How to Increase Cycling and Walking—Lessons from Cities Across the Globe

From SFU Continuing Studies (City Program)

Tonight’s lecture with John Pucher is sold out but his lecture will be LIVE WEBCAST .It all starts at 7 pm (Vancouver time) on June 14.
Please comment and tweet your questions during the webcast using hashtag #SFUcycle

Friday, June 14, 2013, 7 pm
SFU’s Vancouver campus (Harbour Centre)
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Room 1400
Lecture is SOLD OUT. Watch the live webcast here on June 14, 7 pm:

In this talk, John Pucher will document the boom in cycling in both European and North American cities. Adding to his previous talks, John will discuss how cycling can thrive even in cities with no history or culture of daily, utilitarian cycling, but only if government policies provide safe, convenient, and pleasant cycling conditions. He’ll also address the fact that similarly, government policies are key to encouraging walking and making it safer. Safe infrastructure is a prerequisite, but it must be complemented by many other supportive measures.

The hopeful message is that almost all Canadian and American cities are on the right path. Dozens of cities throughout North America have more than doubled levels of cycling since 1990, and some large cities such as Chicago, Portland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, have more than quadrupled the bike share of work commuters since 1990. Virtually all North American cities have plans for expanding their cycling networks, combined with a range of complementary programs such as bike sharing, bike-transit integration, safe routes to schools, mass car-free street events (ciclovias), and better training of both motorists and cyclists. Even in the American southeast, which currently has the lowest rate of cycling, many cities are installing cycle tracks, bike lanes, and bike parking.

In short, North American cities have already made considerable progress in raising both cycling and walking levels, but far more needs to be done. With over 40 percent of all bike trips shorter than two miles, there is great potential for further growth. It is crucial to convey to the media, the public, and politicians the enormous economic, social, environmental, and health benefits of walking and cycling, both to individuals and to society as a whole.

At the conclusion of his talk, John will discuss several approaches to implementing the necessary policies to increase walking and cycling while also making them safer. Public information campaigns, combined with advocacy and coalition-building, are obviously crucial, but there are other implementation strategies that can be used to enhance public and political support. Perhaps the most effective strategy of all is to make cycling and walking possible for everyone, and, in particular, to get more seniors, children, and women on bikes and on their feet. Broadening the base of public support for walking and cycling is key to getting the necessary political support and funding for the measures necessary to promote walking and cycling in our cities.

Report from Council on Transportation 2040 plan

building better roads

Vancouver City Council yesterday considered a report on the 2040 Transportation plan, which proposes a number on new measure to upgrade the network of bike lanes. The  plan contained upgrades to the Adanac bike path, the north side of Cambie Bridge and upgrades to the Canada line for pedestrian and cyclists. Here is the report with a detailed description of the work:CoV report

All councillors supported the report unanimously even after a bit a politicking on an amendment proposed by Cl. Meggs. The amendment was to defer a proposed barrier on the Adanac bike path on Union at Gore to east-bound commuter traffic in response to concerns that were raised by area residents. The deferral for one month is to allow engineering staff to do more consultation and develop the design a little more.

Councillor Affleck proposed an amendment to stop all work on the Adanac bike path on Union for a month, but it was not support by the majority on council. Then he requested that Cl. Meggs’ motion be removed from the main motion to be voted for separately by Councillors. Then curiously he voted for the amendment. Then on twitter he stated the following.

Affleck tweet on bike laneWR

It seems kind a strange to vote for a motion and then try to claim that your political opponents ramming a measure through! Sadly, the NPA is deliberate attempting to politicize attempts to create safer conditions for people riding bikes and to create a more sustainable transportation system in Vancouver.

The good news is after listening to a speakers list of over 14 people, speaking both for and against the plan, council approve $2.9 million in upgrading for new cycling infrastructure.

Interested in creating better consultation practices in Vancouver?


From the folks at SFU Public Square:

City Conversations Special Event!

City to Citizens: We want a better connection with you

‘The city doesn’t listen to us’ has been a perennial complaint in Vancouver. The city is taking it seriously. On Thursday, June 20 at a special outdoors SFU City Conversations, public members of the Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force will describe their initial recommendations to improve the conversations between the city and its citizens—and then will engage the public in an extended conversation on the topic.

