A Victoria woman says the problem with cycling in Victoria isn’t just the bike lane designs, it’s the whole culture around cycling, and the solution is to look to the Dutch.
Susan Stokhof is the owner of an online bike-paraphernalia shop, Le Velo, and recently studied bike-focused urban planning in Amsterdam. From her studies, Stokhof said the city has approached cycling all wrong.
“I want to bring the concept of normalizing cycling to Victoria,” Stokhof said. “The city is kind of divided between people who want to ride bikes and see more bike lanes and other people who ride in cars.”
Marketing to the normal, every day cyclist is key, she added.
“Cycling is not just for sport or just to ride to work…The 90 per cent who are curious about riding a bicycle cannot see themselves dressed in spandex,” Stokhof said, “There’s a big population the city has missed as far as messaging. They have to market biking in the city as if it were a pair of Nike shoes.”
Stokhof said during her studies she had the chance to cycle in the heart of Amsterdam, something she was extremely nervous to do because of high traffic.
“There were literally hundreds of people around me,” she said, adding almost no one wore helmets. “But it was perfectly fine because politicians are putting pedestrians and cyclists firsts, and the car is the guest.”
Stokhof added that while the separated bike lanes in Victoria are a good start, they are a North American version of All Ages and Abilities networks, which are very narrow and flow against traffic because they are bi-directional lanes.
”I still haven’t seen a kid ride on their own because they don’t connect the whole network safely,” she said.
Stokhof is scheduled to speak with City of Victoria planners at the end of October to discuss how bike networks can be treated differently.
On her priority list is creating a healthy liveable city, which would include closing off Government Street to cars on most hours of the day and creating more green spaces. She also believes lowering speed limits in high traffic areas is mandatory to make sure that cyclists stay safe.
“People, the soft squishy ones, should have priority on the streets,” she said.