More on Vancouver bike lanes


in Law, Politics, The environment, The outdoors

My father is quoted in a recent Vancouver Sun article about bike lanes: Council considers more bike lanes downtown.

He points out how bike lanes make cyclists feel safer, encouraging the use of bikes in urban areas. He also highlights the two greatest dangers to cyclists: people opening car doors in front of them, and drivers making right hand turns into them. Both have come up here before.

In addition to physical protective measures, I think both educational and legal strategies should be pursued. Both of these types of collisions are caused by people not checking their blind spots for incoming cyclists. Driver training should put more emphasis on the importance of this. In addition, I would advocate making it the legal responsibility of someone making a turn or opening a door to check for cyclists. If they fail to do so and cause a collision, they should have to pay compensation to the cyclist and have a penalty applied to their driving license. In egregious cases, perhaps criminal charges should be pursued.

In any event, I very much hope Vancouver continues to make itself a more appealing city for cyclists, and that other cities follow the lead from places like Vancouver, Portland, or the Netherlands.

{ 171 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan April 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I strongly agree with changing the context of legal responsibility. I purposely will ride in traffic, rather than in the bike lane, because I know that if someone runs me down from behind they go to jail – but if someone opens their door and I’m killed by the impact they get a 150$ fine.

From a purely economic point of view (which can be thought to include legal responsibility if we quantify the negative utility of criminal charges), there isn’t a very good reason for drivers to check before opening a car door – the cost of making a mistake is minimal. The cost should not be lower for the driver (or rear seat passenger) than the cost of injury to the cyclist.

. April 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm

See also: How to be safe around cyclists

Blog index >> Cycling

Sarah April 23, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I agree about the need for more driver training & awareness about cyclists and I’m sympathetic about the desire to introduce a legal responsibility for someone to check for cyclists before opening their door, although I think it would be difficult to enforce. In some ways the best way to raise driver awareness might be to introduce a requirement for several hours of cycling on the road with an instructor as a pre-requisite for getting a driving license – that way drivers would learn about the rules of the road from a different perspective and observe how other people’s driving impacted them.

Tristan April 24, 2010 at 10:24 am

“although I think it would be difficult to enforce.”

Explain how different legal rules would be difficult to enforce in situations like this, which set the incentives for all other situations:

Milan April 24, 2010 at 11:53 am

I also don’t see why this would be all that hard to enforce. The law could look something like:

1) Anyone who opens a car door, causing a cyclist to run into it, shall pay a fine of at least $300 and at most $1000.

2) In addition, the person who opened the door will pay damages to the cyclist, to compensate for any harm to clothing and equipment, as well as any physical harm sustained by the cyclist.

3) In addition, the person who opened the door – if in possession of a driving license – will have a certain number of points added to their license (perhaps around 2-3, for licenses that get suspended at 5 points).

4) Anyone who makes a right turn, into a cyclist, shall pay a fine of at least $300 and at most $1000.

5) In addition, the person who made the turn will pay damages to the cyclist, to compensate for any harm to clothing and equipment, as well as any physical harm sustained by the cyclist.

6) In addition, the person who made the turn will have a certain number of points added to their license (perhaps around 2-3, for licenses that get suspended at 5 points).

7) Anyone who commits either of these infractions and then flees the scene will be subject to all additional penalties for ‘hit and run’ which have already been established.

You can tinker with the numbers a bit, but this basic approach seems like it would work.

Milan April 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm

These would both be absolute liability offenses, so there is no need to prove that whoever made the turn or opened the door actually intended to hit a cyclist. The fact that it happened is proof enough that they acted wrongly.

Speeding is another such offense.

Tristan April 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm

What about criminal liability? Do you not think it’s criminally negligent to open a door in a way that injures a cyclist?

Tristan April 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm

You know what it is – it’s “driving without due care and attention”, except the car is not moving.

“Driving without due care and attention” is a serious criminal charge.

Milan April 24, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I think a set fine would accomplish a lot, without being too politically difficult to implement.

The voice of common sense April 25, 2010 at 10:04 am

“If you kill someone with a gun, it’s called murder. If you kill someone with your car, it’s called an accident.”

Alena April 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I think that designated lanes are still a better choice. It is fine to pass a law as it may make people a little more vigilant, but bicyclists will still get hurt. Passing a law about the use of cell phones while driving is hardly observed at all in Vancouver and rarely punished. I am a very careful driver and yet, there have been times when I have not seen bikes weaving in and out of traffic on dark and rainy days. Often, the riders have no light or reflecting strips and they give me a fright. A cyclist is simply not protected well enough and people make mistakes. The new lane on Burrard bridge just makes it safer for everyone. It is a pity that cars and trucks have dominated our roads, but I would not recommend for cyclists to put themselves in danger. Demand safe biking lanes!

Tristan April 25, 2010 at 1:17 pm

In Toronto, bike lanes are part of the problem. Cyclists are told that it is safe to ride in a bike lane between traffic and parked cars – but the lane is an ideal place to crash into an opening door. I ride on the left white line of the bike lane, and expect every single door which could open to open – like playing Russian Roulette.

I demand separated bike lanes, ala montreal, or alternate bike routes, as in Vancouver (outside downtown).

oleh April 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Civil liability will already generally be attached to a driver or passenger who “doors” a cyclist.

The situation with the “right hook” is more complicated. A large factor is whether the cyclist was catching up to the car rather than the driver passing the cyclist. If the driver has passed the cyclist s/he should be aware of the cyclist and generally liability should attach. If the cyclist was never passed by the driver, it is harder to expect the driver to be aware of the cyclist.

I agree with Alena about the benefit of increased bike lanes. Drivers in these situations do not want to collide with cyclists. The person who “doored” me was extremely apologetic and clearly had no intent to hit or injure me.

Tristan April 25, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I think civil liability is the wrong way to look at the issue.

If I change lanes without looking, and as a result a moving motorcyclist is knocked off the road, into a bridge support, at 100km/h, it won’t be only held civilly liable. What is the difference between this manoever and opening a door – they are both situations where there is a duty to look, and in which not looking can cause a death.

Executing dangerous road makeovers, such as changing lanes and opening doors, without proper consideration puts lives at risk, and should be approached with criminal seriousness.

Milan April 26, 2010 at 9:22 am

If you kill someone with a gun, it’s called murder. If you kill someone with your car, it’s called an accident.

Any situation in which you kill someone unintentionally can be described as an accident: “I was juggling chainsaws and accidentally killed someone in the audience.”

We might think someone extremely reckless, for killing another person in such a way, but we almost never think of them as being a murderer.

Milan April 26, 2010 at 9:23 am

Also, being compensated for replacing clothing, one’s helmet, and repairing gear is more practically useful to a cyclist than imposing criminal penalties on a driver.

It almost never does anybody any good to put a person in prison, for instance.

The voice of common sense April 26, 2010 at 10:42 am

“Any situation in which you kill someone unintentionally can be described as an accident: “I was juggling chainsaws and accidentally killed someone in the audience.””

You are completely ignoring the difference between unforeseeable accident, and accident due to negligence. If I decided to start juggling chainsaws in public tomorrow, without the proper training, and I killed an audience member through this incredibly negligent decision, I would be held criminally liable.

Accidents which ought to have been foreseen are totally different those that were beyond the scope of reasonable preparation. If this wasn’t true then summer camp leaders would never talk about “risk management”.

People rarely “mean” for bad things to happen. However, carelessness can still be morally condemnable, and even criminal.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 10:45 am

“being compensated for replacing clothing, one’s helmet, and repairing gear is more practically useful to a cyclist than imposing criminal penalties on a driver.”

It’s interesting and telling that you refer exclusively to material possessions here. Material things are cheap – I don’t care about my bicycle, even from a materialist perspective. Bodies are expensive – the serious costs of an injury are rehabilitation and loss of income potential. Or, in the case of death, you are literally stealing a person’s life. Next to these costs, the price of a helmet looks pretty pathetic – significantly cheaper than any traffic ticket.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 10:48 am

If you create purely financial incentives against killing cyclists, then whether a driver chooses to avoid killing cyclists will be relative to how much money they have. So, stay away from those SL’s.

Milan April 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

When I got hit by a pickup truck making an abrupt and unsignalled right turn off Somerset Street (28 April 2009), the fall destroyed a shirt worth about $25 and forced me to replace my helmet at a cost of about $100.

It would have been nice to have the driver pay those costs.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

“It would have been nice to have the driver pay those costs.”

It would have been nice not to be hit by the truck at all – especially because any collision can quite easily result in serious injury. The costs of that potential injury are orders of magnitude higher than the cost of your bike.

It makes sense to create incentives for motorists to actively try not to kill cyclists. The only incentive structure which can be applied with any kind of universality is criminal liability. I would be surprised if, for moving vehicles, the charge of “dangerous driving”, or “dangerous driving causing death” could not already be applied to accidents involving cyclists. The importance of the door issue is that in many jurisdictions, i.e. Toronto, opening the door is not considered to be a part of driving.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 11:50 am

This is very much a live issue here in Toronto – see Micheal Bryant’s criminal charges after an altercation with a cyclist which resulted in the cyclists death:

Milan April 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm

The Bryant case seems totally unrelated to the issue of right hooks and door prizes.

It seems like Bryant and the cyclist were basically involved in a sort of intentional physical fight, which may have had some unintentional consequences.

The door prize/right hook problem is about obliviousness, not malice. Car users just forget to check for cyclists before moving in ways that might block them.

To me, it seems like more focus on these dangers within driver education would help, as would the knowledge of a large mandatory fine and points on your license.

R.K. April 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Would it be wrong to kill whales and dolphins, even if they did not suffer during their lives and they are not endangered?

A case can be made, on the basis of their intelligence, that killing them is akin to killing people (or perhaps to killing people with severe mental handicaps).

Perhaps the same case can be made for seals.

oleh April 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm

The person who “doored” me was a very nice person. She had no intent. She was quite sorry. She acknowleged and learned from her carelessness.

Imposing criminal liability on her would serve no purpose. She would be burdened with a criminal record. I think she was leaving for some program in Scotland. A criminal record can prevent people from advancing their careers, travelling, or volunteering. She was careless. However, I do not view her act as an intentional act and definitely not criminal.

. April 26, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Dangerous operation of motor vehicles, vessels and aircraft

249. (1) Every one commits an offence who operates

(a) a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place;


(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Dangerous operation causing bodily harm

(3) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) and thereby causes bodily harm to any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

Dangerous operation causing death

(4) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) and thereby causes the death of any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 249; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 36, c. 32 (4th Supp.), s. 57; 1994, c. 44, s. 11.

Milan April 26, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Would it be wrong to kill whales and dolphins, even if they did not suffer during their lives and they are not endangered?

I think this commented was intended for this thread.

Milan April 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Imposing criminal liability on her would serve no purpose.

I agree that this is generally the case.

At the same time, I think a mandatory penalty of some kind could have a useful deterrent effect.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 5:56 pm


I must disagree with you. Not all crimes are intended – people can be guilty of not taking precautions even if at the moment they didn’t feel said precautions were required. The easiest example of this is drunk driving – it is not required that one prove that the person intentionally drove drunk.

To me it seems like a stretch to say someone who opens a door without checking is not guilty of dangerous driving.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm

“having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place”

It doesn’t seem required here that the crown prove that the driver purposely did something dangerous – rather – that they failed to excises due care given the circumstances.

It seems to me that I’m on the side of the rational of the law here.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 6:01 pm

“Imposing criminal liability on her would serve no purpose. She would be burdened with a criminal record.”

This doesn’t even make sense. You can’t impose criminal liability retro-actively – that’s a basic principle of justice (and one that I think is relevant to suspend only in the case of institutional actors). The argument being made is we should begin imposing criminal liability. It’s not clear that if we already had been imposing criminal liability that she would have doored you at all. If it was well publicized that it was a crime to open a door without checking, then law-abiding citizens would stop opening doors without checking.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 6:03 pm


Your position seems to be that criminal liability would have no effect, i.e. not serve as a deterrent at all. However, asking drivers to pay for the damaged equipment, i.e. helmets and bicycles, would have a useful deterrent effect. Is this position sensible?

Milan April 26, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Criminal charges would be a stronger deterrent, but that is not sufficient to make them a better policy.

Most people seem unlikely to accept an approach based on criminal charges as fair. And they will object to specific applications of such a policy that seem especially unjust.

Fines seem like a more practical approach, more likely to actually emerge and endure.

Tristan April 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I don’t actually know if my sideswiping-a-motorcycle example would result in criminal charges. However, if it would, it seems totally unjustifiable to exempt sideswiping cyclists from criminal liability.

The comparison to motorcycles, in general, seems to me a good one – like cyclists, motorcyclists are road users that share a car and truck dominated infrastructure, and who are far more exposed to injury from contact with another vehicle.

. April 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?

By Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 8, 2009; W08

The defendant was an immense man, well over 300 pounds, but in the gravity of his sorrow and shame he seemed larger still. He hunched forward in the sturdy wooden armchair that barely contained him, sobbing softly into tissue after tissue, a leg bouncing nervously under the table. In the first pew of spectators sat his wife, looking stricken, absently twisting her wedding band. The room was a sepulcher. Witnesses spoke softly of events so painful that many lost their composure. When a hospital emergency room nurse described how the defendant had behaved after the police first brought him in, she wept. He was virtually catatonic, she remembered, his eyes shut tight, rocking back and forth, locked away in some unfathomable private torment. He would not speak at all for the longest time, not until the nurse sank down beside him and held his hand. It was only then that the patient began to open up, and what he said was that he didn’t want any sedation, that he didn’t deserve a respite from pain, that he wanted to feel it all, and then to die.

The charge in the courtroom was manslaughter, brought by the Commonwealth of Virginia. No significant facts were in dispute. Miles Harrison, 49, was an amiable person, a diligent businessman and a doting, conscientious father until the day last summer — beset by problems at work, making call after call on his cellphone — he forgot to drop his son, Chase, at day care. The toddler slowly sweltered to death, strapped into a car seat for nearly nine hours in an office parking lot in Herndon in the blistering heat of July.

It was an inexplicable, inexcusable mistake, but was it a crime? That was the question for a judge to decide.

. April 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

“There may be no act of human failing that more fundamentally challenges our society’s views about crime, punishment, justice and mercy. According to statistics compiled by a national childs’ safety advocacy group, in about 40 percent of cases authorities examine the evidence, determine that the child’s death was a terrible accident — a mistake of memory that delivers a lifelong sentence of guilt far greater than any a judge or jury could mete out — and file no charges. In the other 60 percent of the cases, parsing essentially identical facts and applying them to essentially identical laws, authorities decide that the negligence was so great and the injury so grievous that it must be called a felony, and it must be aggressively pursued. “

oleh May 12, 2010 at 2:08 am


Drunk driving is an intentional act consisting of
1. a person intentionally drinks and
2. that person intentionally drives.

bikesR4Kids June 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

Are you kidding me…all you militant pro bikers….fines for people opening car doors??? PLEASE GIVE ME A BLOODY BREAK!!!!! How about all the “militant cyclists” downtown who cut in and out of lanes, jump on sidewalks (narrowly avoiding pedestrians) because they’re on a one way street and don’t WANT to follow the rules of the road aka THE LAW, and the cyclists who constantly run red lights like they don’t apply to them and FREAK OUT when a car with a LEGAL turn signal nearly TAKES THEM OUT because the CYCLIST is flagrantly disobeying the LAW….how about cyclists not wearing helmets, or riding at night with no lights, no reflector etc against the flow of traffic…Cyclists as a whole are FAR more likely to be in violation of the LAW than any driver….and who’s PAYING for all these stupid bike lanes???? How about LICENSING cyclists (so they know and OBEY the LAW), make them pay a fee and INSURANCE(like any other vehicle on the road) and some of the $25 million bike lane costs(quoted from your militant pro cyclist mayor and council and what they want to spend, even though the city is $60 odd MILLION in debt!!) being dumped on taxpayers WHO DON’T EVEN CYCLE and/or are rarely downtown can be covered by the CYCLYISTS who use them (or better yet, a toll both on EVERY protected bike lane to pay for it!!!)…sick of you whiny cyclists with this a HUGE sense of entitlement…..needs of the many outweight the needs of the few in a DEMOCRACY…and we the DRIVERS FAR outnumber YOU the whiny militant minority cyclists…

IDrive5aLiving June 1, 2010 at 12:12 am

Here Here!!!!

I too and SICK to DEATH of all the special treatment a very tiny but LOUD minority are getting (the idiot downtown cyclists who don’t know how to “drive” on the road)….I drive for living downtown and all I see day and and day out are cyclists breaking the law, endangering themselves and getting all Pissed Off about it like Everybody else (drivers and pedestrians) should get out of THEIR way because in their self centered minds, they’re the MOST important people on the road…and the previous poster was right,,,why should I have to pay part of the $25 million bill for the Mayor’s “pet project” for bike lanes when the city is Tens of MILLION$ in debt??? I’d rather keep the Bloedel Conservatory open than clogging up the downtown core with bike lanes that do no on any good (except the aformentioned tiny minority of cycle idiots)….Time to vote this Mayor and Council OUT and put things back to the way they were….MORE ROADS/Lanes for cars….!!!

Matt June 1, 2010 at 3:22 pm


I know we’re meant to avoid libelous comments according to the site rules, but you must be a huge idiot. You make one post, and then write another agreeing with yourself? It’s not rocket science to figure out you’re the same person. Same exact writing style, ridiculously similar names (IDrive5aLiving? Way to use the right number…) I bet the site admin could also tell me that you posted from the same IP address.

Your post is full of hypocrisy. You complain of a sense of entitlement when that’s obviously exactly what you have. You seem fairly ‘militant’ yourself. Get a clue.

BuddyRich June 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I’d also add that aside from the direct costs, increased bike usage (which adding dedicated bike lanes hopes to encourage) decreases other societal costs that are borne by all BC residents indirectly:

-health care costs from obesity related illnesses (biking is a form of cardiovascular activity and will help fight obesity to those that chose to do so)

-less smog from fewer cars on the road in a concentrated area which again helps air quality and decreases asthma related illness which again lowers health care costs borne by all

-a decrease of co2 and other ghg which will contribute positively (however minutely) towards fighting climate change, which also happens to be a big focus of this blog. While perhaps no monetary savings can be attributed to this action because no economic system is in place to account for that negative externality at this time, knowing the consequences of unchecked global warming, it is perhaps the ethical thing to do.

