Question 2: What are some of the challenges in your every day life that prevent you from moving towards using active transportation modes? What are some of your concerns about active transportation?



Building on defining what active transportation means to British Columbians, it’s important to understand the barriers that prevent people from shifting to an active mode.

There are many direct benefits to individuals that choose active transportation, including improved physical and mental health and significant cost savings compared to operating a motor vehicle. More and more people are choosing active transportation for these and many other reasons. Even so, the predominant mode of transportation in B.C. remains driving. Understanding whether this is a result of circumstance, lack of information of available options or simple preference will help guide the focus of the CleanBC active transportation strategy.

B.C. is geographically large, and that means diverse communities with differing needs. The experience of someone living in Vancouver is different than the experience of someone living in Pouce Coupe. It’s also important to recognize the diversity of people living in those communities. There is a vast range of socio-economic situations, ethnicities, ages and abilities. Each person  experiences and interacts with active transportation differently and we need to know how active transportation can become a viable choice for everyone.

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429 responses to “Question 2: What are some of the challenges in your every day life that prevent you from moving towards using active transportation modes? What are some of your concerns about active transportation?

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    [-] Brennan

    I live in white rock, and there is a fair amount of public transit available for the reason along main roads. However, living in a residential area requires a minimum 10 minute walk to the nearest bus stations and an even longer commute to buses going to other major hubs such as Richmond, Surrey or Langley. I would like to see an innovative solution for connecting these out of the way neighbourhoods to major transit lines. Weather permitting, biking is an option. It would be nice to see greater active transportation options for those that live outside of major transit centers and reduce the necessity of auto-centric transit.

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    [-] Lucas

    One of the biggest concerns that I face in regards to using active transportation as regularly as I would like comes down to the connectivity of networks. While I use my bike to cycle around Vancouver daily and don’t find many problems with the infrastructure and facilities available to me in the city, it becomes much more challenging when I move across the municipality lines. I would love to see the Greater Vancouver area, and other regions of the Province (such as the Okanagan, the Northern areas around Prince George, the CRD, etc) work together to establish consistent and fundamental systems to using active transportation across different geographical areas/”borders.” I believe standardizing active transportation guidelines as a provincial government will set the tone for communities to follow.

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    [-] Karen

    Aggressive drivers!!!
    Uneducated people who don’t think cyclists should be on the road!!!
    Security for bike at the destination point. Fear of bike theft!

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    [-] Darren

    Lack of separated infrastructure is the biggest barrier. Sharrows and paint are not safe. In addition, our laws are biased towards moving polluting cars quickly, instead of moving people safely in a manner which respects our environment.

    Law enforcement is entirely auto-oriented. When reporting an unsafe pass (with video), I was once told by the RCMP that “the driver had no other choice” than to pass me on a blind corner, forcing oncoming traffic to stop and swerve out of the way. The useless police officer also stated that I should have been riding further over, within the door zone. Never mind that the driver could have slowed down to pass safely in 20 seconds after the corner, never mind that I was riding at over 30km/h which is as fast as I drive a vehicle on this winding residential street. When a cyclist is struck, the narrative from the police is a warning on helmet laws, instead of dealing with the hazards distracted and dangerous drivers of 2500kg vehicles. This is victim blaming.

    This car-centric view of the world from behind a windshield is shared by the public, politicians and police. Until laws change, and safe infrastructure is built, most people won’t switch to active transportation, or even try it.

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    [-] Mandy

    There often isn’t a safe, direct route to get to where I want to go by bicycle, so I’ll be forced to choose a car, take the bus, or just not go. The current active transportation networks in all cities in BC are so limited. You might be able to get part-way to your destination, but a gap in the route makes the entire trip impossible. And even when I feel comfortable using car-oriented infrastructure (i.e. when there isn’t any bike lane at all, but it’s at low-volume time), I feel threatened by the behaviour of drivers of motor vehicles that has been allowed to become so careless due to the current infrastructure that indulges laziness. When I’m riding my bike, I live in fear of, for example, that one driver that doesn’t make the effort to look thoroughly and blazes straight through the stop sign.

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    [-] Lorelei

    It would be great to be able to walk and bike ride safely for transportation in addition to for recreation However, the commute to work is 20+ kms. I would consider an electric bike, however, because the roads are rural there are limited or no shoulders that would help make it safe. Weekends do not have logging trucks on the roads so walking and biking is safer. Unfortunately, due to traffic, I will often chose to drive to a walking path or a bike riding location even for recreation so that I can participate in the activity safely.

