British Columbia

South Delta bike lane advocates aim to steer clear of driver hate

Long-time cyclist Carol Vignale says bike lanes should be more than just a dream for suburban residents on the south side of the Massey Tunnel

New South Delta group gains momentum, but wants to avoid "cyclists versus non-cyclist" tension

Carol Vignale and Patrick Thompson hope new development in Delta will spur interest in cycling infrastructure. (Michelle Eliot )

Long-time cyclist Carol Vignale says bike lanes should be more than just a dream for suburban residents on the south side of the Massey Tunnel.

While there has been the addition of some commuter bike routes in Delta, including three kilometres of marked lanes completed in 2014, Vignale says connections are sorely lacking in the town she dubs "super-suburbia".

There are still few commuter cyclists in Delta, but advocates say if you build better bike lanes, they will come. (Michelle Eliot, CBC )

"We need to have an infrastructure in place" says Vignale,  speaking outside a coffee shop on 12th Avenue, while the sound of trucks rumbling by drowns out her voice every few minutes.

Meanwhile, others in the cafe hints at growing interest in cycling. Bike riders, clad in their bright colourful gear, roll up to the bike racks and immediately strike up conversation with Vignale.

The chatter is all about how to gain momentum for cycling advocacy in sleepy South Delta.

Time is right

Delta is ripe for a new era in bike infrastructure, according to Patrick Thompson, the organizer of the newly-formed South Delta Hub Committee.

He points to intensifying development including the approval of the Southlands residential project, the construction of a 1.2 million-square-foot mall, and plans for a replacement for the Massey Tunnel.

He'd like cycling to piggy-back on those changes now, rather than retrofit everything years after they're built.

Delta Bike lane advocate Carol Vignale hopes to learn from Surrey's Bob Campbell (Michelle Eliot, CBC )

But even as candidates vie for votes in the upcoming municipal election, Thompson isn't ready to drive the campaign for bike lanes into high gear.

He may envy Vancouver's current bike network, but he doesn't envy the hostility between drivers and cyclists, fuelled in part by the insertion of bike lanes into existing roads.

"Living out where we do, cars are a really critical part of our infrastructure. Whatever antagonism we have in our suburban environment, it's certainly going to be more magnified than in a city like Vancouver."

"It's not about that" says Thompson. "It's about creating options."

Catch Michelle Eliot with On the Move, a segment on commuter issues, Tuesdays at 6:50 on The Early Edition, CBC Radio 1, 88.1 FM / 690 AM in Vancouver

About the Author

Michelle Eliot is a journalist with CBC Radio in Vancouver. She is the studio director of The Early Edition, and can be heard as a guest host on CBC's On the Coast, BC Almanac, and The Story from Here.