural context, one of the first things that local governments can do to make cycling safe and inviting is to improve the visibility of people who are cycling on-road.

One of the easier ways to do this is with signage and pavement markings. My friend John Evanochko, who I’ve worked with on cycling advocacy in Langley, snapped a few pictures the other day. These pictures show the very different ways that the Township of Langley tries to bring visibility to cycling.

Typical marked cycling route in a rural section of the Township of Langley.

Share the Road sign and pavement marker at Murray Creek ravine on 48th Avenue.

I would suggest that the picture with the “Share the Road” sign is more effective at bring visibility to cycling. Of course signage and pavement marking cost money, and Township of Langley Council only allocates a pittance for retrofitting roads for cycling. Surrey is doing much better, and is expanding cycling infrastructure throughout the community. Township of Langley Council should take a cue from Surrey and invest more in making roads better for all people, no matter the mode they choose to use.

No comments: