Cactus Club bike path: More conflict by design

As predicted last month, the bike path and sidewalk on the east side of the new Cactus Club at English Bay is generating a fair amount of conflict. Not surprising, given that it’s new and there are lots of different users.

What is surprising is the failure to provide adequate signage and indicators – like colour – to create awareness before people find themselves in conflict. Like the couple in the image above, for instance.

They wander up from the beach, engaged in conversation, doing what seems intuitive, which is to head towards the restaurant on the path edged by a stone wall and heavy planting.  There is nothing to tell them that it is not a good idea to stop right in the middle of the bike path. There are no decals on the asphalt – which itself is not painted a distinctive colour, like green, used elsewhere in the city to designate a cycling route. Indeed, there are no signs of any kind.

They do what seems right and natural, oblivious to the cyclists heading towards them who, of course, are pissed off that they are stopping right in the middle of the bike path. This is why everyone is so emotional about bike-pedestrian conflicts: each thinks the other are jerks for not being aware or not being courteous. Both are pissed off with the other – when they should be pissed off with the people who could make a difference: the people responsible for designing and signing bike routes. If it wasn’t obvious to them when the path was being built that this would be a problem, it surely must be now. And yet: no change. Not even a little bit of paint.

In a city which says that cycling is one of its priorities, it has a funny way of expressing it.

And don’t get me started about the ‘temporary’ float-plane terminal blocking the seawall in Coal Harbour. Oh wait, it’s about time we did get started on that, given there appears to be no action on what is one of the most valuable pieces of cycling infrastructure in Vancouver – after so many years, we’re losing count.

More on that later.

– post by Gord Price

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  • Dennis O’Bell

    I suspect that this is an engineering department issue. Perhaps the city needs to commission a scientific study to determine the root cause of the puzzling surge of “pissed off” people at this juncture.

    Just like they’re doing to try and determine why bicycle collisions increased at the head of the Burrard Bridge bike lane despite no increase in cycling traffic.

    Also kudos to Aaron Jasper & ’08 – ’11 Parks Board for their compliance in this travesty.

    Way to keep your eye on the ball both for both taking away a precious street end view from pedestrians and giving it to a restaurant chain, and also for the “college try” oversight for (lack of) mitigating this clusterf***

  • Cristian Worthington

    The NPA was on the wrong side of the bicycle issue during the last election.

    Perhaps Vision will drop the ball next election. 🙂

    One thing is clear from the polls, bike lanes are overwhelmingly popular – even with people who don’t cycle.

    • Max

      Interesting. Because the NPA was into studying the impact of separated bike lanes and making sure that bike lanes were done right – that put them on the wrong side of the bike lane….

      And yet, because of poor design, you have the above and because of poor design – there are more bike vs car accidents happening at the south end of the Burrard St. Bridge (latest report) of which we are now paying UBC for a study as to they why.

  • Bill Lee

    And how about stopping the elevated highway north of Powell St. along the port lands.
    Time for Vancouver to move its industrial port elsewher and the train tracks that supplied the old export trade.

  • It’s the north end of the bridge Max. Was always a dangerous place to cycle IMO and the problems at that end remain the same in my experience. Biggest problem is the right turn lane that facilitates cars turning east onto Pacific. What will be interesting is how much blame the study you reference puts on the new road design (which is essentially unchanged from pre-bike lane days at that trouble spot), and how much will be due to other factors. Either way, when human lives are at stake, maybe further investigation of the situation is a good use of money? Given that we have over a hundred years of road design behind us, and not much progress in preventing automobile crashes, one has to wonder why new approaches are expected to be fool-proof from day one.

  • jenables

    The bike lane at the northeast end of the bridge has a stop sign – two stop signs actually, pointed directly at the bike traffic northbound, and vehicular traffic usually.has to slow significantly when turning right, if they are not already crawling towards Pacific. I go that way every day, and although the stop sign is for bicycles I often see cars stopping there to allow bikes safe passage. Which I do as well sometimes though I am concerned it sets a dangerous and confusing precedent. If the problem is that cyclists are running this double stop sign, I don’t know what can be done, as it seems much more dangerous to have cars in mass quantities stopping while cyclists whip through, without being able to properly assess what is ahead at that intersection…and it is a busy intersection. So indeed if that is the issue, the cycling community really needs to take their own safety and mobility much more seriously, and stop arguing that it’s unnecessary to stop at red lights and stop signs because clearly common sense is not prevailing. I get the whole momentum thing but getting from point a to b invariably involves stopping no matter how you get there. Unless we make a pneumatic tube system, which would be awesome.

  • “So indeed if that is the issue, the cycling community really needs to take their own safety and mobility much more seriously”

    I think it’s erroneous to try to lump everyone who uses a bicycle for transportation into a community. It may have limited validity when speaking of recreational riders who belong to clubs, train together etc, but people who ride a bike for transportation are a diverse group and don’t necessarily agree on things such as stop sign rule changes, etc. Further, The lack of concern for other’s safety and mobility on the part of texting/talking drivers should be proof positive that stupidity and poor choices are present in every transportation mode. How are we addressing that issue? Should the same approach be tried with cycling?

  • jenables

    Fair enough Chris, but I am not publicly making an argument that the rules shouldn’t apply to cars, and those cyclists who publicly state stopping at stop signs and red lights “doesn’t make sense” are the ones who I am addressing. Sorry to have offended you, I remember your post about abiding by the rules and being that guy and I agree.

  • Not to worry, no offence taken Jenables.

  • I lived in San Diego for years where dogs, people, skateboarders, cyclists, unicyclists, handicapped in wheelchairs etc. etc…. all got along. That can happen here also, Gord. It just takes a few guys like you to put down their cameras and politely tell the couple that they are a little stupid and that they are in the way…. and it too can work here in Vancouver, Dude.

  • jenables

    Or just a “bring bring”. Wonder why bells aren’t popular here, they are the gentle honk of cycling

  • A bell is actually required by law in Vancouver.

    “60B. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a street unless the bicycle is equipped with a bell capable of being used as a warning.”

    A few bylaw officers at the next Gran Fondo would really rake in the dough, although it would be awkward handing out all tickets to the myriad LEOs who participate.

    • Paul H

      So are helmets but we can’t seem to enforce that law. Bells would be next to impossible.

  • ‘all those tickets’