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    [-] Meghan

    There is a lack of space, planning, and investment in active transportation in BC communities, province-wide. Our prioritization of space for motor vehicles flies in the face of progress toward active transportation goals. Further, a massive shift is desperately needed in the face of climate emergencies, one that Canada is a main driver of. This is not ‘circumstance’ as the preamble suggests, but rather, a lack of progress policy action, the kinds of which we see in cities and countries globally. I suggest the plan includes public transit as part of active transit – in this way, active travel remains an option for longer, regional trips.

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    [-] Michael

    1) I live in North Vancouver, which is not served by a bicycle-sharing organization. Although I belong to Vancouver’s bicycle-sharing program (Mobi), the lack of such a program in North Vancouver mans that I often have to take a car (Car2Go or Modo) for trips that would actually be better by bicycle. In particular, given the hills in North Vancouver, an *electric* bicycle sharing network would be very helpful.
    2) The shortage of physically separated bicycle paths means that cyclists are still being killed by motor vehicles, something which discourages me from cycling. In North Vancouver where I live, 2 cyclists were killed relatively near to me this year. Painted lines on the road are simply not enough,
    3) Pedestrian controlled crosswalks are too slow to respond when the button is pushed.
    4) Tranlink has put a series of obstacles in the way of cyclists using the SeaBus and SkyTrain, including barring electricic bicycles altogether ( a policy that I think it may now have finally have abandoned, but it still does little to facilitate cyclists riding on those services).
    5) Cost of buying an electric bicycle.
    6) Mandatory helmet law for cyclists. Although I prefer to wear a helmet, I don’t always have my own helmet with me when I want to use a Mobi bike, and the helmets that come with the bikes don’t fit my large head. I don’t like to break the law, but sometimes do. Since it’s my observation that only about half of cyclists wear helmets anyway, it would be helpful if the law could be amended so that those using bike sharing bicycles are not legally required to wear helmets.

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    [-] S.

    We need to change the term active transportation to something more holistic that also is inclusive of a growing cohort of seniors who will need to stay active walking in their community to local services and shops. The Provincial government must work with municipalities to make streets and sidewalks and intersections safer for walkers and wheelers of all ages. That includes giving municipalities the discretion to lower road speeds within municipalities to 30 km an hour (which has proven to save lives and serious injury in Scotland, and more locally, Portland Oregon). Please make vulnerable road users the most important thing, lower speeds to increase driver reaction time and increase pedestrian survival rates As well please push for legislation demanding side guards on trucks in municipalities, London England identified that one type of truck was responsible for 70 per cent of fatalities and banned them a few years ago. Also please look at speed cameras, there is a sea change in acceptance of these as noted in a recent US survey and one in Scotland that showed approval for enhancing safety and saving lives.

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    [-] Glen

    Local active transportation network is disjointed.
    Local planning is automobile centred so road options are generally poorly designed.
    Aggressive driving is standard local behaviour. ie speeding, driving in bike lanes to pass or cut corners, unsafe passing etc

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    [-] John

    The most significant challenge is that the transportation network has been built to favour a high volume of single occupancy vehicles over moving people. This is a legacy of the historical spending priorities of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure including the various municipal and regional cost-sharing programs, which prioritized moving cars over public transit, cycling and pedestrians. As a result public transit is underfunded, and many streets do not have bike lanes or sidewalks. In my daily travels when using active transportation I routinely encounter unsafe conditions and aggressive motorists.

    This is also a legacy of BC Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), dating from the 1950’s and written to prioritize driving over active transportation. The MVA needs to be replaced with a Safe Streets Act (SSA) that starts with an objective of zero transportation fatalities and moving people safely. Examples of changes that are needed include:
    • Currently the MVA defines a speed limit of 50 kph for residential streets and it is difficult for municipalities to implement lower limits. A SSA would set default residential speed limits at 30 kph.
    • Currently the MVA does not define a safe distance for motorists to pass a cyclist. A SSA would define a minimum 1-1/2 meter distance for motorists to pass a cyclist.
    • A SSA would put the default responsibility on the motorist when they crash into a cyclist or pedestrian.

    The historical transportation funding priorities and regulations in BC were based on a flawed strategy that cyclists would integrate with motorists and share the road. This unfortunately has created an environment that is not safe for cyclists and pedestrians. Instead, funding priorities and regulations need to be changed to segregate motorists, cyclists and pedestrians and to increase funding for public transit.

