There are some side streets in Vancouver that are designated bicycle routes. I’m not sure what this means entirely – I know it doesn’t mean there are only bicycles. I have noticed there are some intersections where cyclists can go on through and cars cannot. But there are loads of cars – some driving with caution but many are zooming, or 5 point turning in the middle of the road, backing up into the road, going the wrong way around a roundabout, etc. Sigh. I know vehicle transportation is part of our current system (that bicycle I bought didn’t fly here). Sometimes I drive – when I have heavy things to move, really far to go, or I’m broken somehow. Mostly I bike or bus. Or walk, if I can take the time for it. You see different things when you are moving at different speeds. And it feels good to mix it up.
It seemed that something was missing from the bicycle routes around our neighbourhood, specifically the East 10th Avenue route between Main St and Commercial Drive. There is no noticeable signage. There are tiny pictures of bicycles on the street name signs. Nothing else at side street roundabouts and intersections alerts vehicle drivers to the fact that they are about to cross or turn onto a bicycle route. And many people in cars are not expecting a cyclist. Heck, they’re probably just taking a short cut because the main commuter street is clogged with traffic. They are used to looking out for other cars, not cyclists.
Bicycles are not integrated into our idea of “traffic’. We in North America cruelly dumped all slower modes of transport for the shiny speedy gasoline automobile. We built our communities and our road systems with the car the main mode of transport. We didn’t realize how bad rush hour, oil prices and smog levels would get. So naturally, through a lack of practice and a lack of consistent infrastructure already built in, many car drivers and cyclists do not know how to share the road.
The lack of cues to prod car drivers into realizing they are sharing the road with bicycles seemed like a hurdle we could tackle. Applied for a community grant from NSGP, and with a bunch of help from neighbours and friends, we made bike route signs and hung them along the bike route wherever possible, facing drivers as they approach a bike route.