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Bike Route Rant

by Bryn — last modified Mar 21, 2008 10:36 AM
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WTF Are They Thinking??

OK, this is just a quicky...

Vancouver has some VERY good bike routes... Obviously if you're riding along on Broadway you're in trouble, but then you've obviously got rocks in your head anyhow.  There's TONS of great routes all over the place, lots of lights, you name it, BUT... Some of these so called "official" bike routes are just plain stupid!

There's more places than I can count where if you ride the bike route you find yourself hauling your butt up some huge hill, where just a block over it's way flatter and better suited for riding.  Or places where the bike route just goes straight UP and nobody other than a Tour de France rider would be able to take it.  Even worse, a lot of these places where there's a perfectly good route just a block over, there's no lights on the major streets since you should be "on the bike route" which you can barely ride up.

Case in point... Remember the "No Man Left Behind" ride where Dylan busted his crank?  Guess where we were going... Yup, up the bike route.  Since then we've always ridden a block or so West of there, and it's nearly flat!!  So why exactly is the bike route up there in hell?

The only thing I can think of is nobody from the City of Vancouver actually RIDES the routes that they lay out.  Or if they do they're a hard core roadie.

So here's my challenge to the City of Vancouver (and all the rest in Metro Vancouver) - find some AVEREAGE person around the office, give them a good old single speed bike and get them to ride around the area a bit before you designate something as a bike route and spend a bunch of money installing signals, etc that would be better off just a block or two away.  One of those Vancity Cruiser Bikes would be perfect (they may even be a 3-speed, I'm not sure)...

My point is that there's a lot of people out there that are just starting to get out there and ride.  They're the ones that really need good bike routes... Experienced riders can take climbing up some nasty hill, or even more likely know how to plan their routes a bit better and have a higher tolerance for crossing streets in places that might not be considered quite as "safe".  Chances are these new riders have a crappy department store "Mountain Bike" - probably a 21 speed with garbage low end components that aren't set up right, and they have no idea how to really use them.  So they're basically in whatever gear they've managed to get the bike into without grinding all over the place, and are riding what is for all intents and purposes a single speed bike.  So this person who's decided to get out there and try riding to work or whatever, who's already at a disadvantage because they don't really know what they're doing and have crappy equipment, ends up on the "Bike Route" that goes straight up.  They try it 3 or 4 times and end up deciding that riding isn't for them.

Obviously there's more than a few issues here... Garbage bikes are one of them, but that has more to do with the service and setup given by crappy stores than anything.  Bike routes are the best way to encourage new riders - they flock to them to feel "safe" and roll with the knowledge that they're where they're "supposed" to be, even if no experienced rider would even think twice about going that way.

So that's the deal... Bike routes rock, making new bike routes rocks, I 100%, fully support creation of new routes BUT before any municipality goes out there and establishes a route based on whatever criteria they use, SOMEONE SHOULD GO OUT AND RIDE THE ROUTES!  If your average office worker on a lower end but properly set up bike can't do the route without getting off and walking, then who is the route for?

That's the end of my rant...

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bike routes

Avatar Posted by bryce rasmussen at Apr 01, 2008 09:21 AM
As I recall, there's only one real bike rider on City Council-he was in Rob's bike film. Definitely not enough to make an impact. and City Council doesn't seem to commission many studies-although they do some studies. And I'd sure like to know why Ontario was chosen fo rthat bike route. Quebec has lights, is a bit flatter, and Columbia is even flatter, except there's no lights at 12th.

I forgot my log in name, and password, so I'll have to redo that someday.