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    [-] Kim

    Busy street that does not have a divided bike pathway. Crosswalk to bus loop that is not properly lit or marked, making it dangerous in the dark, winter months especially but also on a daily basis.

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    [-] Make

    Where I live in the Boundary BC there is basically no public transit (one shuttle a week RT from Grand Forks to Greenwood) and I would like to see this addressed. It is completely full on a weekly basis. I would use public transit to destinations throughout British Columbia if it was available and efficient. And of course transit would need to carry bicycles so I would have my bicycle at my destination.(without having to be put in a box or costing a lot). It would be great to be able to go to Vancouver or other destinations in BC in a coordinated system.

    Public transit combined with active transportation is a way we can help EVERYONE get around our province, not just people who own and operate private automobiles. We have to get out of the single occupancy vehicle mode, even electric cars aren’t the cheapest way to go. Most people can’t afford electric cars, but would be able to afford an ebike. If our area had public transit, we could get visitors here on transit with bicycles and they could ride in our area on the KVR Rail Trail which could be a huge contribution to prosperity for this region. They wouldn’t need to drive a vehicle to get here which is a lot of long-haul travellers want after making a huge carbon footprint.

    I would participate in active transportation more but it’s too time consuming or inefficient to do it! We have the KVR Rail Trail in our area that connects our communities but it is too rough to use it. We need a rail trail that is smooth and hard enough for hybrid bicycles to ride on it. In order for people to transition to a greener way of life, we have to provide affordable and efficient options that fit their pocketbook. If it’s easier and cheaper to drive, most people will keep driving. It’s too dangerous for us to ride on the highway and I’ve been the victim of “burning coal” more than once in my area. We need investment for separation between motor vehicles and people who want to be active.

    The biggest concern that I have about active transportation is that rural regions like mine will not be beneficiaries of the expertise and funding that is necessary to help our area. The rural areas need to be represented in this initiative and road construction funds needs to give the same equity of funding to transit and active transportation projects. Also, I think a lot of people don’t know there are different options to driving their vehicles. They have too much invested in purchase and operating cost to give it up to a more active life.

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    [-] Elizabeth

    Safety is the big challenge. We need more bike routes in the city.

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    [-] Esther

    I’d like to be able to continue commuting by bike with my toddler in tow. However, I am concerned about traffic and safety on the road, as well as the long term impacts of exposing my child to the emissions from cars, trucks, and dual-cylinder motorized bikes.
    Alternative routes with less traffic have steep hills that are difficult and time-consuming to cycle on with a toddler trailer in tow.

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    [-] Sarah

    The built environment where I live and work is centred around and prioritized for single occupancy vehicles. It’s dangerous to ride my bike on many of the roads due to lack of dedicated space. “Bike lanes” where they’ve been added are almost all just a bike decal inside a painted line on the shoulder of a road designed for speed. Where off-street cycling facilities are provided they’re multi-use paths shared between pedestrians and cyclists, which pleases neither group. I could manage the distance to work (especially with an e-bike) if I could take a direct route which parallels the roads I drive. Instead I have to go out of my way, and climb a steep hill. Infrastructure, everywhere, is preventing more active transportation.

    With respect to transit, where I live I can catch frequent express buses to connect me to the Skytrain, but if I want to take the bus within my town (Langley), or between my home and work (Surrey) buses are infrequent, with circuitous routes and poor connections. I need to plan carefully and more than double the time to get wherever I’m going, unless it’s a Skytrain station.

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    [-] Kari

    In my neighbourhood, too many motorists use bicycle routes (Yukon St) as a quick “cut through” around Cambie, often speeding (posted limit is 30 km) and intimidating cyclists by tail-gating, honking their horns and revving their engines. I have also found this problematic in other neighbourhoods where vehicles share the streets with cyclists. I’ve seen frequent “shooting through” stop signs by both cars and people on bicycles, with numerous near misses for other road users.
    ?? Could there be some specific, province-wide educational campaign (via ICBC and license renewal) to advise ALL road users of their rights and responsibilities around pedestrians, people on bicycles and in wheelchairs, etc ? As well, I feel it’s very important to include active ENFORCEMENT of these areas with perhaps escalating fines for repeat offenders/points off license ? This could act as a deterrent and help prevent the intimidation that happens too often towards those more vulnerable road users. As well, the fines could be used (in whole or part) to help finance the further development of active transportation facilities.
    Many people in Vancouver report feeling unsafe on the road, especially when using bicycles outside of protected lanes due to the way (mainly) vehicle drivers can behave, with seeming impunity/entitlement to the road.
    Please also consider how to integrate the understanding of moving around our cities and province in more sustainable ways into the K-12 curriculum so that by the time young people are ready to learn how to drive, they more fully comprehend their responsibilities AND what the alternatives are !! This is essential for the more rapid change that needs to happen !!