-lessor maintenance costs of the existing roads via decreased use as more people choose to bike rather than drive. This is also a positive thing as it can only lead to better downtown traffic if more people chose to bike rather than drive, which should make a dedicated driver such as yourself happy, not mad, as traffic is one of the worst concerns of drivers, especially rush hour traffic.

As to the rest of your rant. Sure there are bad cyclists, just as there are bad drivers who have the same sense of entitlement to the road you mention, but that’s painting with a broad brush. Since it seems impossible to share the road in a safe manner due perhaps to both sides, spending the money for dedicated bike lanes is perhaps the wisest thing, so that neither group feels threatened by the other.

benL June 1, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I drive during the week (need to for work) and cycle downtown (where I live) on weekends (or walk)….so I see the issues from “both sides”…while the ranter previously (BikeR4 kids) seems to be vehemently “anti bike”, he does raise a couple of points that are worthy of consideration. To wit:

I wouldn’t mind if cyclists had to be licensed and insured just like cars (it would have to be a lesser $ percentage of course)…as a person who lives (and cycles) downtown, I more often see cyclists “breaking the law” (running of red lights, no helmets/lights and riding on sidewalks are the biggest problems I see) than cars. Maybe it’s “militancy” on the cyclist’s part, but maybe they don’t know the rules of the road…licensing would take care of that problem. And the police should be instructed to stop and ticket bikes breaking the law just like they would cars.

I don’t think the “toll booth on every bike lane” is practical but if fees were charged for licensing and insurance, I’m sure those fees could go to help defraying the costs of bike lanes…I see driver’s point: if you don’t cycle and don’t intend to ever cycle and you need to drive into downtown to work, as a driver, you’re losing lanes of traffic AND on the surface (if the $25 million price tag is correct) paying for a “free ride” for cyclists….I think cyclists and cars can both get along and I for one think there are “militants” on both sides of the issue (see “Critical Mass” every month, which does nothing but block traffic and make driver’s angry….I don’t participate in such useless events, even though I cycle…).

For the longest time, cyclists needs were ignored by city council. Now that we have a very pro cycle mayor and council, I think a “gradual” introduction of bike friendly rules/lanes is in order so there won’t be a “backlash” against cyclists and the mayor (I’d like him to stay for more than one term but lately I hear a LOT of “anti bike lane” noise from my driving co workers these days).

Moderation on both sides is the key to success….

BuddyRich June 2, 2010 at 6:36 am

Perhaps BC is different, but wouldn’t profits from an insurance scheme go to private companies rather than the government for bike lanes?

Also licensing itself is generally revenue neutral, so again you are not raising extra capital for the lanes, though I’d support a license and written test requirement for cyclists just to ensure cyclists are aware of the rules of the road as pertains to bikes (and registration that ensures your bikes serial number is on file with the police in case it is ever stolen).

As for the “free ride”, should a dedicated cyclist have part of his taxes pay for highways he never can legally bike on or uses? The money to maintain them is a lot more than $25M.

In general taxes pay for a lot of things you don’t or won’t ever use, because it is more efficient to pay taxes to general revenue where it is doled out than to have things you use directly itemized and billed to you on a tax return.

Tristan June 2, 2010 at 7:11 am

The money to “maintain” highways from the wear caused by cycles is negligible. And, if cyclists get cars off the road, they reduce road maintenance costs. In fact, the wear caused by cars is pretty negligible as well, but we’ve decided to subsidize shipping by truck, and also, cars cause a need for constant expansion of the road network which is expensive.

As for insurance – what do you think insurance pays for? Insurance doesn’t pay for the roads, insurance pays for costs you couldn’t afford when you are in an accident. Specifically, the only insurance you are required to have is insurance to pay the damages you cause to someone else. Now, it is possible to hurt someone while riding a bicycle, i.e. riding into a pedestrian, but it hardly compares to the ease with which motorists kill pedestrians and each other.

BenL June 3, 2010 at 3:52 am

Yes, BC is different….ICBC is a provincial government corp and handles all vehicle insurance..and as of recently, it’s “surplus revenue” (several hundred million $) has now gone into “general provincial government revenue”….so any cycle insurance and licensing would (at least a token amount) go to road maintenance (including bike lanes)…revenue from the province should (and “should” doesn’t necessarily mean “will” given our cash strapped much derided provincial government) go to the city to help defray the bike lane costs…it plays right to the provincial government attempt to be “the greenest province in Canada”…

While I see the poster’s points…the BIG (and kind of valid) argument I hear from driver’s is:

“Cyclists – 4 percent (the city’s own figure based on their monitoring of bike lanes and a number that’s all over the news) of the city’s population in good weather, much less in the dead of winter/heavy rain….96 percent of us drive” (OK more like 85 % since not everyone drives or cycles…some take transit/walk etc)….$25 million to serve a tiny minority when the city is $60 million in debt this fiscal year (before the $25 million for bike lanes is added in).

I just think that cyclists (myself included) have to make a effort to at least pay a Token amount to defray what seems to be a huge outlay for relatively few people…as someone who also drives, Vancouver penalizes drivers more than anywhere in Canada – our collective federal and provincial gasoline(including the ever expanding “carbon green tax”) taxes are higher, parking meters cost more and run longer than ANYWHERE in North America, including New York City…so a perceived additional “$25 million bill” for cyclists (who pay nothing currently for licensing, insurance or “parking” their bikes) will just further the “we hate cyclists’ mentality that many drivers have. I say “share the road, share the costs”….

Even if it turns out to be “revenue neutral”, we NEED to license cyclists (written and “cycling” exams)…they need to know the rules of the road and be held to the same safety standards as drivers.

And while you’re correct that cyclists may not use highways, cyclists do buy groceries and other goods yes? All that stuff comes in on trucks on highways and city roads(even if you’re a “localvore” and buy at farmer’s markets)…so, realistically EVERYBODY makes some use of highways/roads (can’t say the same for bike lanes much as I enjoy using them) unless you grow all your food and make all your clothes, living “off the grid” so to speak…(then you also probably wouldn’t be cycling downtown on a daily basis anyway)….

Seriously, cycling needs have been ignored FOREVER….now that we’re finally getting some progress, cyclists can’t expect NOT to have to pay SOMETHING for the increased/better/safer system being built for OUR benefit. I mean, I applaud the Mayor and council, but if they keep expanding the protected bike lane network (which I hope they do) as a perceived “free ride” for cyclists, eventually drivers (still by far the voting majority) will say “enough” and we’ll be back to a city government who could roll back all the gains under the guise of “fiscal responsibility”…

BuddyRich June 3, 2010 at 6:49 am

Should the city stop subsidizing new parks in neighbourhoods because only the immediate neighbourhood would benefit? Maybe we should make those neighbourhoods pony up some cash? (and from my experience in Ottawa sometimes it happens, though mostly at schools for new play equipment rather than city parks-more of a organized fund raising community already in place perhaps?)

I only pointed out that not everyone uses everything the city and/or the province funds, yet the expectation isn’t for those users to fund part of the construction of whatever itself. Why should bikers be different, especially if they’ve been paying taxes for years and getting nothing for their money? I would say if they’ve been neglected for years the city owes them…

Maybe we should increase the trucking companies taxes to make up for all the subsidized roads they profit from, rather than giving them corporate tax cuts (though this would hurt the small independent drivers rather than the big trucking corporations…)

Tristan June 3, 2010 at 9:13 am

It’s not a question of fairness, it’s a question of incentive. What do we want? More cyclists, and less drivers. So what should we do? Tax drivers, and pay cyclists.

Hey – paying cyclists! What a great idea!

Milan June 3, 2010 at 9:38 am

Previously: “Those willing to cycle around with a transponder would be credited at a modest rate for distance travelled. This would be in recognition of the non-market advantages of cycling, such as the value of physical fitness as a component in preventative medicine. In 1998, Health Canada estimated the total cost of cardiovascular diseases on the health sector of the Canadian economy to be $18,472.9 million (11.6% of the total cost of all illnesses). Cardiovascular disease is also responsible for 36% of deaths. As such, a subsidy of a few cents a kilometre makes economic sense, as well as potentially generating some good publicity for a system that is likely to be highly unpopular with commuters.”

BenL June 5, 2010 at 2:59 am

Hmmm…”buddy rich”, I think, having read your previous comments, that you’re just as “militant” and unreasonable as the poster you called out (correctly) as a ranting militant anti cyclist. You appear to be a ranting, militant “Pro cyclist” and just plain refuse to listen to intelligent debate and reasonable suggestions (which I believe mine were)…it’s cyclists like you (and drivers who hold an equally untenable opposite position) that are the reasons that we have such a toxic relationship between drivers and cyclists….you don’t care about a “real” solution, you just like to bitch and whine and refuse to budge on your militant, “my way or no way” ridiculous (in the “real world”) position….how about being constructive and not being a Big Part of the problem??? No? Probably not…. self righteous, militant zealots exist at the fringe of society for a reason….they can’t function like normal people…

And “Tristan”…it IS about fairness and “perceived fairness” NOT about “incentives” or “we’ve been ignored for so long, we SHOULD get a free ride”….no one, even the most anti cycling drivers, will argue that cycling ISN’T better for the environment than driving…but the reality is…most people drive, most people NEED to drive (distance from work, car pooling kids to and from school etc), most people will continue to drive in the foreseeable future…just adding bike lane after bike lane and giving the perception to drivers (the vast majority the Non Militant variety) that it’s “too bad for you, you need to just “suck it up” and give up lanes” and cyclists should get a free ride(because relative to drivers, what do they pay to cycle aside from buying the bike?) will only result in ONE thing….an anti-cycling council will replace our current council when driver’s collectively say “ENOUGH”….and some right wing council will start to roll back the gains cyclists have been getting…your comment will do nothing but ensure this will happen, maybe as soon as the next city election…cyclists NEED to get along with drivers (still the vast majority on the road AND at the the voting booth) not just give them the proverbial middle finger and say “tough luck you loser drivers” and expect there won’t be political consequences that WILL impact all those bike lanes you’re looking forward to.

benL June 5, 2010 at 3:18 am

Oh and Tristan, how come if a cyclist collides with a car door opening, in your view it’s Automatically the car driver’s fault?? I’m a very “defensive cyclist”, ALWAYS watching for potential problems….I’ve avoided “open doors” several times because I don’t “race” when I ride (other cyclists often blow by me like they’re in the Tour De France on busy downtown streets, which seem ridiculously unsafe) and I’m always watching cars (both moving and parked) up ahead…I mean, a driver who’s PARKED (engine off), is no longer “operating a motor vehicle”, in this case the CYCLIST is the “moving vehicle”….as I’ve mentioned, I’ve more often see cyclists downtown breaking the “rules of the road” than drivers….just because a cyclist is more likely to get injured in any “car vs bike” collision DOES NOT automatically make any collision the car driver’s responsibility….I’ve seen FAR too many idiot cyclists AND drivers to automatically assess blame to the driver…every “incident” is different and should be treated as such…if a cyclist gets hit flagrantly running a red light when a car has a turn signal traffic light (I’ve witnessed this and given my witness testimony to attending police) it ISN’T the drivers fault just because the cyclist had to be transported by ambulance and the driver drove home with no more than a dented fender…

BuddyRich June 5, 2010 at 8:51 am

I am open to serious debate. I also think we are closer than we are apart in our arguments. We all agree that the bike lanes are a good thing. I agree about licensing and registration though I don’t think they would raise much revenue for the city/province, but they are still good in their own right. We are just arguing on how to/and who pays for them.

You are asserting that because so few people actually would use the lanes, that the city shouldn’t be on the hook for paying for it all (if at all?). I am not sure if you advocated a public/private partnership on the issue or what the exact percentages should be but you certainly feel that it shouldn’t be something the city spends so much money on since so few benefit.

I’ve mentioned some hypothetical examples that demonstrate other city funded projects that benefit only a few such as a neighbourhood park or a new one, the whole school tax portion of your municipal taxes when you have no kids nor the desire to have them-school taxes are not something you can opt out of. Yet (I assume, you never did answer that assertion) you think it is OK for the city to fully fund those projects that benefit only a few.

I’d further argue that the whole point of taxes is to pool the money and accomplish more through economies of scale than what could ever get done individually, so sometimes, yes, projects are undertaken that only benefit a few. The city also doesn’t always do what is popular, but what is right for policy objectives it is trying to achieve such as reducing obesity and reducing GHG emissions. Could the city meet those objectives in other ways more palpable to the public at large? I don’t know. I do believe that “if you build it they will come”. I think once the lanes are completed the percentage of commuters will increase.

I am hardly a militant cyclist, I probably drive half of the time to work (or take public transit) rather than cycle, more so now as I am recovering from a hockey injury. I know I would certainly cycle more often if it was easier to do so. I don’t live in Vancouver, but if Ottawa had some dedicated cycling lanes downtown I would feel safer to do so and know other people that do so that 4% (or whatever Ottawa’s percentage of commuters is) would increase. Ottawa is actually having this same discussion right now, though its only at the pilot stage. They want to convert one street through downtown from mixed use to be a dedicated bike lane.

Tristan June 5, 2010 at 9:40 am

“Oh and Tristan, how come if a cyclist collides with a car door opening, in your view it’s Automatically the car driver’s fault?? ”

I suppose it is possible that a motorists could look, see that there was no cyclist nearby, and then a cyclist could ride up without looking and hit the door. This seems very unlikely – because it doesn’t actually take long to exit a car door and close it again. If you can’t exit the car door, and close it again, in the time it will take the cyclist to reach your door – I can’t see any good reason you should be opening it.

This is the same principle you obey if you are merging into traffic. If the oncoming traffic has to slow down to accomodate you – wait for a bigger gap. You will fail a driving exam if the oncoming traffic has to slow down to avoid you.

Tristan June 5, 2010 at 9:42 am

“We all agree that the bike lanes are a good thing.”

Nope. I think most bike lanes give a false sense of security, and provide a handy region into which car doors can open for cyclists to hit. I think bikes should have their own roads – whether that mean seperate bike throughways like in Vancouver, or dividing one street into two, two way streets, and one being for bicycles. This has been tried in Montreal, but it isn’t really effective because cars can turn right through the bike lane, causing many injuries. For safety, the roads need to be physically closed off from each other.

Tristan June 5, 2010 at 9:45 am

“I mean, a driver who’s PARKED (engine off), is no longer “operating a motor vehicle””

This is a problem. You can open your door, kill a cyclist, and not be guilty of anything. If you think you should be exempt of criminal repercussions of dangerous acts which you can easily avoid doing, you are not a serious person.

Milan June 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Legally, I think the fact the car is parked is irrelevant,

The standard is being “in command and control” of the vehicle. For instance, being drunk inside your car with the keys is sufficient to charge you with impaired driving.

I don’t think passengers are off the hook in a parked car either. After all, their decision to open a door can still be an act of negligence.

benL June 5, 2010 at 8:34 pm

“Tristan” and “Milan”…you’re still operating under the woefully misguided (and kind of ridiculous) mindset that ‘cyclists can do no wrong’ and it’s 100% the driver’s fault if a cyclist is hit by an opening door. I’M A CYCLIST…I drive VERY defensively in downtown traffic…and I’ve managed to avoid being hit by opening doors several times because I PAY ATTENTION and don’t “race” my bike, don’t have my IPOD plugged in and don’t “chat” with my fellow cyclists when I ride in heavy traffic (and we don’t ride/chat side by side like a lot of cyclists mistakenly do…we ride single file)…just because cyclists are more “vulnerable” in any collision doesn’t mean they are FREE of any responsibility. Motorcyclists are Almost as vulnerable (in any car vs motorcycle collision, who usually loses?)…but cyclists (motor and pedel) CHOOSE this form of transportation and KNOW they are more vulnerable…but they are ‘moving vehicles on the road’…to expect they should be “free” of ANY responsibility (any collision is AUTOMATICALLY the car driver’s fault) is patently ridiculous….especially in THIS city where(at least downtown), where many cyclists don’t seem to know (or care) about the rules of the road (hence my call for provincial licensing/insurance). And your call for “completely separate bike/car routes” is financially untenable….whos’ going to pay for such an expensive plan (and again voters will say…”all this spent to serve 4% of the population? Democracy is about serving the Majority”) when just adding 2 protected bike lanes in this city is causing such controversy? To think that you live in a “we cyclists deserve the exact same system as cars so we can feel safe, and damn the cost” world is more than a little silly…

And “Buddy Rich”, you raise good points and I may have been mistaken in calling you “militant” but you also DON’T live in Vancouver (as you mentioned)….and there is a serious “disconnect”/borderline hate between cyclists and drivers (and frankly, we as a city have both some terrible cyclists, though that seems to be almost a complete “downtown” phenomena, and a lot of awful drivers, which makes the problems worse) here that’s fairly unique to this city (I haven’t seen this kind of dislike in other Canadian and US cities I’ve lived/cycled in)….my suggestions (and I do live, cycle AND drive here) are trying to come to a reasonable accomodation for both parties…we have only 2 new protected bike lanes in the downtown core and already there is mass resentment/opposition from drivers and local businesses who are about to lose parking near their establishments…whether licensing/insurance for bicycles raises $10million or is barely breaks even, doing that will ease tensions…THE most quoted complaint(paraphrased here) from non cyclists in Vancouver(based on news reports) is “Yeah it’s good for the environment, but how come they get a free ride (and they’re so few of them)” and “why aren’t cyclists licensed so they know the rules of the road” (along with “why don’t the police ticket cyclists breaking the law?”). Your Parks analogy doesn’t work because, there is NO mass group raging against parks…right now there is a growing, grumbling group (who represent potentially a majority of voters) that is starting to complain and get active about bike lanes because they feel, the needs of the very few (cyclists) have been put in front of the needs of the many (everyone else who doesn’t cycle) to the tune of $25 million, which for a city in debt, seems outrageous.

