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I just need my space, man.


There seems to be endless supply of questions about bike lanes. Where should they go? What should they look like? How much should they cost? Do we segregate bike lanes with barriers, or go with those Euro-cool bike boulevards?

And those questions are just from people who support the idea.

Well consider this: California passed a law that mandates motorists leave three feet of space — a little under a metre, for those who like to keep it Canadian — between themselves and cyclists.

I like the intent of the idea, which is raising more awareness than generating traffic tickets.

California's driver training now includes education on road sharing, because it’s the law. Public awareness is growing, because it’s the law.

If we were to do something similar in Edmonton, would it create enough of a buffer between drivers and cyclists? Would it do enough to save us the cost of bike lanes or bike boulevards?

I don’t want to see cops pulling everyone over with a metre stick in hand. What I do want to see is a healthy, vibrant city with multiple modes of transportation coexisting on our roads.

No, I have not given up on bike lanes and bike boulevards. The California law is just another idea of how we might create space for cycling in Edmonton.

 -Scott

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Showing 16 reactions

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  • commented 2015-09-01 21:22:16 -0600
    Scott, you will really enjoy the Alberta Bicycle Commuters Conference. Still some registrations available. This will be a huge discussion topic. Program now posted: http://albertabicyclecommuters.weebly.com
  • commented 2014-11-23 15:11:32 -0700
    Thanks for posting this Scott. A super important issue. The 1.0 meter rule is an excellent first start to increasing safety on our streets for cyclists. In fact, this was a key recommendation coming out of an Ontario coroner’s report on 129 cycling deaths in that province that was released in 2012 (http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/deathinvestigations/office_coroner/publicationsandreports/cyclingdeathreview/di_cycling_death_review.html). The other key recommendations: 1) a “complete streets” planning approach that focuses on all users, 2) increased cycling infrastructure support, 3) safety training, 4) better helmet use, and 5) mandatory side guards for heavy trucks (amongst others).

    The bottom line is we need integrated and diverse transportation systems as the city grows, and the city should be encouraging “active transportation” in whatever way it can to accommodate that growth. Portland has committed 1% of its transportation budget to active transportation since the 1970’s and this is why it has the infrastructure it does. Edmonton should do the same so we stop bickering over all these small projects and can do something more substantial that just painting lines on streets. With a transportation budget of $327 million for 2014, that would mean $3.27 million of predictable funding every year to encourage walking, biking, transit and carpooling (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/59969). Keep up the great work!
  • commented 2014-11-20 19:59:09 -0700
    Brad that’s rather disingenuous trolling that’s beneath someone of your intelligence. Compare apples and apples, use the same standards for all citizens. You can’t “joke” that “Bike lanes are a financial liability unless we develop bike lane tolls :)” until car lanes which also have [far larger] financial cost to build and maintain also have tolls. Double standard.
  • commented 2014-11-20 14:04:26 -0700
    I think you missed my point, Brad.
  • commented 2014-11-20 11:57:02 -0700
    Tom, keep in mind I stated rec centre design, $9million for one year. Once a rec centre is built there is a level of revenue from that investment. Bike lanes are a financial liability unless we develop bike lane tolls :)
  • commented 2014-11-20 09:23:13 -0700
    Stacking bike lanes up against a west end rec centre is a false dilemma. $7 million a year for bike lanes over the next 4 years would result in what sort of tax increase per person? $8? Except that it won’t really be that much, because I don’t think the alternative is to spend nothing on cycling infrastructure… I would happily pay that much extra money to get some proper infrastructure built.
  • commented 2014-11-19 23:10:50 -0700
    Roy, fair point on my logic. I just tolerate bad drivers more than bad cyclists because the bad cyclists take advantage of sidewalks, streets, crosswalks and private property to get around. I suppose they do this because of lack of well designed streets and bike lanes. Although the roads belong to cyclists they were not built with them in mind and a required 1m space won’t fix the problem. Overall, I’d rather see money spent on a Westend Rec Centre design than bike lanes. A Rec centre will see more use and more benefits realized by more people. I can’t support a 1m rule, no room.
  • commented 2014-11-19 19:34:57 -0700
    Brad Ison: By that logic, cars should be banned from roads because most drivers speed and many run red lights. The roads belong to the citizens of Edmonton, those who drive, those who bike, those who walk, those who take the bus and those who never leave their home. And yes, even the cyclists and drivers who break the rules.
  • commented 2014-11-19 18:48:38 -0700
    I understand there are a lot of good cyclists out there but there are more bad ones who use crosswalks to get around traffic, use sidewalks to advance and expect cars to stop for them at neighbourhood intersections. In the summer 1 metre is fine but NOT in the winter. Bikes should not even be on main city roadways in the snow. Now drivers may be told to give 1m clearance on ice, unreasonable. If the city is serious about bike safety dedicate bike lanes, otherwise case closed.
  • commented 2014-11-19 17:49:28 -0700
    Not good enough, Scott. One metre buffers are a good idea for roads without dedicated bike lanes, but are not a replacement for dedicated bike lanes on major travel routes. Bikes belong on our streets and it is high time that we turn down the rhetoric that the road is only for cars. Bicycles used our roads before cars did, and will continue to do so even if cars become obsolete. It’s time for Edmonton to recognize the bicycle fact and dedicate a small portion of the transportation budget to ensuring their safety on the road.
  • commented 2014-11-19 17:40:37 -0700
    We need separate bike lanes on a few key corridors based on desire lines.

