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08/13/2010: "Conflict & Progress"
Just read an excellent little article in Seattle's Crosscut, whose author was reporting on the conflicts engendered by a proposed bike lane in Vancouver, BC.

As reporter Peter Ladner points out:'s hard to justify these piecemeal improvements by counting cyclists versus cars. These are still small havens of safe riding, and the cars are still vastly more numerous, even though cyclists' numbers are moving up. (Latest numbers show bike crossings of the Georgia viaduct/Dunsmuir route up from less than 100 to 1,500 a day.)

Instead, these new lanes should be measured as progress milestones on the road to this British Columbia city's goal of a 10 percent share of all trips by bicycle.
Quite so. Even nowadays most potential riders are intimidated by traffic, so that, unless you're a vehicular cyclist, there isn't really any bicycle infrastructure. So of course numbers are low. So were numbers of motorists, until they clamored for, and received, a vast and staggeringly expensive network of automobile-oriented roads, at great inconvenience to business and neighborhoods, and often by use of eminent domain.

As good solid conservative Walter Lippman noted back in 1939:
G.M. has spent a small fortune to convince the American public that if it wishes to enjoy the full benefit of private enterprise in motor manufacturing, it will have to rebuild its cities and highways by public enterprise.
While I myself consider city streets as they are to form a perfectly fine network of bike paths, I have been riding them since I was fourteen and am quite used to traffic. But to the average commuter thinking of riding a bike the prospect is as daunting as the prospect of walking blindfolded across a busy trainyard. So, bike routes, lanes, et al will work to bring up the level of cycling to something near what it might have been had we not employed huge government subsidies to wrench the market towards favoring cars-and-only-cars.

Ladner goes on to address business concerns, noting--as have we ourselves--that contrary to business owners startle reflex when confronted with the prospect of bike infrastructure--accommodating bike users is generally favorable to business income. He notes that the one business that claimed to have closed because of a previous bike lane project in Vancouver had been dying on the vine already.

Finally, he looks at bikeshare programs (one is also in the works for Vancouver), noting that "These systems work: in Lyon, the number of bike trips has gone up 500 percent, boosting the bike mode share to 9 percent and reducing car traffic by 5 percent."

Good, reasonable article, apparently well-researched; I strongly recommend it:

In Vancouver, B.C., new bike lanes and soon public bikes

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