Milan June 5, 2010 at 10:44 pm

“In my own experience, the situations that endanger cyclists and the operators of other vehicles near them usually arise because of a lack of awareness about making movements perpendicular to the flow of traffic. In front of a cyclist, imagine a cylinder projected forward, with a length corresponding to the distance it would take that cyclist to stop safely. If you move into that cylinder, there is likely to be a collision.

Basically, if you put yourself or an object in front of a cyclist, at a shorter distance than their minimum safe stopping distance, any collision is your fault. That goes for opening a door, changing lanes while driving, stepping into traffic, etc.

Tristan June 6, 2010 at 10:41 am

“This is the same principle you obey if you are merging into traffic. If the oncoming traffic has to slow down to accomodate you – wait for a bigger gap. You will fail a driving exam if the oncoming traffic has to slow down to avoid you.”

BuddyRich June 6, 2010 at 11:51 am

I do agree that there is definitely a divide between urban and suburban and rural voters desires on policy direction for pretty much anything, including cycling. Any city that has gone through amalgamation can identify with that. Ottawa in particular has its share of divided opinions on issues as it has both a large suburban and rural constituencies in its makeup.

I do recognize the “militant” type you mention. It is less of a factor in urban Ottawa for sure but it exists here, though I think it is tempered by the large amount of “sport” riders here thanks to the proximity of excellent cycling in the Gatineau Hills. I guess I am less offended when I see these cyclists break some laws (such as not stopping at red lights, ride on sidewalks, etc.) as I can empathize with their desire to maintain momentum as a rider myself. That said, they are still breaking the law and I do not condone it.

As I said, Ottawa is going through this same discussion right now… though only to implement 1 lane as a pilot. The idea is that it turns an existing road into a bicycle only corridor. This blog post mentions some highlights of the discussions that are going on between all of the stakeholders (BIAs, cycling advocates, city), maybe Vancouver needs consultations like this.

The nice thing with this approach is that the cost is minimal (to the city, businesses of course fear the loss of parking though I think that is irrational) as it uses an existing mixed use road, and simply makes it one way to car traffic, with the second half of the road a separate bike lane away from both parked cars and traffic.

benl June 7, 2010 at 2:50 am

“Tristan”, your quoting of math/physics principles and motor vehicle rules THAT DON’T APPLY to a parked vehicle/door opening doesn’t “prove” or “defend” anything….

Last time I checked the motor vehicle law in BC, opening a car door from a stopped, PARKED(engine off, E-Brake on) vehicle IS NOT A PROSECUTABLE OFFENSE if a cyclist runs into the door (barring extenuating circumstances). CYCLISTS (and I DO INCLUDE MYSLEF IN THAT GROUP) have to BE MORE DEFENSIVE WHEN THEY DRIVE IN HEAVY TRAFFIC/streets with heavy parking….The attitude that “it’s ALL the driver’s fault if a cyclist is injured” so the impetus to “be cautious” is ALL the driver’s responsibility is BS and DANGEROUS because cyclists with that attitude WON’T drive defensively, and they’ll get HIT…This all goes back to the “2 militant camps” of cyclists and drivers in Vancouver…Drivers think cyclists don’t know the rules of the road (and frankly, MANY downtown DON’T) and cycle recklessly; Cyclists think drivers are bad drivers (and MANY are) and “out to get them” (unlikely) or don’t really even see them unless cyclists are flagrantly blocking the flow of traffic, which then pisses drivers off (more likely)…Saying ‘it’s all driver’s fault and they should go to jail/face a huge fine if any cyclist is EVER injured in ANY car vs bike collision” is just militant (there’s that word AGAIN)posturing and WILL SOLVE NOTHING…if you really cared about cyclist’s safety, you wouldn’t be unilaterally demanding financially impossible, pie in the sky things like “completely separate car and bike lanes everywhere” (unless you’ve got $100 million or so to donate to make happen) and start demanding things that CAN help (like licensing and insuring cyclists). I recognize and appreciate your passion for cycling, but you really need to GET REAL….we live in a motor vehicle dominant world and likely will for the rest of both our (hopefully) long lifetimes…

benl June 7, 2010 at 3:02 am

And for the record “Tristan”…YOUR quote:

“Executing dangerous road makeovers, such as changing lanes and opening doors, without proper consideration puts lives at risk, and should be approached with criminal seriousness.”

I see cyclists (not the opening of door but the reckless changing of lanes suddenly, causing cars to have to take evasive action and/or hard sudden braking) do this FAR more often than any cars when I’m cycling downtown….so in your Perfect world, I guess we SHOULD prosecute these cyclists right? Fair’s fair RIGHT??

Tristan June 7, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Erratic writing, improper use of capitals is not merely a matter of taste – it is rude. Words or sentences in all caps specifically signals yelling. I don’t have any interest in participating in a conversation where the level of writing does not reflect the seriousness of the issues at hand.

TwoWheelinGirl June 7, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Aside from bike lanes, I think the city could better enforce the bike helmet law.

Did you know cycling is one of the most common causes of serious sports injuries, with more than 1,000 cycling-related injuries requiring hospitalization? That’s 20 cyclists hospitalized per week!

Here are a few interesting stats from Preventable (aka The Community Against Preventable Injuries):

• For every $1 spent on a helmet, there is a subsequent savings $29 in injury costs

• Total direct and indirect cost for cycling-related injury in BC is estimated at $85 million

To learn more about bicycle safety and preventable injuries, visit

benl June 9, 2010 at 3:57 am

THANK YOU TwoWheelinGirl!!!

As a cyclist (and driver) I find it RIDICULOUS that cyclists (again I speak specifically of Downtown Vancouver as this is the area I cycle in) so often ignore the law (helmets, lights/reflectors after dark,riding against traffic or suddenly jumping on sidewalks and especially running red lights). I’ve seen SO many near misses and a few accidents in downtown caused (sorry to say) by reckless cycling/cyclists ignoring the law. The Vancouver police tend to ignore cyclists breaking laws (until a serious accident occurs) and our “pro cycling” mayor so often says it’s all about “protecting cyclists and cutting accidents”…but really, how many accidents are caused by reckless/law ignoring cyclists? I’d be curious to know those stats….that’s why I’m for licensing/insuring cyclists, so every cyclist on the road KNOWS the LAWS of the road. I spoke to a helmetless cyclist recently…she got VERY upset/defensive when I asked about her helmet, saying “it my RIGHT not to wear a helmet…if I get hurt it’s MY problem…we don’t live in Communist China” (seriously, she said that)…not realizing if/when she gets hurt is ALL our tax dollars that have to pay her medical bills.

And “Tristen” you’re barely worth responding to because you’re just a ridiculous gasbag…your last post (which was the internet equivalent of a “child has tantrum and takes his toys and goes home” because he has no logical argument) revealed completely (if there was any doubt) that you’re kind a douche who likes to post his opinion and ignore anyone else that disagrees with you, even (and especially) when your opinion has NO LOGIC (yep using CAPS again so I guess you’ll ignore this) or common sense backing it up.

I apologized to “Buddy Rich” earlier when I (mistakenly) called him a militant….but I can confidently call you that. You’re a moronic person who just likes the sound of his own ranting. You’ll never be part of the solution, hence you (and militants like you, both cyclists and drivers) are pretty much the ENTIRE problem. Your “I’m the most important person on the road” attitude will probably get you injured in the future by some innocent driver and I’ll feel bad for that driver.

We’re having intelligent conversations about serious real world cycling/driving issues and potential real world solutions. It’s obvious you aren’t capable in keeping up intellectually. That said, you should just step out of the conversation and go play at the “spoiled ranting child table”.

Milan June 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Please be nice, people. Calling one another names doesn’t advance anyone’s understanding of urban cycling issues.

Simon June 10, 2010 at 2:59 am


You are a troll.

benl June 10, 2010 at 4:06 am

Dear Simon

…and you sound like a pinhead….so I’ll just pretend you never posted since you had nothing of any importance to say…..

Matt June 10, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I am downtown often, and although I do see cyclists disobeying the rules of the road, I’d say I see this of drivers at least equally if not more. Often there are cars parked or driving in bike lanes. A good majority of people fail to signal lanes changes and often drivers turning right don’t stop for red lights as required to do so before executing the turn.

While any person, whether on a bike or driving a car, needs to be responsible for their actions, the fact is a car driver is much more likely to kill or severely injure someone else than a cyclist is if either makes a mistake. Furthermore, I don’t agree that bikes should be licensed as it sets up a barrier to reducing car travel, which is desirable and needed from a pollution and traffic congestion standpoint. Also, I was 4 when I had my first two wheeled bike. Are we to be licensing 4 year olds? I think not.

benl June 10, 2010 at 6:42 pm

If 4 year olds are cycling unsupervised by adults downtown (where I believe the majority of “reckless cycling” happens in Vancouver), we’ve got bigger problems than I thought….

And when I was a kid (around 7 I think) bicycles for kids WERE licensed. The Police liaison at each elementary school in Vancouver set up a (free) licensing program….alas budget cuts and/or red tape derailed that program a few years later…

benl June 10, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Oh and licensing/insuring cyclists sets up a ‘barrier’ to cycling? Really? With some people (the “hardcore” who are likely to ride rain or shine and actually make regular use of bike lanes) dropping sometimes Thou$ands on their tricked out carbon fibre uber cycles, you’re saying they won’t pay another few hundred to license/insure their baby? Please.

This whole “we cyclists should get a free ride/not be subject to laws because we’re good for the environment” excuse is wearing thin and really doesn’t hold water. As what I consider a responsible, law abiding cyclist (and driver), I WANT licensing/insurance for all cyclists and I’ll happily pay whatever rates are set for cyclists. It will be safer for EVERYBODY on the road and just makes sense when every other vehicle on the road (cars, trucks, motorcyclists etc) all have to have passed a minimum licensing/know the rules of the road test. The “we should not be subject to licensing because we’re green” just smacks of smugness/arrogance which is one of the problems of why we have such a divide between cyclists and drivers in this city. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of driver’s are equally “me-centric” but at least they are licensed and insured, and there are very few drivers out there who think, “I drive a hybrid and carpool which is good for the environment/cuts congestion so I don’t think I should pay insurance/be licensed” or ‘we should cut/drop licensing/insurance for hybrids because it sets up a ‘barrier’ to encourage people to go hybrid”….I mean, your attitude is basically self serving (“I don’t want to pay any extra to ride my bike, I haven’t in the past, why should I in the future”…). With all the extra/new cycling friendly infrastructure city council wants to put in, cyclists have to be expected to bear at least a part of the financial load. It’s fair, safer for all and will help ease driver/cyclist tensions in a city that desperately needs it (refer to the Global/CTV TV news stories about driver’s biggest complaints re: bike lanes..”How come the cyclists get a free ride when the city wants to spend $25 million on a tiny percent of the population”? “How come cyclists aren’t licensed and they routinely break the laws without penalty” etc).

Matt June 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm

If 4 year olds are cycling unsupervised by adults downtown (where I believe the majority of “reckless cycling” happens in Vancouver), we’ve got bigger problems than I thought….

Never did I mention that 4 year olds are cycling downtown. Much like you need a license to drive a car everywhere, not just downtown, it would be likely that if licensing were required of cyclists, it would apply everywhere. In such a case, it would require children to be licensed, which I think is onerous.

This whole “we cyclists should get a free ride/not be subject to laws because we’re good for the environment” excuse is wearing thin and really doesn’t hold water.

This is what you call a strawman argument. That is, you misrepresent an argument in a way that’s easy for you to refute. I don’t think anyone here has said cyclists should not be subject to laws because bikes are good for the environment.

Rather, I think the argument being made, at least from myself, is that because it’s obviously desirable to reduce the number of car trips, the city is correct to encourage bicycle use by providing a space for them, something which does reduce car trips. The money spent on bike lanes is basically money being put towards an objective the city wants to accomplish: reduce car travel.

To put it another way, the city wants to incentivize leaving the car at home. Creating a licensing system for cyclists is effectively dis-incentivizing the process, the opposite of their objective.

“How come cyclists aren’t licensed and they routinely break the laws without penalty”
One doesn’t need a license to be cited by the police for breaking traffic laws. If the police were to step up traffic enforcement downtown, I’d be all for it. Of course this should include cars as well as bikes.

we should cut/drop licensing/insurance for hybrids because it sets up a ‘barrier’ to encourage people to go hybrid

Although they still have to be insured, hybrids are given an advantage by the government in the form of a very generous tax rebate.

And when I was a kid (around 7 I think) bicycles for kids WERE licensed. The Police liaison at each elementary school in Vancouver set up a (free) licensing program.

Any such program wouldn’t be legally required for a child to complete prior to riding a bike. Rather, I’m sure it was just a fun way to teach kids about traffic safety which results in them getting a “grown-up” license at the end of it. I’m not at all opposed to programs like this, but surely you can see that this isn’t licensing in the sense way as is being discussed in this thread.

BuddyRich June 11, 2010 at 7:12 am

Once again, at least here in Ottawa, Cyclists are getting fines, so they aren’t getting preferential treatment by the cops.

The article also has a good summary of a cyclists responsibilities according to the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario. I would imagine BC is similar.

Tristan June 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm

There is another question – are the rules of the road for cyclists correct? Are the punishments correct?

If they aren’t, what we could expect to see would be spotty enforcement, and we would expect to see the most enforcement from police officers who are the least connected with cycling. If they are, we would expect to see more consistent enforcement, and the most enforcement from police officers who are themselves avid cyclists.

benl June 11, 2010 at 10:54 pm

My comment: This whole “we cyclists should get a free ride/not be subject to laws because we’re good for the environment” excuse is wearing thin and really doesn’t hold water.

Your response: This is what you call a strawman argument. That is, you misrepresent an argument in a way that’s easy for you to refute. I don’t think anyone here has said cyclists should not be subject to laws because bikes are good for the environment.

Dude, that’s EXACTLY what you’re saying when you go on about how cyclists shouldn’t be licensed. If you say cyclist SHOULD be subject to laws just like every other vehicle on the road, then cyclists SHOULD be licensed, not they shouldn’t be because “you think” it will discourage people from cycling and that’s ‘bad’ for the environment/congestion etc…that’s hypocrisy on your part, plain and simple ….EVERY operator of every vehicle on the road (car, truck, motorcycle and bicycle) should be licensed and have to take an operator test to prove they know the rules/laws of the road. There is no legal or logical reason that bikes alone should not be licensed…it’s a safety issue more than anything else. If it costs the cyclist a few buck to register for a license, so what?….it’s costs everybody else some money to get a license. Cyclists are NOT special, better people, therefore they should not get special, better treatment (which they have been).

A cyclist can just as easily cause an accident as a car or truck, but at least the car/truck/motocyclist(who are just a physically “vulnerable” as a cyclist) is licensed and insured….if a cyclist causes an accident, what penalty do they face?…they don’t pay insurance, can’t get their license suspended… they just skate away legally/financially clean….that’s not right. I pay a lot for my car license and insurance, and as someone who’s also a cyclist I think paying something reasonable for a bike license/insurance is completely fair.

And are the laws/punishments for cyclist correct? If it discourages illegal behavior and encourages safety on the cyclists part and the police enforce the laws, yes. If penalties aren’t punitive enough, raise the fines for “no helmet, no lights, no reflectors”….raise the fines for “running red lights”, raise the fines for “cyclists on sidewalks” or “riding against the flow of traffic (especially on one way streets), raise the fines for suddenly changing lanes and causing other vehicles to have to stop hard or take evasive action because the cyclist is moving so much slower than the flow of traffic.

Do we fine/penalize a cyclist for “not paying due attention” and running into a parked car door opening? That’s a tricky one because we already know that legally speaking, the driver exiting a parked vehicle is generally NOT responsible if a moving vehicle hits them. That one would have to be a case by case decision. My opinion as a cyclist is, opening doors can be avoided most times as I have quite a few times when I cycle because I don’t ride with extraneous speed and I pay attention to the road/cars up ahead in heavy traffic/parked car zones. Other cyclist may think differently but the reality is you can’t put all the blame on a legally parked vehicle as the ‘moving vehicle’ generally has the ‘burden of proof’ to show they WERE paying “due attention”. “Without due care and attention” is a grey area for any moving vehicle on the road. The same legally usually doesn’t apply to a person in a parked vehicle.

Make the penalties as punitive to cyclists as what car drivers face now and maybe we won’t have so many cycling mishaps in downtown Vancouver. I’m all for the above because when I cycle downtown, I do it legally and safely, so the penalties generally won’t affect me. It’s only the reckless/willfully law breaking cyclists that will howl in protest.

benl June 11, 2010 at 10:59 pm

And FYI, a (pro cycle) Vancouver city councillor has gone on record that they will look into and demand that the VPD enforce the cycling laws as strongly as they enforce the laws for drivers. I get that the VPD is overloaded and every ticket written is more paperwork but turning a blind eye to cyclists is NOT the way to make the city roads safer.

benl June 11, 2010 at 11:20 pm

and BTW “Tristen” your comment about the “police enforcement issue” and the subtext that laws governing cyclists are somehow “unfair”….that’s just more self serving, illogical BS from a you and you continues to show from every post that you’re either a militant with no sense of “logic” or just intellectually stunted beyond belief.

The Vancouver Police don’t enforce (reporters have asked cops this, both on bicycles and in squad cars) because the rank and file officers of the department feel overworked/undermanned. They know it’s wrong, but they claim that time/manpower often causes them to let “cycling infractions” slip by, even though they know it wrong and as stated , the city is looking into this issue.

Milan June 12, 2010 at 2:16 am

It really isn’t appropriate to be abusive. Please make your arguments without personally antagonizing other commentors.

benl June 12, 2010 at 2:45 am

I call a douche a douche….fair comment is not antagonistic nor abusive…no expletives, abusive language or threats were posted so legally, you may not agree with what I say, but I broke no laws saying it.

That includes BC provincial and Federal laws.

Thank you.

Milan June 12, 2010 at 3:24 am

“What I said was not illegal” is an awfully low standard for conversation, isn’t it?

