Bike infrastructure – expensive??

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It seems that whenever there is a City of Kelowna “grand opening” of a cycling or pedestrian facility two things are mentioned:

– that the City is a leader in having 230 km (?) of cycle paths along city streets

– that the new path or facility, has been tremendously expensive.

An example of this was the official sod turning in late fall (2007) for the  first portion of the Rails with Trails.  The mayor and others publicly stated that the City and Province had paid $2 million for the right of way in a cost sharing agreement.  Ron Westlake once again mentioned the 230 km. of bike lanes (I tend to turn off a bit at this point so may have this figure wrong).

Not long after that I was reminded by Councillor Letnick (in a public meeting) of the $2 million cost of the first phase of the Rails with Trails.  In reponse I reminded him that the nearby “Central Okanagan Bypass” was likely a good bit more expensive.   For some reason these officials never have the costs of the COB (or other motor vehicle infrastructure) at hand when asked.

Another example is the “flyover” to the UBCO campus.  The total cost was estimated at between $9 and $11 million (depending on the source of the information).  A small portion – likely under $500,000 – may eventually be spent for a cycling/pedestrian path to allow people to get to the campus under their own power.  Of course most of this has not been spent because the Dept. of Transportation is still “working on it”.

The above figures indicate that approximately 5% of the budget for the flyover is for non motor vehicle facilities – interesting isn’t it that cyclists and pedestrians are so expensive.

A recent news article quoted councillor Day.  He stated that the cost of one motor vehicle parking spot downtown is $30,000.  His comment was in relation to the application by a downtown casino to expand, reducing parking by several spots.  I have no idea where he got the $30,000 figure from and don’t know if it is accurate – it certainly gives one room for thought however.

How many bikes can be parked in the space reserved for one motor vehicle?   How many bike paths can we build for the cost of one road?  Is it fair to have cyclists, pedestrians and other non motor vehicle (or low motor vehicle) use people subsidize motor vehicle infrastructure – much of it taken up by single occupancy vehicles?

If we add the environmental and social costs of road building to the financial costs then the total cost is very high indeed.  If this is done then cycling and pedestrian facilities begin to look inexpensive at any financial cost.

John.

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