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    [-] Heather

    Air quality and an accessible, complete network of bike lanes are the major barriers to active transportation. Personal health and safety are major concerns and the extensive bouts of poor air quality, not only from wildfires, but on a regular basis from permitted industrial emitters and vehicles (especially bad during winter inversions) contributes to challenges and lack of desire to use active transportation. Additionally, a complete, connected network of bike lanes that are NOT used as parking spaces (!) is not available in the part of my commute from home to work.

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    [-] Laurie

    Currently, we are a one-car household with two working parents. I take the skytrain and two buses to work and get off a few stops early to get a bit of walk in but as much as I’d love to try cycling to work, I don’t feel particularly safe doing so.

    I would need a secure, safe place to lock my bike, either at work, skytrain station, near a bus stop and a safer, unbroken cycling route.

    My family could use an education session or two on cycling and safety and taking care of our bikes.

    Costs of bikes can be a little prohibitive for our family as well.

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    [-] Elaine

    Some challenges to using buses are wildly varying schedules in the city where I live, Nanaimo. I understand RDN is trying to address this but buses are not a convenient option. I live within 2 km of shopping so I can walk or cycle, but sidewalks are often missing and while the city has developed a few cycling paths, they often only go a block then stop, or are dangerous to navigate due to the way they’ve been “constructed” (the way the lines have been painted). Often cycling lanes are next to parked cars so you have to cycle in traffic to avoid being “doored” by unwary drivers exiting their vehicles. Perhaps the most important challenge is that we need better driver education to avoid accidents with cyclists & pedestrians.

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    [-] Trevor

    Safety is the primary concern for commuting by bicycle. Dedicated bicycle paths, separated from traffic, would be ideal.

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    [-] Jeff

    I used to love walking every where in Vancouver and although I still try to walk as much as possible to do my shopping and errands including walking home from work every day (approx 30 mins) it does not feel as safe to me anymore or nearly as enjoyable.

    Many of the newly created bike lanes in Vancouver seem to have been put in at the expense of formerly pedestrian only sidewalks i.e. the east side of Cambie street bridge is a good example. Many cyclists are going far too fast and there is just not enough room to accommodate all the pedestrians (particularly those walking more than 2 abreast) and pet owners walking their dogs.

    Aside from the hazard of cyclists and car drivers that don’t yield to pedestrians, there is also a rapidly increasing number of smokers (both tobacco, vapors and marijuana) on the sidewalks and pedestrian areas of Vancouver. It is rare day now that I can walk somewhere without having to inhale second hand smoke.

    What is needed to make walking safe and enjoyable in Vancouver again is:
    (1) more dedicated pedestrian only walking areas,
    (2) more police enforcement of speeding and irresponsible cyclists and drivers, particularly at key intersections like Expo and Cambie street,
    (3) more green space and park areas
    (4) more smoke free public areas.

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    [-] M.

    Challenges and obstacles to choosing active transportation include:
    – piecemeal rather than networked viable choices – connections between places as well as between different travel modes
    – systemic emphasis on commuter travel and on A to B + B to A trips, rather than all travel and encouraging more local engagements
    – disability and health limitations
    – investment to participate in any one travel mode constrains resources to incorporate or even try other travel modes

    I have concerns about getting stuck – reaching a point along a route that I can’t cross safely or bypass.

    I also experience difficulties when infrastructure and design for active transportation presumes those who want to use it have able bodies and quick reflexes, and may not be viable for people who are slower, more confused, less coordinated.

    One of the pervasive challenges to the viability of my active transportation choices is culture and built environment that encourage drivers to feel entitled to priority and annoyed by non-drivers ‘infringing’ on ‘their’ resources.

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    [-] Alannah

    I am often happy to walk anywhere. What hinders me is cycling. Protected facilities and slow moving streets are only where I enjoy cycling. This mostly stems from not trusting that drivers are aware of me. I would rather walk and it take twice as long then bike and feel at danger.

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    [-] Lisa

    We need safer bike routes in all Metro Vancouver municipalities!! Too dangerous to compete with cars on the roads!

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