Our presenters are task force members Lizzy Karp, creator of Rain City Chronicles; Sam Chan, an SFU PhD candidate studying transformational change; and Lyndsay Poaps, former Vancouver Parks Commissioner. Then it will be your turn. City Conversations will be held at the Lot 19 Parkette (at the north end of Hornby St., between Hastings and Cordova St). You’re welcome to bring your lunch, and food will be available nearby.

When: Thursday June 20th 2013

Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Location: Lot 19 Parkette (900 West Cordova Street – the park at the north end of Hornby St., between Hastings and Cordova St.)

Cost: Free

*Note* Guests are welcome to bring their lunch to City Conversations events

This special event is sponsored by the Downtown Vancouver BIA, in addition to Bing Thom Architects and SFU Vancouver.


The state of people riding bikes in Vancouver: send more children, women and older folks

building better roads

The City of Vancouver has considered an impressive collection of measures to improve the built environment of the roadway system to promote more cycling. The City needs to promote active transportation and transit use as the city grows as road space is limited. The plan is called  2040 transportation plan. 

Soon  Council will be deciding on the Active Transportation Corridor on Cornwall and West Point Grey road.  The goals of the project is to  encourage folks of all ages and abilities to use active transportation along Cornwall and West Point Grey Road by making a better built environment for walkers and folks that are riding bikes which is safer and more inviting. You can read more about the project here: Active Transportation Corridor.

Undoubtedly this council and the one before have done more for people riding bikes than any Vancouver council before. The hugely successful implementation of the separated bike lane on the Burrard Bridge was a seminal moment in Vancouver to make cycling safer. photos of opening day

Cyclists had been advocating for a long time for bike lanes on the Burrard St. bridge to make a safer link over False Creek. The history of its implementation has been a long and troubled one. A modest bike lane trail on the eastside of the bridge was abandoned in 1996 by the NPA after only a couple of days. A pilot bike lane proposal passed by Mayor Campbell and Council was cancelled after the 2005 election by the NPA. But with the separated bike lane installed in 2009 by Mayor Robertson, Vancouver has turned the corner on making the city safer and more accessible to people riding bikes.

Cycling in Vancouver needs to go mainstream and become an activity that is completely normal and done by everyone because it is the easiest, fastest and safest way to get around. Building a network of separated bike lanes is the next big challenge for the city. With the construction of the Hornby and Dunsmuir bike paths and with the soon to be completed Comox /Helmcken Greenway the city is well on its way to incrementally improving the built environment for folks to ride bikes. The priority now is to build a bike network so folks who would never ever dream of riding a bike will do so. Continue reading The state of people riding bikes in Vancouver: send more children, women and older folks →

Finally housing designed for families with kids in the West End.

laneway housing wr

Photo of Block one of the handout material from workshop. yellow-placemaking, red- wayfinding, green-gardens grey-imporved surface treatment, blue-laneway housing opportunity. purple-maintain parking, dark green-rain garden

Handout material from the workshop

Laneway housing workshop 2.0 Wednesday June 5, 2013

The West End Planning Team wants to encourage and facilitate a new type of housing. The modest infill proposal is geared to families. Six sites have been identified as appropriate where redundant surface parking spaces could be converted to housing behind larger apartment building.

At the walking workshop on Wednesday June 5, starting at the West End Community Centre and ending at Barclay Heritage Square city planners presented an exciting new pilot project to redesign laneways in the West End which included plans to encourage more walking, enhanced design elements and new type of housing in the laneways.

The pilot project consists of 3 blocks starting at the West End Community Centre (West End CC), which has been named the “Heart of Denman”. The plaza of the Community Centre and alley between King George High School has been chosen as an area where more social “connectivity” could be facilitated. The area has a convergence of services and facilities such as Joe Fortes Library, the West End CC, BC Housing and the High School. But the area really lacks a sense of “place” and is heavy dominated by a bland functionalism.

The laneway re-design process is guided by seven principles, which are as follows:

1. Fostering Community Growth. Green, people-friendly laneways which encourage connection, interaction, and celebration that can add to the vibrant and diverse charter of the West End’s neighbourhoods.

2. Enhancing Tree and Leafy Laneway. The mature green, leafy charter of the West End provides a quiet, relaxing and gardens flourish. Laneways can be a gathering and green space.

