The safety issue at the heart of the Point Grey bike route brouhaha

In the wake of last night’s council decision to approve the first phase of the Point Grey Road – Cornwall Transportation Corridor — or the Point Grey bike route, as most people call it — councillors’ inboxes received a last volley of e-mails, both pro and con. Many tackle the safety issue that was at the core of much of the debate.

This angry note from a Point Grey resident is a good example of a small subset of vocal opponents, the dedicated cyclists who oppose more cycling infrastructure. He writes:

“I am an avid cyclist who has commuted to Burnaby and downtown for years and now bike for pleasure and exercise. I am also a home owner and I drive a car. I feel I am qualified to offer an opinion on this. You have heard all the arguments ad nauseam but as has been displayed in the past, you are not that interested in considering them. This is not a good plan. I bike from Point Grey to Burrard Bridge regularly. I do not ride on Point Grey road because it is too narrow. The Seaside route is a pleasant and safe alternative.

“Instead of changing the behaviour of drivers at great expense and impact, why don’t you change the behaviour of cyclists, as in forcing them off Cornwall/Point Grey onto the existing bike route?”

There is more, including a compelling call for better public transit, but this is enough to illustrate why dedicated cycling infrastructure is so important. Even this very experienced local resident will not ride Point Grey Rd. “because it is too narrow.”

The goal of investing in cycling infrastructure is to provide safe cycling routes that will attract all ages and abilities of riders, not just the hard core commuters who may tackle the Gran Fondo on the weekend. That’s the way to increase ridership. “Forcing” cyclists into other routes, even if legally possible, will not build ridership, as we know from experience. (Phase 2 of this project will see upgrades to the section this write favours.)

Given that Kitsilano is already seeing 10 percent of all trips by bicycle, there is every reason to believe the new route will quickly become, as Heather Deal has forecast, “a jewel.”