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Move On: 2022 North Shore bike lane review

While progress remains slower than a slug race, last year was better than most for bike infrastructure, writes columnist Heather Drugge

For some, our progress toward continuous, easy-to-navigate bike routes has been slower than a 100-yard banana slug race on a peanut butter-covered track. For those willing to advocate for decades, this year was better than some. Here’s a glance at what happened on the “mobility” lane front in 2022.

Esplanade

The big story is the Esplanade protected bike lanes, implemented as part of the larger complete street project. The corridors are very near completion. Yay!

Pros: The protected lanes replace painted lanes directly against parked cars without a buffer. For people rolling, this corridor has become actually rideable with no need to change underpants. The new lanes separate trucks and other vehicle traffic from people on bikes and pedestrians.

Cons: This project, initially slated for completion in summer 2022, has dragged on due to supply chain upheaval. Got concrete? The construction delivered many unpleasantries for LoLo residents and businesses, including noise, tripping hazards, mismatched roadbed heights and an unsightly construction mess. Patience. It’s nearly over.

Our rating: Four gear shifts up!

Grand Boulevard

The City of North Vancouver experimented on West Grand Boulevard during COVID. Half the road from 19th to Keith Road was turned into a dual-direction mobility lane using temporary barriers. The city kept the remaining roadway for vehicles – one way only downhill. The success of this temporary measure prompted the city to make it permanent in 2022.

Pros: The new lane replaces the skinny, winding, impractical bike lanes in the boulevard park. Placing people rolling on the street reduces intersection confusion. Because the lane is so broad (an entire car lane) and on a lightly trafficked road, the bi-directional lane works fine. The raised intersections at 9th and 11th have a traffic-calming effect and help pedestrians cross.

Cons: There are still unprotected crossings along the route. Stop signs at 13th, 15th and 19th protecting Grand Boulevard West would clarify who has the right of way.

Our rating: 3.5 gear shifts up!

Lynn Valley Road

The District of North Vancouver reconfigured Lynn Valley Road from Mountain Highway to Peters Road to create safety improvements for people on bikes, pedestrians and transit users. This is Phase 1 of a two-part project. Phase 2 will look at Lynn Valley Road from Peters up to Dempsey.

Pros: The new protected bike lanes provide a direct route from Lynn Valley Centre to the turn-off to Lynn Canyon Park on Peters Road. Intersection upgrades at Mountain Highway and Allan Road improve safety for all users, including pedestrians, transit users, people driving and people rolling.

Cons: Garbage day! (see photo) Plus, the potential for conflicts between rolling people and people driving due to driveways that front on the new bike lanes. This is more a concern downhill when speeds are high.

Our rating: Uphill: 2.5 gear shifts up! (garbage day reduces the score). Downhill: 2.5 gear shifts up and hands on the brakes.

St. Andrews

The new St. Andrews bike facility is part of a low-budget safety improvement project primarily aimed at reducing vehicle speeds along this wide street. The bike facility protects people biking north from Keith to 13th behind a row of parked cars. People rolling south “take the lane,” as indicated by sharrows.

Pros: People on bikes moving north are separated from vehicles, making the uphill direction a pleasant ride – comfortable for many.

Cons: Parked vehicles reduce sight lines at intersections, making it hard for people driving to see people cycling and people walking. People cycling also can’t see folks walking across the street at corners. In the downhill direction, sharrows are not considered suitable for all ages and abilities. St. Andrews is a designated AAA bike route and should receive AAA treatments.

Our rating: Uphill: Three gear shifts up! (four with some parking removal at corners). Downhill: Deep breath when there’s a car behind you.

Marine Drive at Park Royal

As a result of new housing developments in Park Royal south, this bike lane was added by developers either at the request of Park Royal, the district, or both.

Pros: Currently, people on bikes are permitted in the bus lane, which would be an uncomfortable ride for many, so adding a grade-separated mobility lane is a good idea.

Cons: This only helps if a continuation will be built west along the entire length of Park Royal South.

Our rating: There’s a lot of peanut butter in West Van.

That’s a wrap for 2022. Wishing you all smooth shifting in 2023.

Heather Drugge is a sustainable transportation advocate who has used her bike for transportation for over 20 years. She’s zooming around on an e-bike now, and maybe looking at a jetpack next. Northshoremoves@gmail.com