opportunity to learn more from
our neighbors in Vancouver B.C..
(Photo © J. Maus)
Big news from our neighbors to the north in Vancouver, British Columbia. They’ve been selected to host Velo-city Global, a major international cycling conference that hasn’t been held outside of Europe since 1996
This is big deal on a lot of levels. For starters, having a major bike conference like this in North America is an excellent opportunity for transportation advocates and planners from the U.S. to participate (Portland has nice, direct service to Vancouver via Amtrak!).
Vancouver is also a city that can offer some lessons to Portland in terms of bikeway development.
When I visited back in 2007, the two big things that I remember were their bicycle boulevards and their multi-use paths. Since my visit, they’ve moved boldly forward with two projects that provide physical separation between bicycle and motor vehicle traffic.
Vancouver does a great job marketing their bike streets. Most noticeably, they include a bike symbol directly below the main street sign where the bike boulevards cross major streets. This makes it nearly impossible for people driving cars to forget they are about to cross a bike street. Here in Portland, PBOT has done a great job signing our bike boulevard crossings, but the signs are on the sidewalks and I feel are easier to miss when you’re in a car than overhead signs.
In Vancouver, each bike boulevard also has a unique name. People know of the streets, not by their actual street name, but by a name that has to do with a certain theme that helps create an identity around them. In particularly, I remember the “Mosaic” bike boulevard named for the series of public art mosaics installed in the traffic calming features. “Just take the Mosaic west until you reach…” is how locals give directions.
On their very popular multi-use paths, similar to our Waterfront Path, Vancouver has separated biking and walking traffic. This is something PBOT has plans to do on the Willamette River Greenway Trail in South Waterfront, but that project isn’t completed yet. Where possible, I’d love to see Portland start to improve the “level of service” (get it!) of our trails and separate biking and walking.
(Photo: City of Vancouver)
Last year’s Velo-city in Copenhagen drew over 1,100 participants from 60 countries. In 2009, Portland Mayor Sam Adams helped put Portland front and center on the world stage when he made the trip to Brussels to attend the conference.
I plan to be there in 2012 and I hope to be joined by a big Portland contingent.