Bike lanes force learning curve on all of us
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, May 19th 2017
First, the good: It’s a good idea to separate bicycle and motor-vehicle traffic.
The concrete barriers between the two modes of transportation on this one-way street make sense.
The two-way bicycle lane does seem counter-intuitive, but time will tell — it works on the Galloping Goose.
The simple fact that more people on bicycles will feel safe on this well-marked and regulated dedicated lane should encourage more cyclists to use it.
People might choose to cycle as opposed to driving, which is good for the environment, healthy for riders and might even relieve congestion.
The roll-out of the project, complete with city staff not only monitoring but guiding, was a good idea.
The separate green-red light governing cyclist movement is a picture of a bicycle.
Now, the bad. Some believe it’s a bad idea to create the potential for a head-on crash between two cyclists.
Also, some drivers might not be aware that the Motor Vehicle Act permits cyclists to still ride in the two lanes used by motorized vehicles, which might create confusion.
If pedestrians must stay on the sidewalk and drivers must drive in designated lanes, it seems like a bad idea to allow cyclists to ride in motor-vehicle lanes.
The elimination of the right turn on a solid-red traffic light is an attempt to protect both cyclists and pedestrians.
But longstanding habits are tough to break, and most drivers do not come to a complete stop prior to turning right in such situations.
The number of traffic lanes has been reduced from three to two to accommodate the concrete barrier separating cyclists from motor vehicles.
This has created a bottleneck.
Drivers must leave the right-side lane to set up a right turn in a third lane on the right reserved for right turners.
This lane is not long enough to accommodate more than a few vehicles.
All other drivers wanting to go straight through in the right lane get stuck behind traffic stacked in that turning lane.
This congestion is bad for traffic flow and must be addressed.
It effectively reduces three through lanes to just one lane.
The ugly component of this new reality has little to do with the city’s intent.
Bicycle riders are often seen riding on the sidewalk, without a helmet and ignoring traffic lights at intersections.
This puts pedestrians in danger.
It causes confusion among cyclists and drivers alike.
Some ride the wrong way on the one-way road.
There is resentment toward those who flout the rules.
It is one thing for a cyclist or driver to hesitate when first encountering the new reality of Pandora Avenue.
It is another to see the soon-to-be victims of natural selection ride a bike indiscriminately among motor vehicles, other bicycles, scooters, skaters and pedestrians.
This probably has more to do with a social problem than a traffic problem.
Motor-vehicle drivers have every right to be upset with inconsistent enforcement among modes of transportation.
A driver is ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt, while helmet-less cyclists ride by.
Pedestrians often disregard the “don’t walk” signal.
This ugly reality must be addressed by increased enforcement.