How many cyclists are really using bike lanes?
Published Tuesday, September 21, 2010 4:02PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:43PM PDT
The City of Vancouver says the addition of the separated bike lanes have caused thousands more people to cycle downtown. CTV News hit the streets to find out if their numbers add up.
Cyclists like the new controversial lanes which make biking much safer, but the public is skeptical that not enough bikers are using them.
Shamus Wilcott has been working as a bike courier for 16 years and says that cycling in downtown Vancouver can be very dangerous.
"It's quite daunting for the amateur cyclist. It's a lot to take in," he said.
He thinks that separated bike lanes make it a lot safer for cyclists.
"It's a good thing having the separation," he said.
Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs agrees with Wilcott. He says thousands of people have chosen to start biking downtown since the first bike lane was completed in June.
"We've seen the number of cyclists quadruple to about 2,000 from about 500 a day," he said.
CTV News decided to put these numbers to the test. A news intern stood on Dunsmuir Street at 8:15 a.m. counting bikes. In 20 minutes, 122 cyclists whizzed past her. A week later when the test was repeated, 78 cyclists were counted.
However, during non-peak hours the numbers were much less. At 1:40 p.m. only 21 bikes were counted in 20 minutes. But for now, the city's numbers seem to hold up.
Skeptics argue that the bike lanes will be empty once the rain hits. Montreal deals with this problem by removing their bike lanes in the winter months. During the summer 3,600 people use their lanes per day.
Meggs still thinks there should be a separated lane all year round, and he backs the bid for more.
The city is set to approve a controversial second bike lane on Hornby Street, one that business owners are not pleased with because the lane will eliminate parking outside their storefronts.
CTV News counted bikes there too for 20 minutes during peak and off times. During the morning rush hour there were 42 bikes and during non-peak hours only 18.
Wilcott thinks that's still enough to warrant the lane.
"I think it's progressive," he said.
The lanes are progress for some and a nuisance for others but despite differing opinions, the bike lanes are here to stay, and more could be popping up.
The city will vote on the Hornby Street lane in early October and if it's approved construction will start immediately.