3. Building Shared Spaces. Share creative , social and cultural spaces are important for a growing community. Laneways are great places to plant a community garden, fix a bike, make a new friend, or connect with a neighbour.

4. Strengthening Laneway Livability. Instill a strong sense of community along the laneways through building design, lighting, safety, and utilities management that can help make laneway more livable by creating new community spaces. Taking pride in these spaces will also help keep them clean and safe.

5. Improving Walkability. West Enders love to walk. Making laneways more pedestrian-friendly can create more safe and accessible ways for people to travel throughout the West End.

6. Strengthening Local Connectivity. Enhancing the physical and visual connectivity of laneways with parks and other neighbourhood assets can help strengthen peoples’ connections with community facilities, with nature, and with one another.

7. Activating Lanescapes. Incorporating laneway design elements and street features that engage pedestrian interest can help create active, dynamic spaces to live and play.

Critical for the possibility of re-thinking laneways in the West End is the fact that the laneways are the widest in the city at 10 meters (33 feet). So the narrowing of the laneways to incorporate new features and housing is not an un-tested idea, as this already occurs in the rest of the city. Also by way of a proven model of best practices of lanes in Vancouver, Molehill laneway has been working well for over ten years.

The re-thinking of the laneways has been heavily influenced by the Molehill model. Many of the features of the traffic calming, community gardens, community art, unique lighting standards and a over all sense of place were much discussed. While many of the ideas of Molehill such as raised cross walks seemed exciting and new 10 years ago now they seem to only make sense and are proven measures to create safer conditions for pedestrians.

The most exciting discussion of the workshop was around the creation of a new building type in the West End. In the 3 block pilot project 6 sites have been select for modest infill proposals. The design guidelines and actual zoning and density levels have not been specifically stated but, the general concept is to create a form of housing in the laneways that would be suitable for families with kids to live in. The new housing would be located on the back laneways of apartment buildings that have surface parking that is longer necessary. The new type of housing would have to be 100% rental which could make it a more affordable housing option for families.

Having housing for families with kids is really a critical issue for the West End. Typically couples start out with kids in the West End, but when the second child comes a long, the two-bedroom unit starts to feel a little cramped. Solutions to this problem are not readily available in the current stock of market housing and rental stock. Too few spaces that would be accessible to families are built at a price-point the works. For the city to change zoning and foster the conditions to make a new type of housing possible only makes sense, as with current zoning and land use policy are not working for many folks with kids.

Laneway Survey

Rethinking laneways in the West End

more photos of Molehill laneway

One of the most under valued lane use resources of the West End are the laneways. That could  soon change as the West End Planning team is starting a series of workshops entitled “Laneways 2.0” with the view to explore the possibility of developing new types of housing there.
West End Planning Process

Laneways have long been neglected spaces seen only as the backside of buildings where garage is stored and cars parked. Little design attention is given to the back alleys which is a real lost opportunity as this space could be a vital tool in creating more housing and better community.

Danish planner Jan Gehl has long contended that the spaces between buildings are as worthy of attention as the building themselves. The “spaces between buildings” is where we live and are spaces that connect us our communities.

In the Vancouver the real gold standard of what laneways could be is the Molehill Community Housing project located between lane beside Nelson Park, where communities gardens where developed, with traffic calming, space for sitting, community art and impressive landscaping.


The prospects of having new types of housing and an enhance design guidelines for laneways in the West End is a really exciting development in the West End planning process and really has the possibility to be a transformative moment to urban life in Vancouver.

More Open Houses for the West End planning process.


From the West End Planning Team:

Wednesday June 19, 4-7pm
Best Western Sands Hotel
1755 Davie Street

Saturday June 22, 1-4 pm
West End Strawberry Festival
Barclay Heritage Square

Tuesday June 25, 4-7pm
Blue Horizon Hotel
1225 Robson Street

“In April 2012, the City initiated a new Community Planning process for the West End. When completed, the plan will provide long-range guidance on a variety of issues – including housing, transportation, parks and public space, social issues, arts, culture, heritage and more. The new plan will replace the older West End Commercial Policy Plan (1986) and West End Residential Areas Policy Plan (1987).

