Frequently Asked Questions

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Below are some of the questions we often encounter when talking about cycling on the North Shore. If you have a question that is not answered here or have a suggestion for improving the answers here please send email to nsvacc-info@cheakamus.com.

Contents

Bridge Etiquette: Lions Gate Bridge and approaches

Riding over the Lions Gate Bridge is a spectacular and fulfilling experience. All riders are expected to ride on the sidewalk and to obey the "one-way rule" following the direction of traffic. Southbound (i.e. Vancouver bound) riders should be on the west side of the bridge and causeway while northbound riders should be on the east side of the bridge.

There is enough room on the sidewalks to pass other bicycles and pedestrians. As common courtesy you should announce your intension to pass with a bell or calling "On your left" before passing. When pedestrians are on the pathway slow down to about a jogging speed and also announce your presence with a bell or a call if the pedestrian is walking in the same direction.

Bridge Etiquette: Iron Workers Memorial Bridge and approaches

Riding over the IWMB or Second Narrows bridge is also a spectacular and fulfilling experience. All riders are expected to ride on the sidewalk and to observe the "two-way rule" ideally following the direction of traffic but it is OK to ride in either direction on both sides.

There is minimal room on the sidewalks to pass other bicycles and pedestrians. When pedestrians are on the pathway, slow down and be prepared to stop to let the pedestrian by. Announce your presence with a bell or a call if the pedestrian is walking in the same direction and is not aware of you. When cyclists are on the pathway, the cyclist traveling in the direction of traffic has right-of-way. Slow down and ensure the counter-flow cyclist observes the rule by stopping and making room for you. Please be courteous and thank others.

There is a larger discussion about the IWMB here.

Is there any official plan for improving cycling on the North Shore?

Yes, in fact there is. The North Vancouver Bicycle Master Plan outlines plans for improving cycling in the City and District of North Vancouver. It was revised in 2011 and adopted by both councils in 2012. West Vancouver adopted a Cycling Network and Greenway Plan in 2007 and the Cycling Implementation Plan Report in 2012.

What are the bicycle helmet laws on the North Shore?

The same as everywhere else in British Columbia: you are supposed to wear one. For more information on BC cycling helmet laws refer to section 184 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act

Where can I learn more about the laws regarding cycling

The "Rights and duties of operator of cycle" are described in Section 183 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act (note: in the MVA the term "highway" means any road). Municipal bylaws may append additional laws to the MVA. See your municipality's web page for details.

Is it OK to ride against traffic?

No. According to http://bicyclesafe.com/:

Riding against traffic may seem like a good idea because you can see the cars that are passing you, but it's not. Here's why:

  1. Cars which pull out of driveways, parking lots, and cross streets (ahead of you and to the left), which are making a right onto your street, aren't expecting traffic to be coming at them from the wrong way. They won't see you, and they'll plow right into you.
  2. How the heck are you going to make a right turn?
  3. Cars will approach you at a much higher relative speed. If you're going 15mph, then a car passing you from behind doing 35 approaches you at a speed of only 20 (35-15). But if you're on the wrong side of the road, then the car approaches you at 50 (35+15), which is more than twice as fast! Since they're approaching you faster, both you and the driver have lots less time to react. And if a collision does occur, it's going to be ten times worse.
  4. Riding the wrong way is illegal and you can get ticketed for it.

One study showed that riding the wrong way was three times as dangerous as riding the right way, and for kids, the risk is seven times greater.

Nearly one-fourth of crashes involve cyclists riding the wrong way. Some readers have challenged this, saying if 25% of crashes are from going the wrong way, then riding the right way is more dangerous because it accounts for 75% of crashes. That thinking is wrong. First off, only 8% of cyclists ride the wrong way, yet nearly 25% of them get hit -- meaning wrong-way cyclists really are three times more likely to get hit than those who ride the proper way. Second, the problem with wrong-way biking is that it promotes crashes, while right-way biking does not. For example, cyclists running stop signs or red lights is 17% of their crashes. But do we therefore conclude that not running signals causes 83% of crashes?! (Hint: No.)

Is it OK to ride on the sidewalk?

No. It is illegal to ride a bicycle on any sidewalk unless directed by a sign (Province of British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act- Section 183)

Common exemptions to this on the North Shore include:

  • Lions Gate Bridge (and the Stanley Park Causeway)
  • Iron Workers Memorial Bridge

Is it OK to ride on the Upper Levels Highway (Hwy 1)?

Yes and no. Riding on the Upper Levels is permitted on the West Vancouver portion of the highway Between Horsehoe Bay and Capilano Road. Riding on the Upper Levels is not permitted east of Capilano road. For more information please refer to the Cycling Restrictions page at BikeBC.

Who is responsible for keeping the Upper Levels Highway bike lanes clean?

  • Mainroad Contracting (Howe Sound) handles most of the Upper Levels Highway and are quite responsive:
Howe Sound
phone: 604-433-3002
e-mail: howesound@mainroad.ca
24 hour: 1-866-904-0209

Who is responsible for keeping the City & District of North Vancouver bike routes clean and clear?

Download this handy pdf file to use as a reference in dealing with specific cycling issues you may face while riding on the North Shore

Media:NS VACC FAQ cyclists resource page.pdf

What do you mean by City Biking?

City biking is a term to define bicycling in a city environment for purposeful trips, such as commuting to work, going shopping, visiting the doctor/dentist/hair dresser, etc. Most city biking is done with the object of efficiency as opposed to enjoyment (although enjoyment does play a big part in why we do it!).

Where can I take a course to hone my riding skills?

The VACC web site has a page dedicated to bicycle education courses, including information about the highly recommended Streetwise Program.

I wanna jump stumps, Dude!

Right on! The North Shore provides some of the best mountain bike terrain in the world. For more information we suggest you check out the North Shore Mountain Bike Association web site.

Do you just hate cars or something?

Not at all! Most of us own cars and use them ourselves. The objective of the NS-VACC is not to take away vehicle capacity if possible, but rather to increase the safety and feasibility of using bicycles as an alternative to the car. In the process of doing so some automobile capacity may be impacted, but in our view this is a necessary step for increasing overall bicycle usage resulting in higher transportation capacity, a healthier environment and a fitter, happier and healthier population.

How can I learn more about increasing bicycle use (planning theory i.e. fancy words and proper terms)?

There's lots on the WWW. Search for Implementing Bicycle Improvements at the Local Level,for starter good read.

How can I learn more about riding properly and legally on BC roads?

Download the British Columbia Bicycle Operators Manual at http://www.bikesense.bc.ca

How does one avoid paying the bike surcharge on the BC ferries?

Buy a BCFerries Experience Card and they will deduct the $2 surcharge for your bike when you travel on their major routes even though the intent of the card is to save money when you travel without your car on their participating routes, eg. Gulf Islands: http://www.bcferries.com/experience_card/detail.html

You have to load a minimum of $45 on the card and the amount is protected if you lose your card providing you register it.

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