Also, being nasty tends to make a person less convincing, not more.

Tristan June 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm

In response to Ben’s claim that “no expletives, abusive language or threats were posted”

BenL @ Tristan:

“And “Tristen” you’re barely worth responding to because you’re just a ridiculous gasbag”

BenL @ BuddyRich

” You appear to be a ranting, militant “Pro cyclist” and just plain refuse to listen to intelligent debate and reasonable suggestions”

“It’s obvious you aren’t capable in keeping up intellectually.”

“You’re a moronic person who just likes the sound of his own ranting.”

Matt June 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Dude, that’s EXACTLY what you’re saying when you go on about how cyclists shouldn’t be licensed. If you say cyclist SHOULD be subject to laws just like every other vehicle on the road, then cyclists SHOULD be licensed,

I’ve already said I think cyclists should have to comply with the applicable laws. As the law is now, they do not need to be licensed. Therefore, while riding unlicensed, a rider is in compliance with the law. Pretty simple.

I do not agree that the law needs to be changed in this regard. The motor vehicle act already takes bicycles into account, and I fail to see what licensing would do besides providing a disincentive to an objective the city is trying to achieve.

A cyclist can just as easily cause an accident as a car or truck.

The severity of injuries a cyclist is likely to cause to persons other than themselves during an accident is significantly less than that of a driver operating an automobile 20 times heavier than the bike/rider combination. However, to address your point more directly, if a cyclist causes damages, the legal system already allows for their victim to collect on those damages.

That’s a tricky one because we already know that legally speaking, the driver exiting a parked vehicle is generally NOT responsible if a moving vehicle hits them.

For your benefit, the following is a link that redirects to the section of the motor vehicle act that clearly states otherwise.

Make the penalties as punitive to cyclists as what car drivers face now

They already are. If you run a red light on a bike, you are breaking the same law as if you run a red light in a car. By your own admission, the problem is with law enforcement. Licensing is a not a magic bullet that will suddenly change the ability or desire of law enforcement to punish an offending cyclist.

Benl June 13, 2010 at 3:56 am

…But licensing WILL make sure ALL cyclists know the law and the rules of the road, which you certainly can’t say now. There are many cyclists who do operate their bikes safely but there are also many (again this seems to be a strictly downtown problem) that either don’t know the rules, or more distressingly, don’t care about the rules of the road.

And, as I stated before, any fees for licensing and insurance should go to help both defray the cost of bike lanes (and I clearly state, cyclists shouldn’t be on the hook for ALL the cost, but a reasonable percentage) AND help defuse driver’s biggest complaint (‘cyclists get a free ride to the tune of $25 million’ & ‘license cyclists so they know the rules of the road’). I’ve always stated it is about “safety and fiscal fairness and the appearance of fairness for EVERYBODY”.

And ‘Tristan”, check your provincial/federal law. NONE of what you reposted constitutes “expletives (aka “the 7 words you can’t say on TV”), a threat to your person, hate mongering or abusive language (“douche” and “gasbag” aren’t denoted (legally or otherwise) as “abusive” unless you’re a 10 year old and your parents scold you for using those words. If you’re such a sensitive soul that whose words offend your person, maybe you should be less egocentric and insulting with your posts.

And “Matt”, if in your learned opinion the law sides with cyclists in any “moving cyclist hits parked car”, why all the bitching, whining and ranting from the militant cycling brigade here that the law covering this MUST change??Please, respectfully, get your facts straight and stop flip flopping to try and make a “point”. I work with crown council in Vancouver and I’m aware how most of these cases go…usually the driver exiting the parked vehicle is NOT criminally responsible (barring special extenuating circumstances) because at the time of collision they are NOT operating a motor vehicle.

The ONLY reason you (and others like you) are so up in arms over the licensing and insurance suggestion is you’ve had the “no cost” option (aside from cost of the bike itself) for so long and want it to continue. The problem is, the “no cost” option has come with “no infrastructure” for cyclists for decades. Now that we’re getting some , it’s just plain illogical to assume that$25 million in cycling infrastructure should come to you (the cyclist) “free of charge” and “just let the drivers eat all the cost/pain”….you can continue to rant and demand this pipe dream all you want…right up to the moment when the majority (ahem, aka Drivers) decide collectively to kick out Mayor Robertson and his team for a team that will curtail bike lanes, or worse yet, roll them back (technically they are “trial lanes”)…keep thumbing your noses at driver’s and saying “tough beans, deal with it you loser drivers!!” and you’ll be surprised how fast a city council/mayor can be replaced….what I’m suggesting offers a long term/long view solution….”Safety, Fiscal Fairness and the appearance of fairness FOR ALL”(because we all share the road)….you got a better idea (and I mean a “realistic long term” one not some “cyclists should get everything we want and screw the cars” militant rant), let’s hear it….

Matt June 13, 2010 at 5:25 am

I’d be interested to know how I’ve flip flopped in my opinion. Feel free to point it out to me, using quotes.

Also I want to mention that I never said that the law sides with any cyclist who hits a parked car. The law does side with people who receive damages by a driver who recklessly opens the door without looking. As for getting my facts straight, I provided you with a link to the specific law in question. I’d say I have my facts pretty straight. If you bothered to read it, you would see that regardless of whether or not the car is running, the driver is resposnsible to not open the door in a way that interferes with traffic.

Finally, regarding the “bitching and whining from the militant cycle brigade,” I’m not responsible for the content of other people’s posts.

benl June 13, 2010 at 9:01 am

…but if you check , you’ll see that the VPD/Crown Council rarely uses that part of the act to prosecute drivers in regards to cyclists hitting open doors, since the intent of the law is to prevent blocking other moving motor vehicles….hence all the whiners/militants complaining the law is somehow “unfair” to them and should change to “automatically hold the driver at criminal fault”, which is ridiculous (and plays to the militant cyclists’ “we’re so special/most important people on the road” opinion of themselves)….I don’t think the current law is unfair to drivers or cyclists (and I cycle in the heart of downtown), I just think a lot (not all) of cyclists don’t cycle with due care, attention and respect for cars…you’re a cyclist, you ARE more vulnerable, you should be MORE cautious, not less. Get off the bluetooth, turn off the ipod, pay attention and, most importantly, stop cycling with too much speed in heavy traffic/parking zones, which I include most of downtown during the day/rush hours (and wearing a helmet would help, it IS the law BTW, which you’d know if you had to take a mandatory bicycle licensing exam, which would make cycling safer…gee what an “awful” thought: Licensing to improve safety…) and you will avoid opening car doors (as I have done on quite a few occasions, and they weren’t “white knuckle near misses”…I had reasonable time to brake and avoid).

The reason I hear from speaking to a few crown council lawyers why the act you linked isn’t used more, is because it’s hard to prove the driver exiting the car wasn’t using “reasonable caution” (and proving a driver “recklessly” opened a car door is even more difficult) because the car is stationary and cyclists often come up on them very quickly (a fit cyclist can often move quicker than the flow of traffic in rush hour…doesn’t mean they should from a safety point of view) and their “visible profile” head on (and it’s hard enough to get cyclists to use headlights at night, much less day for better head on visibility) is far smaller than a car/truck in a rearview mirror/shoulder check (again because cyclists tend to move at too high a clip in heavy traffic areas….SLOW DOWN…this is commuting in potentially dangerous traffic, not trials for the “tour de whatever”). The term “Speed kills” applies to cyclists as much as drivers when you’re the moving vehicle. Just because cyclists don’t have a posted speed limit isn’t a invite to make every commute a race, which it so often seems to be now viewing from both my bicycle and my car.

oleh June 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I find the discussion about whether cyclists should be licensed or insured interesting and thought provoking,

In the course of a year I cycle about 6000 km, drive as a driver about 4000 km and as a passenger about 2000 km. I live in North Vancouver and Vancouver.

I enjoy the freedom from the requirement from being licensed as a cyclist and requirement for insurance. If I had to do so, I would do both because cycling is a large part of transportation and recreation. I also expect that it would contribute to my cycling more responsibly, although I think I generally do so already.

However, I think licensing and insurance would be a deterrent to the casual cyclist who goes out once or twice a month. These cyclists gain enjoyment from the experience. If licensing and insurance was required they would be deterred. It is also from this group that avid cycling arises.

Therefore so as not to deter this casual group, I would not be in favour of licensing or insuring.

I see bike couriers as a different situation. They are professional drivers on bikes. I can see the value of licensing and inuring those cyclists. I think they may already be licensed and perhaps insured.

Two final comments. I generally find motorists and cyclists in Vancouver share the road well and are respectful of each other, bot for their own narrow self interest of not wanting to be in accidents and the general value of people getting along.

Final comment, I also find that nasty comments in a dialogue makes one’s views less convincing.

Tristan June 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I think the insurance question is distracting. Drivers are not “insured” – their cars are. Whether that makes sense is a separate issue (do cars cause accidents?), but are people suggesting we insure cyclists or their bicycles? And what are they being insured against? (I.e. the potential damages they might inflict on others, I suppose?) Does anyone know the figures of how much such insurance would cost – i.e. what the cost of bicycle caused accidents are per year?

As for the reasoning – “cyclists should pay insurance because the profits from insurance go into general revenue” – there is a far easier solution if you want cyclists to contribute to general revenue – simply license bicycles. I.e. each cycle, to be used, must purchase a yearly or monthly permit which gives it the right to use the road. This would not be “insurance”, nor would it be licensing in the sense of licensing a driver.

BuddyRich June 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm


“..simply license bicycles. I.e. each cycle, to be used, must purchase a yearly or monthly permit which gives it the right to use the road. This would not be “insurance”, nor would it be licensing in the sense of licensing a driver.”

This is an excellent suggestion and would be the equivalent of vehicle registration for motor vehicles (ie the yearly sticker) but Oleh made an excellent point –

“I think licensing and insurance would be a deterrent to the casual cyclist who goes out once or twice a month. These cyclists gain enjoyment from the experience. If licensing and insurance was required they would be deterred. It is also from this group that avid cycling arises.”

So it would have to be a trivial amount to not act as a major deterrent.

benl June 13, 2010 at 6:24 pm

…but licensing should serve the dual purpose of raising “some” revenue and giving a written and on road test to make sure every cyclist (like every driver) at least has the knowledge of the laws governing the use of their bicycles and knows how to safely cycle (at least in a real world test environment). I don’t know why anyone thinks this is a bone of contention…it makes sense and it’s fair.

The recreational cyclist shouldn’t need licensing/insurance “because it will discourage cyclists”? I don’t see the logic of that any more than a person who takes Skytrain to and from work every day and only drives on weekends “recreationally” should be exempt from insurance and licensing costs. It’s actually the “part time/non regular” drivers/cyclists I would worry about the most not knowing the laws/rules and perhaps not being the safest drivers/cyclists. If you drive every day or just one or two days a month, you’re licensed and insured. In a ‘fair’ world, every cyclist would be subject to the same rules.

The city(council) of course has recently(last week) thrown their hands up and said ‘(licensing) not our jurisdiction’ (which is true, it is provincial, but it doesn’t sound like they plan to pursue a dialogue with the province) but they have said they will be stepping up the enforcement(or lack thereof) of existing laws governing cyclists, which may quell at some of the major complaints drivers have now that bike lanes are becoming a “hot button” subject. Though it wasn’t front page/headline news, council did follow through as this weekend the VPD told the press they are stepping up enforcement for things like helmets (though raising the ridiculously low $29 fine would add more “deterrence”/ weight to the penalty), obeying traffic signs and lights, sidewalk riding etc, so at least there is some minor progress for safer cycling in downtown, which is better than the status quo. Hopefully the police will do what they say and aren’t just blowing smoke.

I hope if Mayor Robertson’s master cycling plan does come to fruition down the road (and it would be nice, though there’s still the potential “majority of voters backlash against the current council/mayor” as they lose more and more car lanes to cyclists/the perceived “free ride” issue), this question of licensing and insurance will be revisited, perhaps by then both levels of government will be willing to talk.

R.K. June 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Cars are far more dangerous than bikes. That, plus the degree to which mandatory licensing and insurance would discourage cycling, makes me think it is a bad idea.

Cars are fast heavy things that kill tens of thousands of people, and seriously injure far more. Society needs financial mechanisms to deal with the harm they cause. That isn’t really true for bikes, which have plenty of other benefits besides. No pollution, less space for moving and parking, fitness, etc.

benl June 13, 2010 at 7:30 pm

…RK you quoted that one sided “we’re (cyclists) good, cars bad, so what if cars are penalized and we get a free ride” argument again like SO many others here. That’s an emotional not logical response.

What about the cyclists who are dangers to themselves (and to cars), who ignore red lights, who have near misses or collisions with pedestrians because they think riding on sidewalks is OK? And please don’t tell me they don’t exist in any significant numbers. I see loads of law breaking cyclists every time I’m on my bike downtown. Cyclists cause a fair amount of accidents (not saying all, or even 50%)….cyclists are moving vehicles sharing the road with other moving vehicles and right now, they are unregulated. That’s a huge safety concern. Right now, whether you spend $200 on a Canadian Tire special or $10,000 on a carbon fiber number, once you have a bicycle, the law considers you a “moving vehicle on the road”. Under the current system, who knows if you or that cyclist behind you even knows the laws governing the safe operation of a bicycle. All drivers have to have this knowledge about their car/truck/motorcycle. Given that I see maybe 30 – 40% of cyclists downtown helmet less, or the half dozen red light running cyclists I might see in an afternoon, I’m guessing a lot of cyclists are going out there with little or no knowledge of cycling law, and that makes them dangers to themselves and other vehicles. And the fact that if an accident occurs, it will be them (the cyclist) who will likely sustain the serious or fatal injuries and you’d think every cyclist would want their fellow cyclists licensed just from a safety standpoint.

RK just taking your one sided stance of ‘cars bad, bikes good, screw them, let them pay for everything, we shouldn’t be licensed/have to pay anything” is just close minded and not in your best interests as an avid cyclist. With all the friction right now with just 2 bike lanes being added to the mix, you don’t think that if all cyclists take your stance, that soon (very soon) motorists will collectively say “enough with these bike lanes, enough with the whining very small minority(by city council own figures, 4% of the city population cycle, maybe half that avidly)”, and vote out the pro cycling city council for one that will roll back most or all the bike lanes and chalk it up to “financial prudence”? What city council giveth, a replacement council can just as quickly take away.

No one is arguing that bikes are better for the environment, but we live in a car society and a lot of drivers (I’d say most) are not going to be badgered or coaxed out of their cars in their work lifetimes. I’ve said before, many people are locked into their cars: they’re too distant to practically cycle to work, they share car pooling duties with other parents for their kids to/from school or with coworkers to/from work, they need their cars to make work related meetings as their job isn’t “in an office 8 hours a day”, they odd hours and can’t rely on transit/cycling etc.

The logical solution is cyclists and drivers have to get along and the current tensions have to ease. Based on driver’s most quoted complaints against cyclists (Why do they get a “free ride” on this $25 million bike lane plan? and How come cyclists aren’t licensed/insured so they’re paying their fair share for these bike lanes and we know that they actually know the laws on how to cycle safely?)

I think the only logical, long term solution to avoid a driver/voter backlash against bike lanes is “Safety, Fiscal Fairness and the perception of fairness” because we all share the road. Car/Trucks/Motorcycles (who as I’ve stated before are pretty much as vulnerable as cyclists) all have to be tested that they know how to safely drive and they have to pay (license/insurance) fees to be on the road.

There no reason that cyclists shouldn’t be subject to same rules as everyone else and subjecting them to licensing and insurance (aka “paying their fair share”) will help defuse the two biggest complaint drivers have and hopefully prevent a “driver/voter backlash” against future cycling infrastructure (because like it or not, they far outnumber you on the road and at the ballot box). As a cyclist and driver, I would welcome licensing/insurance for cyclists because, taking all the hardcore rhetoric out of the mix, it appears to be the only way to have a long term solution (getting the cycling lanes we all want while avoiding a driver/voter backlash if things continue as is) . Drivers are pissed now, what happens when 4 more bike lanes are dropped onto major traffic arteries downtown?? You honestly believe there won’t be a backlash if there isn’t the perception that cyclists are doing their part financially to pay and simultaneously making safer cyclists?? Then you have no idea the sheer amount of resentment that is growing from drivers and if you stick your head in the sand and just say “stay the current course”, it will just get worse.

Milan June 13, 2010 at 7:53 pm

As I argued before, I think cars do more harm than good within cities.

Generally speaking, I support policies that make driving more expensive, inconvenient, and rare. That is in recognition of the many costs that drivers impose on others: particulate matter, nitrous and sulfur oxides, high-momentum crashes, wasted space for wide roads and parking areas, dependence on imports from unsavoury states, oil spills, etc.

Given the preventative medicine benefits, I think a case can be made for paying people to cycle, by the kilometre.

benl June 14, 2010 at 3:11 am

…Nice rant…really….does nothing to address “real world” issues raised here….keep your head in the sand, keep raging away with “let’s make driving as expensive as humanly possible” divisive 5 year plan comrade ….blah blah blah etc…..

…then you can whine and cry in your beer when the NPA or some other Non Vision party takes back city hall in a landslide from frustrated drivers who outnumber you militant “I don’t live in the real world and Hell no, I will NEVER compromise” radicals who have no real suggestions to allow cyclists and cars to co exist without all the ‘hate’ in both camps….then watch the new council methodically dismantle all the shiny new bikes lanes…then you can get your fellow militants together every month and disrupt traffic as a “Critical Mass-hole” and feel important for 3 hours a month and fulfill you real dream as a professional protestor..

And no, society is NEVER going to pay people to cycle, not in your lifetime, not in your grandchildren’s lifetime….why don’t you step into the real world (you know the one that runs on capitalism/survival of the fittest/smartest) and suggest some real constructive ideas to diffuse the growing tension between 4 percent of the population (which really means maybe 1.5 percent somewhat as “Militant/unable to listen to reason” as you VS…oh.. 80-85 percent of the population who drive and of that group, probably 90 percent of them will NEVER trade in their cars for bikes no matter what (because they have real, chaotic, busy, tightly scheduled lives with careers and kids and carpools and don’t have the time or means to completely rebuild their lives because you think they’re “evil” for driving and should be “punished” financially.

