Lament for Ontario

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Wait. A couple of them just went past. But there’s more appearing up ahead. Try that again: One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten! And that’s just the ones coming towards me. “What am I doing,” you ask? I’m counting cars. Actually, I’m just counting their headlights. I’m riding along Ontario St. at 29th Ave. in Vancouver at 5:30 on a rainy Tuesday night. And I’m counting the unbelievable number so SOV commuters I can see between here and 38th avenue where the road goes over a hill. Pretty severe for a side-street, you have to admit. But wait, it gets worse. This isn’t an ordinary sidestreet. This is a “Bikeway”. This is one of only about two dozen designated bike routes in Vancouver. What’s worse than that? Ontario is one of only a few that run right across the city and into downtown. Remember, we have well over 200 streets in Vancouver. So, when I have to navigate among dozens of cars on a bikeway each trip home from work, there’s something wrong with this.

If I was a motorist  driving on Ontario bikeway, I could legally drive from King Edward Ave. (25th) to 41st Ave. and have the benefit of crossing lights to help me cross 33rd. In fact, if I didn’t care about the law, I could drive from 11th Ave. to 53rd Ave. with only having to drive around (not *over*) a flimsy right-turn-only curb at two points in the trip. And, believe me, motorists do this all the time. And I’ve never seen any of them stopped by the police and ticketed.

This is the problem of good intentions that aren’t completely carried out. Bikeways in Vancouver usually consist of signs on poles, paint on the road, a few ineffective right-turn-only curbs for motorists, and roundabouts. Once in a while there are speed-bumps but those are usually associated with schools or parks and aren’t there for the sake of the bike riders. Essentially our bikeways are half-finished. Almost none of them are built to be actually bikes-and-not-cars roads. On very few of the routes that actually go through the city can a rider expect to ride without contending with cars on their roadway. And let’s face it, if there are cars on the road, I have to ride on high-alert and I can’t relax and enjoy the trip through my city’s neighbourhoods on the way to where-ever I’m going.

This is the Lament for Ontario (bikeway, that is).


  1. Phill, it may be a drag driving with the cars but do not you think that people in cars have to be somewhere? that they do not have to (or want to) drive to their house? I am not in Vancouver but I assume that the bikeways are roads with houses along them. Will only people who do not drive be able to live there?


    Lars | December 14, 2008 # 12:36 am
  2. […] areas of the city, are highly problematic because of short-cut SOV traffic. I complained about this before. Now something’s going to be done to fix Ontario St. Maybe I can start riding it again […]

    The Digital Cobbler » Blog Archive » Finally, we’re making progress in this town. | May 1, 2010 # 11:32 am
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