LETTER: Latest cyclist fatality highlights need for safer bike routes

Dear Editor:

I cycle to work in North Vancouver. My bike ride is less than six kilometres long, but I pass the sites of three cyclist-motorist fatalities that have occurred in the last year and a half. The first was in June 2017 at Keith Road and Shavington Street. The second was at St. Andrews Avenue and Second Street last June. The last fatality occurred on Sunday, Jan. 27 on West Esplanade Avenue. A witness said a door of a parked car was swung open, forcing the cyclist to veer into traffic, where he was hit by a passing dump truck. I biked by the site today, and thought about that cyclist and what his family and friends must be going through now.

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If the cyclist had not been hit, he would have reached a portion of Esplanade where the bike path is safely separated from traffic. That section is perhaps 150 metres long, and was recently installed when large-scale development occurred. The rest of Esplanade on both sides has a bike lane, but it is not safe for cyclists. On the majority of West Esplanade, motorists have to cross the bike lane to park. It’s a regular occurrence for motorists to not see me as they enter and leave parking spots. It’s a regular occurrence for cars to idle in the bike lane, waiting to pick up and drop off passengers or wait for a car to leave a parking spot. It’s a regular occurrence for car doors to be swung open into the bike lane. That practice forces me to hug the outer edge of the bike lane, as far away as possible from the arc of doors, but dangerously close to traffic.

Cpl. Richard de Jong of the RCMP mentions that a car door must not be opened until it is safe to do so. In two years of cycling in the city and district, I’ve never seen this being enforced. I’ve never seen cars idling in bike lanes being ticketed.

As Sunday’s accident has shown, improvements are needed on both sides of West Esplanade. As other recent injuries and fatalities have shown, improvements are needed throughout the city and district, and cannot wait for development to occur and developers to chip in. The lack of safe cycling infrastructure, and the lack of enforcement, means that although Sunday’s accident is sad, it is not surprising, and is part of a disturbing trend.

Ted Lewis
North Vancouver

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