Your rhetoric hasn’t changed, it’s the same “rose colored glasses, I don’t live in a place called reality but in my perfect world, and wouldn’t it be lovely if everybody listened to ME because I’m genius, the rest of you just haven’t recognized it yet” rant, which is an untenable and frankly ridiculous plan, because you don’t and will never have the critical mass (ironic your anarchist bike protest borrows a name they can never achieve) of population(and this is a democracy…meaning “majority rules”, not the “loudest, tiniest, most militant minority” rules).

Your unwillingness to even consider a real world compromise means people like you will forever live on the fringes and the majority of the population will just ignore ‘your radical plan” (yes his music ain’t hip, but you’re Billy Joel’s “Angry Young Man”…you just like to blindly run at NO effect….or maybe you just need psychological help)…again, we’re trying to have a real discussion here, not listen to you endlessly repeating your “perfekt world manifesto” there Trotsky of the tricycles…

I like the new bike lanes, but I don’t cycle every day, so when they go away (which they will with a few more like you raging against the machine), I’ll miss them but it won’t change my day to day life…

Rage on Narcissist…..

Matt June 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm


Consider taking a debating course.

benl June 15, 2010 at 12:18 am

….That’s you best ‘comeback’? Well logic is the best defense against Militancy. Seems you’ve run out of made up arguments…

I’d say you should take a writing course but you’d need a brain to take advantage of that….

Matt June 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm

It wasn’t a comeback to anything. It was a genuine thought I had in regards to a post you made to Milan, as well as some of your other posts.

My point is that the conversation went like this:

“Generally speaking, I support policies that make driving more expensive, inconvenient, and rare. ”

“Rage on Narcissist”

In some of your other posts you’ve engaged by calling people morons, douches [incorrect accepted usage of the word, no Ed Hardy in this forum], gasbags and so forth. Most people have provided reasonable debate. In most cases, you have responded with an emotional tirade against the person you disagree with. This discredits your point.

I don’t think you should have to agree with everyone here and a dissenting opinion, properly expressed, I think is welcome. Civil discourse, however, forgoes the personal insults. I actually agree with some of your points. I think traffic laws should be enforced against bad cyclists in equal measure as bad drivers. Having said that, I find it hard to take you seriously because of the way you choose to express them.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 12:41 pm

As discussed in a previous post, I do think cyclists should obey the rules of the road and be held accountable for dangerous or illegal actions.

That said, I don’t think mandatory licensing or insurance are justified. They are in the case of cars, by virtue of just how many people are killed or hurt by automobiles. The same doesn’t apply to cyclists. While any driver can slam the accelerator to the floor and become a substantial risk to a lot of people, bikes are comparatively safe.

I also think drivers ought to bear more of the total costs for their chosen mode of transportation: from deaths arising from NOx and SOx pollution to the costs of road maintenance. I think it’s a shame cities have evolved to be such car-centric places. They would be a lot more pleasant and sustainable if personal vehicles were largely relegated to rural areas.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm

“I do think cyclists should obey the rules of the road”

Randy Cohen, The New York Times Magazine “Ethicist” on the ethics of cycling:

The relevant quote:

“I’ll deny this in a court of law, but I almost never stop at a red light except for when I might endanger another person or myself….I slow down, look both ways and go through the light. What are we? Germans?”

Milan June 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

That is as weak a (non)-argument as anything benl could cook up.

Some so-called ethicist thinks cyclists stopping at red lights is un-American, therefore cyclists should be exempt from following the rules of the road.

When we decide to use public roadways (and sidewalks), we are entering into a kind of social contract, wherein we are bound by rules for the safety of everybody. You can certainly make a case that the rules should be designed in ways that take the special characteristics of cycling into account, but I also think there is a very strong case to be made that cyclists are as morally obliged to follow the rules as drivers are.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm

“I also think there is a very strong case to be made that cyclists are as morally obliged to follow the rules as drivers are.”

What is the case? Why are drivers obliged to follow the rules of the road?

If we look at this specific rule – why are drivers obliged to stop at red lights, rather than check both ways and roll through? If we don’t know why they are obliged, then we can’t know why cyclists should, or shouldn’t do the same.

We can also look at the question of how bound we are to follow the rules – why are we bound to follow rules at all? We might think that if we don’t follow the rules, then we might as well not have them – but this ignores the fact that rules remain a guide even when we choose to disobey them. If not following the rules strictly produces good outcome for everyone, then what’s the problem with that?

For instance, we might look at speeding. If we know that the average speed of traffic will be 5 to 10km/h over the speed limit, then cities will set the speed limit 5 to 10km/h under the speed which they think is safe. The result is cars travel at a safe speed, despite everyone breaking the rule. The rule is effective, despite the fact no one “obeys” it.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

“Some so-called ethicist thinks cyclists stopping at red lights is un-American, therefore cyclists should be exempt from following the rules of the road.”

Nowhere in the video (I’m sorry, I know you don’t like videos, that is why I transcribed the most relevant part) does Cohen say cyclists should be exempt from the rules of the road. He says, rather, that there is no consequentialist moral demand to stop at a red light if not doing so does not endanger yourself or others. There is a difference between “should be exempt from the ROTR” and “should follow ROTR”. There is no contradiction – I can believe that I am not morally obliged to follow ROTR, while at the same time believe I should be legally subject to ROTR.

In fact, there is no contradiction in the reverse – I could believe I should not be legally subject to ROTR and yet believe I am morally obliged to follow ROTR. Some people would likely take this position if cyclists were not legally subject to ROTR and there was a political motivation towards making them subject.

*I am not in favour or opposed to Cohen’s position. Those who know me know that I don’t personally think consequentialism is a serious moral position.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Why are drivers obliged to follow the rules of the road?

The obligation is utilitarian, and set up to be a counter to selfishness.

Many people, when given the chance to save themselves a tiny bit of trouble by putting other people at greater danger, will choose to do so. These behaviours range from the minor (like rolling past stop signs) to the major (driving drunk rather than making other arrangements).

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm

That works well for drivers – but it does little to oppose Cohen’s position on red lights. On a bicycle, it is perfectly easy to judge whether proceeding with caution through a red light will put yourself or others at risk.

You can say it is no different from a car, but in fact, it is different for various reasons.

Firstly – any collision a cyclist is involved in is likely to hurt the cyclist, so cyclists always have a selfish motivation to avoid collision.

Secondly, visibility from the position of a cycle is far superior to visibility in a car.

Thirdly, while many driver operations (like coming to a stop at a stop sign and looking both ways) become repetitive, and are done almost automatically (and it is therefore of utmost importance to cultivate habits that work well in every particular situation) – this is much less true on a bicycle where one’s constant exposure to the world constantly prevents cyclists from ignoring the specificities of the current situation. (The constant vulnerability also contributes to this openness).

Milan June 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Arguably, exempting cyclists from rules that drivers have to follow has a corrosive effect.

Whenever people see someone else violating a rule that they resent, I think it increases their odds of breaking it.

That is just one argument among several for cyclists obeying the rules, but I don’t think it is a trivial one.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm

There is also a slippery slope problem with granting cyclists an exemption on the basis of something like supposedly greater awareness of road conditions.

If cyclists get a dispensation because of that, could people with a relatively high tolerance for alcohol not make a similar claim to being able to drive while a little bit over the limit?

Avoiding that sort of fudging is another reason why it is important to treat road safety as a contractual matter that everyone is bound to, by virtue of participation.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm

There seem to be two independent questions here:

1) Should the rules of the road be written in such a way as to differ between cars and cyclists (or differ more, given that they already do to some extent)?

2) Are cyclists less morally obligated to follow the rules of the road, as written?

A sub-question of (2) is what policy we should have on violations. For instance, you could say that it is moral for cyclists to break traffic rules when they think it is safe to do so, but it is also moral for them to be punished when they are caught doing so. The purpose of the punishment would be to enforce the kind of soft compliance you alluded to.

Personally, I don’t see a problem with distinguishing between cars and bicycles under the law. I do see a problem with cyclists not having to obey the law. This is because of the points I raised above, about road use being implicitly contractual, and adherence to the rules having an importance above and beyond the direct physical consequences of obedience.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I think these are both valid arguments, but they are essentially empirical questions. Idaho’s “Stop as yield” law is a relevant test case. Here is some commentary on its effects:

“The Idaho law is unique among the state laws; no other state has adopted this approach … yet. So how has the law worked out for Idaho? The “stop as yield” section of the Idaho law has also been in effect since 1982 (the “red as stop” section was added in 2006), giving Idaho a quarter-century of real world experience with its experiment in bicycle traffic law. Ray Thomas reports that

“the Idaho experience has been positive according to Mark McNeese, Bicycle/Pedestrian coordinator for the Idaho Transportation Department… Idaho bicycle-collision statistics confirm that the Idaho law has resulted in no discernable increase in injuries or fatalities to bicyclists.”

The apparent success of this statute in Idaho has led cycling activists in California, Montana, Minneapolis, and now Oregon to pursue similar legislation. Nevertheless, this is a complex issue, with some cyclists supporting the legislation, and others opposing it. That divide is even apparent here at Legally Speaking, with me enthusiastically supporting the legislation, and my law clerk on the fence, still trying to make up his mind.””

Milan June 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Certainly cyclists (and drivers) should feel free to lobby to change the law in ways they think will be an improvement.

On the question of strict adherence, I think there is a sense in which the rules of the road are a kind of sub-game within the law generally. Whereas there are situations in which it is morally acceptable to break unjust laws, perhaps the rules of the road should be obeyed even when they are unjust.

I see two reasons for this. First, fundamental liberties are not at stake when it comes to the rules of the road. By contrast, breaking a law that does something like limiting your freedom of speech is much more justifiable, because that law is encroaching in a fundamental area of human liberty. Secondly, there is a utilitarian case for strict adherence, based on the corrosion argument and others.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 3:53 pm

The corrosion argument is a hypothesis which needs to be confirmed. It is based on the idea that cars will see cyclists exercising their own free judgement and think it is morally acceptable for them to do the same, despite the fact the law strictly grants this freedom to cyclists and not to cars. If there is no evidence of the effects of corrosion in Idaho, it is a weak argument.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 3:55 pm

It is based on the idea that cars will see cyclists exercising their own free judgement and think it is morally acceptable for them to do the same, despite the fact the law strictly grants this freedom to cyclists and not to cars.

This confuses the two questions I distinguished above.

As I defined it, corrosion isn’t about drivers seeing cyclists adhering to laws that give them special status, then wanting to behave the same way themselves. It is about drivers seeing cyclists breaking the law, then feeling more free to do so themselves.

I agree that the extent to which this is a problem could be empirically estimated.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I actually rather like the ‘sub-game’ argument, and think it could have broader applicability.

There are lots of situations where we expect people to obey stricter rules than the law requires, when they are engaged in a specific cooperative behaviour.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I think I agree. Sorry about confusing the two issues.

I would say the corrosion argument is important in situations where the law does not demarcate different last to cyclists as to cars. Motorists notoriously assert that they are “the same” as bicycles, and there is no reason this belief would not be acted on subconsciously in the manner corrosion predicts.

However, this only gives cyclists a moral reason to stop when there is a significant chance of them being perceived by a motorist. In other words, it is an expansion of the realm of possible harm from Cohen’s assertion that one should check to see if you crossing will immediately endanger pedestrians or motorists or other cyclists – in this view, one must also check whether motorists might see you breaking ROTR and responsively increase their belief that it is acceptable for them to do this also.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Again, the point I am making goes beyond immediate pragmatism. It is more akin to how it is dishonourable to cheat at games.

We have a moral freedom to break unjust laws, because it is critical for the overall welfare of society that laws face such scrutiny.

That said, I think it can be argued that this freedom doesn’t trickle down into the realm of the rules of the road, which it is dishonourable to disobey even when doing so causes no harm, and even when nobody is watching.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I think that kind of fanatical observance encourages the idea that the point of the rules is to obey the rules, when quite clearly, the purpose of rules is always exterior to the rules themselves.

At this point I think it is appropriate to repeat: “What are we? Germans?”

The invocation of this stereotype is not without specific meaning – the idea of the German rule follower is a racial slur which contains the idea that a “German” is one who follows orders without thinking about why. The slur is false – I think it is largely propagated through a myth about the Holocaust (that it was due to some failure of moral conscience in the German people – a failure the French don’t mythically possess despite just as much co-operation from French police and officials in the extermination as there was German).

However – while the slur is a myth, it means something real – that we understand ourselves as people who don’t do things simply because it is the rule, but because it is right, and that rules need constant re-evaluation in particular circumstances. This is a good principle, as it is a check on unjust impositions of power.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm

“It is more akin to how it is dishonourable to cheat at games.”

The mistake here is to think of society as a “game”. Games are governed by rules, societies are governed by principles. Principles do not cash out into simple sets of rules – they enable both the making of rules, and the critique of those rules.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm

In a game, a rule isn’t an ‘unjust impositions of power.’ Rather, it is a convention that helps the game to work.

As with the tax system, I think there are advantages in treating the rules of the road like a game, rather than like the law writ large.

Milan June 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Society is not a game, but society might be better if we treat the rules of the road as though they were a game, and follow them even when they are unjust.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 6:18 pm

It might be better, but it would definitely be worse.

benl June 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Tristen, respectfully “are you on Crack”? Your “cyclists shouldn’t need to stop at red lights/follow the rules of the road” is just plain idiotic. I have witnessed a collision between a red light running cyclist hit by a car with a green turn signal (and yes, the cyclist had to be taken out via ambulance, while the car had a dented bumper, hood and cracked windshield)…it was completely the cyclist’s fault (the 5 other pedestrian witnesses and myself told this to the police). In you “perfect cycling world”, it’s the driver’s fault??? Was the cyclist operating in his selfish interests not to get hit? Doesn’t seem like it to the multiple eye witnesses. You could argue this was an isolated incident but I’ve seen so many near misses specifically happening BECAUSE cyclists are running red lights to argue it isn’t isolated. To have only SOME vehicles on the road adhere to laws while the other allowed to do whatever they want is inherently dangerous (and when collisions inevitably happen, who get scraped off the pavement into a waiting body bag? Your “we don’t need to stinkin’ laws governing us” cyclists).

Everyone needs to obey the laws and breaking them should have consequences for everyone….if a car runs a red light, the police should ticket….same for a cyclist. Period. There is NO logical argument that can be put forward to dispute this despite the editorial whining by some person in the New York Times mag who is as out of touch with reality as you seem to be.

Your last salvo of posts debating “Milan” (who shows a modicum of common sense although I certainly don’t agree with him on many of his arguments) clearly shows you fall into the “militant/anarchist” camp. Why do you even bother posting here? You clearly don’t want “discussion” or “dialogue”, you just want to rail on with your completely indefensible (if you subscribe to the tenants of “logic”, “reason” and “fairness” as well as legality) militant position. Or are you just one of those dysfunctional persons who like to argue the “ridiculous” position and see how many people you can piss off.

benl June 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm

And “Milan” (because I can’t let you off the hook completely even if you do disagree with “Tristan” on the “rule of law” thing).

You wrote:
“That said, I don’t think mandatory licensing or insurance are justified. They are in the case of cars, by virtue of just how many people are killed or hurt by automobiles. The same doesn’t apply to cyclists. While any driver can slam the accelerator to the floor and become a substantial risk to a lot of people, bikes are comparatively safe.

I also think drivers ought to bear more of the total costs for their chosen mode of transportation: from deaths arising from NOx and SOx pollution to the costs of road maintenance. I think it’s a shame cities have evolved to be such car-centric places. They would be a lot more pleasant and sustainable if personal vehicles were largely relegated to rural areas.”

Exactly how many people are hurt or killed by cars? How many car/bike accidents are caused by cars, not reckless cyclists? I don’t know…neither do you because our “pro cycle” friendly civic government as far as we know has NEVER compiled the figures, but given the Mayor’s quotes to the media, his “subtext” is, “it’s all the driver’s fault”, which he can’t back up with statistics. I can’t back up any claims of percentage caused by reckless cyclists, but I do know, as a resident of downtown Vancouver, I see FAR more cyclists in flagrant, unsafe violation of traffic laws than cars (I’d say for every car I see running a red downtown, I see 6 or 7 cyclists; I almost never see a car going down a one way street in downtown…pretty much every time I’m on my bike, I always see at least one cyclist pulling this unsafe, illegal stunt).

“While any driver can slam the accelerator to the floor and become a substantial risk to a lot of people”….any driver that does(barring being on a freeway) this is in clear violation of the law and IS a danger….but a cyclist running a red light or or jumping on a sidewalk, colliding with pedestrians (yes I’ve seen this happen too downtown) is just as much a danger. If cyclists want to be on the road, sharing the road, they should be licensed/insured. PERIOD. Because either a car or bicycle can be the dangerous cause of an accident. Yes, cars generally cause more damage but try telling that to a mother who’s baby carriage just got slammed by a cyclist on a sidewalk…every accident, big or small, has victims.

“I think it’s a shame cities have evolved to be such car-centric places.”

Yes it is a shame, but it’s also reality. Outside of the DT Vancouver, Kits, Fairview and S Main “bubble”, this city is built on over a half century of depending on the car and all the “make driving horrendously expensive and FORCE people to cycle” types don’t take that into account.

This isn’t hypothetical. My friend is married with 2 young elementary school kids. She and her husband work. They live way down near Marine drive in south Vancouver (no Skytrain stations nearby; 3 buses and a hour a 15 minutes to downtown if you make your connections). This is their daily routine. In the morning, they drive their kids to school along with kids from 2 other families (their parents do the “car pool” home after school) because they don’t live in reasonable walking distance from the school. Her husband then drops her off at work and he proceeds to drive downtown, where he works. He spend the morning in the office. In the afternoon, he often has 3 to 6 sales calls/meetings, which could be anywhere in the lower mainland (Port Moody, W Van, Richmond etc) so, from a time point of view, he can’t depend on transit and certainly can’t cycle. At the end of his day, he picks up his wife from work and they drive home, arriving there around 6:30 after picking up the kids from a friends house (the friend watches them after school as they’re too young to be unsupervised at home).

