British Columbia

How to navigate Vancouver's bike lanes

As part of Bike to Work Week, a refresher on how to navigate Vancouver's bike lanes properly.

According to the city, 7% of Vancouverites cycle daily, up to 10% during Bike to Work Week

Growing infrastructure can be unfamiliar and confusing for drivers and cyclists, especially at intersections. (Christer Waara/CBC)

With more cyclists hitting the streets for Bike to Work Week, and more cycling infrastructure in Vancouver than ever before, it's a good time to refresh your bike lane knowledge.

The City of Vancouver's Manager of Transportation Planning Dale Bracewell said cycling has been the fastest growing mode of transportation in each of the last three years. He estimates seven per cent of the city cycles daily, and that number jumps to 10 per cent during Bike to Work Week.

This rise has coincided with building more — sometimes controversial — bike lanes.

Bracewell said while the city may have tried different kinds of designs, it's now focused on creating separated bike lanes for cyclists.

"What we've learned as a best practice and what other cities are validating as well is ... to create the place that's really clear for the person walking, clear for the person cycling and where people are driving," he said.

Scout Gray, the education coordinator for HUB Cycling, said bike lanes have helped promote safety and increase confidence especially for new riders.

"There's been a lot of progression over the years. There are some things the city did five years ago that they have now decided isn't the best practice and they're changing it up," she said.

A few tips for navigating bike lanes

  • Green-painted pavement identifies an area where bikes cross and share the road. Green-painted bike "boxes" are a safety area adjacent to a bike lane, which allows people a safe refuge place as they wait to turn, etc.
The City of Vancouver's Dale Bracewell demonstrates how a green-painted bike box works at the Beatty and Dunsmuir intersection. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)
  • The diamond and bicycle sign indicates a dedicated bike lane.
  • A shared bike lane (indicated by a large arrow and bicycle on the pavement) means you share the lane with other vehicles. Keep to the right, approximately one metre away from the curb to avoid debris, and better place yourself in motorists' vision.
  • You're in a bike lane, not a bike highway. Keep to the right, watch for other slower cyclists, and be aware.
  • Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other motor vehicles. The same rules regarding right-of-way, traffic signs and signals apply to cyclists as they apply to motorists.
  • Always yield for pedestrians.

For more information, consult the City of Vancouver's bike safety page, or download the British Columbia Bicycle Operators Manual.

With files from The Early Edition and Margaret Gallagher

To hear the segment, click on the link labelled How to navigate Vancouver's bike lanes


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