The City of Edmonton recently approved bike lanes in the downtown, quickly following the lead set by the City of Calgary. My images from a walk around Calgary's downtown and recently implemented bike lane network can be found in my previous blog post here. Both cities should be congratulated on their progressive and rapid implementation of bike facilities that can provide a more sustainable option for travel in their downtown's. Reading the comments sections on some of the news articles for the Edmonton decision is hilarious and frustrating in equal measure. Here are a few quick thoughts on some of the comments...
"We need a better means to get vehicles moving in rush hour, not taking away lanes for the self-entitled."
  • Firstly the self-entitled statement is ridiculously ironic, this guy wanting to keep all the space for cars sounds a little self-entitled to me.
  • You can only widen roads so far, particularly in an established downtown, because of things like buildings that tend to get in the way!
  • If you can widen the road, what happens once you widen and a few days/weeks/months/years later the roads are congested again? We can't keep widening indefinitely, we'd soon get to the point where there is no downtown, just roads crisscrossing each other for no purpose.
  • Our downtown's should be great places to be, with places to walk, eat, socialize, and linger, places for people, not just for cars to facilitate those who choose to live in the suburbs and work in the downtown. Wide roads are not great places to be, they detract from a city in many ways, noise, emissions, reduce mobility (even for cars).
  • The car has become a victim of its own success. The only sustainable way to reduce delays for vehicles now is to control the use of them through cost in one way or another. In many urban environments, people are choosing other ways as the time cost is prohibitive, it's a natural outcome of increasing population and car dependent development. 
  • Increasing the monetary cost is another way. The best way to get vehicles moving better is to make it more expensive. For example, by introducing road pricing to control the demand for what is a limited utility.
  • Another way of doing this, and perhaps easier to implement, is via higher parking charges in the downtown. This can have a somewhat negative effect because driving can become an option only for those wealthy enough to afford it.
  • Of course, on the flip side, alternative ways to travel is also key to getting drivers to give up their cars, better transit is one way to do that, safe cycling facilities is another.
  • Getting more people on bikes also means fewer people in cars, therefore fewer cars to get in the way of the self-entitled driver above.
  • And don't forget, you're not stuck in traffic! you are traffic!
"Cyclists should be required to buy a licence for the bike, after all, they should help pay some of the costs for what they are demanding."
  • While not all cyclists own cars, many do. They just choose to cycle, because it's more efficient, it's healthier, and it saves them money on gas. Money saved on gas leaves more disposable income to spend locally rather than fund the profits of foreign oil companies.
  • Those cyclist who do not own a car, are actually paying for roads they don't use via other taxes that contribute towards transportation infrastructure. Drivers should be thanking them every time they drive by.
  • As a person who cycles and owns and drives a car, I pay my annual license fee, I pay gas taxes, I pay insurance which in BC at least fund road improvements, I paid tax on the purchase of my car. I have no problem with it being used for both car and bicycle orientated improvements.
  • As a person who cycles and owns and drives a car, when I do cycle, I am taking up less space and doing less damage to the road I'm cycling on, self-entitled car drivers should again, be thanking every cyclist as they pass them.
  • As a property owner, I pay my property taxes, which provides a significant part of the funding for new municipal road infrastructure. As a cyclist I want some of this money to go towards cycling projects, its only fair.
  • As an employed person, I pay income taxes on my salary that contribute to provincial and federal funds. Should we all walk around with our tax return on display so that we can compare contributions to society? Again, as a cyclist I want some of this money to go towards cycling projects.
  • As an employed person with disposable income to spend on things that incur sales taxes I further contribute money to the government to spend on all sorts of things including infrastructure. And again, I want some of this money to go towards cycling projects. We've spent enough on infrastructure for the car over the last 100 years, time to spread it out a little.
  • The health benefits of encouraging active travel have been well reported, thus the more people cycling, the lower our health care costs are, again, those people cycling are likely costing the health service less in the long run.
"Whatever it takes, just get the d@m things off the roads!"
  • That's a good point if drivers don't like d@m cyclists, providing separated space means they have to interact less with cyclists, surely a good thing!
  • Regarding "the d@m things!", "car drivers" seem to regard "cyclists" as some sort of alien race, and object, a thing of little importance. "Cyclists" are "people" too, they could your neighbor, your colleague, even members of your own family! Don't treat them like some object whose safety isn't important!
  • When as a driver, you do have to pass those "people" on bikes who, don't forget, have families and friends who care about them, give them the same respect and importantly space you would give your own family! Don't squeeze by them to save yourself 5 seconds on your commute!
"Infrastructure is crumbling and the mayor has this as a priority. Give your head a shake buddy!" 
  • Car use has got to the state where we can't afford to maintain the infrastructure built for it. Building more roads encourages car use and requires more funds to maintain the larger area, that means we must pay higher and higher taxes to continue to maintain it. Reallocating space to cycling will actually reduce the wear on that section of roadway, thus reducing the need for maintenance, and lower maintenance costs. 
  • The need to build such high capacity roadways has resulted in the creation of huge structures to grade-separate different directions of traffic. The crumbling infrastructure is simply the victim of its own success. The continuation of such a model is not sustainable.
  • In many places, our infrastructure is crumbling because of climate change related events and fossil fuel based transportation has played a significant role in our rapidly changing climate. While the bike alone may not solve this problem, every person that chooses not to drive is reducing our human impact on climate change in a small way.
Anybody have any other good arguments? Leave them in the comments...