This is a Guest Post by Kent Lundberg, who is an Urban Planner at Isthmus where this blog post was first published.
I’m sure one of the things that Peter M will encounter on his trip to Vancouver is the expansion of fully separated bike infastructure throughout the downtown. Of course Vancouver has had exceptional waterfront promenades and bikeways extending around the city centre and into Stanley Park for a while, but these cycle tracks have a distinct utility purpose linking the downtown to adjacent neighbourhoods and providing intra-downtown/crosstown links.
Vancouver is one of several North American cities engaging in an “arms race” of sorts by implementing state of the art bike facilities; other cities include Minneapolis, Long Beach, New York, and most famously Portland, Oregon.
The best thing about traveling is having your preconceptions challenged. I used to consider bicycle infrastructure in dense, vibrant cities as being too hard since the land is so valuable, and because there are so many competing users. These barriers can all be overcome I discovered after visiting Vancouver. Here is a quick look at some of the more interesting designs. Without getting too bogged down in the details, these images depict a variety of design techniques that would otherwise make the proposition of first class facilities in downtown difficult.
An example of how bike lanes are added on large, one-way streets. Two-way paths are added to avoid the tendency of cyclists to “salmon” against traffic.
Here is cycle track in a more surburban/park like setting that provides clear delineation between ped and cyclists without going crazy with colours or signage.
Here is an interesting way that delivery vans are accommodated. Delivery servicing has a critical “place” value along many downtown streets.
Here is how buses work along a cycle track. They are placed inside the cycle track and pedestrian/bike conflict areas are marked.
Its worth recalling what Bruce Katz from the Brooking Insitution said during the movie Urbanized about how cities are increasingly competing amongst themselves for skilled immigrants or simply to retain younger residents. Many globally-relevant cities are clearly copying and further adapting the latest best practice design solutions. It’s about time that Auckland starts to look seriously at these new techniques or risk being left behind.
Over the last six months I have visited a few of these trend-setting “pattern cities” and will be documenting some more of their pedestrian and cycling improvements in subsequent blog posts.