VACC BIKE TO WORK CAMPAIGN TACKLES 2010 COMMUTING

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Nov. 18, 2009 – Getting around Vancouver will be challenging during the Winter Olympics. To address the issue, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition is encouraging commuters to consider biking to work. Thanks to positive feedback from cyclists during Bike to Work Week (Nov. 2 - 8) and continuing support from TransLink, the VACC is extending its commuter station program for cyclists until the end of December and offering workplace programs to educate commuters on the 'how-to' aspects of riding their bike to work. Six additional stations (dates and locations below) will be available in the coming weeks, for commuter cyclists to stop by and enjoy a hot drink and free snack, get advice on winter maintenance and equipment suggestions, and enter to win a variety of bike-friendly prizes. In addition, special holiday themes at some of the stations will help reinforce the fun aspects of cycling, regardless of weather conditions.

"There's no doubt that cold and wet weather can be a barrier to winter bike commuting," says VACC representative Lisa Slakov. "The commuter stations are a way to reward those year-round cyclists who stick with sustainable transportation choices. They are also a great place to provide advice on equipment, clothing, and safe routes for those who are just starting out."

In addition to the extra commuter bike stations, the VACC is offering riding workshops designed to help those looking for an easier way to get around during the 2010 Olympic Games. Workplaces and other organizations can take advantage of the program's sensible advice on safety and equipment, promoting realistic expectations, and offering potential cycle commuters the moral support they need to overcome perceived barriers.

"How do I get started? Not being able to answer that question seems to be the biggest roadblock to those wondering if biking to work is right for them," says Slakov. "Our workshops help people find the right answers. With the Winter Olympics coming and road closures soon to be affecting many parts of the region, we want people to know that getting to work by bike is a great way to avoid the frustration of traffic jams and transit overcrowding."

WINTER BIKE COMMUTING WORKSHOPS

For more details on the Winter Bike Commuting Workshops, including how your company or organization can participate, visit http://vacc.bc.ca/cycling/cycling.php?pageID=39#2 or contact the VACC office:

Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition
Phone: 604-878-8222
Email: admin@vacc.bc.ca
Website: www.vacc.bc.ca

WINTER BIKE TO WORK COMMUTER STATIONS

Date: Friday Nov. 20
Location: Central Valley Greenway at Gilmore Way (Home Depot)
Time: 07:00-09:00

Date: Thursday Nov. 26
Location: SW corner of Burrard Bridge
Time: 16:30 - 18:30

Date: Friday Dec. 4
Location: Cambie and 10th Ave (West side of Cambie)
Time: 07:00-09:00

Date: Thursday Dec. 10
Location: Frances/Union bike route between Fell Ave and Kensington Ave
Time: 16:30 - 18:30

Date: Friday Dec. 18
Location: Ontario and 33rd, Vancouver
Time: 07:00-09:00

Date: Tuesday Dec. 22
Location: Union and Main (Adanac/Union bike route)
Time: 16:30 - 18:30

For more information on getting your organization involved in Bike to Work programs, please visit: http://www.biketoworkmetrovan.ca/


MEDIA ENQUIRIES
Contact: Chris Keam

Chris Keam
info@chriskeam.com
604-780-6125
http://www.chriskeam.com/

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During the brighter, drier days of the year, I bike the Mt Pleasant to/from West Van route. I'm a proud, FAIR-weather cycler. That being said, after a couple months of bussing in the dark, wet, and drear, I'm getting more and more interested in taking the plunge (pun intended), buying the necessary gear, and starting up winter cycling.

My biggest perceived obstacle, however, is getting through downtown in the dark. Summer evenings, I'm happy to do the necessary (albeit, scary) commute along Pender from the causeway through to Abbot. But in the winter nighttime, I'm petrified of trying the same thing. Too many drivers who don't shoulder check.

Anyone else with these apprehensions? Does anyone have practical tips for gear and/or alternative routes that I can try? Or am I just being a scaredy cat?

M

As far as routes go, I can't offer much advice. No matter where I've ridden through downtown you have the drivers who think that traffic controls don't apply to them, that turn signals are optional and that they have no responsibility. Then again, I am used to riding on busy roads and don't make a huge effort to seek out better routes so it may be possible to avoid this. As for being a scaredy-cat, I'd point out that on a dark rainy evening, visibility through car windows is reduced, ambient noise is higher and there are more reflections and light pollution/interference, all of which add up to a real increase in the probability that you won't be seen.

