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NPA on bikes...like George Bush on gays

I love the NPA on bikes.  Well, not actually on bikes.   I mean on the subject of bikes.  On that they remind me of George Bush whose attitude was something to the effect of: No, no I have no problem with the gays… just wish they stop being so…. gay.

So it is with the NPA and bikes.  “We love bike people,” they seem to say.  “We just wish they’d stop riding bikes”.  It’s pretty standard to hear NPAers complain about bike stuff.  Riders – none of them follow rules; bike lanes – business killers; even bike shops – secret centres of biking conspiracy.  

"This city is UNDER SIEGE by Vision Vancouver and the militant cycling nuts," Vison policy flogger Alex Tsakamis cried last week. Former NPA mayoral candidate Christy Clark narrates anecdote after anecdote of run-ins with psychotic cyclists.   But then they’ll follow it up with some dodgy statement like “hey, but we invented bike lanes.”

Tell it to the Dutch, I say.

You have to give props to Suzanne Anton, though.  She’s come up with a new approach to the whole ‘we want to look green, but we have do the bidding of our brown buddies in business’ thing.  She decided to vote for the Hornby bike lane but apologized and recanted within 12 hours.

"Just when you thought the debate on the Hornby Street bike lane was over, we received a news release this evening from NPA councillor Suzanne Anton," an unusually sober-sounding NPA-blogger Daniel Fontaine said. "She is fuming mad," the former Sam Sullivan staffer said, "that City work crews were out at the crack of dawn this morning beginning to construct the bike lane which only received approval from council late on Tuesday evening."

It’s an interesting strategy, combining great chutzpah with sheer gutlessness. Her apparent reasoning is simple: I voted for it, but I didn’t think they were serious about doing it.

As an excuse its so pathetic it’s almost sweet.

Unfortunately, the report to council that Anton supposedly read before voting is pretty clear.  ‘We are going to put a bike lane down Hornby’, the report basically says, ‘because it’s the best route on paper’.  ‘We’re going to monitor’, it continues, ‘and decide in six months to make changes or make it permanent.’ Sounds pretty much like a plan to implement to me.

Anton really shouldn’t worry too much about her vote in favour of the Hornby lane. These bike lane things seem to work out pretty well.

Take Montreal.  Montreal is kicking our biking butts.

Montreal’s separated bike lanes have been in place for several years and the city continues to build new ones.  They’re full of bikers--- people commuting, business guys in suits, students, moms with tikes.  And thank God, because the roads can’t take much more car traffic.

Better still, many of these bikers are riding bikes provided by the city.  All over Montreal there are bike stands full of sturdy, shiny bikes.  You walk up, swipe a card or deposit some coins and you’ve got a bike for a half hour.  You ride downtown or crosstown, park the bike at a stand and get on with your business.  

 Photo by Ian Reid of Montreal city bike for rent

So simple.  And everyone uses them.  

Don’t like hills?  Ride downhill and take the Metro back.  

Have a meeting ten blocks away?  Grab a coffee and a bike.  It’s a fantastic and convenient amenity that reduces car traffic and supports transit.  And it’s one of the things that business people in Montreal say contributes to a vibrant downtown business district.

Montreal isn’t even a world leader in bike policy, but compared to Montreal, Vancouver is in the biking dark ages.  The Vision Council isn’t leading the charge.  They’re playing catch up.  And Vancouverites support it.

There were two months of consultation and polling by the City to check the pulse of Vancouver on the Hornby bike lane. An intercept poll conducted by the Mustel Group and commissioned by the City of Vancouver found:

    •    56 per cent of area visitors support a protected bike lane on Hornby, with 30 per cent opposed and 14 per cent undecided
    •    75 per cent of people support a separated downtown bike lane network that links east and west, including 56 per cent of vehicle drivers
    •    For usual mode of transportation to Hornby Street, 47 per cent walk, 35 per cent take transit, 24 per cent drive and 14 per cent bike
    •    On average, people who drive to Hornby Street as their destination, park two blocks away, and
    •    47 per cent of visitors said they would consider cycling to Hornby Street if there was a separated bike lane.

Anton's an avid biker. She biked across Europe.  It's how she gets to work.  She could and should be a good example, even a Council leader on bike policy, including separated bike lanes.

She should start by recanting the recanting.

Two more biking photos from Montreal below...

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