A collision on Dollarton Highway that sent a cyclist to hospital Tuesday evening underscores the need for better bicycle infrastructure on the North Shore, advocates say.
The victim was riding east on Dollarton at Forester Drive around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when he was hit where the two lanes merge to one. Firefighters and paramedics tended to the man before rushing him to Lions Gate Hospital.
The incident illustrates the danger faced by bike riders on that stretch of road, said Will Schuurman, a cyclist who happened by the scene on his commute home.
“There’s no room on the road, so what happens is the squeeze-play plays out, and again this week, a guy ended up down right at that place,” said Schuurman. The ultimate irony is that it happened during Bike to Work week, he added.
That part of Dollarton, long known as a dangerous spot for cyclists, is overdue for an upgrade, said Schuurman. And it isn’t the only problem east-west corridor: Third Street faces the same difficulties, he said.
“They need to give cyclists some room, especially in heavily trafficked areas,” said Shuurman. “The Spirit Trail was designed to do that, but it doesn’t do a lot of good for these types of cyclists.”
There is a paradox with bicycle infrastructure and local governments, Schuurman said, and it is putting cyclists at risk.
“They need to grow the volume (of cyclists) so they can justify the expense, but they don’t have a budget yet because there’s not enough volume, so we’re kind of the leading edge — the test pilots. In 30 years, people are going to say ‘I can’t believe you cycled in that stuff,” he said.
Schuurman wouldn’t consider himself an activist, though his name was one of the 1,003 on a recent petition calling on the district to build a safe bike network after a cyclist was badly injured on Keith Road in August when he was rear-ended.
It so happens Tuesday’s crash comes as the big changes loom for the North Shore’s bicycle infrastructure. The City and District of North Vancouver are both expected to endorse a massive update to Bicycle Master Plan at their respective meetings on Monday Night. The two governments have been working together on the plan and its updates since the 1990s.
The master plan lays out the challenges and priorities for bicycle policy and infrastructure improvements for the years ahead. Dollarton Highway, however, is not listed among the priorities.
“I think the district is changing their attitudes but while we wait for safe cycling, the crash incidences seem high,” Schuurman said.
Implementing the plan’s highest priorities is expected to cost $4 million over five years, according to a staff report. Between 2008 and 2011, there were 84 injury collisions involving cyclists in the City and District the report states.