That’s their daily routine based on where they live (where they can afford to live), work and where their kids go to school. They’re not “rich”…they make ends meet. They don’t live in “expensive, cycle friendly DT, Kits etc…and can take a 10 minute cycle to and from work. They have responsibilities and time/distance issues that don’t allow them to cycle or transit in their daily routines.

Now according to the militant cyclists, we should pile on financial burden after financial burden to “discourage them” from driving and keep letting the “smart” and “green” cyclists have more and more infrastructure gratis. No matter how much “financial disincentives” are piled on…they will continue to drive. They need to drive to make their lives work practically and financially.

And I’d say, MOST people in this city are in the same boat as my friends. They need to drive to work/live. And if this city council listens to the militant cyclists and makes driving more and more expensive for them and making more and more “cycle friendly” bike lanes with million$ of taxpayer money, eventually, all these people like my friends are going to say “Enough!”…Bye bye Mayor Robertson, hello NPA (or whatever party promises to be more “fiscally fair” and promises to end the “bike lane experiment”).

You don’t like the idea of licensing and insurance so cyclist are seen by the public as “paying their fair share” (as well as the inherent safety issue of having ALL vehicles on the road on equal legal footing)…fine….how about toll booths on bike lanes as a “direct fund to defray the costs”? I personally don’t like the idea of cycling toll booth but how else do you suggest we get the “majority” of the population (the drivers) on side for permanent bike lanes? Cyclists have to share the cost and be seen by drivers as “willing” to share. In all the ranting on this board, NO ONE has come up with a better, safer, real world (meaning not Tristen’s “in my perfect world” delusional fantasy scenario) compromise/solutions to handling the costs of all these bike lanes without stirring up an “angry mob” of drivers who think cyclists are just “freeloading a free ride” to their financial and practical (lanes/time lost when driving into downtown) detriment. Yes, being “green” is great (my friends in S Van reduce and recycle, compost, have a garden in the summer), but when it comes down to “being green” vs. the practical reality of your immediate family’s daily living (which most of the population has to deal with)….practicality will alway win out.

Tristan June 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm


None of my hypothesis are about fantasy worlds. The question about stopping at red lights, however, does concern two different worlds – worlds in which cyclists are legally permitted to treat stop as yield, and worlds in which they are not legally permitted to do so. In Idaho, stop as yield for cyclists has been law since 2006, and the source I found and cited claimed there was no increase in accidents or fatalities.

Your general response to whether cyclists should stop at a redlight, in fact, invokes a fantasy scenario – a scenario where I would claim it was the motorists fault when a cyclist ran a red light without slowing down, checking, and during traffic conditions which, had the red light been a yield sign, would not have permitted such passage through said sign. I would never defend a cyclist in such a scenario – and using this as a defeat of all of my assertions concerning the legal and moral requirements to stop at red lights or stop signs is a perfect example of a straw-man fallacy.

. June 15, 2010 at 10:04 pm

“Our minds are not modern, and many of our woes have to do with this mismatch between our Stone Age psychologies and the world in which we now live.”

Bloom, Paul. How Pleasure Works. The New Science of Why We Like What We Like. (p. 203 hardcover)

“As another example, it would be smart to treat the insults and provocations of strangers – rude behavior on the highway, nasty remarks on the Internet – as irrelevant. There’s no payoff to getting mad. But our minds are not evolved to think about strangers, and we obsess, needlessly, about what people think of us and how these insults will diminish us in the eyes of others. That is why we have road rage and blog wars.”

(p. 204 hardcover)

BuddyRich June 15, 2010 at 10:06 pm

BenL –

While I don’t disagree with what you are saying from a pragmatic standpoint, I think it is a fine line to find the balance that is acceptable to the public at large and doing what is needed to accomplish worthy goals in their own right, regardless of popular support. If we our going to be ruled by “angry mobs” rather than rational thought our long term survival as a species is doomed.

I also don’t agree that a few bike lanes are going to turn the tide, but my finger is admittedly not on the pulse of Vancouver municipal politics, and think the bike lanes themselves are needed for many reasons and will seem a bargain if implemented when the decision is reflected upon 10 years from now. Admittedly they might not be popular right now. Think short term pain for long term gain. But that is the fundamental with our democratic system in short-term and long term planning.

In general the government only has three options (well a fourth as well) to encourage behaviour. First, they can subsidize wanted behaviour to encourage it (increase cycling by providing bike lanes), tax unwanted behaviour to discourage it (see a Pigouvian tax – The textbook example is the large amount of taxes on cigarettes to discourage smoking which when combined with the next option cause smoking rates to plummet. That next option is to effect behaviour via advertising (ie. public service annoucements, nutritional guidelines, smoking is bad, unprotected sex is bad, etc.). The final option is just to dictate behaviour by passing a law and enforcing it.

In this case, the city chose subsidy, which you argued against, you also argued against Pigouvian-style taxes to discourage driving (thereby encouraging other modes of transportation). It would seem totally undemocratic to pass a law to saying you had to cycle to work every Tuesday, leaving cycling awareness campaigns to encourage cycling.

I have two questions for you and I would like honest answers –

1) Should the city encourage more people to cycle and should it be a high priority for them to do so?

2) If you answer no to 1) don’t bother answering this second question but if you did answer yes to 1) – How should the city do so in such a way to not incite an “angry mob of drivers ” as you put it and yet encourage cycling by not making cycling more onerous to the fledgling cyclist (let alone existing cyclists)?

benl June 16, 2010 at 1:33 am

A) Tristen…look outside (if you actually live here). We don’t live in Idaho. The “rolling yield” at red lights for cyclist is patently the most dangerous thing you’ve suggested for a city with this kind of disconnect/dislike between drivers and cyclists. I don’t think Idaho has any urban areas as densely populated or densely travelled as the areas in and around DT Vancouver, so you’re “apples and oranges” with your comparison. You can carry guns in Idaho much easier than here too. Is that a good thing??? Your “rolling yield” scenario alone could cause more car/cyclist accidents than if all the bike lanes in the city suddenly got removed. Stop is Stop for ALL vehicles. It’s the safest system.

What is it exactly? Why do you think cyclists shouldn’t be subject to red lights/stop signs like every other vehicle on the road? What makes a cyclist so special? The “I shouldn’t have to stop at a red light” isn’t an “environmental/green” issue. Truly, what is the reason for this position because all it sounds like is “I’m so special, I shouldn’t be subject to the laws of the road and I’m more important than a car anyway”, which is just arrogance, plain and simple. In the “one and only world we live in”(as opposed to the 2 fantasy worlds you’re talking about in your post) here in Vancouver, it is THE LAW that cyclists have to stop at red lights. PERIOD. Are you going to get in front of a judge and say “I’m special and in Idaho I wouldn’t be ticketed”? Good luck with that. In fact, in the VPD press release this past weekend in which they said they were going to step up on enforcing cycling laws, they specifically said no helmets and red light/stop sign running would be targeted. You want a different system, by all means move to Idaho.

B) Buddy Rich, you make some interesting, even arguable points (remember I do cycle as well as drive) but the “angry mob of drivers” is a fallacy/misnomer….they will be a “fed up block of voters who still constitute a vast majority in this city” compared to cyclists, and this is still a democracy in which the majority rules.

Licensing/insurance is NOT “onerous. Except for cyclists, every operator of a vehicle on the road (as opposed to “toys” like skateboards and rollerblades) is tested/licensed/insured. The wave of complaints coming from cyclists (“we don’t want/need licensing/insurance) is only because cycling’s been free for them for so long, but for so long they weren’t paying for anything because they had no cycling infrastructure that cost million$. The ambitious “bike lane” plan put forward by this city council (and they never put a price tag on it until they were securely in power, if they had said “we’re going to put in $25 million in bike lanes over 2 years” as a campaign promise, I don’t think the current mayor and council would have got elected) is now a huge line item in a city already running a huge deficit (blame the Olympics, blame the world economy, but it’s a dollars and cents fact). My “practical, real world take” on this is, if we want those $25 million in bike lanes to be implemented LONG TERM and not be a “one term” thing until this council gets voted out by fed up drivers, there needs to be a perception by the general public/voters that cyclists are “paying they’re fair share” considering how small their numbers are relative to drivers and people who never cycle and how large the price tag is. The only two options in all these posts here are Licensing/Insurance or Toll booths on bike lanes. Yes bikes are green, they don’t damage the roads etc etc etc…but cyclists have to convince a HUGE non cycling electorate(who outnumber you conservatively more than 20 to 1) why $25 million should be spent on something that benefits relatively few people, a even harder sell when those few don’t seem to be willing to contribute one extra nickel to the cost(or improve basic safety on their side of things) and many of the militant cyclists are clamoring to charge MORE fees/taxes to drivers. Not a good way to win drivers over and make no mistake, you NEED to win drivers over if you want those bike lanes to keep expanding and not be rolled back in a few years.

A transit line from the airport to downtown is an easy sell to the public, even to those who rarely take transit. A series of bike lanes that will make your work commute(as most people still drive and won’t be switching for reasons clearly laid out in my earlier post) longer and more difficult and costs so much money to benefit so few. “If you build it, they will come”(and you pay for it because cyclists don’t want to) is a movie slogan, not something to sell something fairly radical in a city of cars (and like it or not, it IS a city of cars and will be for the forseable future.)

Tristan June 16, 2010 at 11:51 am

“1) Should the city encourage more people to cycle and should it be a high priority for them to do so?”

I doubt that many motorists in Vancouver City would disagree with the strong importance of encouraging more people to cycle. In the suburbs, perhaps not. But in my experience, every area of the City is already cycle friendly enough for motorists to notice the benefits of increased cycling.

BenL – do you live in the City proper, or one of the suburbs?

benl June 16, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Tristen – Obviously you haven’t been reading my many posts (too busy ranting away with yours). Stated several times I live and cycle downtown and downtown is where most of the ‘disconnect’ between cyclists/drivers happen and where most of the flagrant ignoring of basic traffic laws by “ignorant/daredevil/I just don’t care about the law” cyclists happen.

You “doubt” motorists in Vancouver would disagree with the strong importance of encouraging more people to cycle?

What rock have you been living under? Don’t you watch/read the news? Any driver spoken to (and businesses along the bike paths) are at worst livid about the bike lanes (again the big complaints: Why do cyclists get a free ride while we lose valuable lanes?…and who’s paying for this? Not cyclists, not one nickel…WHY???), at best, mild, but resigned disdain. I understand YOU think it’s important, but please don’t project your “pro cycling” stance on the general driving population…That’s one of the main roots for my practical suggestions (licensing/insuring and improved legal enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists)…..driver’s are doing a “slow burn” on the bike lanes issue (especially with no costs to the cyclists) and it’s getting worse every time the city council decides to close another lane for what most people see as a “tiny special interest group”….I don’t know how many “letters to the editor” pieces I’ve read saying a variation of “took an extra 15 minutes to drive down Dunsmuir…wall to wall cars…saw 5 bikes in the 40 minutes I was driving besides the bike lane…what a huge waste of money and resources for a few whiners…the mayor and council have the heads up the *sses…wait til next election”….

THAT’s the mood from the vast majority of the electorate (the drivers). Getting them “onside” is the only way these bike lanes will be permanent. My suggestions go a long way to doing that…You have NO real world suggested solutions…you just have “pie in the sky/lets ram through laws to make it a “perfeKt cycling world” fantasies…all you want to do is piss off drivers more and more…”great” long term strategy…not in the world we live in, not in a “majority rules” democracy…

Tristan June 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I feel like there are two things going on here. On the one hand, we have “militant cyclists” – not on message boards, but in real life. Cyclists who ride dangerously. Forget the laws, they ride dangerously – they put themselves and other people in danger when they ride. Whatever their motivations are, it doesn’t really matter.

On the other hand, there are cyclists who generally ride safely, but who may or may not obey the letter of the law. If all cyclists were of this kind, there would likely be no “outcry”, no standoffishness between motorists and cyclists, right? Can we agree that we like cyclists in this category, where as we dislike cyclists in the first category?

If so, the question becomes how to get more cyclists out of the 1st category and into the 2nd.

In a sense, this question isn’t that different from problems with the “driving culture” of cities. I think Vancouver’s average motorist is relatively sane, but in Toronto the standard way of driving a car is much more violent. This produces a situation where there is a greater and greater disconnect between the law, or what you learn in driving school, and what’s really required/expected on the road. It also produces a situation which is sometimes called ‘bad law’ – when the law is effectively unenforceable. This doesn’t mean it is never enforced, but it means that when it is enforced that is considered by all parties to be the exception, and therefore the enforcement does little to change behavior. When you can say “But I wasn’t doing anything different from anyone else”, enforcement fails to single you out morally – you can’t feel morally culpable because you haven’t broken the social contract (only a representation of that social contract, which although is probably better, lacks reality).

I don’t have a simple solution for how to improve the driving culture is cities where this large disconnect exists. I think with cycling though, we’re in a bit better position – I think the cycling laws can be changed to better reflect the moral reality of cycling, and this could help the laws gain social credibility.

Maybe stop-sign laws are a key example of this. I more often than not stop at stop signs – my friends get angry at me for this. In fact, the stop sign law has no social credibility amongst. Therefore when someone gets a ticket (like recently happened to my roomate), it’s interpreted as the “cop being a jerk” – because he’s punishing one person for something everyone is doing constantly. Therefore, the law does very little to move cyclists from the 1st category into the 2nd.

If we had the stop as yield law, however, the ticket would become “proceeded through yield without due caution” – which is actually a far more serious offense than not stopping at a stop sign. Just think about it from the perspective of a motorist – which is more dangerous: merging (i.e. a yield sign) without looking – or not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign when you are able to look both ways and check for traffic?

I think it would be very difficult for a cyclist who received a “proceeded through yield without due caution” ticket to brush it off as the cop being a jerk – I mean, you could disagree, but then you’re arguing about a matter of fact, not a matter of law. I think all cyclists, including those in the 1st camp, would have to agree that proceeding through yield without due caution is wrong, while you won’t get anything like that consensus on the stop sign law.

I think everyone can agree that for law, social credibility is a desirable attribute. I don’t deny that stop as yield might be more dangerous than stop as stop, but that has to be considered in the context of the laws social credibility – it’s better to have an ok law overwhelmingly obeyed, than a great law overwhelmingly disobeyed.

benl June 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm


You still haven’t explained (no cyclist with this “belief” has) why a cyclist should get a “rolling yield” at a red light/stop sign when everyone else has to come to a complete stop.

I’m not some anticycling hater driver.. I cycle. I stop completely at every red light and every stop sign. How is this ‘more dangerous’ to me? I’ve never had a collision/incident with a vehicle while stopped at an intersection. What’s the “secret argument” because the only thing I can see is some cyclists don’t want to stop because they don’t want to “break” their momentum, which isn’t really a legally defensible reason, it’s just “more convenient” for the cyclist, not safer. It’s safer for every vehicle sharing the road to obey the same traffic laws. Just because cyclists think it’s a bad law and the cop who gave them a ticket is a ‘jerk’, doesn’t mean it should change to give the cyclist “special dispensation” compared to drivers. The argument doesn’t hold water. If anyone who thought a cop was “a jerk” for giving them a ticket for breaking the law and they thought “it’s stupid law” got his/her way, we wouldn’t have any laws. Traffic laws (I’m sure there are many drivers who think they are completely capable of having a cell phone call on their handset while driving and think it’s a “stupid law”) are not “popular” but they are there for safety reasons.

Tristan June 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm


My argument is that it might engender better overall behavior from cyclists, as the law would have more social credibility.

If you want to respond, you should show either why social credibility is irrelevant to the effects of laws on behaviour, or why even a well obeyed stop as yield law would be more dangerous than a poorly obeyed stop as stop law.

“It’s safer for every vehicle sharing the road to obey the same traffic laws.”

Sure, but it’s not safer to have stricter laws if those laws are not adhered to. To simply say “the world would be better if X” and not give an account of how to get to X is truly living in fantasy land, because the object about which you are discussing exists only inside your own head.

Law is not about what’s in your head – it is about society, and needs to get a grip on society to be effective, to be a genuine law. A law not generally adhered to isn’t much of a law – a word written on a piece of paper doesn’t keep you safe – social conventions and normalized practices do. The individualistic normative issue of “what cyclists should do” is irrelevant to policy makers – the question is how do you actually change behaviour for better overall outcomes.

benl June 18, 2010 at 2:07 am

Illegal behavior would be changed if the laws governing cyclists were enforced in a must stricter fashion. Cyclists would learn (and they would ‘know’ if they were subject to a “operator competency licensing test” before they’re allowed on the road, just like drivers) that they ‘must’ stop at red lights/stop signs. Most laws are not “popular”, especially traffic laws (be it for cars or bicycles)….

Your “is the law moral/socially credible” test does not hold water because “moral/socially credible” is not an absolute. Your opinion is the “cyclists stop at red lights/stop signs” law is not moral/socially credible. My opinion is it’s totally moral socially credible because it holds cyclists to the same standard of every vehicle on the road. You could argue that neither is the “absolute correct” option, but the Law prevents you or me “deciding” that we “think should” be right…everyone is held to the same standard…cyclists, like cars, must come to a complete stop at red lights/stop signs. No debate/ no gray area. If it’s true for cars it’s true for bikes. Period. “Laws” are not dependent on each person’s personal “sliding moral scale”. Everybody is subject to the same laws or the result is social anarchy. That’s basic Civics 101 .

Tristan June 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

You have a lot to learn about law and civics.

benl June 18, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I’m a practicing lawyer in Vancouver dude….please enlighten me on “the law” from all those Wikipedia articles and “militant cycling blogs” you must be using as “research”….

Tristan June 18, 2010 at 11:17 pm

The law is not an absolute standard applied from the outside onto society with a stronger and stronger hammer as necessary. The law is an outgrowth of the real rational needs of a society, which change with social needs and practices. The law is not arbitrary, or simple, or the same for everyone. Specifically, the “rule of law” does not mean the law is the same for everyone, but that everyone is deserving of equal benefit before the law.