For information on our planning work to date, upcoming events and opportunities for public involvement, please stay in touch via the following means:

Web & List-serv sign-up:
Twitter: @westendplan
Telephone: 3-1-1”

The City wants your feedback on the Comox-Helmcken Greenway construction



The Comox-Helmcken Greenway construction has well been underway now for a few months now. It has been interesting to see the project unfold. I have been trying to with hold my judgment on the project till it is done. At this point it  is hard to really understand how the Greenway will work.  There have been some interesting elements like the bio-swales that capture rain water and divert it from the sewer system and LED light post that are exciting. The left hand turn bay on Burrard St. to Helmcken St. is a huge improvement from what was there before.

The City wants to know what you think of the project thus far. I think it is important to give feedback on the project. Users feedback will be a valuable tool for the engineers on this project. Elements that look good on paper in the design phase don’t always work in when they are actual built. Inevitable they will be adjustments and refinements to the design of the project. This has already been happening in some places. For example, a friend of mine lives in an apartment on Comox St. mid-block from Denman St.and there are a lot of older residents in his building. There was a concrete curb for a bike lane in front of his building. Folks where finding it hard to cross the street with the curb there to get to Denman Mall. The user experience was given to Engineering and they made a mid-block cut in the curb to make it easier  to cross the street mid-block.

Here is the link to the online survey to give your feedback on the project :City survey


City Conversations: Where will the traffic go? The viaducts, traffic and neighbourhoods

SFU Public Square Presents:

CITY CONVERSATIONS: Where will the traffic go? The viaducts, traffic, and neighbourhoods

Next month it’s expected that council will consider whether to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, replacing them with new, ground-level roads and creating the opportunity for new housing for thousands of families, large parks, a restored False Creek shoreline, bike and walking paths, art and cultural facilities. But some residents of Strathcona worry that traffic through their neighbourhood will increase, and others fear an impact on a community garden.

City-wide vision vs. neighbourhood values. To explore the issues are Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s General Manager of Planning and Development, and Pete Fry, president of the Strathcona Residents Association. We hope to have someone from Cottonwood Gardens. Then it’s your turn to weigh in. Feel free to bring your lunch.

When: Thursday May 16th

Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Location: Room 2270, SFU Vancouver at Harbour Centre

Cost: Free

*Note* Guests are welcome to bring their lunch to City Conversations events

Sponsored by Bing Thom Architects and SFU Vancouver.

Thanks to Wild Rice Restaurants.


The SFU Public Square team

Wind art on the Vancouver Seawall, Doug Taylor’s Khenko

Yesterday was a good day for art that uses the wind. When I was riding with my daughter Mallika I was worried that we were going to be blown off our bikes the wind was blowing so hard. The tailwind was wonderful to have, but riding head long into it was terrible. The waves in English Bay were pretty impressive. We even saw a sail boat that had broken away from its mooring and was beach at Sunset of beached boat

When I was riding to my studio I noticed that the sails of the art piece on the seawall at the foot of George Wainborn Park was taking full advantage of the strong winds. I did some digging on the city of VancouverPublic Art Registry and discover that the work was by Doug Taylor and is called “Khenko”.This what the registry has to say about Doug:

Doug Taylor was born in Chilliwack, BC in 1947. Kinetic in nature, his public nstallation sculpture has focused largely on wind, water and solar powered features. Whimsical, folk art inspired elements are often signature to his work. (e.g. Khenko and Wind Swimmer). Addressing the global challenge of sustainability his current sculptures are “generating capital ” by selling excess electrical power back to BC Hydro. These energy systems also feature listening stations which help remind us of sounds that are ever present in the natural world, but often unnoticed (e.g. Seattle Center’s Bird Song Listening Station). Whimsical, folk art inspired elements are often signature to his work (e.g. Khenko and Wind Swimmer). The challenge is to integrate ecological, historical, social and aesthetic considerations, contextualizing them into the site specific values of place.

Artist’s Website

Other Public Artworks:

Since 1986 Doug has been installing permanent sculpture for prominent public sites in: Seattle Center Campus, Vancouver ‘s False Creek and Kitsilano Pool, Victoria’s Selkirk Waterfront, Whistler’s Plaza of Champions, Creekside, and NASA’s Space Center in Houston,Texas.