As far as gear goes, I can't recommend lots of lights enough. A single blinky light front and rear may be legal, but it isn't necessarily safe. I prefer making sure I can't be missed, although even my lights that rival some cars' aren't enough for the occasional cell-phone-talking idiot...

For rain gear, it gets a bit personal. Full fenders (even with an extension to bring the front almost to the ground) eliminate most of the road spray, which does as much as the rain to get you wet. For clothing, full waterproof is good, but beware of inadequate ventilation if you do much more than putter. Personally, I'd rather get a little wet from the rain than get equally wet from sweating. For this reason, some people really like ponchos, since they allow lots of air flow. My outfit consists of a (non-goretex) waterproof jacket with a big vent in the back and pits, and I just picked up a pair of MEC pants that are made with a supposedly waterproof stretchy fabric. I can't really comment on them yet, though. In the past I've used a pair of tights with goretex facing, which worked well in light rain, but in heavy rain I still got wet. Finally, wet feet suck and shoes take a long time to dry, so for me those goofy-looking shoe covers are invaluable. I just let my head get wet, ignoring helmet covers, but longer hair may make that a less-attractive option. Of course, as I said clothing is personal, so you may have to try a few different things before you find something that works well for you.

Then you get to the carrying-stuff aspect. I prefer panniers year-round, but regardless of what you use make sure that it's either really waterproof or else wrap stuff inside in bags if it can't get wet or else it will some days. If you carry a backpack, keep in mind that it may reduce a jacket's ventilation, and combined with a less-breathable fabric may make sweaty-back worse.

I'm not trying to dissuade you from riding through the winter, just trying to prepare you for what it can be like. However, there are many days where it's mostly or completely dry: you could ride those days where the forecast looks reliably dry and bus those where it looks ugly. Be warned, though, that clear winter weather usually goes hand in hand with lower temperatures, so dress warmly and watch for ice and frost.

For slow rides and quick trips around the 'hood, I ride in gumboots and rain pants. Easy, but
you run the risk of being mistaken for a binner (at least in Mt. Un-Pleasant). Longer trips
call for the full tights, booties, cliched spandex-cyclist approach. Gin-boh has covered off the
topic comprehensively. My day-glo safety vest is essentially a second skin from September to
March, but my raincoat is black. I think the safety vest also sends an important subliminal
message (SAFETY!!!) that is superior to a regularly light coloured jacket. Plus, I can take it
off and not look like a MEC poster child.

Regarding routes, one option to try might be the Seawall from Stanley Park to the convention
centre, and then ride the lower road (West Waterfront Road) underneath Canada Place over to
Main, then you can double back to Abbott or the newly bike-friendly, traffic-calmed Carrall
St.
Cordova Street is not too bad either. At least it's one way and there's some room to 'take the
lane' when necessary.

I was gearing up to write my spiel, but I saw that GB did it for me. Thanks! Pretty much covered it all, though I'd say that riding more defensively in the dark is a must. During the day I'll ride a bit more aggressively (read: taking my right of way when it doesn't endanger my life), but at night drivers still won't see you if you shout until you're hoarse.

A light on the helmet (which I have yet to implement, but comes highly recommended) can be useful, as it allows you to point a beam at a car coming from the side in an attempt to replicate the elusive "eye contact."

Hey Gin-Boh (GB)... I have a question/recommendation (Unless, you have already done this).

*If you want to ignore my babble just go down to the last two paragraphs.
_______________________________________________

For the Gore-Tex facing tights... In what condition were they when they let in heavy rain (Umm... This is a leading question)?

I guess, to be completely honest, I have not worked with any thing that is only faced with Gore-Tex before... However, I have a jacket that is Gore-Tex and it held up extremely well (I had puddle of water in my jacket for a couple of hours... and it didn't seap through).

The point I was getting at is... Gore-Tex tends to be very finicky and must be treated with the utmost care. GB. I don't know if you take the extra effort to take care of the Gore-Tex facing tights. Personally, with my jacket, I felt that the strength of water repellency had increased when I washed it with Grangers (One Step Wash & Waterproofer).
_______________________________________________

Either way... With this long confusing post. I hope I have helped someone. In conclusion, personally when I toke care of my Gore-Tex clothing it has helped the water replency... and in the instance that Gin-Boh mentioned I don't know how he takes care of his clothing or have ever worked with Gore-Tex faced clothing.

I will also leave a website for Grangers.

Scire,

I've heard various opinions and "facts" regarding goretex and washing, wetting out, waterproof vs repellent and more. In this case, however, the issue was that the tights had a goretex front but straight lycra on the back half. No matter the condition of the membrane, the problem was that in heavy rain there was water everywhere.

