For a city of nearly 180,000, Kelowna, Canada boasts one of the most extensive bike networks in the country. Spread across the city are over 300 kilometres of bike lanes, multi-use paths, and greenways. Infrastructure projects such as the Mission Creek Greenway and Rails with Trails corridor show Kelowna’s dedication to encouraging cycling as a viable transportation method.
But why pour money into cycling infrastructure when you can just paint some sharrows on the road?
A 2012 study out of Vancouver and Toronto found a correlation between the safety of a cycling route and the preferences of cyclists. Urban planners and developers take note: the researchers concluded that, “the lower risks on quiet streets and with bike-specific infrastructure along busy streets support the route-design approach used in many northern European countries.” The most preferred forms of infrastructure are separated bike paths, multi-use pathways, and quiet or calmed streets with dedicated bike lanes.
Kelowna, then, can justify the creation of greenways and multi-use paths in the name of encouraging cycling and making the activity safer. That said, the city’s transportation department has still made good use of paint in making busy streets safer. In 2010, many bike lanes in Kelowna received a fresh coat of green paint, marking the areas where traffic lanes cross into the designated bike lanes. These stripes of green can be seen at some of the busier intersections, reminding drivers to check their blind spots before making a turn.
Coloured bike lanes have only recently been adopted by North American cities. Used for many years in Europe, coloured bike lanes are a proven way to decrease collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles. A feeling of safety is also instrumental in encouraging people to cycle. If these successes are seen in Kelowna, more intersections could see a splash of green paint.
Do you feel safe cycling in your city? What does your city do, or what could it do, to make cycling more appealing?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.