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Grind-My-Gears

Catering to the top

Kelowna has a good cycling network. It has good coverage and it has connected most parts of town.

But — you knew there was a but in here somewhere — you have to be part of the top 10 per cent to use it on two wheels.

This refers back to the categorization that came out of Portland a decade ago where they defined the following groups (based on 2016 data):

  • Strong and Fearless (5%)
  • Enthused and Confident (4%) 
  • Interested and Curious (55%)
  • No Way No How (36%)

I can make this claim because there is no “one” design for the infrastructure. Even on my short commute work, less than two kilometres, there are three different types:

  • Low volume, shared roadway
  • Bike lane, on street
  • Sharrows, shared roadway

Low-volume streets might have parked cars; you don’t want to weave in around them. Just pick a good line and stay straight. 

Bike lanes are good, but will typically have more traffic roaring past at faster speeds and many times can have debris on the pavement which needs to be taken into account.

Sharrows, well, there’s not a lot of good I can say these unless the speed limit has been reduced to 30 kilometres an hour. Recent studies have shown that they don’t increase safety for anyone.

Separated facilities, cycle tracks and multi-use paths, are great. But no matter how long they are, a cyclist still has to deal with crossings and intersections. 

Figuring out the route to get anywhere you have to find what types of infrastructure you’re comfortable riding. This takes time, practice, and experience.

If we had more separated infrastructure and better intersection treatments, it could encourage people who don’t currently entertain cycling as a mode of transportation to try it.

That takes money, lots of money. And it would inconvenience drivers, can’t have that.

So what next?

Let’s find people who want to do more, who realize the potential of cycling. You know that potential, better health, and more discretionary funds

What do you think would happen if a new cyclist rode around with an experienced cyclist?

You’re correct; the new cyclist would gain confidence and experience at a quicker rate than just riding alone.

This is the idea of “pair cycling.” Let the “strong and fearless” lead by example and bring the “interested and curious” up to being the “enthused and confident."

Cyclists who have been out there and ride a lot will typically be the ones who know the secrets of staying visible; of knowing which rules of the road that keep someone on two wheels safest, and knowing how to get places quickly.

Trailforks.com is a great resource of trails to ride that is built by riders for riders. They share their knowledge through this site.

Let’s find a way to share resources. Are you the “interested and curious?" Are you “strong and fearless?" We can conquer the network. 

To get involved, email me at [email protected].

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About the Author

As a youngster on two feet, a teenager on two wheels, then a young adult on four wheels, Landon has found that life is really about using all modes of transportation. Currently a cycling advocate with the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition he tries to lower road rage on both sides.



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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