Laws are practical tools used by society, for society, to make it more rational, to further enable citizens to pursue their needs and interests and mitigating the effects of the freedom of individuals on other individuals. If laws are imposed not for the real benefit they engender, but because the ideal they intend is the only one simple enough to be grasped by the lawgiver, and if those laws needlessly constrain the freedom of people to cope with the complex and difficult situations which befall them daily, then they are not genuinely laws at all but tyrannical decrees.

And don’t lie. I’m calling you out on this – you’re not a practicing lawyer, you’re a troll. The rhetorical, analytic and above all social skills you’ve demonstrated wouldn’t stand up in a grade 12 law and civics class.

benl June 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm

“Troll”….while not “legally abusive”, who’s now “lowering the level of conversation you angry, tantrum prone pinhead???

Bottom line, the Law is the the Law until it’s changed in legislation, and right now the Law is on my side of the argument….if a cyclist arrogantly, illegally runs a red light/stop sign, he/she is in violation of the law and should be punished…as the VPD has now said (via press release last weekend) they will be ticketing lawbreaking cyclists much more stringently, this is positive forward progress (and law abiding cyclists like myself have no reason to worry about said laws being more strongly enforced). Your “theoretical” whining as a clueless, refuses to listen to reason, jackass militant cyclist about how these laws are somehow “unfair to the poor cyclist” notwithstanding. I stand by my previous description of you: GASBAG….your little rants would be amusing if you weren’t such a attention starved douche…though you are also proving to be a dick, thereby lighting up ALL the indicators on the “douche to dick” scale, which until now seemed impossible….congrats, you ARE unique….

R.K. June 20, 2010 at 10:47 am

Yes, that last tirade demonstrates the degree to which you are a troll, benl, very effectively.

benl June 20, 2010 at 5:18 pm

I only fired back in ‘self defense”….Tristen took the conversation to that level with his post (because he had no “facts of law” to defend his position since his militant rhetoric, which never made sense anyway, had run out). If you read the last few previous posts, for a change “Tristen” was actually engaging me a dialogue for a very brief period of time before reverting back to his usual”can’t defend his position with any real world logic” stance, following up by his lashing out (again, frustrated by having no reasonable argument). Please “R.K” have anything constructive to add to this dialogue, or do you just prefer to chime in with you (lamely) attempted “witty/snarky” comment that has nothing to do with the subject at hand???

The militant pro cyclists like “Tristen” (like any militants who can’t listen to reason/compromise) all gather here on your chatrooms and blogs to pat each other on the back, parrot each others ridiculous mantras/manifestos (seriously, PAY people to cycle and make driving HUGELY expensive…put the LSD pipe down), and collectively think “why can’t the rest of the world just understand that WE have ALL the answers”…and just do “as WE say”…even though your rhetoric is just “won’t fly in the real world ” fantasies/borderline delusions…you’re like those “cult-y” online Warcraft or Star Trek losers (or even the more dangerous types like the the religious wanna be martyrs). You’re so pathetically lost in your ‘how the world SHOULD be according to YOU’, you can’t see the rest of the real world (who comprise the vast majority of voters, who are really the people that make the world function) looking at you with mocking derision.

“Tristen” sounds like the worst of the bunch hear…just re read his ridiculous “debate” with “Milan” (whom I don’t agree with on a lot of his points but at least he doesn’t just rave dogmatically) or go back and read his ridiculous “leaps in logic” by quoting publications that have nothing to do with the cycling situation IN VANCOUVER and try to twist some kind of argument out of that (seriously, IDAHO does this, so we should too??? Do you see rural fields of potatos and corn as far as the eye can see in Vancouver?? Or people walking around with guns???).

When he states stuff like “why should cyclists follow the rules/laws of the road?” and claims a “moral imperative” for not doing so, you have to realize what a militant, borderline anarchist he is…and frankly, no insult or slur intended, just “fair comment”, a windmill tilting fool who thinks out of touch “academic theories” should be MADE the reality NOW, no matter who it hurts, practically or financially.

If this is “the guy” you want to mindlessly follow and watch the rest of the world ignore you as a nutter, good luck Pancho Sancha. I’m trying to find “real” solutions so bike lanes can co exist with drivers in Vancouver LONG TERM, not a “one term radical mayor/city council” blip…and if that means cyclists pay some money beyond “property taxes” (as drivers have been doing for years, including the recent “money grab” by city hall jacking up parking meters to be the most expensive in North America), be it insurance, tolls, licensing fees or just stronger enforcement/ticketing of cycling violations, I’m all for it. I pay a lot of money to drive my car in Vancouver, I’m perfectly willing to pay a reasonable amount to allow me to cycling in safer bike lanes. Please, how is this “unreasonable” to both drivers and cyclists???? Answer: to any “reasonable” person, it’s not.

Matt June 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I’m a practicing lawyer in Vancouver dude


benl June 20, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Um, Matt, anything constructive to add your just “hit and run snark” (because you have nothing of substance to add)……I thought not.

And why the implied sarcasm or incredulity? Judging from these posts, I’m the only person here with a working knowledge of the law as it applies to cars/bikes…I’m not quoting obscure cases from Idaho because they have no bearing on the legality of the cycling situation as it pertains to Vancouver. I’m sure you could find some cycling law as it pertains to a country in the EU. Again, doesn’t apply here in Canada. Try staying on point (note the title of this discussion: Vancouver). In fact why are all the militant throngs NOT from Vancouver chiming in with their rhetoric? You have no stake, you don’t live here…

BuddyRich June 20, 2010 at 8:30 pm

To try and bring this back on topic.

Another insight into what can be achieved with the right planning and setting of priorities.

First, Copenhagen isn’t Vancouver (or Ottawa) but the parallels to Ottawa are there. Vancouver, given its more moderate climate, should be better.

However, what I want to point out from that story, is that change is possible. Copenhagen, as much as its held up as a model for cycling today, was in the same position in the 1960’s-1970’s as Ottawa and Vancouver are today (ie. very car centric). A few changes and the political will to do so turned it into what it is today.

The story acknowledges that some people were at the time (and still are) upset but by and large the majority of the citizens accept the positives it brings.

The other thing I take from the story is Ottawa percentage of commuters is a paltry 2%, half of even Vancouver’s. That is shameful, though I am encouraged that 57% consider themselves “cyclists” (weekend warrior’s perhaps?)

Matt June 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I’m just slightly incredulous that a person claiming to be a lawyer would debate largely by name calling. As well, lawyers typically have to have good written skills which precludes the use of multiple ellipses and randomly capitalized words.

benl June 21, 2010 at 12:21 am

“Name calling”? Is that what you call it? You’ve probably never been in a trial. Half the adversarial process is “artful” name calling…

And I’m just posting ‘off the cuff” logical (you’ve heard of logic right) rebuttals, not preparing legal briefs. Being the “punctuation police” in a forum like this just shows how few defensible ideas you have). When I’m prepping paper for billable hours, you bet the language and punctuation are letter perfect (that what associates are for). Here, you mouthbreathers are hardly worth the effort….

Still waiting for some ideas/arguments/ dialogue that makes a modicum of sense “Matt”. I guess that too much for you.

“Buddy Rich”, thanks for getting the dialogue back on track. You’re right, Copenhagen isn’t Vancouver. That said, I don’t think the relationship between drivers and cyclist was ever as toxic in Copenhagen (or Ottawa for that matter) that it is here in Vancouver. Two small bike lanes have a good segment of the population (not all but a good portion) ready to declare “jihad” against city hall. Beyond the 3 potential solutions (licensing/insurance charges, increased cycling enforcement and/or tolls for bike lanes)I’ve put forward, does anyone have any realistic plans (so, back to the kids table for you “Tristan”, adults are talking) so a large voting block (of irate drivers) doesn’t end the bike lane experiment next civic election? Cyclists have to find a way to “make peace” with the larger vehicular population so they won’t collectively “vote away” any dreams of making bike lanes more prevalent and permanent. “Paying their fair share” (and the appearance of paying said share) is the number one (well, number two after “why aren’t cyclists licensed/insured?”) gripe cited by drivers when asked by the news media. These are facts. The “head in sand” approach, or the “let’s make it too financially punitive to drive so people will start to cycle” are both unworkable and unrealistic in the here and now. All the “hardcore pro cycling, screw the drivers” fantasy plans will get raves here (after all, you’re “preaching to the converted”)….how do you convince all the angry drivers out there out for Mayor Robertson’s head? I don’t think that’s an exaggeration in the current climate given the “war of words” being waged in Letters to the Editor and the email/phone deluge at city hall.

Matt June 21, 2010 at 1:14 am

“Name calling”? Is that what you call it?

Here, you mouthbreathers are hardly worth the effort….

And I’m just posting logical rebuttals

Milan June 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

Half the adversarial process is “artful” name calling…

Perhaps we could all strive to keep things artful here, as well?

benl June 21, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Still no reasonable debate here, or even alternative ideas that would work in the real world. So I guess all your useless sniping that would be more at home in a Fanboy chatroom indicates I’m correct…and you’re out of anything remotely useful to say.

The prosecution rests. :)

Matt June 21, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Tristan, thanks for bringing to my attention the rolling yield law in Idaho. It’s an interesting idea. I’d like to see how the law is worded.

Nonetheless, I think the idea has a certain merit to it. Provided the cyclist is made to slow down sufficiently so as to be able to assess the intersection (as opposed to just blowing through them), it would be particularly beneficial along bike routes.

As well, I would like to see laws changed so that motorists using a bike route would need to yield to cyclists. They still have access to it, but it is predominantly for bicycle travel. Hopefully, this would encourage more cyclists to use the routes.

. June 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm

49-720.STOPPING — TURN AND STOP SIGNALS. (1) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and, if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection or junction of highways, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping.
(2) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic control light shall stop before entering the intersection and shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded, he may proceed through the steady red light with caution. Provided however, that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn. A left-hand turn onto a one-way highway may be made on a red light after stopping and yielding to other traffic.

Matt June 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Thanks to the person who found and posted that.

I like it, although I could foresee problems with it applying to traffic lights in addition to stop signs.

Tristan June 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm

The law quite clearly demands cyclists stop at red lights – but after stopping, they may proceed through with caution, or make a right hand turn. It is confusing to say “it” is being applied to traffic lights in addition to stop signs – what is the “it” being applied to both?

Matt June 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Sorry, that wasn’t clear. I did read the full law, however.

‘It’ referred to proceeding through the red light at all. My reason for thinking this could be problematic is that generally intersections with traffic lights are bigger and/or busier than those with stop signs. Being able to adequately survey all variations of intersections with red lights seems improbable, and some are quite a bit more dangerous than others.

Tristan June 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm

The law doesn’t require it to be possible to adequately survey all variations of intersections with red lights.

“Once the person has yielded, he may proceed through the steady red light with caution.”

If it is not possible to adequately survey an intersection, it is not possible to proceed with caution – proceeding without adequate consideration of the situation can not be called “proceeding with caution”.

If you think the statute isn’t clear enough, it could be re-worded to make this explicit (i.e. clearly define the word “caution”) without changing the meaning of the law.

Matt June 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Fair point.

My feeling is that as bikes and cars have inherent differences, there is really no reason for the applicable road use acts not to acknowledge these differences. In some cases they already do, and there are definitely areas (such as stop as yield) that would be worth investigating further.

benl June 21, 2010 at 8:31 pm

So, what’s stopping you? Please move to Idaho…a paradise of potatoes and bicycles….Counterpoint (pointed out before and never argued against by the militants): does anywhere in Idaho have near the traffic congestion/urban density of DT Vancouver?….I’ve never been to Idaho but I don’t think so…what might (and I emphasize “might”) work in a semi rural setting doesn’t work in a dense urban setting (tractors are allowed to drive really slowly on roads in a rural setting…anyone planning to drive a 20KPH tractor to work to the TD tower downtown?).

And again, this “my dream for a perfect cycling world/screw the drivers plan” does not in any way, shape or form offer any reasonable solution (meaning getting the majority of the voters on side for permanent cycling infrastructure) for the current disconnect of drivers/cyclists here in Vancouver specifically. While your obsession with this ‘Idaho law’ does, very tangentially, go to the issue of “safety”, it obviously does not work in Vancouver. Go to any busy downtown light/stop sign on a sunny day and see the cyclists(not “all” but a lot) run red lights and nearly cause accidents for cars and pedestrians who have the legal right of way.

What about the much larger perceived/assumed feeling that cyclists should “pay their fair share” of all this infrastructure (tolls, licensing fees/insurance/licensing tests) because I’m still waiting for a realistic workable alternative to get the majority of drivers(voters) onside…

Just saying “we should pay nothing, screw the greenhouse spewing drivers” doesn’t make for a workable plan, or a realistic one given how polarized the city is becoming in this issue (with cyclists being outnumbered something like 20 to 1 at the polls currently based on population percentage of drivers to cyclists). Or has this gone from actual “discussion” to the militants just high fiving/group french kissing themselves whenever they say a variation of “cars suck, screw em, bikes should be the first, best mode of transport in Vancouver” (an argument that was already logically dismantles as unworkable for the majority of people in Vancouver and again, never disputed by the militants) and ignoring the reality of the current situation in Vancouver. You wanted to get away from insults and back to real discussion? Still waiting for the real discussion to start again.

Tristan June 21, 2010 at 9:45 pm


If you think DT Vancouver is so different from anywhere in Idaho, that is not a reason to oppose this legislation. Rather, it is a reason to advocate for laws specific to DT Vancouver, like the ban on Montreal Island against turning right at a red light.

Boise is not a small town, certainly on par with population centres in BC other than Vancouver.

“anyone planning to drive a 20KPH tractor to work to the TD tower downtown?”

Is there a rule against this? Where my parents live (Vancouver Suburbs), tractors are an everyday sight on the roads, where they mix it up at 20km/h with the 60km/h (in reality 70+) traffic without incident. Vancouver area highways specify capability of 60km/h as a condition for use, and specifically excluded limited speed motorcycles. However, I am aware of no ban on tractors downtown. In fact, what would the problem be? Traffic downtown is limited to 50km/h (often less than that due to congestion), and many tractors are capable of more than 30km/h.

Tristan June 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm


You’re rage is over 25 millon to be spent on bike lanes over a period of ten years. That’s an average of 2.5 million dollars per year. Now, in fairness, 320 million of translink’s budget this year will come from Fuel taxes – that’s money motorists are paying, and cyclists are not. However also this year 271 million of Translink’s budget will come from property taxes. Cyclists pay property taxes as motorists do – even those who use no transit at all of any kind pay these taxes.

So, before you rage over 25 million over ten years, think about how small a number that is, and how large a portion of translink’s budget is not funded specifically by motorists.

(from translink’s 2010 budget and business summery –

Matt June 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm


You have repeatedly made the claim that on this forum there are militant cyclists. I would be interested to know who here you think is a militant cyclist, and give an example of their militancy.

I’m wondering if perhaps one day (June 1st), you Googled in anger something to the effect of “Vancouver Bike Lanes,” in the hopes of confronting the militant cyclists that resided on that forum. The Google search turned up this page, and you dove in head first not realizing that the discussion in progress was fairly benign and not, in fact, occupied by militant cyclists. Then you managed to turn everyone in said forum off of any point you were trying to make.

What I also find curious is that your generous use of ellipses and randomly capitalized words matches fairly closely that of bikesR4Kids and IDrive5aLiving. Upon realizing your first two personae didn’t go over very well, you devised a 3rd one, this one a lawyer. Then, to add in a dash of believability, you mention repeatedly “remember, I’m a cyclist too.”

So… how close am I?

benl June 22, 2010 at 2:59 am

Militant cyclist rant examples paraphrased:

– We should pay cyclists to cycle
– We should make driving as expensive and punitive as possible
– Why should cyclists obey the laws of the road?
– (Implied) Any cycle/car collision must be the driver’s fault
Etc etc.

I could go on and on.

Let’s be clear here: I WANT BIKE LANES IN VANCOUVER (and despite your borderline paranoid accusations, I do cycle, as well as drive, I do live downtown and I am a lawyer)…..I just don’t see bike lanes being widely accepted or long term given the speed city council is “cramming bike lanes down Vancouver’s throat” (quote from a recent newspaper editorial from a business owner) and the angry backlash (and no I’m not “making this up” or “blowing it out of proportion”) from a very large amount of people directed a city hall, and to a lesser extent, the VPD for lack of enforcement when it comes to law breaking cyclists.

I’m not out here on a soapbox raging, NO BIKE LANES DAMMIT. All I’ve been doing since Day One with my post is offering potential real world solutions to get drivers(the voting majority) on side. And from Day One, all I’ve gotten in response is :

– No “real world” suggestions from this forum that would actually work to get the majority of city voters to accept the current bike lane plan.

– A lot of denouncements/insults from the “militants” (yes, there’s that word again) and in Matt’s case, made up accusations about who I am and what my “ulterior motives” are.

– Not ONE actual real suggestion to counter my three reasonable suggestions(cyclists pay tolls, pay for insurance, pay to be licensed/take an ‘operator competency test’) to change the views of angry drivers. A point no one has argued is: They (the drivers) are still the VAST voting majority in Vancouver city politics.

– More and more “out there” fantasy plans, irrelevant legal points and silly “moral stands” that don’t help the situation in Vancouver and/or won’t fly in the current voter climate.

The general view here is not “reasonable dialogue”. The general view here is: We want ALL the bike lanes we can get, not pay one extra cent for them and let the f*cking drivers eat the cost and inconvenience (and while we’re at it, let us break ANY traffic law we feel the need/desire to, because we know best).

Add that to the wack jobs like “Tristan” who seriously suggested that cyclists “get paid” to cycle and it’s a reasonable moral stand not to stop at red lights (for cyclists only), and yes, to a “reasonable person” (and the root of law is based on the “reasonable person test” BTW), this site comes across a gathering of “militant loons”. Because I drive 5 days a week and maybe cycle 2 or 3 recreationally, I’m labelled some kind of “evil pro driver masquerading as a cyclist” when it appears that I’m the most reasonable person posting here.

