Saturday, October 20, 2012

3 foot passing law

More and more states in the U.S. are passing laws that require drivers to leave 3 feet of space between their cars and cyclists when they pass them. Recently the State of California also passed a similar law, but it was subsequently vetoed by Governor Brown, despite huge support from cyclists, because this particular law required cars to slow down to 15 mph if they couldn't give cyclists enough space when passing, and he felt this might cause rear-end collisions.

We had a discussion about the concept of 3 foot (of course in Canada this would be 1 meter) passing laws at one of our last Committee meetings. Some of us agreed that such a law would help cyclists to feel safer. Many seasoned cyclists have some harrowing stories to tell about being clipped or almost hit by cars that were getting too close, and some didn't live to tell their stories. At least a law like this would hopefully make drivers more aware of the fact that they are legally required to keep a certain distance.

There are several problems with a law like this however.

First of all, it's pretty much impossible to enforce. Nobody's going to be able to measure the distance between a car and a cyclist after the fact, unless there's a clear video recording or photograph taken at the right moment, and from the right angle.

Also, this is in my opinion a law that may work for 'experienced' cyclists only, not for 'cyclists of all ages and abilities'. Now that more cycling advocates realize that they need to advocate for the needs of all cyclists - not just the strong and fearless - there are still quite a few who think this is a law that makes sense. An adult, 'experienced' cyclist, may feel totally comfortable with a car passing at 3 feet distance at 60 km/h when he's cruising along himself at 30 km/h, but the same may not be the case for an elderly woman for example, who bikes at a much slower speed and thus a higher speed differential, and may not have the same sense of balance anymore, or a young child, who may not always bike in a very straight line.

Another important issue that I have with this law, is that it does not take into account the kind and size of vehicle, nor its speed. It can be pretty scary to have a large truck pass by, especially with a trailer behind, at 3 feet distance, and especially if that truck is going 100 km/h, or even 50 km/h.

There does seem to be strong support among cyclists for some type of passing law, and in the absence of a better option, something is better than nothing I suppose.

It's obvious that the better option that we should be aiming for is of course separated infrastructure on busier and higher speed roads.

Montreal: about velorution, gardening and community

Bixi bikes and gardening are helping to create "community" in Montreal, according to this article in the Energy Bulletin of the Post Carbon Institute.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pedal power

I would love to have one of these bikes in my kitchen to make myself a smoothie and grind my coffee! It certainly makes you more aware of the energy you use on a daily basis and just take for granted.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bike to Work Week Oct. 29 - Nov. 2

Sign up for Bike to Work Week now! HUB has bikes and bike accessories to give away for those who sign up and log their commutes during Bike to Work Week. Drop by one of HUB's Celebration Stations for a chat, a drink and a snack!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Photos Cranberry Festival ride

Last Saturday we went on our ride to the Cranberry Festival in Fort Langley. We were so incredibly fortunate with the weather, it was a gorgeous sunny day and it was amazingly warm for this time of year. We had 9 people in our group. Here are some pictures:

On the Golden Ears Bridge - by Geoff Hancock
Along Allard Cr. on the Langley side
Some people are smart to wear their helmets as pedestrians, since peds run more risk of injury in traffic than cyclists! It's also easier to spot them in a crowd - by Geoff Hancock.
We stopped on the way back at the Roadkill Cafe ("You kill it, we grill it"!). We had an ice cream instead. - by Geoff Hancock
The roads as well as the sidewalks in Fort Langley were full of people

Never seen before, most likely theft-proof bike lock

Riding the Galloping Goose, Lochside

Our latest column in the Maple Ridge News:

Published: October 11, 2012 8:00 PM

It’s not often that I bike purely for the enjoyment of it, but last week I went on a long-awaited and short cycling trip on Vancouver Island with my husband.

I had heard much about the famous Galloping Goose Trail between Victoria and Sooke, and its somewhat less famous cousin, the Lochside Trail between Schwartz Bay and Victoria.


Here are some pictures that we took along the trail:

Some French tourists we met along Dallas Road

Lochside Trail

Galloping Goose Trail

view over Sooke Basin

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Metro Vancouver wants bulging gas tax fund to aid cycling

By Jeff Nagel - Surrey North Delta Leader

More than $280 million in federal gas tax that is supposed to flow to TransLink is sitting unused and Metro Vancouver politicians now want some of it to go to building bike lanes.
Since 2005, Ottawa has handed back to TransLink at least half of the 10 cents a litre of gas tax it collects within the Metro region and the money has helped finance hundreds of new and replacement buses and SkyTrain cars.
But TransLink is only allowed to spend the resulting fund on certain types of projects – mainly vehicles – and with its capital spending constrained, the transferred federal gas tax money is stacking up faster than it can be spent.
An extra $122 million will flow in this year, lifting the total to more than $400 million.
"We want to be able to spend that money reducing our carbon footprints with cycling infrastructure around the region," Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said.
But the federal government two years ago removed bike-related projects as an allowed use of the gas tax transfers.
Metro's regional planning committee voted Friday to urge area cities to lobby Ottawa to reinstate that use.
"It's more consistent with the green agenda for the gas tax dollars," Corrigan said.
TransLink strategic planning and public affairs vice-president Bob Paddon said it was unfortunate the federal government disallowed cycling spending.
But he rejected suggestions the gas tax money will go to waste, noting it is carried over each year and TransLink has more eligible spending in the works.
This year TransLink is applying to use $123 million from the fund to replace hundreds of older buses, community shuttles and HandyDarts over the next three years.
The federal gas tax transfer is separate from the 17 cents a litre in tax that TransLink directly levies on each litre of fuel sold in Metro Vancouver.
TransLink's currently proposed three-year base plan would pare back the amount of money going to cycling upgrades around the region.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Biking to School

Pretty good showing of cyclists Friday, October 5 at Yennadon Elementary School. Just a regular school day, but the Fall weather has been spectacular for biking! Way to go kids... and parents!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets

ONE spectacular Sunday in Paris last month, I decided to skip museums and shopping to partake of something even more captivating for an environment reporter: Vélib, arguably the most successful bike-sharing program in the world. In their short lives, Europe’s bike-sharing systems have delivered myriad benefits, notably reducing traffic and its carbon emissions. A number of American cities — including New York, where a bike-sharing program is to open next year — want to replicate that success.

So I bought a day pass online for about $2, entered my login information at one of the hundreds of docking stations that are scattered every few blocks around the city and selected one of Vélib’s nearly 20,000 stodgy gray bikes, with their basic gears, upright handlebars and practical baskets.
Then I did something extraordinary, something I’ve not done in a quarter-century of regular bike riding in the United States: I rode off without a helmet.

New York Times story