Bike, bike, revolution.
The introduction of downtown bike lanes in Vancouver, Canada has been controversial. In contrast to the concerns about potential business losses and increased traffic congestion, investment into bike infrastructure has demonstrated economic benefits. A recent study from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies found that bicycling contributes $1.5 billion to Wisconsin’s economy every year through bike-related jobs, tourism, reduced health care costs, and a better quality of life.
Vancouver’s Hornby and Dunsmuir bike lanes serve several important functions that will have tangible and intangible benefits.
- Downtown commuting is now a viable option for more than the most stylish bike courier.
- The seawall is connected through downtown, no longer abandoning tourists midway in their journey.
- The lanes contribute to an inhabitable downtown core. While the wide streets on Granville Street are fantastic, there are few sit-down destinations. The Hornby bike lanes make the sidewalk hospitable for pedestrians as well, which will likely increase business.
- Bike infrastructure is part of a larger vision of sustainability that includes carbon reduction, improved health, lower transportation costs, and a vital downtown.
Perhaps Vancouver’s bike network will come to function much as its seawall does, providing a linear destination and gathering place for citizens and tourists alike. The calmed streets provide quiet and usable public space, which could contribute to creating the downtown heart Vancouver currently lacks. I can’t wait to use these lanes in summer!