How to knit a cycling-friendly community
To the casual observer, our approach to adding new cycling infrastructure may seem a bit unfocussed; a couple of blocks of bike lane here, a few more blocks there... but seldom long, continuous stretches that connect key destinations.
But while it may seem like we're busy building bike lanes to nowhere, the truth is, we have a plan!
Or several plans, to be more precise. Guided by our Official Community Plan (OCP), Transportation Plan, and Bicycle Master Plan, we're making sound decisions about new bike infrastructure spending that will allow us — over time — to create a complete District-wide cycling network for people of all ages and abilities.
The reality of bike lanes in the DNV
Installing large stretches of bike lanes at one time is not feasible, given the realities of municipal budgets and resources.
Instead, we evaluate all upcoming road improvement projects — both large and small — looking for opportunities to include new bike infrastructure where individual project budgets allow (the bike lanes on and around the new Keith Road and Montroyal bridges are examples of this approach).
Because of the project-by-project approach we take to building bike lanes, new lanes don't always connect to existing lanes, nor do they always lead to our most popular destinations.
While this may be true in the short term, over time, these individual sections will begin to knit together into a complete and coherent system as we continue including lanes in our infrastructure and road improvement projects.
The plans that guide these decisions
How are we so confident that these smaller segments of bike lanes will seamlessly knit together some day? That's where the plans come in.
The Official Community Plan (OCP)
The Official Community Plan sets the direction for future growth and change in the District, as guided by community input.
The OCP includes a transportation objective ("to respond to our changing needs and meet our social, economic and environmental goals by providing greater transportation choice"), along with a target (by 2030, 35% of all trips in the District will be made by walking, cycling, or public transit).
To help achieve this target, the OCP includes a specific cycling objective: to provide a more complete cycling network that is safe and efficient for both recreational and commuter cyclists.
This proposed network is laid out in a bicycle plan concept map, and is the foundation of our bike lane decision making.
The Transportation Plan
Now, this is where the rubber hits the road (pun intended!).
Our Transportation Plan provides the 'nuts and bolts' actions and strategies that will help us achieve our OCP vision for transportation and cycling.
One objective of the plan is to provide a more complete cycling network that is safe and efficient for all ages and abilities, which we will achieve by:
- improving on-street cycling connections and expand the network
- accommodating cyclists of all skill levels with on and off-street cycling routes
- improving cycling routes to high quality transit services
- connecting the North Shore cycling network with the wider region
- requiring major developments to include quality cycling support facilities
- working with the community on cycling awareness initiatives.
The Transportation Plan further refines the bicycle plan concept map that was proposed in the OCP, establishing a clear network of bike routes and trails across the district, and identifying both high priority improvements, and future routes.
The routes and trails shown on this map are where we focus our efforts when we take advantage of opportunities to include segments of new bike lanes as part of larger roads or infrastructure projects.
As we continue filling in the segments identified on the map, a more robust and complete network will emerge.
We all benefit from better cycling infrastructure
Improved bike infrastructure benefits people who get around the District by bike in a number of ways, to be sure, but we all win when there is better cycling infrastructure.
For pedestrians, walking along major thoroughfares that have bike lanes included means they are more widely separated from cars, which creates a more pleasant, and safer experience.
For drivers, more people on bicycles means more road space, more available parking, and a safer drive, as the need to navigate around bikes is removed.
Do you get around the District by bike? Help us improve your experience by completing our brief questionnaire using the link below.
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