Gin-Boh,

Hmm... I always thought that the membrane could hold on its own. Is there any difference between the Gore-Tex materials that they use on different types of clothing?

Sorry, I am pretty ignorant about this stuff.

My winter biking to work tip was to have a stash of clean socks in work and a pair or 2 of work shoes under your desk.

The ordinary mec rain pants in my experience keep most of the rain out, but i wouldn't say they are great.

In general this is the winter to bike if ever there was one. Ignore the el nino this winter (read wetter than 'normal' winters) and get on your bike its great!

Lots of folks stopped by today. I even spotted a few Ulty players biking to work. Way to go
peeps. Next week (Thursday, Nov. 26 - southwest side of the Burrard Bridge, 4:30 - 6:30pm)
the VACC will be accepting donations for the food bank. Bring a non-
perishable food item and get an MEC turtle light for your troubles.

Hey BikerCK,

I thought that was you. Sorry I didn't stop and say hi but I was late for work, next time though,

Brad

there are many different types of gore-tex but in terms of keeping it working well, washing is a must. If the fabric is not washed for a while it gets dirty (dirt, grease, ciggarette smoke, whatever) and the repellency and beading effect go way down. The DWR (durable waterproof finish) will wear off and will need to be replaced every so often. check with the manufactuerer for specific washing requirements.

Prizes, Camaraderie, Free Stuff!

Stop by the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition's second Winter Bike to Work Commuter Station (southwest end of the Burrard Bridge - Thursday, Nov. 26 from 4:30pm to 6:30pm) and you could win one of three $25 gift certificates from Steed Cycles. Even if the hot drinks courtesy of Cafe Etico, free snacks, and solar-powered sound system provided by Vancouver Renewable Energy don't warm your heart, the tropical theme is sure to brighten your commute! Bring a non-perishable food item for the Food Bank and we'll send you on your way with a free MEC turtle light.

In addition to commuter bike stations until the end of the year, the VACC is also offering local organizations riding workshops designed to assist those looking for alternative ways to get around during the 2010 Olympic Games. Let the H.R. department at your workplace know about the program's sensible advice for beginning bike commuters and help your co-workers avoid the hassles of 2010 traffic chaos.

For more information on getting your organization involved in Bike to Work programs, please visit: http://www.biketoworkmetrovan.ca/

WINTER BIKE COMMUTING WORKSHOPS

For more details on the Winter Bike Commuting Workshops, including how your company or organization can participate, visit http://vacc.bc.ca/cycling/cycling.php?pageID=39#2 or contact the VACC office:

Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition
Phone: 604-878-8222
Email: admin@vacc.bc.ca
Website: www.vacc.bc.ca

WINTER BIKE TO WORK COMMUTER STATIONS
(see link below for map)

Date: Thursday Nov. 26
Location: SW corner of Burrard Bridge
Time: 16:30 - 18:30

Date: Friday Dec. 4
Location: Cambie and 10th Ave (West side of Cambie)
Time: 07:00-09:00

Date: Thursday Dec. 10
Location: Frances/Union bike route between Fell Ave and Kensington Ave
Time: 16:30 - 18:30

Date: Friday Dec. 18
Location: Ontario and 33rd, Vancouver
Time: 07:00-09:00

Date: Tuesday Dec. 22
Location: Union and Main (Adanac/Union bike route)
Time: 16:30 - 18:30

MEDIA ENQUIRIES
Contact: Chris Keam
ckeam@telus.net
604-780-6125

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ba-da-bump

Hey bike commuters. Great day to ride. Stop by the Burrard Bridge (southwest end) on your way home tonight and then tell your driving and bussing friends how much fun you had.

Winter Bike Commuter Station #2
Date: Thursday Nov. 26
Location: SW corner of Burrard Bridge
Time: 16:30 - 18:30

I am not from Vancouver, and I just generally skim messages like this and comment on something that was interesting for me. I kind of wish I actually read the content. I like the idea.

However, I do share one concern though. I agree that the bikers have their place in commuting. The concern is that I find, well in Edmonton, that when bikes are sharing the road with drivers this 'causes a dangerous situation.

... I dunno, change infrastructure so that bikers have their own sidewalk/road?

Yeah. I know there are a lot of logistics involved too... I don't know where I am going with this... What are your thoughts?

Scire: "when drivers refuse to share the road with bikes, this causes a dangerous situation."

