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Grind-My-Gears

Safety, no compromising

Kelowna has the stated goal of increasing the number of trips taken by foot or by bicycle to 25 per cent over the next 20 years.

In addition, the city wants to reduce the rate of collisions by 50 per cent. These goals are taken from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan that was accepted by city council in 2016.

We’re not the only ones who are working to reach goals like these, and we’re not the ones who are on the forefront of having the solutions.

The Netherlands has already reached these goals. Vancouver has increased their mode share amazingly in the last 10 years.

Here are the guidelines for separated paths that have made it possible.

  • Self educating/enforcing design – it runs with traffic, such that drivers can see you and are indeed looking for you, as opposed to being surprised by you (off side approaches); this is the recommended and safest design in the Dutch Bicycle Design Manual
  • Smooth curb crossings – so your butt and body are not jarred, so that kids and seniors don’t fall/crash/hurt themselves by traditional ‘rollover’ curbs
  • Wide enough for 2 x 2 riding and passing like the Dutch do, minimum 1.8 metres (6 feet), same width as a good sidewalk
  • Colour differentiated (or texture; but pigment in the asphalt mix fixes colour forever) from the sidewalk so folks know when they are approaching it, crossing it, and on it, and, cyclists know where they are supposed to be.
  • Protected intersections, ideally via properly designed roundabouts with appropriate bike/ped refuge islands, no traffic signals that cause unnecessary delays to everyone, and make you stop/dismount off your bike (increasing risk of falling for seniors) even when no one is coming in the other direction!
  • Year-round maintained – Swept off in fall (leaves) and winter (snow) and spring (grit/sand);
  • Setback from the curb so that trees can be planted for ambiance, shade, and carbon sinks; street lights for night; traffic signs for control; and cyclists are not doored by parked cars nor buffeted/sprayed by passing traffic.
  • Designed by cyclists, and with all cyclists in mind – first timers (kids, immigrants, tourists, novices), regulars (commuters, shoppers, students), families and seniors; fast and slow; timid and expert – such that it can attract more cycling to address obesity, mental illness, accessibility, and other community health issues.
  • Uncompromising when it comes to safety – not budget focused, but instead focused on the safety of its most vulnerable users – the human body on the bicycle. 

People rely on engineers to do the right thing and put their safety first. We have done it for years in proper road design, we must do the same for cycling design; learn from the best designers in the world.

If we settle for “better than what we have,” we will never reach the goals we set out because it will not make people feel as safe as possible.

The Ethel ATC has shown an increase year after year for cycling traffic, and that section has many aspects that don’t meet the requirements listed above.

Just imagine the people that will choose active transportation when we build the right infrastructure.

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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.



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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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