Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Advocates push ahead in Vancouver, while local paper says back off

Posted by on June 10th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Vancouver BFC Award

Former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard (L)
and Andy Clarke from the League
of American Bicyclists in June 2006.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As Vancouver residents and advocates work to save that city’s Bike Program from the budget chopping block, The Columbian newspaper says now’s just not a good time to ask.

In an “In our view” op-ed published yesterday, The Columbian pointed out that Vancouver is already a bike-friendly city, but “not as bike-friendly as many bicyclists would like.” They lauded recent activism at City Council and acknowledged that “funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements in Vancouver remains scarce and in most cases scattered among piecemeal expenditures,” but, they added:

“… despite the noble cause they’re pursuing, local bicyclists should acknowledge that now is one of the worst times — perhaps the worst time — to expect local politicians to free up funding.”

The Columbian feels that investing in biking doesn’t even rank in the top 10 of things Clark County should be doing. “Nor do bicycling infrastructure improvements rank high among the city of Vancouver’s priorities.”

Perhaps sometime after the “Great Recession” is over it’d be a better time to ask?

That opinion has not stopped advocates from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Vanouver’s Bike Me! from mobilizing forces. BTA Advocacy Manager Gerik Kransky is urging people to write letters to the Mayor and council members, stating that funding for projects that improve bike infrastructure is “a critical way for Vancouver to meet its growing demand for mobility while dealing with budget shortfalls.” He’s asking council to put $200,000 it currently has set aside for project cost overruns into the Bike Program.

One thing to keep in mind for both sides of this issue: We’re talking about infrastructure that allows people to move around in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. Think of it as transportation infrastructure, not “bike infrastructure.”

The League of American Bicyclists awarded Vancouver a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community Award back in 2006. If their elected officials don’t find the money to keep the Bike Program alive, a League rep says Vancouver would be the first city in America to earn such an award and then eliminate dedicated bike funding.

Let’s hope Vancouver doesn’t earn that distinction.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • matt picio June 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Does Vancouver spend as much of the city transportation budget on bikes as the mode share of bicycles on Vancouver streets? Are they actively fighting for the bike component of CRC? Are they passing legislation to ensure bikes have equal access to the road and equal consideration in planning? Are they enforcing laws meant to protect cyclists? If they are doing all of that, then they are bike-friendly. If not, then the Columbian is blowing smoke up everyone’s collective arse.

    Very few cities are bike-friendly, they are merely bike-tolerant. It is NOT the same thing.

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  • Anonymous June 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    It’s always the right time to pursue energy independence and transportation funding that improves quality of life at rock bottom funding prices (this type of infrastructure is cheap in comparison to what is spent on cars.)
    Vancouver will get the community it chooses not to invest in.

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  • Marcus Griffith June 10, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    The Columbian editorial board is loosing touch with Vancouver. This same board endorsed incumbent Mayor Pollard saying it just wasn’t the right time for a new mayor.
    Well, Leavitt, the challenger, won by a landslide.

    I would also encourage the editorial board to spend less time cherry picking facts and more time understanding the issues at hand.

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  • Bjorn June 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I suppose the Columbian knows something about blowing a ton of money on something and then realizing that you couldn’t afford it before you even finished building the thing, then having to sell the infrastructure off for pennies on the dollar…


    Or maybe they are just worried that any spending by the city might jinx their real estate deal…

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  • Kt June 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Has the LAB ever revoked a city’s award? Like, say, if a city was awarded the bronze-level award for bicycle friendliness but then the city’s friendliness went the other way… have they or would they take away the bronze award and ask the city to take down the signs?

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  • Ethan June 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    The mentality of denial across the river has no bounds. Close the border.

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  • Bjorn June 10, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Anybody know how much CRC related spending is in the budget? I know where they could find the money…

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  • Red Five June 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    People in Vantucky just don’t ride…so why spend the money?

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  • Schrauf June 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Thanks Bjorn. When the Columbian (Scott Campbell) builds a building and then declares bankruptcy and the property is sold for 50 cents on the dollar two years later, they kind of lose credibility to purport anything about finance related concerns in their ugly small town paper.

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  • Andrew June 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    The same comments about Vancouver and their bike program can be made about Portland and its public schools.

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  • matthew vilhauer June 11, 2010 at 12:51 am

    cycling in vancouver? people do that up there? in fact we’ve been doing it just as long as you folks in portland. and trending would suggest our paths are not too dissimilar.

    todd b. and jennifer c. have been stellar in affecting the improvement to infrastructure we are concerned with and that meet our needs.

    considering the current economic state i’m hard pressed to think that a program that has direct transportation and health benefits should be so easily discarded by the city. cheap transportation that has minimal impact on infrastructure and statistically benefits the populace? how can one argue against this?

    money. funding sources. the city is operating in a budget deficit. residential property taxes are the largest revenue generator for the city. with the recent ‘bubble bursting” of the housing market the city is taking it in the rear. it really is their own doing…. giving tax breaks to builders and businesses the city had shouldered the tax base on our citizenry. the columbian building, esther short commons, waterfront developments, and the street that was given to al angelo inc. (in front of the old denny’s property) are prime example’s of the city’s values and priorities. always enticements and financial breaks for those with money, often those that don’t pay their share of taxes. the little fish always pays… often as a meal for bigger fish. hearkens back to the day’s of reaganomics and the trickle down theory…. i’m still waiting for a drip… a drop at least….

    to think of the bike program as one just for the privileged and entitled few would be shortsided. we cyclists regularly work with other user/mode share groups to build the systems and programs we mutually value. that’s part of living in a community. am i thankful for all we have? absolutely! am i okay with this being the end? oh hell no!

    a little perspective on costs and budgets. the city pays several hundred $k per year for feasibility studies for light rail and highway/I-5 bridge proposals just to stay in the running for federal funding on capital projects. this is just spending paper for paper and has no real physical world benifit other than feeding the machine so to speak. compared to the cost to replace a traffic light at and interchange or build driveways and accessibility ramps on street corners the bike program is cheap. (todd b. can you give us some $$$ figures to compare?).

    matt p.-check out the b.a.w.. they have been very effective advocates and have a mentoring approach with helping regional groups in washington.

    andrew #10-we have a sales tax. not going to get into it but that’s just my 2cents.

    jonathan got it right by referring to the issue as a transportation issue and not just a bike issue. in tough economic times like these common sense and practicality should reason that riding a bike would be considered viable, reliable and a sound judgment to both cyclists and non cyclists alike.

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  • Tony Columbo June 11, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Vancouver has learned a valuable lesson from the failures of Portland.

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  • matt picio June 11, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Matthew (#11) – I’m not discounting the efforts of those advocates and enthusiasts in Vancouver – I think they’re doing great work. My point was that if the Columbian thinks the job is finished because of the successes so far, they’re sadly mistaken. This is equivalent to saying that your city is homeless-friendly because local businesses donate 20 loaves of bread each week. Much more needs to be done – but I don’t intend it to sound like the city and its advocates are doing.

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  • Jeff TB June 11, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Too much Vancouver hate in some of these posts. Why kick Vancouver cyclists people? Seems like their city council and their newspaper is taking care of that.
    It appears that Vancouver bike advocates put together a good set of reasoned arguments at the council meeting. I think it opened some eyes. Good show people. Keep it up.

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