Edited for truth.

Or, "when drivers refuse to share the road with bikes, and when cyclists behave like idiots, this causes a dangerous situation."

Coming from a cyclist who has witnessed bad behaviour by both sides, this isn't an anti-cyclist sentiment, it's an anti-stupid cyclist one.

Scire,

There is a great deal of debate possible on this topic, and a lot of it is situational. For example, cities that experience real winter (Edmonton for example) have different challenges than non-winter cities (Vancouver, London) won't and thus the appropriate solutions will also be different.

The dangerous situation you're referring to comes down to both infrastructure and behaviours. The two ways to safely integrate cycling and driving in a city are creating separate infrastructure for each and having both groups play nicely. Neither can currently be done completely due to cost/feasability (of infrastructure - it costs money, and since both groups are trying to get to the same place, complete separation isn't possible) and human nature (drivers and cyclists not behaving appropriately towards each other partly because that would mean change), but any complete solution incorporates elements of each to varying degrees.

I'm not familiar with Edmonton, but I'm going to guess that many of the "dangerous situations" you referred to result in whole or in part from:

- drivers not being used to cyclists (due to lack of critical numbers of cyclists)
- streets too narrow (esp with snowbanks) for peaceful coexistence or otherwise not designed for non-car use
- cyclists not knowing how to play nice (no lights at night, ignoring signals etc)

For copacetic bike/car cooperation, all three of these have to be addressed.

Disclosure: I'm doing a short-term communications contract with the VACC hence the upgrade from annoying to incessant in my bike-related postings. Nonetheless, thanks Temple. And yeah, please support the VACC. We're committed to making biking a safe option for everyone and it takes public support in every way, including $$, to make it a reality.

Having just come home... and once again having been passed on a narrow side street by a dummy behind the wheel, I'm going to say the onus is on drivers to up their game when it comes to sharing the road.

Did I mention the small child on a trail-a-bike I was towing? What kind of idiot thinks beating a cyclist to the next stop sign (he got there about 2 seconds before us) couid possibly be worth the potential downside? His accusation that I was being unsafe was the real rub. If children and parents can't cycle at night while adorned in blinky lights and safety vests, then there's a real problem, and it's not the monomaniacal Pedal-Powered Pops who refuse to kowtow to the dominant paradigm and endanger their children by putting them in cars. Which, incidentally, is about the most likely place for a child to be killed or injured.

There are so many courteous and careful drivers who recognize that kids have a right to be self-propelled that I'm not going to tar them all with the same brush, but boy-o-boy, just like the idiot bikers who persist in riding without lights, the dummies behind the wheel are the ones we remember. They're also the ones who end up killing innocent people.

Also check out the link:

Cyclist Shot For Riding With Child. The guilty party got 120 days for attempting to kill a man. Nice judge work Lou.

"... I dunno, change infrastructure so that bikers have their own sidewalk/road? '

That's one solution and most jurisdictions have recognized the necessity of providing separate facilities for different modes of transportation. However, there are some dangers. Namely, drivers will expect cyclists to use bike paths exclusively, which is both impractical and unfair.

What it really comes down to is a question of rights and privileges. Right now, pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, people who use scooters, etc, are all second class citizens when you consider how much public space is devoted to car users. This inequity is especially highlighted when you consider that children are the big losers when it comes to safe passage through public spaces. Access to public space should never be decided by age or income or mode of transportation.

Mindbomb: Jaywalking is dangerous, a bad idea, and against the law. Maybe it should be none of those things? Maybe drivers should re-adjust their expectations when it comes to how much land they are entitled to in exercising their choice to use a vehicle. If your personal conveyance requires a safety bubble that extends for hundreds of feet in front and behind you, then some questions need to be asked about the inequality such a decision fosters.

Link goes to story about safe sane European idea that puts people first. To summarize, take away the siganage, make drivers nervous and uncertain and they slow down and start paying attention.

I think that would work on 95% of the roads. Let the drivers have the thoroughfares, and make the side street limit 30 (and enforced).

That being said, regarding jaywalkers. I'd like to think my vision is pretty good, and while I'm not fooling myself into thinking I'm more aware of what's around me than everyone else, I do slow down on rainy nights to give myself more time. Unfortunately many pedestrians are in more of a hurry because they don't want to get wet. On a couple of occasions this last week I've seen people almost get smoked while jaywalking in dark clothes.

