Richmond has been creating a few bike lanes recently. On Lombardy, there’s a short stretch with a painted bike lane, and Southside Richmond and Chesterfield have a few. They look like this:
This is wonderful. My main wish is that we would create a well-planned network of lanes that could provide safe biking routes all around the region.
However, as part of my good ideas series where I dream about what could be realized here in Richmond, I want to discuss something far better than bike lanes: bike roads.
In my former hometown of Vancouver, BC, the city took entire streets and turned them into bike routes.
These bike routes are traffic-calmed streets that are optimized for biking in numerous ways: Stop signs are removed or turned to keep bike traffic flowing, many signs alert automobile drivers to the presence of bicycles, and traffic-calming devices are used to keep cars from using the route for more than a few blocks at a time. Here’s some pictures:
Traffic calming device enabling bikes, but not cars, to continue down the street.
All photos by Matthew Blackett for Spacing Magazine, used with permission.
The truly revolutionary aspect of this approach to bike routes is evidenced in the last picture: the traffic-calming devices. Most devices in Vancouver are simpler and cheaper than the one pictured above- many use a simple concrete barrier which has a cut-out for bikes but prevents cars from using the road as a through-route. But the main point of the bike routes is that the entire street is designed primarily for cyclists, not for cars.
The Vancouver network is also quite extensive.
You can see a full map here [PDF].
In Richmond this could work by turning roads that run parallel to major routes into bike roads. For example, Floyd Street in the Fan which parallels Main and Cary. Or Grace St., which parallels Broad.
Downtown, perhaps Marshall could be utilized. In Church Hill, 24th could serve as the North/South Route, and Marshall could be the East/West route.
Local traffic and folks who live on the road are still able to drive down their street, just not for more than a few blocks at a time. And no cars can use it as a through-route.
Other cities are using this approach, including Albuquerque which just passed a “Bike Boulevard” ordinance, Palo Alto, and Berkley.
Here’s a promotional video for Albuquerque’s campaign:
So my latest good idea from another city is to forget the bike lanes, and give us entire streets!
And just to continue promoting the glories of Vancouver, here’s a quote from the city’s transportation department on their transportation priorities:
City Council has set a list of transportation priorities in the following order: pedestrian, bicycle, transit, movement of goods, and private automobile. All existing and new projects in the City are evaluated with these priorities in mind and are developed to accommodate them, wherever possible.
Will someone remind me why I moved back to Richmond?