This bike lane is for parking cars

Some Esplanade numbers

If you follow North Shore bike people on Twitter you invariably wind up seeing regular pictures of cars, trucks, and delivery vans stopped in the middle of the bike lanes on Esplanade Avenue in the City of North Vancouver. These photos are usually accompanied with a cry to “tow them!”

This is especially true since January of 2019, when north shore resident Mike McIntosh was killed when a driver opened a car door into the bike lane forcing him under the wheels of a large truck. Even though the car was not parked in the bike lane, it demonstrated that the existing bike infrastructure is not safe.

Late last month I sent a Freedom of Information Request to the City of North Vancouver asking how many times a vehicle had been ticketed along Esplanade, and how many times they had been towed. The answers are not reassuring for local cyclists.

I asked for:

Number and types of tickets issued to vehicles that obstruct the bike lanes along
Esplanade (East/West) broken down by month from January 2018 – November 23,
2020.

In 2018 the City issued a total of 69 tickets along that stretch of road, a little more than 5 each month. Nearly one third of those were written in October.

2019 not surprisingly saw an increase in enforcement to 109 tickets, although the increased ticketing didn’t start until April - three months after Mike McIntosh was killed. By August enforcement had returned to single digits.

And finally for 2020, up til the date that the FOI was received, we seem to be on track to match the 2019 numbers of a bit more than 100 tickets.

I also asked about how often vehicles were towed from the bike lanes, and the response was not reassuring.

I think it’s fair to say that if a truck or van was left parked in a vehicle lane on Marine Drive or Lonsdale it would get a lot more attention than one parked in a bike lane.

(photo above was borrowed from Rob Clinton’s Twitter feed.)