I agree that people certainly don't seem to pay attention to their surroundings. Whether it's music devices or celphones providing the distraction, the number of people that blindly walk into the street is amazing. Considering the silent approach of many hybrids, even more vigilance is required on the part of peds, whether jaywalking is legal or not.

Okay. I appreciate all the comments.

However, I don't believe the onus should be on the drivers. At the same time, I don't believe the onus should be on the bikers. I believe the onus should be on both the drivers and the bikers.

I am okay... with most of the bikers. Except for a couple of situations that annoy me (At the same time, this is what I see in Edmonton, I am not sure of other locations, that is, Vancouver).

I take the bus to work everyday. Now, there are bikers who bike along one minor artery (50 kilometers/hour) on the street. The bikers are generally going 30-40 kilometers/hour and the bus is going at the speed limit. However, the bikers are interferring with the bus because they both need the right lane (The bus needs it for stops). At the same time, there is an empty sidewalk that no one uses at all (Maybe, at most one person every kilometers).

This is where I am extremely fustrated. In this current situation... Is it too much to ask for the bikers to use the sidewalk and ocassionally go on the grass because there is maybe one pedestrian a kilometer? This is what annoys me... I believe in this current situation the bikers are taking advantage of the situation. I agree they should be seen as equals compared to drivers, but not better than them.
_______________________________________________

I guess I should state my opinion on the whole thing.

1. I believe bikers have a place in the world. Kudos to those who do bike.

2. However, I do believe the choice of biking/driving is a choice, without bias (That is, legislation or rules that are pro-biking).

"I agree they should be seen as equals compared to drivers, but not better than them."

Bike are already equal to cars in the eyes of the law and it's not working out... because too many drivers disregard (or don't know) the laws.

Biking is a non-polluting, healthy and inexpensive way to get around. Driving is destructive to the environment and the infrastructure to support it requires public subsidies (over and above the thousands car owners spend per year) of roughly $6000 per capita annually. Prioritizing bikes (and peds and buses) above cars makes good fiscal sense and frees up money to spend on more pressing issues.

Riding on the sidewalk is illegal. If the bus is going the speed limit and stopping the average speed for bikes and buses is probably about the same. There's no reason the two modes can't share a lane effectively, although I agree a lane should be dedicated to bikes, just as cars have their own space and so do pedestrians. I'd take a lane away from the cars however. It's had amazing success as a strategy in many places, including New York.

Link goes to shameless self-promotion of an article I wrote recently explaining how relegating cars to the second tier in terms of transportation priorities increases the livability of cities.

"Bike are already equal to cars in the eyes of the law and it's not working out... because too many drivers disregard (or don't know) the laws."

Okay. I agree with that. However, I believe there is another approach to the situation. Educate the drivers and make the drivers education or tests much more stringent.

"Prioritizing bikes (and peds and buses) above cars makes good fiscal sense and frees up money to spend on more pressing issues."

I won't argue this point of view. I just dislike subjecting one's opinion on another. If you were to ask me if I would rather have both options out there with those consequence. I would agree to them. My own two cents. This is more principle then common sense for me.

"Riding on the sidewalk is illegal."

I understand that. However, how many police officers will enforce this law in that situation. I don't mean to be offensive, I am using an agressive point of view, to make the point... umm... yeah... I believe calling it illegal is just an excuse for not wanting to go on the sidewalk.

Scire: "I believe calling it illegal is just an excuse for not wanting to go on the sidewalk."

I believe in the Easter Bunny.

If I could ride safely on the sidewalk (and it was legal), I would do it so I could get away from the cars. The problem is that there are pedestrians, dogs, people coming out of buildings (and the associated doors), and cars coming out of side streets without stopping before crossing the sidewalk. I would say that riding on the sidewalk is more dangerous than riding on the street.

"I believe in the Easter Bunny."

There is AN Easter Bunny. It gives me chocolate :) Chocolate is like an orgasm... Umm... Where was I going?

Either way, I do appreciate all the comments.

We've had over a hundred years to make cars a workable transportation solution in urban areas and it's only gone from bad to worse. The cities that work to decrease the number of cars being used for transportation are the ones having the most success at moving people and creating workable urban spaces. Instead of riding on the sidewalk, how about leaving the car in the driveway?

Change is hard, and sometimes, when we've been brainwashed into believing our cage is our freedom, resisted. But the data is in. It's time to listen to science, not Zoom-zoom propaganda.

CRM By CRM

How about a compromise? Keeps you warm and dry, and it definately won't fit on the sidewalk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynTKnPehv24

full marks for recycling a cage but not as much fun as these

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmmWUzsnbhk