When we house exchange to Europe, we take our children (starting when they were ages five and seven) cycling through busy city streets. Why do we feel comfortable doing so? Besides the greater understanding of the “share the road” concept where there is respect from all road users, many of the streets are physically designed to be safer.
This includes how Seventh Avenue has recently been redesigned. Inserting the cycle lane between parked cars and the sidewalk means that cyclists are no longer next to moving traffic, the painted section gives clearance for a door to open, and it is the passenger side door, which is opened less often than the driver side door.
A quick Google search of “one-way protected cycle tracks” will bring up various design options, including the one on Seventh Avenue. Granted the part outside the Rexall has always been awkward as it goes onto the sidewalk. Many people are confused by the design because they are unfamiliar with it. Just like when roundabouts were first introduced, all it takes is time to get used to it.
Unfortunately, in North America, our infrastructure was built with a “car first” mentality, which is completely opposite of the road-user hierarchy, which is the basic transportation planning principle that prioritizes pedestrians first, then cyclists, transit, goods movement and lastly private automobiles. As we retrofit our infrastructure, there will be difficulties during the transition. But it’s what we need to do to move towards a safer, more efficient transportation system.
Deanna Tan, New Westminster