C’mon “Tristan” and “Matt” (whom I consider the #1 and #2 militants here). Even though I’m not sure either of you actually reside in Vancouver (so this is all just theoretical sniping to you), how about, without all the insults, whining, rhetoric and wild accusations, offering up some kind of “solution” that will:

A) Allow current bike lanes to stay and to reasonably expand.

and (most importantly)

B) Convince the majority of voters(most of whom who drive) to agree that (A) is a good thing before the next civic election and re elect a cycle friendly civic government.

Apathy and low voter turnout are 2 of the big problems with civic politics. Right now the NPA (aka the guys who got booted out en masse in the last civic election for those who aren’t Vancouverites) are rubbing their hands together at a “hot button issue” that they can campaign on the “populist” side and likely take back city hall, given the amount of anger out there toward the current city council on this single issue.

There was a recent (last week) front page story in The Vancouver Sun about a 45 year old business forced to close because the Burrard bike lane changed traffic/parking patterns and the loss of walk in (due to loss of parking for blocks and car traffic) customers put him out of business.

The owner was bitter, and had nothing but contempt for city hall for not once consulting businesses (like they promised) on the blocks affected, or even responding to his email/phone concerns over the last 6 months as his business slowly died. And city hall had no rebuttal/comment on the story when asked by the reporter. This is the kind of anger that is rising against city hall over the bike lane issue. There is a widespread feeling that city hall is cowtowing to one small special interest group to the detriment of the general populance.

I think my suggestions address real world concerns and offer a reasonable chance (if some or all of them are implemented) that the voters won’t “knee jerk” react and dump the current city council at their first chance. You’ve offered nothing as an alternative. Put your money where your mouth is: put up a solution that will be acceptable/viable to the majority of voters in Vancouver. If it makes sense, I’ll actually listen. I don’t argue for the sake of argument just to piss you off. So far, for all your sturm and drang, you’ve offered up no real concrete alternative plan that would work politically and practically in this city and help ease (decade long) tensions now boiling over.

Instead, you attack me, my character, my punctuation and speculate what my “motives” are….all a smokescreen to the fact you have not offered (or been unable to offer) ONE CREDIBLE ALTERNATIVE to my suggestions.

Put up or shut up boys…

Matt June 22, 2010 at 3:39 am

I think a credible alternative to your suggestions is the status quo. The so called war on wheels (drivers vs. cyclists) is overhyped sensationalism.

I’d like to point out that nowhere have I mentioned I’m a cyclist, which precludes me from being a militant cyclist. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been militant either. Further more, you have seriously misinterpreted my position on certain things. Specifically, I certainly don’t think any collision between a bike and car is automatically the fault of the driver, only that a driver opening his door has an obligation to check first, whether it be for bikes or buses (the law, as written, backs me up on this). Further to this, I’d like you to point out where I’ve mentioned I don’t think cyclists should obey laws. In fact, I’ve said the exact opposite.

Also, I don’t think you are in any position to be complaining about insults.

As for business closures due to bike lane routing: definitely unfortunate. I think it’s also unfortunate that businesses were strained when the Canada Line was built.

BuddyRich June 22, 2010 at 7:15 am

BenL –

I think a lot of what you are mistaking for “cycling militancy” was simply conjecture on people’s part’s.

Pragmatically, yes, the political will is not there right now to charge drivers more, I think people were just floating the idea to discuss its merits in this conversation as the bicycle is a natural alternative to automobile travel. Given this blog is also heavily focused on environmental issues, specifically AGW, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that such ideas are thrown out.

Your main contention is that it just isn’t realistic to implement the lanes because they are politically unpopular. I don’t deny that but I would like to see some polling to done to determine how true that is.
However, and I know Milan has posted on the topic before (or maybe it was Tristan’s post on, I don’t remember) although, yes, we live in a democracy that focuses on quarterly earnings reports and 4 year election cycles (a bit more variability at the national level) it bias’ “reality” to tackling short term goals while ignoring long term ones, often to society’s determinant (see the 2008-2009 financial meltdown), especially with something like AGW, which can hit a point of no return, so a more long-term approach must be taken. We need idealism and vision at this point.

For my part, I posted stories that show how Ottawa is trying to implement something like this (and thankfully we have a quasi-governmental body pushing for this for the capital outside of the regular election cycle, the NCC) and how another city tackled this problem in the past.

Certainly we can learn for these examples, and other cities, on how to implement something like this as for better or for worse, we have to ween ourselves off our dependence on the automobile. Can you at least agree to that last statement? If it can’t, then the whole notion of being idealistic is not worth the effort if you think the status quo is viable long term.

benl June 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Thanks “Buddy Rich”, you post is food for thought. I understand there is a lot of “idealism” here but right now in Vancouver, we need “practical” solutions not “idealistic manifestos”. I too would be interested in a poll in Vancouver to see what the for/against numbers are for bike lanes but our city hall, perhaps worried if the numbers go how a lot of people think they will (meaning the vast majority against due the the relatively few cyclists in Vancouver vs pissed off drivers) won’t do any polling on this issue(or at least none they will make public). In fact they won’t allow much in the way of dialogue on this issue aside from the Mayor giving “walk and talk” blurbs to the TV news saying “cycling is good” and one very pro cycle city councillor getting editorial space in the Vancouver Sun every couple of weeks for one sided PR-speak op/eds on about how bikes lanes are good and he’s personally trying to “educate” the masses for “everyone to get out of their cars” (not taking into account that most people can’t afford to “get out of their cars” because of how their lives are scheduled/where they live).

In fact, due to the city’s apparent lack of consultation/interest in dialogue, they are probably looking at a large lawsuit by the owner of the business that shut down due to the Burrard Bike lane traffic flow/parking changes. The owner has already stated his issue is “exactly like the Canada Line construction issue” where many businesses were forced into bankruptcy because of traffic pattern changes and there was zero consultation from government. Although those cases are still in appeals court, the last verdict held the provincial government financially on the hook for at least one of those businesses closing. So now, based on those cases as precedent, the city will soon be on the hook for maybe another 7 figure cost for unilaterally rolling out these bike lanes and not consulting with the people directly affected.

And “Matt”, status quo does not and will not work long term. All “status quo” will get Vancouver cyclists is perhaps 2 or 3 more bike lanes to complement the 2 now, more rancor on the streets (accidents may be down with the current 2 bike lanes but arguments bordering on fist fights are up if you believe the media) and in the editorial pages/TV news and an almost certain wholesale change in city government in a couple of years. No politician on the other side has yet said “no more bike lanes” but comments like “we need to balance practical financial concerns and the will of the people with bike safety” are being said, and if you read between the lines/see the ‘test balloons’, the opposition is carefully building it’s case to make slowing or rolling back bike lanes their big campaign issue. So, the likely result of “status quo” is 2 years of “hey, great to see more bike lanes, suck it drivers”, followed up by either the methodical rollback of said lanes (as a worst scenario), or a complete stop to further bike lanes (at best) when a new city council takes power. Believe it or not, I’m trying to prevent that. I’d like to see a compromise in which bike lanes are rolled out in a manner that fully consults everyone (cyclists, drivers, businesses affected) and in a way that drivers don’t feel (whether true or not, it’s not just ‘is it fair?” it is the PERCEPTION of “is it fair?”) that “they (cyclists) are getting a free ride”. Defusing driver anger should be a paramount issue for cyclists in Vancouver because angry drivers will likely lead to an election result that isn’t good for cycling in Vancouver.

I’m not suggesting that cyclists pay the same rates as cars for licensing/insurance, but some reasonable fee and if the city went “tolls on bike lanes” instead, I’m talking a loonie or toonie each way, less than what most people working downtown spend on coffee each day ($5 – 6 on average) and certainly less than parking ($12-15 if you get long term parking) for a work day downtown. Cyclists may hate paying anything, but that loonie or 2 a day will quell a lot of the driver complaints and may even allow the pro cycle city government you support to remain in power long term and make some permanent change for cycling .

I don’t think my suggestions are onerous. I pay about $1600/year to insure my car (yes our monopolistic provincial government ICBC insurance is the most expensive in Canada), but I would gladly pay another $200-300/year in whatever “fees” (licensing/insurance or tolls) if it would help defray bike lane costs and convince motorists that cyclists ARE perceived as “paying their fair share”, and hopefully quell any voter backlash and allow bike lanes to become permanent.

We’re at a very interesting potential “tipping point” in Vancouver with passionate camps on both sides of the bike lane issue. Widespread bike lanes could become mainstream permanent fixtures in this city, or they could be a “2 year blip/experiment”. My opinion as a resident of the city is, status quo will almost assure the latter. Something has to change (to get drivers to see this is a good thing) to make the preferred former option happen. Realistically the only way to get drivers on side is the “carrot” (show them costs are being shared, cyclist do NOT get to ignore traffic laws etc) not the “stick”(we going to make it ridiculously more difficult and more expensive for you to drive Soulless Earth Killer).

Tristan June 22, 2010 at 6:47 pm


Cyclists pay property taxes. A large portion of of translink revenue comes through property taxes. Ergo, cyclists are not getting a “free ride”.

Practical solutions? How about stop spreading fox style hyped media coverage of “bikes versus cars”?

What field of law do you want to pretend you work in? Whatever it is, I’m sure I could find examples to move from what you claim to know, to what you demonstrate to not know about society, “practical solutions”, “unrealistic idealism”, etc…

benl June 22, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Fox style hype media?

So front page stories in The Vancouver Sun, The Province, first segment stories on Global News, CTV news, CBC News, local talk radio and write ups in all the free community papers (and these are papers that make no bones about it in editorials that they are on the cyclists’ side) all constitute “Fox Style Media Hype”??

The mass of emails and phone complaints to city hall (even the most hardcore pro cycling city council members have said to the press they were surprised by the “sheer volume and rancor” of the majority of messages/emails).

Because you don’t like the fact that there are a large portion of the population who don’t like the “status quo”, you ignore them and write it all off as “Fox Style Hype media”. Another example of why you’re a card carrying member of the “won’t listen to anyone but himself militant cycling brigade” Tristan.

Your property tax argument has already been rebutted ages ago, and no one could come up with anything to refute it. To wit: EVERYONE (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians who own neither) pay property taxes, no argument there. But, on top of that (and taking fuel costs out of the mix), drivers pay insurance, drivers pay to be licensed and drivers pay a king’s ransom to park downtown (and note city council, which has direct control over parking, recently made huge “cash grab” against drivers ONLY by jacking up parking meters).

Asking cyclists to pay something (a much smaller rate for insurance/licensing etc) or a nominal toll on bike lanes (a whole Loonie) is NOT a lot to ask, if for nothing else than to defuse the widespread driver argument (and pet peeve) that cyclists are “getting a free ride” compared to drivers. If this argument/belief could be nullified by even 30 percent of drivers, this pro cycling city council would have a reasonably good chance at re election. Currently, I’d say their chances are somewhat around 70/30 against and please hear me on this, THIS IS BAD FOR LONG TERM CYCLING IN THIS CITY. This is MY opinion. I don’t have a hate cyclists (though law breaking ones frustrate the hell out of me). I WANT bike lanes. They ARE safer. I don’t want them to disappear in 2 years under a new right wing city council because the current council “went too far, too fast and without consultation” and there is a knee jerk reaction from the voters come next election. This is my “logical, reality based, numbers don’t lie” argument that you can’t rebut or seemingly even understand.

And if you say again some variation of “Good, screw the drivers, charge them MORE”, you’re just too clueless/head in the clouds to grasp how self defeating that stance is from an electorial point of view.

Try again to say something constructive please…if you concentrate really really hard, I think you might be able to do it…

. June 23, 2010 at 11:36 am

“But Mungall said that’s all about to change now as the province has decided to enact a new law that allows government to take the $778 million ICBC surplus and put it into general revenues.

“The BC Liberals have signified that they are going to change the law and pilfer from that money and reallocate it to general revenues,” Mungall said.

Since the move is part of their 2010 budget platform, Mungall said their budget is based partially on activity that is currently illegal.”

. June 23, 2010 at 1:39 pm

There’s No Such Thing as Free Parking
How eliminating parking spaces could make cities more nimble and efficient.
By Tom Vanderbilt
Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2010, at 4:57 PM ET

In reading a week’s worth of great reader proposals for creating nimbler cities, I have picked up a few discernible trends. One is a tilt in favor of the hypothetical: new technologies or entirely new types of transportation. While this blue-sky thinking is certainly welcome, I’d love to hear more about all the good ideas that are being tested out right now, in some city or another.

Another trend: ideas for improving urban parking. And in particular, for reforming (or even doing away with) municipal parking codes. Such proposals appeal to me for a few reasons. For one thing, parking is a huge, if typically overlooked, part of the traffic equation. Storage is a key part of our automobile networks, and cars are stored quite a bit: Cars spend, on average, 95 of their time simply parked. For another, such plans are counterintuitive: It’s odd for planners (one took pains to indicate he was not a libertarian) to advocate actually doing away with planning regulations. The third is that many cities have already begun to experiment with their parking codes, providing not tantalizing “what ifs” but useful case studies.

Unless you are involved in transportation, local government, or real estate, the words “minimum parking requirements” may be unfamiliar to you. And yet their influence is all around you. Parking minimums are municipal provisions that require developers building a new project—whether commercial or residential—to also construct a minimum number of new parking spaces, often without regard to the presence of nearby transit options or even actual need.

. June 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Bicycle Highways
Should cities build specialized roadways for cyclists?
By Tom Vanderbilt
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2010, at 1:11 PM ET

While there have been any number of bicycle-related entries in Nimble Cities, several readers have proposed an idea that can essentially be described as “bicycle highways.” “I live in Chicago and take the L to work,” wrote one, “but I’d rather ride my bike. A large problem with bicycling in cities is fear, generated by the fragility of a 5 lb. bicycle when faced with a 2,000 lb. car. To combat this fear, cities must develop or designate roadways specifically for bikes.”

Another argued that bicycle rental programs, while a good way to seed networks, were lacking: “Most people don’t ride bicycles to work not because they’re difficult to store/lock up but because they are at a serious disadvantage safety-wise. No bike helmet will protect you if an SUV driver on a cell phone accidentally broadsides you!”

There is hardly a major city in the world that is not trying to get more people on bikes—ridership is up in cities ranging from Paris to New York—and city planners the world over envision ever greater numbers of people on bicycles in their long-term projections. The reasons are fairly obvious: Bicycles lessen congestion while improving the health of the citizenry. Cycling moreover has begun to seem a kind of indicator of overall urban health. A recent and not atypical survey of the world’s 25 most livable cities (by Monocle magazine) was stacked with Copenhagen, Munich, Stockholm, and other cities that have invested heavily in cycling; Portland, Ore., was one of two U.S. entrants. But the question of how to move cycling forward is less clear. Among the hurdles are overcoming the culture of fear that can surround urban cycling (often for good reasons) and overcoming the almost inertial political resistance to giving cycling road space at the expense (perceived or real) of cars.

. June 30, 2010 at 1:50 pm

“But the key, one could argue, is infrastructure. While the school of so-called “vehicular cycling” argues that cycles should be treated as cars and share the roads, this philosophy seems to be the result of (primarily American) cyclists adapting by necessity to their harsh surroundings rather than the sound basis of a widespread transportation shift. In the world’s top cycling cities, one finds not muscular riders harried and buffeted by passing cars, but all manner of people—young, old, carrying groceries, carrying kids—riding on networks that have been designed for them. In the Netherlands, for example, where no new road is built without a provision for cycles, cyclists ride on paths with a minimum width of 2.5 meters (which must be 1.5 meters from the road), get their own green lights, and find parking (if not always enough) at train stations and even bus stops. And even within the cycling-happy Netherlands, as David Hembrow has noted, the cities that have better infrastructure—and not necessarily the most densely populated ones—have higher cycling rates. And what’s the annual cost of the world’s best cycling infrastructure? By Hembrow’s estimates, is roughly 30 euros for each Dutch citizen—well less than a tank of gasoline. “

. April 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm
oleh April 15, 2011 at 7:15 am

Some context for viewers of the above video. There are three bridges entering downtown Vancouver over False Creek. The most scenic is the Burrard Street Bridge. About two years ago, one of its six lanes was turned over to bike traffic. There was much local coverage and controversy and even some national attention. More recently a lane on Hornby and Dunsmuir Streets downtown have been turned into bike lanes. All were considered temporary to see how it would work . There have been cement flower planters along some of it. Now the bike lanes have a distinct air of permanence.

This video is making the rounds within the bike community in Vancouver. I hope you enjoy it. It may be better if you do not know German.

Milan April 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

Downfall parodies are a common internet meme.

For instance, one was made criticizing the expense of Nikon’s D3x camera.

oleh May 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Today is the start of Bike to Work week in Vancouver. Currently 4% of Vancouver commuters bike to work . The goal over time is 10%. It is an inexpensive and refreshing way to commute. Please also be safe.

. August 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

The weather has been dreadful this summer. It has mostly been cold and rainy. Despite that, the number of people riding bikes has soared.

In June, an average of 2,200 cyclists used the Dunsmuir bike lanes mid-week – 50 per cent more than during the same period last year.

Several thousand cyclists a day now ride over Burrard Bridge.

A date picked at random from daily statistics shows that on June 4 this year, 6,274 rode over the bridge, as compared to 3,006 last year.

And the number of riders will get a boost when the city introduces a public bicycle system next spring, which will see thousands of rental bikes parked at self-service stands downtown.

The city has received expressions of interest from about a dozen potential rental bike suppliers and is expected to select a winning bidder this fall. By next spring, Vancouver will have joined Paris, Lyon and Montreal in implementing a public bike system.

oleh August 3, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Thanks for sharing the statistics of bicycle usage on the Burrard Bridge and he Dunsmuir-Hornby bike lanes. I enjoy using them. There is a reals sense of community and a critical mass of bikers is being achieved.

Milan August 4, 2011 at 12:54 am

I was biking to work on Fridays, earlier in the summer. It was pleasant, though it did require dealing with traffic in a few places.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: