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Potential Opportunities and Risks of Protected Bike Lanes on Commercial High Streets in Vancouver -Guidance for the Implementation in Vancouver and Berlin

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Protected bike lanes are an effective and increasingly popular tool to elevate cycling mode shares and road safety in North America and cities worldwide. The positive impacts also include economic, political, socio-economic, socio-cultural and spatial aspects, especially when protected bike lanes are implemented on commercial high streets as destinations and obvious routes. Vancouver (B.C.) is one of the cities in North America that has become well-known for multiplying its cycling mode share over the past decade by investing in protected bike lanes. However, these are not yet present on commercial high streets there, presenting important gaps in the cycling network as well as an opportunity for research. Through qualitative interviews with different stakeholders, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of such projects in the City of Vancouver are analyzed in this paper. The information is complemented with findings from a literature analysis. The resulting holistic understanding of the involved potentials and risks serves as a basis to develop approaches for an implementation that is successful on various levels. Building on these results, the applicability to a German context is tested. To date, experiences with protected bike lanes there are limited. The example of Berlin as one of the most progressive German cities in this regard serves as a case study. In a first step, framework conditions in North America and Germany are compared. Differences and similarities between respective determining factors in Vancouver and Berlin then provide further hints on the applicability of previous findings to the Berlin setting. Eventually, this work should promote the successful implementation of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets and foster international knowledge exchange.
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Potential Opportunities and Risks of Protected Bike Lanes on
Commercial High Streets in Vancouver Guidance for the
Implementation in Vancouver and Berlin
by Verena Engel
B.A., Technical University of Munich 2015
Bauhaus-University Weimar
Master Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of
M.Sc. Management [Construction Real Estate Infrastructure]
At the Chair of Transport Systems Planning
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Plank-Wiedenbeck
Dipl.-Ing. Stefanie Blei
Dipl.-Ing. Julius Uhlmann
Vancouver
April 2019
Declaration of Authorship i
Disclaimer
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and individual interview
respondents and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or organization.
Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of any legal entity. This thesis
is distributed with the understanding that the author is not responsible for any actions taken based on
the information contained in the work.
Declaration of Authorship
I hereby declare that the Master Thesis submitted is my own unaided work. All direct or indirect
sources used are acknowledged as references.
Verena Engel
Vancouver, March 25th 2019
Abstract ii
Abstract
Protected bike lanes are an effective and increasingly popular tool to elevate cycling mode shares and
road safety in North America and cities worldwide. The positive impacts also include economic,
political, socio-economic, socio-cultural and spatial aspects, especially when protected bike lanes are
implemented on commercial high streets as destinations and obvious routes. Vancouver (B.C.) is one
of the cities in North America that has become well-known for multiplying its cycling mode share over
the past decade by investing in protected bike lanes. However, these are not yet present on
commercial high streets there, presenting important gaps in the cycling network as well as an
opportunity for research. Through qualitative interviews with different stakeholders, the strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats of such projects in the City of Vancouver are analyzed in this
paper. The information is complemented with findings from a literature analysis. The resulting holistic
understanding of the involved potentials and risks serves as a basis to develop approaches for an
implementation that is successful on various levels. Building on these results, the applicability to a
German context is tested. To date, experiences with protected bike lanes there are limited. The
example of Berlin as one of the most progressive German cities in this regard serves as a case study. In
a first step, framework conditions in North America and Germany are compared. Differences and
similarities between respective determining factors in Vancouver and Berlin then provide further hints
on the applicability of previous findings to the Berlin setting. Eventually, this work should promote the
successful implementation of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets and foster international
knowledge exchange.
Protected Bike Lanes sind ein effektives und beliebtes Mittel zur Erhӧhung des Radfahreranteils und der
Verkehrssicherheit in Stӓdten weltweit - vor allem in Nordamerika. Die positiven Effekte umfassen
unter anderem auch ӧkonomische, politische, sozioӧkonomische, soziokulturelle, und rӓumliche
Aspekte, besonders wenn Protected Bike Lanes auf Haupteinkaufsstraβen mit hohem
Verkehrsaufkommen eingesetzt werden. Diese eignen sich durch ihre viel besuchten Destinationen und
eine offensichtliche Routenwahl besonders für die Radwege. Vancouver (B.C.) ist eine der Stӓdte in
Nordamerika, die ihren Radfahreranteil im letzten Jahr durch den Einsatz von Protected Bike Lanes
verfielfacht haben. Nichtsdestotrotz sind jene dort noch nicht auf den Hauptgeschӓftsstraβen zu finden,
was zu bedeutenden Lücken im Radwegenetzwerk führt und eine Forschungsmӧglichkeit darstellt..
Durch qualitative Interviews mit veschiedenen Stakeholdern konnten die Stӓrken, Schwӓchen, Chancen
und Risiken von Protected Bike Lanes auf Hauptgeschӓftsstraβen in Vancouver analysiert werden. Die
Informationen wurden durch eine Literaturanalyse ergӓnzt. Das daraus entstehende gesamtheitliche
Verstӓndnis der involvierten Potenziale und Risiken dient als Grundlage für die Entwicklung von
Lӧsungsansӓtzen für eine Umsetzung, die auf vielen Ebenen erfolgreich ist. Aufbauend auf diesen
Ergebnissen wird die Übertragbarkeit auf einen deutschen Kontext geprüft. Dort sind Erfahrungen mit
Protected Bike Lanes derzeit begrenzt. Die Stadt Berlin soll hierbei als Fallbeispiel fungieren, da sie
bezüglich der Protected Bike Lanes führend unter den deutschen Stӓdten ist. In einem ersten Schritt
werden Rahmenbedingungen in Deutschland und Nordamerika verglichen. Die Unterschiede und
Gemeinsamkeiten der entsprechenden Einflussfaktoren in Vancouver und Berlin sollen daraufhin
weitere Hinweise für die Anwendbarkeit der Ergebnisse in Berlin geben. Die Arbeit soll schlieβlich eine
erfolgreiche Umsetzung von Protected Bike Lanes auf Hauptgeschӓftsstraβen, sowie den
internationalen Wissensaustausch fӧrdern.
Table of contents iii
Table of contents
Abstract ............................................................................................................................................................ ii
Table of contents ............................................................................................................................................. iii
Table of figures ................................................................................................................................................ vi
Table of tables ............................................................................................................................................... viii
Overview of appendices .................................................................................................................................. ix
Abbreviations ................................................................................................................................................... x
Glossary ........................................................................................................................................................... xi
1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 1
1.1 Protected bike lanes in North America and Germany ............................................................................ 1
1.2 The potential of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets ........................................................ 2
1.3 Objective of research .............................................................................................................................. 2
2. Methodology............................................................................................................................................ 4
2.1 Stakeholder interviews ........................................................................................................................... 4
2.1.1 Interview preparation ........................................................................................................................ 5
2.1.2 Interview conduct .............................................................................................................................. 5
2.1.3 Interview analysis .............................................................................................................................. 6
2.2 Literature analysis .................................................................................................................................. 6
3. Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver .......................................... 7
3.1 Stakeholder groups ................................................................................................................................ 7
3.1.1 Business owners................................................................................................................................. 7
3.1.2 Visitors of commercial high streets ................................................................................................... 8
3.1.3 Road users .......................................................................................................................................... 9
3.1.4 Residents .......................................................................................................................................... 10
3.1.5 Tax payers ........................................................................................................................................ 11
3.1.6 City Council ...................................................................................................................................... 11
3.1.7 TransLink .......................................................................................................................................... 12
3.1.8 Advocacies ....................................................................................................................................... 12
3.1.9 Construction companies .................................................................................................................. 13
3.2 Overview of stakeholder groups and their interests ............................................................................ 13
3.3 Overview of study participants ............................................................................................................. 14
4. Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high
streets in the City of Vancouver ...................................................................................................................... 15
4.1 Strengths .............................................................................................................................................. 15
4.1.1 Economic .......................................................................................................................................... 15
4.1.2 Political and Legal ............................................................................................................................ 16
4.1.3 Structural ......................................................................................................................................... 17
Table of contents iv
4.1.4 Summary of strengths ...................................................................................................................... 20
4.2 Weaknesses .......................................................................................................................................... 21
4.2.1 Political and Legal ............................................................................................................................ 21
4.2.2 Socio-cultural ................................................................................................................................... 24
4.2.3 Socio-economic ................................................................................................................................ 26
4.2.4 Structural ......................................................................................................................................... 27
4.2.5 Summary of weaknesses .................................................................................................................. 29
4.3 Opportunities ....................................................................................................................................... 30
4.3.1 Economic .......................................................................................................................................... 30
4.3.2 Political and Legal ............................................................................................................................ 31
4.3.3 Socio-cultural ................................................................................................................................... 33
4.3.4 Socio-economic ................................................................................................................................ 33
4.3.5 Structural ......................................................................................................................................... 34
4.3.6 Summary of opportunities ............................................................................................................... 37
4.4 Threats ................................................................................................................................................. 39
4.4.1 Economic .......................................................................................................................................... 39
4.4.2 Political and Legal ............................................................................................................................ 39
4.4.3 Socio-economic ................................................................................................................................ 40
4.4.4 Structural ......................................................................................................................................... 41
4.4.5 Summary of threats ......................................................................................................................... 44
5. Findings - Approaches to implement protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of
Vancouver ...................................................................................................................................................... 45
5.1 Summary and evaluation of SWOT analysis ......................................................................................... 45
5.2 Key approaches .................................................................................................................................... 48
5.2.1 Planning and design ......................................................................................................................... 48
5.2.2 Public engagement .......................................................................................................................... 52
5.2.3 Public outreach and education ........................................................................................................ 53
5.2.4 Citizen empowerment ..................................................................................................................... 54
5.2.5 Legal and strategic ........................................................................................................................... 55
5.2.6 Additional investments .................................................................................................................... 56
5.3 Key opportunities ................................................................................................................................. 60
5.4 Summary of approaches with regard to key opportunities .................................................................. 61
6. Findings Implementing protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in Berlin .............................. 63
6.1 Differences between framework conditions of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in
Vancouver and Berlin ........................................................................................................................................ 63
6.1.1 Status quo of protected bike lanes .................................................................................................. 63
6.1.2 Characteristics of commercial high streets ...................................................................................... 65
6.1.3 Protected bike lane standards ......................................................................................................... 67
6.2 Comparison of determining factors of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in Vancouver
and Berlin .......................................................................................................................................................... 69
6.2.1 Motivation to build protected bike lanes on commercial high streets ............................................ 69
6.2.2 Challenges for protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in Berlin ...................................... 72
6.2.3 Differences and similarities between determining factors in Vancouver and Berlin ...................... 74
6.3 Approaches for the implementation of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in Berlin..... 77
6.3.1 Major differences and similarities between determinants in Vancouver and Berlin ...................... 77
v
6.3.2 Approaches relevant for Berlin ........................................................................................................ 78
6.3.3 Additional approaches ..................................................................................................................... 79
7. Future research recommendation .......................................................................................................... 81
8. Conclusion .............................................................................................................................................. 82
Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................................... xvi
Appendices ................................................................................................................................................... xvii
Publication bibliography ................................................................................................................................. xx
Table of figures vi
Table of figures
Figure 1 - Protected bike lane in Vancouver (author).............................................................................................. 1
Figure 2 Commercial Drive cross section (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 15) .......................................................... 8
Figure 3 - Transport mode of visitors on Commercial Drive (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 12) ............................... 9
Figure 4 Origins of travels to Commercial Drive (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 12) .............................................. 9
Figure 5 Road usage on a winter weekday non-holiday afternoon on Commercial Drive in Vancouver (author)
............................................................................................................................................................................... 10
Figure 6 Mode share comparison Commercial Drive and downtown (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 12; Stantec
2011, p. 25) ............................................................................................................................................................ 24
Figure 7 - Prevalent 'style' of cycling in Vancouver (author) ................................................................................. 26
Figure 8 - The formerly controversial protected bike lane on Burrard Bridge in Vancouver (author) .................. 32
Figure 9 - Parking protected bike lane in Vancouver with disadvantageously facing parking meters (author) .... 42
Figure 10 - Phasing protection of cyclists at an intersection in Vancouver ........................................................... 50
Figure 11 - 'Side Boarding Island Stop' (NACTO 2016) ........................................................................................... 50
Figure 12 - Road transformation on Broadway, New York City (Andersen 2014) ................................................. 51
Figure 13 - Policeman on a bike in Chicago (author) ............................................................................................. 54
Figure 14 - All buses in Vancouver are equipped with bike racks, however, it takes some practice to operate them
(CBC News Vancouver 2014) ................................................................................................................................. 57
Figure 15 - Pedestrian plaza, bike share and bike parking at Main Street and East 14th Avenue in Vancouver.. 58
Figure 16 - Dock-less private bike share in a residential area in Ballard, Seattle ................................................. 59
Figure 17 - #UnGapTheMap campaign by Hub Cycling (Hub Cycling 2017) .......................................................... 60
Figure 18 - Protected bike lane in Chicago (author) .............................................................................................. 64
Figure 19 - Rendering of the protected bike lane at Hasenheide, Berlin (Daniel 2017) ........................................ 64
Figure 20 - Neighborhood Main Street (NACTO 2013) .......................................................................................... 65
Figure 21 - Karl-Marx-Straße in Berlin, from Hermannplatz (Academic) ............................................................... 66
Figure 22 - Protected bike lane (NACTO 2012) ...................................................................................................... 67
Figure 23 - Major intersection, protected design (NACTO 2013) .......................................................................... 69
Figure 24 - Rendering of suggestion for a temporary protected bike lane on Karl-Marx-Straße (Netzwerk
fahrradfreundliches Neukölln 2017) ...................................................................................................................... 70
Table of figures vii
Figure 25 - Cross-section of suggestion for a temporary protected bike lane on Karl-Marx-Straße (Netzwerk
fahrradfreundliches Neukölln 2017) ...................................................................................................................... 70
Figure 26 - Structural bike path at Schönhauser Allee in Berlin, photo by Neumann (Scherff 2019) ................... 71
Figure 27 - Protected bike lanes with red and white bollards on Holzmarktstraβe in Berlin (Prösser 2018) ........ 73
Table of tables viii
Table of tables
Table 1 - Overview of stakeholder groups and their interests .............................................................................. 13
Table 2 - Overview of study participants ............................................................................................................... 14
Table 3 - Strengths of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver ....................... 20
Table 4 - Weaknesses of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver .................. 29
Table 5 Opportunities for protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver ............. 37
Table 6 - Threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver .......................... 44
Table 7 - Conformity evaluation categories and criteria ....................................................................................... 45
Table 8 Summary of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial
high streets in the City of Vancouver..................................................................................................................... 46
Table 9 - Summary of approaches with regard to key opportunities for Vancouver ............................................ 61
Table 10 - Major differences and similarities of determining factors between the Vancouver and Berlin context
............................................................................................................................................................................... 75
Table 11 - Relevance of key approaches for Vancouver to the Berlin context ...................................................... 78
Table 12 - Recommendations for future research for Vancouver and Berlin ........................................................ 81
Overview of appendices ix
Overview of appendices
Appendix A - Comparison of North American and German design standards relevant for bike lanes protected
from vehicle traffic .............................................................................................................................................. xvii
Abbreviations x
Abbreviations
AAA All Ages and Abilities
ADFC Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club e. V. ('German Cyclists' Federation')
BIA Business Improvement Association
B.C. British Columbia
CoV City of Vancouver
CAD Canadian Dollar
ERA Empfehlungen für Radverkehrsanlagen ('Recommendations for cycling facilities')
FGSV Forschungsgesellschaft für Straßen- und Verkehrswesen e.V. ('Road and
Transportation Research Association')
GHG Greenhouse gas
HOV High Occupancy Vehicle
KPI Key performance indicator
n.a. not available
NACTO National Association of City Transportation Officials
RASt Richtlinien für die Anlage von Stadtstraßen ('Directives for the design of urban roads')
StVO Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung ('German road traffic regulations')
SWOT Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
TAC Transportation Association of Canada
U.S. United States
UK United Kingdom
$ Canadian Dollar
Glossary xi
Glossary
All Ages and Abilities (AAA)
Tied to the concept of Universal Design, AAA-facilities are accessible, comfortable, and convenient to
use for people of all ages and abilities. This includes children, seniors, women, people of colour, low-
income riders, people with disabilities. The term is most often used in connection with urban bicycle
infrastructure. Providing AAA bike routes has become "[…] an essential strategy for cities seeking to
improve traffic safety, reduce congestion, improve air quality and public health, provide better and
more equitable access to jobs and opportunities and bolster local economies" (NACTO 2017).
Buffered bike lane
"Buffered and unbuffered bike lanes are exclusive travel lanes for bicycles, typically positioned
adjacent to a curb or parking lane, and delineated from adjacent motor vehicle travel lines by a linear
pavement marking. […] The buffer pavement marking may be provided on one or both sides of the
buffered bike lane. It provides separation from parked and/ or through vehicles" (Transportation
Association of Canada 2017c, pp. 1314).
Business Improvement Association (BIA)
"Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are specially funded business districts. The districts are managed
by non-profit groups of property owners and business tenants whose goal is to promote and improve
their business district. Vancouver has 22 BIAs. BIAs are active in their communities, promoting:
business, tourism, safety, street beautification" (City of Vancouver).
Commercial high street
A commercial high street is the main commercial and retail street in a city or neighbourhood with a
strategic significance for the city (Arfin 2018; Carmona 2015, p. 3). They occur in places of high
connection, where existing uses act as multipliers that further add to their attraction (Carmona 2015).
A key characteristic is complex interrelations from a broad variety of uses such as commercial
destinations, public and community amenities, traffic arteries including public transit, trucking routes,
vehicular and bicycle traffic as well as high pedestrian volumes. According to Carmona (2015, p. 7), this
wide utilization can also be described as having a role as a place and as a link at the same time. As a
result, commercial high streets evince a high social, economic and environmental value (We Made That
and LSE Cities 2017, pp. 6, 10; Carmona 2015, pp. 5, 18).
Complete Street
“Complete Streets are streets that are designed to be safe for everyone: people who walk, bicycle, take
transit, or drive, and people of all ages and abilities(Toronto Centre for Active Transportation).
Cycling infrastructure
The term cycling infrastructure generally refers to all facilities in the public realm that are used by
cyclists and includes the allocated road space, infrastructure at intersections, and end-of-trip-facilities.
Design Thinking
"Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to
integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business
Glossary xii
success. […] [It] relies on the human ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, and to construct ideas
that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional. The elements of design thinking combine to form
an iterative approach […]" (IDEO U).
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes were created to move more people in fewer vehicles, reducing
congestion and greenhouse gas emissions” (British Columbia). Usage of these lanes is exclusive to High
Occupancy Vehicles. These are, for example, passenger vehicles with a specified minimum number of
persons, buses, motorcycles, taxis, handy darts or emergency vehicles.
Dooring
Doorings occur when cyclists are struck by or run into doors of parked motor vehicles, mostly when
the driver-side opens the door abruptly and without checking for cyclists in the mirror.(Engel 2018,
p. 13)
Modal shift
Modal shift refers to changes in the modal split. Most commonly, including this paper, it is used for
describing an increase of more sustainable modes of transport and a decrease of individual motorized
transport. Cities all over the world aim for a modal shift in order to respond to global challenges like
climate change, fossil fuel dependency, scarcity of resources, environmental pollution, transport
accessibility, the finiteness of (urban) land, public health deficiencies through low levels of physical
activity, and economic challenges like a limited operating budget and the attraction of business and
talent (Neufeld, Richard, Massicotte, Paul j. 2017; Transport Canada 2015; TransLink 2011, 2008, 2008;
City of Vancouver 2012a; UNESCAP Transport Division 2015; Breithaupt; McHugh 2014; City of
Edmonton 2014).
Modal split
It is widely recognized that different transport modes like walking, biking, driving a car, or using buses
or rail transport, differ from each other regarding their costs, land use, energy consumption and CO2
emissions. In terms of efficiency and environmental sustainability, the ratio of these values is most
beneficial for the active modes of transportation - walking and biking, as well as for high-capacity public
transport. The modal split is the share of the different transportation modes and is considered one of
the most important indicators for the mobility of a region (EPOMM).
Painted bike lane
A painted or unbuffered bike lane is a "[…] travel lane for cyclists defined primarily by white pavement
marking line(s) running parallel to the alignment of the roadway" (Transportation Association of
Canada 2017c, p. 12). In Germany, there is a differentiation between advisory lanes
1
and cycle lanes
2
.
"Advisory lanes mark an area at the side of the carriageway [with dashed lines] to provide cyclists with
a space which generally is not used by cars and used infrequently by trucks and buses when passing by
each other […]. Cycle lanes on the carriageway are separated from vehicles visually by a lane edge
1
German title: ‘Schutzstreifen’
2
German title: Radfahrstreifen’
Glossary xiii
marking, […]" (FGSV Translation 2012, p. 81). Cars must not drive on cycle lanes, while it is mandatory
for cyclists to use them.
Protected bike lane
If a bike lane is physically separated from motorized traffic, dedicated solely to people on bikes, and
runs on or adjacent to a roadway - as opposed to off-street pathways, it is defined as a protected bike
lane (Centre Regional Planning Agency; City of Vancouver). The physical separation mostly refers to
the application of vertical elements like concrete medians, bollards, planters, raised curbs, or vehicle
parking lanes that divide them from vehicle traffic (City of Vancouver; McHugh 2014, p. 30; Centre
Regional Planning Agency).
Right-of-way
Besides describing "a precedence in passing accorded to one vehicle over another by custom, decision,
or statute" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), this term also depicts the "area of land acquired for or
devoted to the provision of a road" (Transportation Association of Canada 2017c, Glossary). It is often
measured from one property line to another (Krahn 2015, p. 29).
Safety in numbers
The concept of safety in numbers implies that traffic crash rates decrease as cycling trips increase.
(Jacobsen 2003)
Separated bike lane
see protected bike lane
Stakeholders
Stakeholders are groups or individuals that are affected by or have an influence on a project or its
external effects either directly or indirectly. The varied interests of stakeholders toward the project
can trigger conflict and jeopardize project realization. (Krips, pp. 1,3)
Structural bike path
What is referred to as a 'baulicher Radweg' in Germany can be translated to structural bike path or
cycle path alongside road (see FGSV Translation 2012, p. 82) in English. According to the
Recommendations for Cycling Facilities, structural bike paths are separated by vehicle traffic and
parking by a height differentiation through the curb and by a carriageway safety clearance strip. They
are on the same level as sidewalks and separated from pedestrian traffic through visual contrasts and
tactile materials (FGSV Translation 2012, p. 82). An example is pictured in Figure 26.
Universal Design
The "[…] design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used
to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability" (Centre
for Excellence in Universal Design).
Vancouver
Unless otherwise specified, the term Vancouver in this paper refers to the municipality of the City of
Vancouver, not the Metro Vancouver region.
Introduction 1
1. Introduction
Cities and regions globally are promoting the bicycle as a means of transport in order to enhance
liveability, and address contemporary issues such as traffic congestion, climate change, public health,
and socio-economic challenges (Bruntlett and Bruntlett 2018, p. 1; ADFC 2018, pp. 67). Protected bike
lanes have proven to be an effective measure to increase the cycling mode share in the Netherlands
and in North America (ADFC 2018, p. 2; Bruntlett and Bruntlett 2018, p. 2), especially amongst what
are considered more vulnerable road users like women, children, seniors, or physically impaired people
(City of Vancouver 2012b, p. 7; DuBose 2011, p. 54; TransLink 2011, pp. 1819).
1.1 Protected bike lanes in North America and Germany
Cities in North America such as Chicago, New York, Seattle, or Portland were able to raise their share
of cycling significantly with the implementation of protected bike lanes in the last decade (ADFC 2018,
p. 3; League of American Bicyclists 2017, pp. 910; Higashide 2018). In the City of Vancouver, an
extension of the bicycle network that now features over 80 km of AAA bike routes, has even led to an
increase by 3.5 times of cycling within eleven years - from 2% in 2006 to 6.9% in 2017 (McElhanney
Consulting Services Ltd., Mustel Group 2018, p. 30; EPOMM; City of Vancouver 2018, p. 24).
Figure 1 - Protected bike lane in Vancouver (author)
In Germany, too, the implementation of protected bike lanes is aspired to, and highly encouraged by
a major German bicycle association, the ADFC (ADFC 2018, p. 2). First projects in cities like Cologne,
Berlin, Osnabrück or Frankfurt, are recently being discussed or implemented (Kölner Wochenspiegel
2018; Schlicht 2018; Deutscher Städtetag 2018; Fülling 2018). However, experiences to date are very
limited (ADFC 2018, p. 5; Senatsverwaltung für Umwelt, Verkehr und Klimaschutz 2018). Besides,
implementation standards have yet to be developed and adopted by German design guidelines such
Introduction 2
as the 'Recommendations for cycling facilities'
3
(FGSV 2010) or the 'Directives for the design of urban
roads'
4
(FGSV 2007).
1.2 The potential of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets
Despite the lack of experiences with protected bike lanes, they are seen as state of the art in Germany
due to remarkable international experiences (ADFC 2018, p. 7). Vancouver is often referred to as
showcase city for protected bike lanes (see Randelhoff 2016; ROSS 2018) not only because of its rapid
growth of cycling numbers but also considering its political commitment despite a loud opposition
(Gutman 2018; Siemiatycki et al. 2014, pp. 226, 234; Bula 2013). Especially on commercial high streets,
plans to implement protected bike lanes have spurred political discussions in Vancouver: Business
owners fear that taking away parking space to build protected bike lanes will prevent their customers
from visiting their shops (Bruntlett and Bruntlett 2018, p. 63; Chan 2017; Pogor 2016). Together with
the City's efforts to engage stakeholders in the process, this has been holding back some of the planned
projects (City of Vancouver 2017b). On the other hand, an increasing body of research that has been
analyzed in a previous work by the author emphasizes the positive effects of protected bike lanes in
general and for businesses on commercial high streets (see Engel 2018). The observed or expected
potential of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets includes, but is not limited to,
improvements of road safety, cycling usage, public health, urban transport efficiency and the
environment, as well as an enhanced accessibility for people of all ages and abilities to businesses and
services on commercial high streets and hence benefits for their social connectedness.
1.3 Objective of research
The above mentioned expected positive effects of establishing protected bike lanes on commercial
high streets make them a popular planning tool for cities worldwide (Monsere et al. 2014, p. ES1).
However, through following and engaging in local discussions in Vancouver, the author also observed
several challenges and barriers for the matter that had not yet been extensively covered by research
(Engel 2018, p. 35). In order to enhance the effectivity and suitability of stated projects for a broad
variety of people, a further exploration of the topic is necessary. Attaining a deeper understanding of
the involved opportunities and risks shall serve as a basis to elaborate suitable approaches and
recommendations for actions thereupon. The developments and political circumstances in Vancouver
mentioned earlier make it a great case study that can produce useful insights for other cities and
countries. Local circumstances may affect suitable strategies to be deployed. In order to make the
results from the study in Vancouver applicable to a German context, a transferability to Berlin as a case
study will be examined.
Questions to be answered in this paper are:
Who are the stakeholders of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in
Vancouver?
What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on
commercial high streets in Vancouver?
What are the characteristics of commercial high streets in North America and Germany?
3
German title: Empfehlungen für Radverkehrsanlagen
4
German title: Richtlinien für die Anlage von Stadtstraßen
Introduction 3
What standards and guidelines exist for protected bike lanes in North America and
Germany?
What are the differences between projects on protected bike lanes on commercial high
streets in Vancouver and Berlin and recommended actions for both cities?
Eventually, the findings should provide suggestions for planners, decision-making entities and bicycle
advocacies for a successful implementation of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in
Vancouver and Berlin. Therefore, respective conceptual approaches will be identified by determining
underlying opportunities and challenges and simultaneously creating awareness for the dependence
of bicycle infrastructure projects on a multitude of economic, political, socio-economic, socio-cultural,
and spatial factors. Beyond that, this paper promotes an international knowledge exchange by
highlighting relevant differences and similarities between the North American and German context.
Methodology 4
2. Methodology
The underlying data for this work was collected using different methods. For one, qualitative
interviews were conducted to receive information on existing circumstances, risks, and opportunities
of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets. In addition, information from literature and
research findings was consulted for the completion and verification of these results.
2.1 Stakeholder interviews
Some of the challenges to building protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in Vancouver
originate from the multifunctionality of those streets: They serve as major traffic arteries, mostly
including trucking and public transit networks, while they also play an important role as public spaces.
This results in opposing interests of the stakeholders of those streets. In his reference guide to
stakeholder management for project management purposes, Krips (2017) highlights the importance
of stakeholder management to avoid conflicts with stakeholders that can lead to a decline in
reputation or the failure of a project (Krips 2017, p. 6). According to Krips (2017, pp. 6, 11), stakeholder
management involves obtaining information about stakeholders by identifying them and analyzing
their interests and other attributes such as their attitude. The goal is to create acceptance and
successfully implement a project. The goal of this paper is not the conduct of stakeholder management
practices. On the other hand, identifying stakeholders, their interests and their perceptions can also
foster a holistic understanding of the opportunities and risks involved in projects of protected bike
lanes on commercial high streets.
The goal of this research is a detailed investigation of possibly unknown issues. Qualitative research,
especially in-depth interviews with stakeholders, are considered effective tools to provide more
detailed information on a subject (Boyce and Neale 2006, p. 3). In that sense, it is also recommended
by the German Road and Transportation Research Association
5
(2012, pp. 9596). Open-ended
questions can be used to "[…] explore new issues in depth" (Boyce and Neale, p. 3) by encouraging
interviewees to "[…] expand their own experiences" (Appleton 1995, p. 994).
Therefore, qualitative, open-ended, interviews were conducted to assess strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities, threats, and suggestions for protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in
Vancouver. In total, nine interviews were conducted within the Vancouver context. In order to also get
a basic understanding of the situation in Berlin, a similar approach to qualitative interviews was applied
in Berlin. However, due to the scope and focus of this paper, only one expert was interviewed in this
context. Information from the interview was complemented with literature research, although
experiences with protected bike lanes in Berlin are more limited and less discussed in Berlin than in
Vancouver. This means that the level of detail and the external validity of the findings for Vancouver
is substantially higher than for Berlin. Therefore, the example of Berlin that is described throughout
the paper should be considered as an illustrative example to highlight some outstanding differences
between Germany and North America and draw conclusions on the possibilities of knowledge
exchange.
While open-ended interviews appear to be an appropriate tool for the described purpose
(Forschungsgesellschaft für Straßen- und Verkehrswesen 2012, p. 97), they also have limitations. These
shall be acknowledged, and strategies deployed to improve the external validity of this research.
5
German title: ‘Forschungsgesellschaft für Straßen- und Verkehrswesen
Methodology 5
Known study limitations are the bias of selecting interview partners, the participation bias of interview
partners, limitations through a small sample size, the subjectivity of opinions and circumstances
expressed by interview partners, the dependence on skills and expertise of the interviewer, and
analysis bias (Forschungsgesellschaft für Straßen- und Verkehrswesen 2012, p. 97; Boyce and Neale
2006, pp. 34; Appleton 1995, p. 994; Smith and Noble 2014, p. 101). Measures taken to improve the
validity of this study are described subsequently.
2.1.1 Interview preparation
Stakeholders of projects for protected bike lanes on commercial high streets were interviewed for this
research. In a first step, these stakeholders were identified, and depending on their proximity to or
relevance for those projects, included in this research (Krips 2017, p. 3). Time and project restraints
made for a target sample size of at least one representative per stakeholder group. Due to the
heterogeneity of some stakeholder groups and thereto relating amplified risks of selection bias, some
interviews with individuals from that group were replaced or complemented by research. The group
of commercial high street visitors, for example, is highly heterogeneous and coincides with interests
of road users and residents. No individual from this group was interviewed. Nevertheless, their
interests are represented by respondents from other stakeholder groups as well as literature findings.
Individual interview partners were identified using the author's knowledge about stakeholders and
experts in the field obtained through a previous research project (Engel 2018) and her professional
and social network in Vancouver. Since the author herself is part of a community that appreciates
cycling and physical activity, this creates a certain selection bias. Additional interviewees were
identified during data collection, as suggested by Boyce and Neale (2006, p. 4) and Smith and Noble
(2014, p. 100). Doing so, the author explicitly asked some study participants for contacts or references
that are knowingly opposed to the concept of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets. The
intent was to minimize selection bias as far as possible. However, most of these individuals, of which
some were contacted via various means of communication, either did not respond to or neglected the
participation request. Examples are taxi companies representing a group that is dependent on vehicle
road usage and BIAs. Some individual business owners on commercial high streets that are known to
be opposed to the concept were contacted in person but declined participation. A participation bias
results from this which is mitigated to an extent by the circumstance that these specific groups have
made their positions heard publicly, regardless of this research (SGBIA 2017, p. 6; Ripplinger and
Westender 2017; Godsall 2011; Pogor 2016). In addition,
All potential interview partners were contacted stating the purpose of this paper to learn about the
opportunities and risks of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets. For positive responses to
the participation request, a meeting time and place was arranged. In some cases, the interview was
carried out via phone.
2.1.2 Interview conduct
For every interview, the same rough structure was followed: The interviews started with a brief
explanation of the research purpose and goals, as well as a brief outline of the interview and editing
process. Interviewees were then asked for their verbal agreement to produce an audio record of the
interview and for a written agreement to the utilization of contents produced in academic research. In
cases where the background, experience, or involvement with the study subject of participants
indicated the presence of additional relevant information, the interview was started with an according
question. All participants were then asked where they see strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and
Methodology 6
threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets. The terms 'protected bike lane' and
'commercial high street' were clarified where necessary. Subsequently, respondents were asked for
measures that they think can make specified projects successful. Throughout the interviews, follow-
up questions were asked if needed to ensure a mutual understanding or to obtain more detailed
information. An open-ended and non-suggestive structure of questions was attempted to maintain
where possible and contributions from previous interviews were taken into account at this point.
Respondents were then asked if they would like to add anything to the topic. Interviewees were not
reimbursed for their participation.
2.1.3 Interview analysis
Considering time constraints and the purpose of the interviews, the author and her supervisor decided
that written result logs, confirmed by the participants, would be an adequate means of documenting
the interviews. Thus, interview minutes were produced using audio recordings and notes taken during
the interview. Information obtained during the interviews was structured and summarized as
suggested by Mayring (2015, p. 67). The resulting documents were sent to the respective interviewees
for completion, correction, and verification of the depicted insights. Afterwards, the contents from the
confirmed minutes were systematically sorted in two steps, with categories and topics evolving during
the process. Further integration of filtered and reduced content generated the overall structure of the
SWOT analysis used later on.
According to Boyce and Neale (2006, p. 4), the generalization of results from in-depth interviews is
only reasonable when "[…] the same stories, themes, issues, and topics are emerging from the
interviewees […]". Mayring (2015, p. 123) also states a comparison with results from other sources and
existing theories as a criterion for the validity of qualitative research. Therefore, the validity of
individual aspects of the SWOT analysis was evaluated with regard to the number of stakeholder
groups making references to it and their conformity with literature
2.2 Literature analysis
Considering existing literature on the topic is not only relevant for the validation of the interview
content, but it is also necessary for transferring the results of the Vancouver SWOT analysis to a
German context. For this purpose, several documents were consulted: city data and documents, legal
standards and guidelines, the conclusion of a previous extensive literature analysis around the subject
and literature selected thereby (Engel 2018), literature recommended by study participants, relevant
newspaper articles, and other research findings.
Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 7
3. Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of
Vancouver
A major part of grasping the complexity of projects for protected bike lanes on commercial high streets
in Vancouver is understanding the - sometimes opposing - interests of their stakeholders. An
awareness of who these stakeholders are and how they are involved within said projects is also a
prerequisite for the selection of interview participants.
3.1 Stakeholder groups
The following chapter provides an overview of the stakeholders of commercial high streets in
Vancouver, including their involvement, interests, and perceptions about building protected bike lanes
on those streets.
3.1.1 Business owners
Business owners run the numerous shops, cafés, restaurants and service locations that make the
streets a destination rather than just a road. Their existence depends on stable revenues through
customers and a certain level of intensity and vitality of the street (Carmona 2015, p. 7). Therefore,
the street environment including the way that people and goods can get to their businesses but also
the public space quality, have an appreciable impact on their activities. Likewise, they are the ones
that can profit from street improvements in their surroundings (CABE 2007).
In most cases throughout Vancouver, their voice is reinforced and represented by so-called Business
Improvement Associations. They are run by a voluntary board of directors comprised of local business
and property owners (Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association; South Granville Business
Improvement Association (SGBIA) 2018). Next to being advocates for their members, their goal is to
"[…] promote and improve their business district" (City of Vancouver). Funding is provided by the City
of Vancouver via a special property tax and used for BIA activities and staff hiring (City of Vancouver;
SGBIA 2017).
When it comes to the implementation of bike lanes on commercial high streets, they are amongst the
most vocal groups to state their concerns (Zeidler 2018). These are primarily founded in the fear of
losing customers due to a lack of on-street parking (Pogor 2016; Ripplinger and Westender 2017). This
phenomenon is not just specific to Vancouver and is related to the circumstance that these business
owners tend to overestimate the share of their driving customers (Sztabinski 2009, p. 5; Sustrans 2003,
p. 2; Tolley, Rodney 2011, p. 2). On Commercial Drive in Vancouver for instance, where there is lots of
resistance against existing plans to implement protected bike lanes, only 5.6% of all people that arrive
there use the on-street parking on Commercial Drive (City of Vancouver 2016c, pp. 12,13). On the
other hand, not all of the businesses in Vancouver believe that bike lanes will have a negative impact
on their business, as respondents from resident and business owner groups say. In Toronto, the
majority of retailers expect positive changes (Sztabinski 2009, p. 1), and businesses in downtown
Vancouver have even changed their attitude: One of the business owners reports that after protected
bike lanes were implemented on Hornby and Dunsmuir Streets in 2010, many of the local business
owners now acknowledge or actively support the bike lanes (also see Quednau 2016; Klingbeil 2016;
Fawcett 2016).
Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 8
3.1.2 Visitors of commercial high streets
Visitors of commercial high streets sometimes depend on services offered there, including commercial
services such as shops, business services, and restaurants; community amenities like parks or public
libraries; places to work; and other essential services such as financial, government, and medical
services. Having access to commercial high streets is a critical component for residents of all ages,
abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds to participate in every day, social, and work activities.
Against this backdrop, Meng (2018, pp. 1112) states that "[t]he accessibility of commercial high
streets can be affected by a lack of transport mode choices. Mode choices can be made when various
modes of transportation are affordable, safe, and comfortable for a variety of people." Many people
are, for instance, not able to drive or cannot afford to acquire, operate and maintain a car, while others
are dependent on the usage of a car. Looking at the road space allocation and road space usage on
Commercial Drive in Vancouver, current problems of accessibility become more obvious: As can be
seen in Figure 2, 30% of the road space on the wide sections of Commercial Drive (north of Graveley
Street) are dedicated to pedestrians while 70% are built for car drivers (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 15;
VPSN Blog 2017).
Figure 2 Commercial Drive cross section (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 15)
The sidewalks are used by pedestrians and transit users. This space is also used for outdoor seating or
merchandise displays of adjacent businesses, as well as cyclists for whom riding on the road is
considered unsafe (Monsere et al. 2014, p. 126; McHugh 2014, p. 32). The remaining two-thirds are
oriented towards moving and stationary vehicular traffic and also accommodate bikes and transit. No
particular space is, however, dedicated to them which leads to less than a quarter of cyclists being
comfortable riding there (McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd., Mustel Group 2018, p. 21). This is also
criticized by the frequent bike user respondent. Beyond that, this means that transit efficiency is
dependent on traffic volumes. However, as shown in Figure 3, only 17% of people travelling to
Commercial Drive arrive by car, whereas 44% of people walk, 27% take transit, and 11% use a bike (City
of Vancouver 2016c, p. 12). Furthermore, 60% of people intercepted on Commercial Drive want to
cycle more but deem it unsafe (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 10). This is not unjustified: Some
commercial high streets in Vancouver are some of the most dangerous locations for cycling in the city
Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 9
(City of Vancouver 2015a, p. 119). A resident observes that even among motorized traffic, there are
frequent collisions on commercial high streets. Besides that, the predominantly local catchment area
of visitors on commercial high streets (Figure 4) implies short travel distances. Building upon that, there
is a vast potential for more cycling on commercial high streets if adequate infrastructure is provided
(Engel 2018, p. 8).
Figure 3 - Transport mode of visitors on Commercial Drive
(City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 12)
Figure 4 Origins of travels to Commercial Drive (City of
Vancouver 2016c, p. 12)
This demonstrates that there is demand for more and safer cycling infrastructure on commercial high
streets in Vancouver. According to Rajé (2018, p. 3), there is a risk that parts of society are excluded if
infrastructure is not designed according to the needs of all people (Rajé 2018).
In addition to the need for better accessibility and road safety of commercial high streets, their public
space quality has a high impact on the quality of time spent on commercial high streets, including social
interactions and wellbeing (Carmona 2015, p. 41).
3.1.3 Road users
As mentioned earlier, one characteristic of commercial high streets is their multitude of functions.
Jones and Boujenko (2009, p. 38) describe this as having a 'link' and 'place' function. The accessibility
of commercial high streets as traffic arteries is just as important as the accessibility of their destinations
that was described above. Similar interests with regard to accessibility and road space allocation apply
for road users and visitors of commercial high streets. However, the mode share between road users
passing through commercial high streets and those who approach them as destinations may be
different. Besides, travel time may become a higher priority in the link function (MAN and Technical
University Munich 2013, p. 40). Because of that, the perceived impact of changes in road space
allocation is a sensitive topic: People fear increased congestion due to the common perception that
taking away travel lanes from motorized traffic reduces the capacity of roads and increases congestion
(City Clock 2014; Ripplinger and Westender 2017; Chan 2017; Siemiatycki et al. 2014, p. 225; Monsere
et al. 2014, p. 120). As the author concluded in the previous literature analysis, "[…] congestion is a
widespread concern when implementing protected bike lanes, but it does generally not materialize in
sizable effects (Vijayakumar and Burda 2015)." Nevertheless, it is an important issue to be considered
in street design changes (Engel 2018, p. 16).
11%
45%
27%
17%
Transport mode of visitors on
Commercial Drive
Bike
Walk
Transit
Car
44%
38%
18%
Origin of travels to Commercial
Drive
Area
City
Region
Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 10
Figure 5 Road usage on a winter weekday non-holiday afternoon on Commercial Drive in Vancouver (author)
3.1.4 Residents
Commercial high streets in Vancouver are usually located within 5 km of most of the city's inhabitants.
This implies that most people that live in the City of Vancouver live in the catchment area of at least
one commercial high street and rely on them as their local destination for running errands. Hence,
they could be understood as residents. In this paper, however, the term 'residents' shall be viewed in
a narrower perspective - as people whose everyday life is affected by commercial high streets beyond
matters of the quality and accessibility of destinations and traffic arteries they offer. Circumstances
that are covered by this definition include, but may not be limited to, impacts of traffic noise and air
quality at a person's home due to traffic on commercial high streets; residential availability of parking
spots and transportation options; as well as the security, liveability and social connectedness within
their neighbourhood that can be reflected in housing prices (CABE 2007, pp. 6, 8; Litman 1999, 16-17;
Hromádka and Shashko 2015, p. 761). Gentrification and increasing rental and property prices are also
a concern of residents when protected bike lanes are implemented (Li and Joh 2016, p. 3495). On the
other hand, "[t]his reflects the value consumers attach to walkable neighbourhoods, which tend to be
denser, mixed use neighbourhoods with good accessibility, including high quality public transport", as
Tolley, Rodney (2011, p. 15) remarks. Following that, the National Complete Streets Coalition notes
that "[w]hen residents have the opportunity to walk, bike, or take transit, they have more control over
their expenses" than people living in auto-dependent areas. Eventually, this leads to lower total costs
for transportation and housing (McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd., Mustel Group 2017, p. 2;
Hromádka and Shashko 2015, p. 761). Besides costs for housing and transportation, a major concern
for residents is the availability of car parking, even in cases where it is only reduced by a minimum
(comment on Montoro 2017; Monsere et al. 2014, p. 142).
Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 11
3.1.5 Tax payers
As the author learned in several conversations with people during Bike to Work Week, and as also
mentioned by Ripplinger and Westender (2017), some people are concerned that the share of cyclists
does not justify the size of investments for cycling infrastructure in Vancouver. Tax payers are indeed
one of the funding sources of public infrastructure investments. However, "[i]t is an extremely
common misconception that motorists pay for the building and maintenance of roads through gas
taxes and parking fees. Although this is partially true, for the most part, city roads are funded from
general revenue (i.e. property taxes)" (McHugh 2014, p. 110). More than a third of the budget for the
City of Vancouver's four-year capital plan, of which 11% is allocated to transportation investments, are
sourced from city contributions that include revenues from property taxes (City of Vancouver).
Nevertheless, McHugh (2014, p. 10) further elaborates that with roads being a "[…] public commodity
[…]", the allocated funds for a certain type of infrastructure should reflect the mode share. In this
regard, cycling in 2011 was considered to be "[…] currently under-funded […]" in Metro Vancouver
with only 1% of regional transportation spending being allocated towards 1.7% of people that cycle
(TransLink 2011, p. 22). Both shares have increased in the meantime (City of Vancouver). These
changes, as well as the circumstance that some infrastructure, such as street lighting, drainage, or
traffic lights, is being shared between motorists and cyclists, induce a more complex investigation to
make an accurate case. For this reason, an objective statement about a fair budget allocation cannot
be made at this point without further research that would exceed the scope and purpose of this paper.
Tax payers are, therefore, and because of the relatively small contribution and relatively low costs for
cycling infrastructure, as well as a high expected return on investment (Siemiatycki et al. 2014, p. 225;
TransLink 2011, pp. 2223; Richard 2014), excluded from the stakeholder analysis.
3.1.6 City Council
Besides the previously described stakeholders that can be aggregated as the users of commercial high
streets, there are also stakeholders that are involved in the management of the planning, decision-
making processes and funding. Since the Canadian government has had a long-time federal policy of
non-intervention in urban transportation, the responsibility for the subject is left to provinces and
municipalities, hence the majority of transport policies are determined at the municipal and provincial
level (Pucher and Buehler 2006, p. 272, 2005, p. 23). The municipalities have the general ownership
and operational responsibility for the Major Road Network (TransLink). The City’s role in transportation
includes building and maintaining City-owned infrastructure; guidance of development through land
use and urban design policies and guidelines; management of street use through rules, regulations,
and pricing; education and empowerment of citizens "[…] to make sustainable transportation choices
[…]"; as well as to provide leadership, advocacy and partnership to the outside (City of Vancouver
2012a, p. 6). The City's rationale behind guiding these operations is to ensure a sustainable city
development including economic, environmental, social, and public health aspects while responding
to issues such as population growth, demographic change, environmental damage, space constraints,
and socio-economic inequities (City of Vancouver 2012a, pp. 8,9). Specific challenges arise through
budget and time restrictions, as well as the divergence of political interests, as Siemiatycki et al. (2014)
demonstrated using the case of the Burrard bridge; and as it becomes apparent during election years
(Engel 2018, p. 35).
Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 12
3.1.7 TransLink
The purpose and responsibilities of TransLink were described in a previous paper by the author:
"TransLink is the regional transportation authority that was founded by the province to coordinate
transportation between the municipalities of Metro Vancouver. It is mandated to provide a regional
transportation system as a whole with a prioritization of walking, cycling, and transit. Funding is
required for operations, maintenance, the rehabilitation of the Major Road Network (MRN), and
shares in the cost of several capital improvements (TransLink). Broadway, Cambie Street, Granville
Street, and 41st Ave are commercial high streets that are part of the MRN (TransLink 2016). In relation
to cycling, TransLink has a long-term direct leadership role including the provision of funding for
municipal cycling infrastructure such as the Major Bike Network, as well as its coordination, the
assurance of an ease of navigation within the bike network and the ease of combining cycling and
transit, assistance of school-based training programs regarding cycling skills, bicycle marketing
campaigns, and the coordination of a regional bicycle monitoring program (TransLink 2011)" (Engel
2018, p. 28). Consequently, TransLink's interests can be determined as fulfilling their imposed
responsibilities to deliver "[…] safe and reliable transportation services" (TransLink 2017, p. 12);
securing funding from the City's taxation revenues and their own user fees; meeting stakeholders'
expectations (TransLink 2017, p. 7); and managing financial, business, project, labour relations, and
environmental risks (TransLink 2017, pp. 4143).
3.1.8 Advocacies
Bicycle advocacy groups are organizations that acknowledge the benefits of cycling and aim to improve
cycling conditions for a variety of people, usually in a specific area. Ways to achieve this are providing
physical and knowledge resources for users to make cycling more accessible; creating a community
through events, programs, and platforms; advising decision-making entities and businesses; carrying
out marketing activities for communication, image, and awareness purposes; and conducting and
publishing research (Hub Cycling 2018; Modacity). There are for- and non-profit organizations,
however, there seems to be a higher number of non-profit organizations that rely on the engagement
of volunteers. One of the biggest advocacy groups in Vancouver is Hub Cycling, who, for example, offer
bicycle education for all ages, host events like the widely know Bike to Work Week or Bike the Night,
and collaborate on cycling or policy projects with governments, planners, and developers through the
work of voluntary local committees (Hub Cycling 2018). Regarding the latter, their individual and
organization member base of nearly 3,000, as well as their outreach to more than 30,000 individuals
and organizations via newsletters and social media, legitimate their voice. Next to goals of providing
people with knowledge and universal bicycle infrastructure, there are also groups that are targeted on
providing people with tools, knowledge and support for repairs, as well as affordable bikes. Examples
in Vancouver are the volunteer-run community bike shops Kickstand or Our Community Bikes. Other
groups like the Vancouver Bicycle Club support a biking community by organizing recreational biking
events. Eventually, organizations like Modacity focus on marketing biking to citizens and governments
by providing education about the benefits of multi-modal transportation and "[…] communicat[ing] a
more human image […]" of it (Modacity). The founders Melissa and Chris Bruntlett use writing,
photography, film-making, social media, and speaking to advocate for a movement towards "[…] a
more inclusive [transportation model] that is accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and economic
means" (Modacity). Most of these organizations share the perception that providing universal
infrastructure and other bike resources are appropriate means to unleash the social, environmental,
public health, and economic potential of cycling.
Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 13
3.1.9 Construction companies
Construction companies build bicycle infrastructure when they are hired for projects. As Krips (2017,
p. 1) mentions, they are considered internal stakeholders of construction projects. Their interest lays
in being commissioned for the execution and construction of projects of all types in order to draw
profits. In this paper, it is assumed that the type of infrastructure that is being built is not particularly
relevant for the named purpose. Therefore, they are not included in the stakeholder analysis.
3.2 Overview of stakeholder groups and their interests
A summary of relevant stakeholder groups in Vancouver and their interests is provided in Table 1
below.
Table 1 - Overview of stakeholder groups and their interests
Interests
Stable revenues
Affordable retail rents
Accessibility for customers
Loading and delivery of goods
Accessibility of services through affordable, safe, and comfortable
transportation choices
Public space quality
Social interaction
Accessibility of affordable, safe, and comfortable transportation
choices
Traffic flow
Affordability of housing and transportation
Accessibility of transport options
Liveability of the neighbourhood: limited exposure to traffic noise
and air pollution, security
Social connectedness within the neighbourhood
Provision of funding, planning, construction, maintenance,
education, legislation, regulation, and leadership for urban
transportation infrastructure
Meet time, space, and budget constraints
Maintain political stability
Provision of a safe and reliable regional transportation system with
prioritization of walking, cycling, and transit
Securing funding through municipalities and transit revenues
Meeting stakeholders' expectations
Promotion of universal bicycle infrastructure, resources, and
education
Increase of cycling safety, participation, and inclusion
Forming a community
Findings Stakeholders of commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 14
3.3 Overview of study participants
In order to obtain a holistic understanding of the potential and the risks involved in projects for
protected bike lanes on commercial high streets, individuals of most stakeholder groups were
interviewed. Table 2 provides an overview of these participants along with a brief description of their
roles and experiences.
Table 2 - Overview of study participants
Stakeholder
group(s)
Group
reference
Role description
Business
owners
I-BO
1
Staff person within one of Vancouver's BIAs
2
Runs a business on a commercial high street in Vancouver,
active engagement in public participation processes of
complete streets projects
Frequent
cyclist
I-FC
3
Bike messenger; self-description as a rather slow and careful
cyclist
Residents
I-RE
4
Lives near a commercial high street in Vancouver and runs a
business there. Supports the idea of reduced car usage in
urban environments.
Municipal
advisory
council
I-MA
5
Engagement in the City of Vancouver Active Transportation
Policy Council, experience with community involvement and
planning
Regional
transport
authority
I-TA
6
Communication specialist working within public transit
demand management for a regional transport authority
7
Transportation engineer at a transit authority, specialized in
bike-transit integration
Bicycle
advocacy
I-BA
8
Promotion of the public health, environmental, and social
benefits of active and multi-modal transportation using
writing, photography, film, and social media.
9
Employee of a community bike shop, promotion of complete
street projects on commercial high streets, environmentalist
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 15
4. Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of
protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of
Vancouver
Even though investments for protected bike lanes in Vancouver have grown substantially over the past
years, to date they are mostly limited to the downtown area, as well as recreational and commuting
bike routes. That means that for this specific context pre- and post-implementation data is not yet
available. Deduced from related research findings, the effects of protected bike lanes on commercial
high streets in Vancouver were therefore assumed in an earlier paper (see Engel 2018). However, in
order to reap the benefits and minimize the risks of these projects and produce successful
infrastructure, it is necessary to assess both, the positive and negative circumstances and anticipated
effects. Due to varying objectives of SWOT-analyses, the classification of strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities, and threats may generally differ from other analyses of this type.
4.1 Strengths
Project strengths are existing circumstances that act in favour of an implementation of protected bike
lanes on commercial high streets in Vancouver. Those identified within the stakeholder interviews are
described below.
4.1.1 Economic
Economic vitality
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to building protected bike lanes on commercial high streets,
not just in Vancouver, is a decrease in business revenues (see Pogor 2016; Ripplinger and Westender
2017) (Pogor 2016; Ripplinger and Westender 2017). However, as respondents from the residents and
business owner groups say, negative effects of bike lanes on businesses have repeatedly been
neglected by research. There are many case studies including Broadway in Salt Lake City (Salt Lake City
Division of Transportation 2015, p. 1), 9th Ave in New York City (NYC DOT and Bennet Midland 2013,
pp. 3839), or Columbus Ave in New York City (NYC DOT and Bennet Midland 2013, pp. 3234) that
exhibited increased business sales due to the bike lanes. In all cases, data were collected before and
after the intervention, at the project site and a comparable location. A similar methodology was used
to evaluate the protected bike lanes installed on Bloor Street in Toronto in 2016. The study by Smith
Lea et al. (2017, pp. 45) found a growth in customer counts from merchant surveys, increased
estimated spending and visit frequency from visitor surveys, and reduced business vacancy counts
from a street-level scan. Even though these factors "[…] also showed a similar growth […]" on a
comparison street, the results indicate "[…] a positive, or at least neutral, economic impact of the bike
lane" (Smith Lea et al. 2017, p. 41).
The only study that is known to the author that found a negative impact on businesses is a study
conducted in downtown Vancouver by Stantec (2011). However, no baseline data was conducted prior
to the bike lane implementation (Stantec 2011, p. 56) and the study itself highlights the preliminary
and short-term character of the results that do not account for an adjustment period (Stantec 2011, p.
ii). Besides that, the findings are based on individual responses of best estimates of businesses, and
may be affected by a response bias since the businesses that are more affected are said to be more
likely to respond (Stantec 2011, p. ii). Additionally, no examination of "[t]he combined impacts of
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 16
factors that have influenced downtown businesses including: general economic conditions, stricter
impaired driving rules, increased parking taxes, road closures and changes in conjunction with the 2010
Winter Olympics, the opening of the Canada Line rapid transit system, and the re-introduction of buses
on Granville St.;" (Stantec 2011, p. 56) has taken place. The study was described as being inconclusive
amongst others by Dale Bracewell, Vancouver City’s manager for transportation planning (ROSS 2018)
and Arancibia (2012, p. 20). Moreover, when it was published in 2011, only shortly after the
implementation of the bike lanes, most businesses downtown had a widely negative perception of the
bike lanes (Bailey 2015). Since then, however, the "[…] feared loss of businesses […] did not materialize
[…]" (Vijayakumar and Burda 2015, p. 11). Hence, the support for the bike lanes has grown
substantially towards an active promotion of bike lanes by the downtown business community (ROSS
2018; Bailey 2015; Lovgreen 2017), as also business owner and municipal advisory council
representatives remark.
Eventually, as phrased in a meta-study of economic impacts of bike lanes by Quednau (2016), "[…] it
would be hard to make the case that bike lanes drastically increase profits for area businesses, but,
significantly, what the data does prove is that bike lanes do not have a negative impact on economic
viability for businesses. This is crucial because that’s one of the key arguments against them." Since
most concerns currently revolve around the impact on businesses, the existing broad evidence on
anticipated positive, or at least neutral, effects of protected bike lanes on adjacent businesses can be
a justification and driver for such projects.
4.1.2 Political and Legal
Transportation strategy
Respondents from the regional transportation authority and the municipal advisory council suggest
that another strong foundation for protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in Vancouver is
the existing transportation strategy, including the development of an Active Transportation Promotion
and Enabling Strategy (City of Vancouver 2015a, p. 3), and the formation of the Active Transportation
Policy Council. The Active Transportation Policy Council is one of the 23 advisory committees for the
City of Vancouver and was formed to advise "[…] on matters that encourage and enhance cycling as a
means of transportation, recreation and health" (City of Vancouver 2015a, p. 3). The strategy for the
City of Vancouver, Transportation 2040 (see City of Vancouver 2012a) sets a clear focus on sustainable
means of transport walking, cycling, and transit that is backed up by the Regional Growth Strategy
(Greater Vancouver Regional District Board July 2011, p. 7), and the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan
(City of Vancouver 2015b, pp. 5,21). In the plan, commercial high streets are identified as "critical gaps
in the network and connections to key destinations […]" that shall be prioritized within bicycle network
development, updates, and improvements (City of Vancouver 2012a, p. 27).
Protected bike lanes are planned as part of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan on Commercial
Drive (City of Vancouver 2016b, p. 138). A pedestrian intercept survey (see City of Vancouver 2016c)
has already been conducted in order to enable a comparison of the situation before and after an
implementation of bike lanes, says the municipal advisory council member. Thus, an overall, specific
in parts, strategic and operational base for protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City
of Vancouver is existent.
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 17
Existing demand
Building inclusive bike infrastructure on commercial high streets is not only a strategic means to
overcome urban challenges, but also a matter of responding to current demand, as a number of
interviewees from different groups state (I-BO; I-FC; I-RE; I-MA; I-TA). As mentioned earlier on,
intercept surveys determined that most people use transit or active transportation to get to
destinations on commercial high streets. Besides that, the most recent Vancouver Panel Survey found
that more than half of the city's residents would like to cycle more often (McElhanney Consulting
Services Ltd., Mustel Group 2018, p. 19). However, more than a third of all cyclists stated they do not
feel comfortable biking on the majority (75%) of the bicycle network (McElhanney Consulting Services
Ltd., Mustel Group 2018, p. 21; City of Vancouver 2017a, p. 1, 2018, p. 24; Engel 2018, p. 1). Despite
that, there is still "[…] a considerable number of people are willing to cycle with traffic on Commercial
Drive without protected cycling infrastructure indicates that there is latent demand potential" as Slow
Streets (2015) deduce from street observations and traffic counts in Vancouver. In addition to that,
initiatives like the Commercial Drive Proposal by Streets For Everyone (2017) demonstrate the public
demand for increased bike accessibility and safety of commercial high streets in Vancouver (Engel
2018, p. 3). Eventually, reacting upon existing demand enhances resource allocation to affect social
welfare and leads to the anticipation of a reasonably high acceptance and usage of the new transport
infrastructure. Cycling infrastructure investments in the past have been "[…] extremely effective […]"
in Vancouver (McHugh 2014, p. 103).
Public consent
There has been a general change of attitude towards an increase of public consent in terms of bicycle
infrastructure over the past years, note members from the business owners, advisory council, and
bicycle advocacy groups. As stated earlier in this chapter, the perception of bike lanes has evolved in
recent years, especially downtown. According to a representative of business owners, public consent
is improved if negative effects of implemented projects, that were anteriorly feared, do not eventuate.
The respondent further explains that people started to realize that creating separated bike lanes does
not necessarily come along with disadvantages for drivers. A lot of business owners support the idea
of protected bike lanes because they acknowledge that a number of their employees and customers
arrive by bike, or because they bike themselves (I-BA). According to McHugh (2014, p. 103), there are
broad "[…] positive sentiments towards cycling infrastructure in Vancouver" due to demonstrated
thorough planning practices and public engagement. Still, there is resistance left mostly from street-
level retailers (I-BO). However, the past expansion of the separated bicycle network in Vancouver is
helping future projects in terms of public consent.
4.1.3 Structural
Planning know-how
Protected bike lanes are a fairly new type of transport infrastructure that, to date, is tried and tested
to a lesser extent than more traditional types of infrastructure. Nevertheless, research on best
practices and the development of design guides have advanced largely in North America in recent
years. Meanwhile, planners in Vancouver can obtain knowledge from internationally adopted
guidelines like the Urban Bikeway Design Guide (NACTO 2012), national standards like the guidance
for Bicycle Integrated Design as part of the Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads
(Transportation Association of Canada 2017c), or municipal transportation design guidelines for All
Ages and Abilities Cycling Routes by the City of Vancouver (2017a). The safe and inclusive design of
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 18
protected bike lanes and intersections has also attracted significant attention of science in the past
years. Especially in Vancouver, numerous research activities are occupied with the topic - such as the
Cycling in Cities Research Program at UBC, the Cities, Health and Active Transportation Research Lab
(CHATR) at Simon Fraser University, research conducted or contracted by the City of Vancouver and
TransLink, and a cycling benchmarking project by Hub Cycling and TransLink, to name some of them.
In addition to that, a member of the business owner group notes that there is now a diversity of bike
lane typologies in downtown Vancouver that consolidates theoretical knowledge with practical
experiences. This serves as a good basis for future projects to create safe and functional bicycle
infrastructure.
Bicycle network
Despite its hills and frequent rain in the winter months, Vancouver is often described as a cyclable city
due to geographical attributes like its size and density that make for relatively short travel distances,
as well as its moderate climate - such as by a resident representative and some publications (TransLink
2011, p. 20; Hirschberger 2008, p. 42). Moreover, the bicycle network is somewhat expansive as a
result of the creation of a low-cost network along residential streets that was suggested in the 1999
Bicycle Plan (Pflaum 2011, pp. 2,4; Hirschberger 2008, p. 83; McHugh 2014, p. 42) along with Gregor
Robertson's legacy as Vancouver's mayor between 2008 and 2018 (Hirschberger 2008, p. 99;
Siemiatycki et al. 2014, p. 233; Proctor 2018; Gutman 2018). However, as identified in the
Transportation 2040 plan (City of Vancouver 2012a, p. 27) and also mentioned by cyclist and municipal
advisory council respondents, the Vancouver bicycle network still has critical gaps that keep many
potential cyclists from biking (McHugh 2014, pp. 41, 100; O'Melinn 2017). Commercial high streets are
amongst the major gaps identified by the City of Vancouver (2012a, p. 27), Hub Cycling's Priority Gap
Map that is part of their Ungap the Map project (Google Maps) and the Cycling Safety Study by the
City of Vancouver (2015a). Besides being critical gaps in the Vancouver bike network, commercial high
streets present multiple qualities that are desirable for high-quality bikeways: A regional
transportation authority member and Krahn (2015, p. 2) observe that commercial high streets are
amongst the city's most logical and direct routes with access to destinations. According to Sztabinski
(2009, p. 6), O'Melinn (2017), and TransLink (2011, p. 3), bike routes are most successful when they
are intuitive, direct, and convenient, follow logical paths and provide access to major destinations.
Often, the pavement quality and street lighting are also much more favourable for cycling on
commercial high streets than on residential bike streets. Moreover, the "[…] streetcar system, […]
helped shape both the gridded street layout and the network of arterial, commercial streets that made
the city suitable for the bikeway network, […]" (Hirschberger 2008, p. 100). Hence, relatively short
travel distances in the City of Vancouver and commercial high streets as identified network gaps as
well as obvious and direct connections with gentle slopes are ideal existing circumstances for an
expansion of the Vancouver bike network with protected bike lanes on commercial high streets.
End-of-trip facilities
Due to the high rates of bike theft, there is a broad agreement on the importance of end-of-trip
facilities for bicycle usage by interviewees from multiple stakeholder groups (I-BO; I-RE; I-TA; I-BA) and
publications (see TransLink 2011, pp. 24, 35; NYC DOT and Bennet Midland 2013, p. 8; Parkin et al.
2007, p. 96; Chen et al. 2017, p. 658; Siemiatycki et al. 2014, p. 225). In Vancouver, responsible entities
have acknowledged this and channel resources towards creating more appropriate bike facilities.
TransLink, for instance, is providing means to increase bicycle parkades based on existing demand.
Besides, they raise public awareness about those services that have seen an increased usage recently.
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 19
The City of Vancouver has started to realize the potential of end-of-trip facilities by installing more
parking facilities and public bike pumps, In addition, awareness for parking facilities is increased
through a bike rack design contest. Accordingly, the process of improving end-of-trip facilities in
Vancouver is already in progress.
Multimodality
There is just as much consensus between respondents from different groups (I-FC; I-RE; I-TA; I-BA)
about the importance of bike-transit integration. Transit and cycling create synergies by solving the
first-and-last-mile problem, improving travel times, and catering to people in further catchment areas.
The latter is important due to increasing commute and travel distances resulting from population
growth and rising property and rental prices in central locations. The effectivity of bike-transit
integration regarding the scaling and functioning of both modes is widely supported by existing
literature (see Bachand-Marleau et al. 2011, p. 116; TransLink 2011, pp. 29, 36; Siemiatycki et al. 2014,
p. 225=. Whether the current state of bike-transit integration in Vancouver is of sufficient scope and
quality is left open at this point. However, it can be noted that, by definition of Vijayakumar and Burda
(2015, p. 17), Vancouver has a 100% transit integration, measured as the percentage of rapid transit
stations that are within 400 m of the nearest bike lane. All major commercial high streets in the City of
Vancouver are part of the transit network, with some areas being larger transit hubs (I-RE). Areas
around Commercial-Broadway and Broadway-City Hall SkyTrain stations or the express 99 B-Line along
Broadway (see TransLink 2018) are a few examples. Beyond that, as mentioned before, the quantity
and quality of secure bike parking at transit stations is also being increased by TransLink. Having one
agency coordinate bike routes with public transport can be seen as an asset for bike-transit integration
(see Pucher and Buehler 2009, p. 89).
Road safety
The traffic infrastructure in Vancouver is lacking more safe options for people to walk and bike. High
collision rates appear on commercial high streets and intersections which was mentioned earlier on.
This was discovered in the Cycling Safety Study (City of Vancouver 2015a). However, a cultural strength
with regard to road safety in Vancouver is that there is a good common understanding of who the
vulnerable road users are, as a respondent from the transportation authority points out. According to
paragraph 179 of the Motor Vehicle Act (British Columbia 1996), car drivers are obliged to yield to
pedestrians at crosswalks. However, the interviewee has observed that cars are very careful around
cyclists and pedestrians even when there is no crosswalk or legal obligation for them to yield which
can cause inefficiencies of the traffic flow.
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 20
4.1.4 Summary of strengths
Table 3 provides an overview of the previously described project strengths for protected bike lanes on
commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver.
Table 3 - Strengths of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver
Economic
Economic vitality
Anticipated at least neutral, or positive, effects of protected bike lanes
on adjacent businesses confirmed by research as a justification for
projects
Political and Legal
Transportation strategy
Existing strategic and operational base for protected bike lanes on
commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver
Existing demand
Anticipated effectivity of bicycle infrastructure due to existing demand
and past experiences
Public consent
Already implemented bike lane projects in Vancouver benefit public
consent on future projects
Structural
Planning know-how
Good practical and theoretical knowledge base for creating safe and
functional bicycle infrastructure due to existing design guidelines and
local experiences
Bicycle network
High suitability of commercial high streets as bike routes to fill gaps in
the existing bike network
End-of-trip facilities
Acknowledgement of the importance of end-of-trip facilities and
translation into action in Vancouver
Multimodality
Commercial high street as transit hubs
Road safety
Good common understanding of who vulnerable road users are
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 21
4.2 Weaknesses
Just like strengths, project weaknesses are existing circumstances that impact projects for protected
bike lanes on commercial high streets. Obviously, unlike strengths, they complicate these projects
rather than supporting them. Additional efforts may be required to overcome the weaknesses.
4.2.1 Political and Legal
Transportation Strategy
Even though there is a transportation strategy present that includes investments in bicycle
infrastructure, interviewees from resident and bicycle advocacy groups mention deficiencies of the
strategy: Both emphasize the lack of push measures away from motorized traffic. Push-effects
discourage car usage by interventions like the elimination of fuel subsidies, charges for automobile
ownership and use, parking space restrictions, car limited zones or bans, or speed reductions. They are
recommended to be used in combination with pull measures (see PUSH&PULL 2017, p. 25) that
emerge from the provision of appealing alternatives, such as improving the accessibility of transit
services and cycling (Breithaupt, p. 17; United Nations 2011, p. 10). The latter are incorporated into
the Vancouver transportation strategy. The bicycle advocacy member illustrates that there is lots of
space in the dense downtown core that is dedicated to cheap street parking which still makes the car
a desirable mode of transport.
Existing demand
The existing demand for more accessible cycling infrastructure in Vancouver was depicted earlier. The
cycling community shapes and drives investments in new cycling infrastructure in Vancouver by making
this demand visible. Demographics of the cycling community in Vancouver to date (see Engel 2018,
p. 14) are, however, not necessarily representative of all potential cyclists that shall be addressed with
the new infrastructure. A respondent from the regional transportation authority indicates that
municipalities and advocacy groups usually end up supporting a certain type of infrastructure that
perhaps encourages only certain types of cyclists such as fast and confident riders. Hoffman expresses
similar concerns (2016, p. 20) and adds that "[t]here are specific issues that impact people of colour,
the working class, and the poor who are largely overlooked by well-intentioned bicycle advocates"
(2016, pp. 2425). Hence, the currently expressed demand for cycling infrastructure in Vancouver may
not represent actual needs for cycling infrastructure completely.
Public consent
Respondents from business owners and resident groups agree on the statement that attaining total
public consent on urban infrastructure investments seems very unlikely. The resident sees the sharp
divide between people being pro and against bike lanes as one of the reasons while adding that
upsetting motorists seems inevitable. Hoffman (2016, p. 9) also notes that "[…] the bicycle as a
technology has always politicized mobility." This means that irrespective of the nature of street
changes and strategies applied, there will likely always be resistance left.
By-laws and policies
Most of the by-laws that concern cycling in Vancouver were introduced under the Motor Vehicle Act
two or three decades ago (see British Columbia 1996), as transit authority and bicycle advocacy
members remark. Hence, some cycling by-laws are considered outdated. Examples named are the
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 22
obligation to wear a helmet, set in section 184 of the Motor Vehicle Act, or the prohibition to ride side
by side that is specified in section 183(2f). Being able to ride next to children is important when cycling
with them, says the bicycle advocate. Even though these by-laws are rarely enforced by the police,
they keep some people from cycling (I-TA). The helmet law, for instance, creates the perception that
cycling is dangerous and, besides, makes cycling less convenient, comfortable, and fashionable for
potential cyclists. This has been discussed in several publications (Sieg 2014, pp. 1213; Pucher and
Buehler 2008, pp. 3,15; Ranson 2018, pp. 32,47,70; Randelhoff 2017). Sieg (2014, pp. 1213) and
Randelhoff (2017) have conducted cost-benefit analyses of helmet laws in Germany and Canada. Both
conclude that wearing a helmet "[…] does indeed reduce the negative consequences of accidents"
(Sieg 2014, pp. 12, 13), but that the negative effects of a reduction of cycling due to helmet laws are
much worse "[f]rom an aggregated welfare point of view […]" (Sieg 2014, pp. 12, 13). In addition,
another survey respondent from the regional transportation authority comments that wearing a
helmet is associated with a certain type of cycling that can be deterrent to potential cyclists. The
opportunities and threats that come along with a certain image of cycling will be described later on in
this paper. Besides connotations of cycling and its safety, there are a number of people in Vancouver
that dislike wearing a helmet or do not regard them as necessary (Zanotto 2014, p. 14).
In addition, a transportation authority respondent also points out that there is a difference between
the Netherlands as a country with a strong cycling culture and Canada in terms of the level of regional
integration of transportation processes and policies. According to the interviewee, policies and
guidelines are quite fragmented in Metro Vancouver. This can cause challenges within planning
procedures and further for the integrity of the regional transit and cycling networks that can otherwise
have high synergies as described earlier.
Representation
Members from five different stakeholder groups (I-BO; I-RE; I-MA; I-TA; I-BA) stated concerns about
misrepresentation in terms of various aspects. All of them share the opinion that some BIAs do not
represent their members accurately. It must be noted that most respondents were referring to the
same commercial high street in this study. Since "[…] BIAs are highly individualized in their structures
as to fit local condition and needs" (Isakov 2009, p. 60), the results may not be generalizable to all BIAs
in Vancouver.
There are multiple reasons why business misrepresentation is a problematic issue: Business owners
are frustrated that the public perception of businesses is shaped by BIAs while most businesses
disagree with their public statements, say some business owners and bicycle advocates. Business
owner respondents state that their boards are made up of individuals that strongly disapprove of bike
lanes
6
, are known to be car-activists, and have a conservative and short-sighted way of thinking. This
is even though a lot of businesses support the idea of bike lanes (I-BO; I-BA; see list of supporting
businesses in Streets For Everyone 2019, pp. 45). Members from four different groups (I-BO; I-RE; I-
MA; I-TA) mention a lack of objectivity in their decision-making and surveys conducted, as well as the
ignorance of existing studies, data and member's opinions that were brought up to them. Furthermore,
businesses on Commercial Drive disclosed democratic deficiencies regarding the organizational
structure: An intransparent system of board elections, a lack of information for members on their
6
The Commercial Drive Business Society states that they generally support cycling infrastructure in Vancouver,
but fear a negative impact of protected bike lanes on Commercial Drive itself (Commercial Drive Business Society
2016, p. 2)
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 23
status within the BIA, and a non-welcoming community were addressed during the interviews by
business owners and BIA members.
While these testimonies reflect subjective perceptions and experiences of individuals, their position is
objectified to some extent by the number of stakeholder groups agreeing on the matter. Besides, there
are several public statements that comply with this opinion. A Public Intercept Survey conducted by
the Commercial Drive Business Society (2016) for instance was deemed to be biased by some
respondents from the municipal advisory council and cycling advocacies, but also by publicized reports
(VPSN Blog 2017). The assertions are reasoned with reference to a skewed selection of participants
and the posing of suggestive questions. Additionally, the survey was publicly criticized for a low
response rate of only 164 out of 750 businesses (VPSN Blog 2017; Crawford 2016). The Vancouver
Public Space Network adds that the questionnaire presented "[…] unsubstantiated negative impacts
(e.g., “local job loss,” “decreased customer traffic,” “unsafe pedestrian experience”) as de facto
outcomes of this process" (VPSN Blog 2017). Hub Cycling (2016) expressed similar concerns.
At this point, no empirically supported statement can be made about the degree to which BIAs
represent their members adequately or the substance of their attitude. Nevertheless, there are
indications of existing disparities in this context. This is an issue because business advocacies have a
relatively high influence regarding planning processes that involve commercial high streets, says a
regional transportation authority member and research on BIAs in B.C. (Isakov 2009, p. 58). Their
stated needs have played a vital role during the process of "[…] consultation with businesses and
residents on Commercial Drive [that] has been ongoing for a number of years, […]" (VPSN Blog 2017;
also see McArthur 2016). Since 2015, businesses have been involved in planning through the
Grandview-Woodland Citizen's Assembly process (see Citizens’ Assembly on the Grandview-Woodland
Community 2015), a Business Goods and Movement Survey (see City of Vancouver 2016a), open
houses, "[…] including business-specific outreach initiatives" (VPSN Blog 2017), drop-in events, door-
to-door outreach to businesses to find out more about individual needs for parking and loading, and
meetings with the Commercial Drive Business Society (Sadhu 12/10/2017; City of Vancouver 2019,
2016c). Considering the influence of BIAs and the funding they receive from the City (I-BA), the
importance of their proper and representative conduct should be pointed out. With regard to
protected bike lanes on commercial high streets, this shall currently be regarded as a weakness due to
existing indications of misrepresentation with public representation.
Next to business advocacies, an accurate representation of cyclists and the broad public is equally
important in terms of decision-making processes of municipalities and planning agencies. As described
earlier (4.2.1), issues arise for instance through a potentially skewed representation of cyclists through
municipalities and advocacies that is based on current demand. Another problem elucidated by a
bicycle advocacy member is the inaccurate representation of demographics within decision-making
entities. These are usually made up of white and wealthy people that only have certain types of people
and cycling barriers in mind, as the interviewee states. In the same context, a municipal advisory
council member mentions that research showed that the more money people have, the less
empathetic they are towards other people. Rajé (2018, p. 7) points out that "Urban transport
interventions are overwhelmingly designed to address the problems of urban congestion and the rapid
increase in urban car populations. In this case, the main beneficiaries are not the urban poor but are
much more likely to be the rich and middle-income sections of the population." According to Hoffman
(2016, p. 14), these political power disparities eventually have an impact on the quality of our bicycle
infrastructure and the people using them. This means that implementing bicycle infrastructure does
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 24
not automatically create a diverse cycling community if demographics are being ignored in the
planning and decision-making process.
4.2.2 Socio-cultural
Change perception
A respondent from the business owner group highlights the positive change of attitude that occurred
in the downtown area after protected bike lanes had been installed on Hornby and Dunsmuir Streets.
This means that the attitude towards the installation of bike lanes downtown differs from the
Commercial Drive context. As potential reasons, the interviewee mentions a lower population density
and customer base on Commercial Drive that could mean a higher reliance of those businesses on
people coming from abroad using their cars. A comparison of the results of the intercept survey on
Commercial Drive (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 12) and a customer exit survey on Dunsmuir and Hornby
Streets (Stantec 2011, p. 25), however, shows that this is not necessarily the case (Figure 6).
Nevertheless, it confirms the respondent's assertion that retailers have been accustomed to the
assumption that people shop using their car, even more so in suburban markets than in dense urban
markets.
Figure 6 Mode share comparison Commercial Drive and downtown (City of Vancouver 2016c, p. 12; Stantec 2011, p. 25)
This skewed perception of street usage and mode choice of customers was highlighted as a cause for
change aversion in terms of street design by respondents from business owners, municipal advisory
council, and advocacy groups, as well as by literature (Stantec 2011, p. 25; TransLink 2011, p. 2). With
most of the bike infrastructure being located on side streets instead of streets with a high level of
traffic, bicycles are rarely seen by the majority of road users. The resulting invisibility of biking adds to
the underestimation of the share and importance of cycling, says the council member. Besides that, a
lack of understanding the change motives, trust towards planners and engineers, project benefits and
opportunities were mentioned as additional reasons for change reluctance (I-MA; I-BA). Eventually,
the fear of change is a widely known phenomenon seen as another, comprehensive and legitimate
11,0%
45,0%
27,0%
17,0%
8,0%
31,0%
41,0%
20,0%
Bike Walk Transit Car
Mode share comparison Commercial Drive and downtown (Hornby/
Dunsmuir Street)
Commercial Drive
Hornby/ Dunsmuir Street
Findings Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of protected bike lanes on commercial high streets in the City of Vancouver 25
factor in this matter by a number of respondents from various stakeholder groups (I-BO; I-MA; I-BA).
Thus, the perception of change coming along with projects for protected bike lanes on commercial
high streets is negatively affected by these elements.
Image of cycling
As for the previous points, interviewees from different stakeholder groups (I-BO; I-MA; I-TA; I-BA)
agree on the problematic nature of the current cycling image in Vancouver. Many people especially
families and seniors (I-BA) - cannot identify with the persisting image of cycling. It is mostly seen as an
activity carried out by only physically fit people in Vancouver, as respondents from business owners,
transit authority, and advocacy groups observe. This is attributed to a variety of reasons: First, cyclists
in Vancouver often wear special clothing which promotes the idea that expensive equipment is
required in order to ride a bicycle (I-TA; I-BA). As explicated previously (4.2.1), the existing helmet law
in Vancouver creates an image of cycling as a dangerous activity, which prevents several people from
biking. Beyond that, the existing infrastructure in terms of the bicycle network and the offer of bicycle
types being sold locally are predominantly oriented towards commuters and athletic cyclists (Bruntlett
and Bruntlett 2018, pp. 3640). All this adds to the circumstance that cycling in Vancouver is currently
seen as a recreational activity or means to commute, rather than an everyday mode of transport (I-
BA). This is further reinforced through media representation (I-TA). Adding to the lack of identification,
people often see cyclists as activists which might be well-founded in the political bicycle activism that
notoriously happened throughout past decades in Vancouver. Beyond the aspects of fitness, style and
safety, several studies have shown that cultural barriers to cycling are persistent: Bratman and Jadhav's
research (2014) shows that "[…] in some places, the people who ride are mostly wealthy and white.
[…] African Americans were statistically […] less likely to include biking in their ideal mode of transit."
Beyond ethnic backgrounds, Jaffe states that "[t]here's strong evidence that poor people don't view
cycling as favourable (2014). This may be due to the circumstance that "[p]oor and working-class
riders utilize the bicycle with a different meaning than does the media darling bicycle commuter", as
Hoffman says (2016, p. 22). She explains that the bike as "[…] a choice and a marker of pride […]" is
only a common perception in some cultural and socio-economic circles. Others understand it as a
demonstrati