Civic election candidates weigh in on cycling issues in New West

When you cycle in New Westminster you see transportation issues through a different lens. Factors which affect a cyclist's safety and mobility can be very different that those affecting trips made in a vehicle. In addition the vision and understanding of civic politicians towards cycling issues can greatly influence the quality and level of cycling in a community.

Photo courtesy NWVACC
Photo courtesy NWVACC

When you cycle in New Westminster you see transportation issues through a different lens. Factors which affect a cyclist’s safety and mobility can be very different that those affecting trips made in a vehicle. In addition the vision and understanding of civic politicians towards cycling issues can greatly influence the quality and level of cycling in a community. One need only look at Vancouver and Victoria which have long had pro-cycling agendas from politicians of all political stripes. These cities have experienced a significant growth of cycling mode share and popularity over the past decade. In some recent cases –how to best implement cycling infrastructure– has become a significant discussion point within the election campaigns of the leading candidates.

The New Westminster Chapter of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition has been active in the Royal City for more than 10 years now. Our organization advocates for safe, attractive and effective cycling infrastruction in the City, promotes cycling and awareness of City cycling routes to cyclists and potential cyclists and provides services for the education of youth and adults on safe and responsible cycling practises through programs in the schools and community centres. As advocates for cyclists we work with City Council to encourage the completion of a viable and safe cycling network which can be used by people of all ages and abilities to enjoy healthy, community-friendly and congestion-free transportation as they move about the City. More recently we have been working through local schools to promote cycling education to elementary and middle school students in New Westminster.

With this in mind the VACC-New Westminster has circulated a questionaire to the Mayoralty and Council Candidates as well as the candidates for school board in order to gauge their experience with and vision for cycling as viable and common mode of transportation within the City. As transportation is one of the dominant issues in the New Westminster campaign it is noteworthy to see the levels of interest and understanding shown by candidates in the broader spectrum of transportation choices.

The VACC-New Westminster hopes this survey might provide some guidance for voters in deciding who to vote for on November 19th.
http://vacc-newwest.wikispaces.com/New+Westminster+Election+2012+Cycling+Questionaire+Responses.

The VACC-New Westminster thanks all those candidates for civic office who took the time to respond to our survey questions.

Andrew Feltham

Andrew Feltham is a really valued member of the Tenth to the Fraser community. Interested in joining our pool of writers? Please see these submission guidelines.

19 comments

  1. Shocked by John Ashdown. Very rude and patronizing comments that just cynically spin the questions into soapbox rants about simplistic rhetoric. Really shocked in contrast to all the others.

    Otherwise, some good and understanding comments from people who obviously know cyclists' perspective, open thinking from others that needs more education to help them understand cyclist's point of view (something to work on for new council).

    1. Ken, Sorry I can't weigh the reults of other candidate response. Most other surveys publicly produced the comments. Please elaborate what shocks you before mouthing off on a blog. And please identfy yourself…. as I have.

    2. Ken, had time to look at others answers. You can call me down if you like, but my answers were honest. However, possibly not what you wanted to hear..This city has spent considerable tax dollars on cycling initiatives. The ball is now in your court to prove it is money well spent…. I will be doing a count on usage of the two routes and hopefully the cost is justified.. I am in support of cycling in a sustainable manner…..not simply another freebie in New West….

  2. Hi John,
    I'll be honest. You were asked if you cycled and answered it with:
    "Time is of essence. I would love to have the time and a covered wagon to travel with". To me (a person who has NEVER driven a car, cycles around New West all the time and has helped staff by noting good cycling routes and mentioning challenges). Those comments (to me) are cynical and patronizing.
    In the next sentence you spun it into generalized political comments about an incumbent councillor (Jaimie McEvoy) who used a bike to campaign (because he doesn't own a car) and then something about "liability insurance".
    Have you ever spoken to cycling groups or looked into what licensing/insurance studies are being done? Did you know that in afternoons people can ride a from Downtown to Port Royal or Sapperton quicker than driving a car? I rode from the Quay to 6th and 6th yesterday in about 10 minutes, parked my bike and had no parking fees.
    I won't go into specifics of all your answers, but I was quite shocked by several of your answers and just felt it reasonable to state my opinions.

  3. John: wow. Just wow. I pull my jaw up from the floor and move on to something a little more positive…
    Jaimie: clearly someone who gets it. You need to get on a bike and ride in traffic to really appreciate what is required in order to get to the point where kids can ride safely to school. And he clearly does.

    1. "You need to get on a bike and ride in traffic to really appreciate what is required …" Hear hear! I've been cycling since I moved to New West – motivated by frustration with the poky shuttles that pass as buses – and candidates who don't understand cycling aren't going to get my vote. The cycling network here is really pretty good – we just need to let more people know it's there.

      1. The hills are a bit of a killer…but I think there is a lot of room for improvement. I ride in traffic on a daily basis and am comfortable with it, but really, is this for schoolkids? I'd LOVE to see dedicated bike lanes to all the schools, with covered and secure parking, so that kids can get to school by bike. And how about eliminating "drop off zones" near schools? My biker sons have to battle with parents in cars on a daily basis.
        My recent post Judging Candidates

  4. Well, the hills aren't going anywhere … I just have to adjust my attitude toward them. And energy to run cars is not going to get any cheaper. I do think New West could be doing more to market existing bike routes – such as producing a pocket-sized route map similar to what Vancouver distributes – and working with Translink to upgrade older, intercity paths like the BC Parkway.

    There are all these perceptions out there that biking is unsafe or slow (zoom past the traffic backed up on Columbia Street and you won't say that again) or hard, but I think when people get on bikes, they will discover the benefits for themselves. I know I did, and I hadn't ridden a bike in about 20 years when I bought one after moving here. It was like riding a bike.

    As for the kids, it's kind of ironic that if we want kids to bike to school, we have to protect them from parents dropping off the other kids, and then argue its unsafe to bike because of traffic?!

    1. Maiko, The City does prodice a pocket map of bike routes, just ask for one at the engineeering desk. Tranlink has committed to fixing the old BC Parkway as part fo their new funding plan.

      So things are improving…

      1. Interesting – I didn't know they did have a small folding map, as all I currently have is an old one that was in the middle of another brochure. Do they only distribute them at City Hall or do the bike shops and tourism info places/community centres have them too?

  5. Andrew and Reena,
    I spoke with Erin from the VACC office today. I submitted my answers to the VACC questionnaire on November 9th and again a week later and two more times. Not sure what the issue was but I had my answers in before the deadline and do not see my responses on the VACC website.

    Erin said my responses should be up on the VACC website by this evening so, I'm hoping to see them sometime soon. I have copies of my e-mails that show I sent my response on November 9th. It would be great if you could get in touch: mamortensen2011@gmail.com

    1. MaryAnn, I apologize, somehow we didn't get your response but it has been forwarded to me through a different channel. I have updated the response page with your answers. Thank you for taking the time to respond, and thank you for following up to make sure we registered your response.

      To anyone who has followed the responses to the VACC-New westminster survey on cycling issues please note that there is a new entry from School Board candidate MaryAnn Mortensen. Her response was initially missed. We apologize for this oversight.

  6. I want to close this one nicely. Now that the election is over, I'd like to invite John Ashdown (and anyone else interested) to come for rides with me and learn about cycling in New West, so people can start getting a more even view of the issue.
    It's not nearly as easy as it looks. There's spots on main streets, narrow places with no edge for biking, blind corners, strange hills and other safety hazards that mean I ride half blocks (VERY slowly and yielding to pedestrians) on sidewalks (uphill 6th at Royal because of cars turning quickly to get to the bridge). There are places that I might look smug sneaking up past cars on the right at red lights because if I'm not at the front of a line, a string of cars will start making right hand turns without looking (looking left for cars, but not to the right for bikes that want to go straight through the intersection).
    John, it's far beyond "horse and carriage" now. My bike is a hybrid (a big frame and upright ride, but super-gears), custom built by Gord's crew at Caps with disk brakes (for the wet hills), suspension (for the pot holes), extra spokes on the wheels (for carrying 50lbs. of groceries from Guildford or Metrotown), a computer system (to tell me to slow down and when I need service) and Kevlar tires for all the debris from trucks, glass and other garbage that would eat regular tires. I rode about 1700 kms this year around town and all over Metro Vancouver!
    It's not cheap, but one of my brothers shows me his insurance bills for his SUV to convince me that it's worth the cost. Next will probably be a hybrid electric helper for the hills.

    Biking is changing. For me it's never been a choice, but I like that I can gauge my energy in calories burned rather than litres of gas. Come on along and I'll be happy to help people see why it's becoming a popular alternative. Gotta go-riding up from the Quay, through Queen's Park to 8th and McBride, back across town to Queensborough and home before work and the next batch of rain.
    Cheers!

    1. Ken, lighten up and enjoy your rides. I can't afford the $100 per hour trailer Jaimie had for his campaign, nor can I afford the Law Suit in the case of an accident (Liability) Did you notice it was not him riding it? Only there for the Photo Op. Don't be fooled. Hope your super bike has snow tires.

  7. Thanks Pat,
    Actually I have sat on the Bike/Ped committee once (as the liaison from the Special Services/Accessibility comm.), I talk with the chair/members regularly and I keep in touch with staff all the time about problem areas and ideas that might be able to help. I'll see how my schedule is for January (and when the meetings are) to see if I've got the time sit in as the liaison again.

    John, I've got snow tires, I am lightened up (by MANY lbs. 7 years ago when I made biking my main transport) and I always enjoy my rides. The election's over, so contact me and I'd love to help you see that it's a real daily event that can be very safe. The "license and liability" thing is something that has been talked about for years but has to be designed and approved (at several different levels of gov't.).
    I don't drive, so I'm not going to stop riding because of something that has yet to be designed and the only bike trailer I'm thinking about right now is the one at the River Market that I'd love to find a way to start helping Mark and Julie from the Market and Eric from Donald's to deliver groceries for Seniors on the Waterfront (and now the Plaza) :). I'm keeping it positive and want to find more ways to keep biking happy, safe and useful for as many people as possible in New West! Cheers to you all and contact me when you want to see biking as a primary means of transportation.

  8. Licensing cyclists = gouging. Cyclists already subsidize our road system, certainly if you do not own a car you are paying for more road than you use. Cyclists are also already covered for liability, for the most part. Check your home insurance policy or your renter's insurance if you have it. The liability costs for cyclists are so low that insurers throw this in as a freebie.
    My recent post Cyclists Subsidize Drivers

Comments are closed.

Tenth to the Fraser