    The California law is nice in principle but it’s hard to swallow that we’re willing to tell drivers to stay 1.0 metres away but won’t go ahead and build 1.5 m segregated lanes.

    There is an abundance of road space completely catering to cars and trucks in this city – everyone visiting from out of town comments on it – and taking that extra 0.5 m back should be a non starter – no more concessions to cars/trucks – the balance is space is skewed so far in their favour on nearly every street in our city that I can’t believe this is even still up for debate in 2014.

    It’s time to join the 21st century – even places like Hamilton and Calgary are doing it
  • commented 2014-11-19 16:53:32 -0700
    There is a lot of great work being done on Ontario right now to update the Highway Traffic Act. A one-metre passing rule is one of the many revisions aimed at improving cyclist safety on our roads. Driver training manuals are being updated with significant changes around sharing the road as well. It would be great to see this in Alberta, but still presents the challenge that anyone who already has a license would need to be educated about these new rules. Any changes will need to be accompanied by an extensive outreach education campaign to hopefully see a big shift in behaviour toward cyclists. http://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2014/03/keeping-ontarios-road-safe-act.html
  • commented 2014-11-19 15:54:48 -0700
    When I cycle it is usually with my 4 year old in a trailer or in his seat on the back of my bike. My 11 and 9 year olds also bike. Unfortunately the ‘safe passing distance rule’ does not work in reality, especially where children are concerned.
    Separated bike lanes are needed to make cycling accessible to ALL, not just a minority.
  • commented 2014-11-19 10:25:19 -0700
    I like the law too but want to point out that technically there is a law already in place in the motor vehicle act regarding passing " Division 5 21.a " shall, at a SAFE distance pass to the left…"
    which doesn’t seem to make much difference because people don’t view bicycles as vehicles.

    I agree with Alan -people (drivers and cyclists) break laws or err in judgment everyday. I’ve had cars whizz by me with 1-2 ft clearance while there was a empty second lane on the left the could have easily passed properly and safely in with police watching, and the police did nothing.

    Separated bike lanes in key areas really would make the difference and encourage more people to cycle as they will feel safe but a law like this would bring awareness, although part of me thinks there might be backlash with drivers intentionally passing too close to “prove a point”.
  • commented 2014-11-19 09:43:38 -0700
    I agree with the law, which may improve the situation on busier streets and highways. The thing is that many people are scared to ride on the streets, because people break laws every day – it isn’t a protection. A separated bike lane IS protection, and that’s when people will feel safe riding AND drivers will be happy they do not have to pass close to cyclists.

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