This Wednesday, June 13 city hall is expected to discuss a couple of cycling related issues, bike lanes and the public bike share system. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see which way these discussions will go.
Firstly, it will be recommended that the Hornby and Dunsmuir separated bike lanes become a permanent part of the city’s cycling infrastructure. The Dunsmuir bike lane may be altered once we find out about the fate of the viaducts.
Secondly, it’s expected that Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver’s director of transportation, will finally shed some light on the long awaited Vancouver bike share program.
Although an announcement is expected to be made this week, do not expect a fully operational system this summer. A pilot project is expected to be put in place this year as this tweet from @VanMayorsOffice seems to indicate.
It will take at least a year for contracts, manufacturing of the stations and apparently helmet washing machines to be ready for the full launch of Vancouver’s bike share program aka BIXI or as many refer to it as VIXI.
According to the opinion of many insiders, Vancouver’s bike share program faces an uphill battle as city council continues to ignore the impact the provincial helmet law will have on the program. Many foresee a Melbourne type failure happening here. In Melbourne the mandatory helmet law has resulted in poor uptake numbers, that system at one point averaged less than a 100 trips per day. Compare that to Montreal, which has no mandatory helmet law and over 2000 trips are taken per day.
If Vancouver doesn’t push to repeal the helmet law, this could be Vision Vancouver’s biggest blunder. The mandatory helmet law will force people to not take up cycling. Just talking to a few Vancouverites the other day, many stated that if a helmet is required to cycle around the city, they simply will not do it. Besides, who will certify the structural form of the helmets? Does the city assume we all have the same head shape? I hope that this program is a great success and becomes a permanent part of Vancouver’s cycling infrastructure, however, the helmet law will diminish the results.