HUB Cycling’s suggested improvements to TransLink’s BICCS Funding Program
September 6, 2022
TransLink’s Bicycle Infrastructure Capital Cost-Share Program (BICCS) has improved in recent years to better support bicycle infrastructure and encourage more people to use active transportation for their daily needs. The new ‘rapid build out’ program utilized by the City of Surrey for their city centre network, the ramp-up of funding to 15 million per year, and 100% funding for projects that hit specific criteria are all critical steps toward a more sustainable transportation system and an excellent example for other levels of government.
HUB Cycling is pleased with TransLink’s level of support for cycling and the recent improvements to the BICCS program. We offer suggestions on how the program could continue evolving and improving.
- Improve class I facility funding above 75%, and reduce class II facility funding
- Currently, class 1 facilities are eligible for up to 75% cost share (and even up to 100% if on the Major BIke Network (MBN) and rolled out quickly), while class 2 facilities are eligible for 50% cost sharing. Class 1 facilities (comfortable for most people) are the safest and most comfortable bike facilities and the most likely to encourage people to ride. While class 1 facilities can be eligible for 100% funding under certain circumstances, the standard 50 - 75% cost share should be increased. At the same time, reduce the cost share for class 2 facilities to encourage municipalities to focus on the best quality facilities and not invest in infrastructure unsafe for people of all ages and abilities. Research shows lack of safety as the most critical barrier to people interested but concerned about adopting cycling as a mode of transportation.1
- Cautiously consider the funding of multi-use pathways (MUPs)
- Multi-use pathways (MUPs) are a form of infrastructure that support multiple transportation modes. Many jurisdictions, especially outside Vancouver, install MUPs in locations that are neither safe nor comfortable. While MUPs away from traffic can be enjoyable to ride, MUPs next to roads with many conflict points are less desirable and are unsafe. Many recently funded BICCS projects include a number of MUPs. For example, the Rumble Street MUP in Burnaby (funded by BICCS in 2017 & 2018) is littered with bollards, driveways and intersections - see photo below.
Two-way MUPs on one side of a road with multiple driveways and intersections are a safety hazard. Drivers are often not looking both ways for quick-moving people cycling. For example, 117B Street in Maple Ridge is a BICCs funded two-way MUP with many driveways and intersections and questionable safety improvements from the pre-existing neighbourhood bikeway. This MUP appears to primarily benefit people walking, as there was no existing sidewalk.
While MUPs can be appropriate when installed further from vehicle traffic, with quality intersection treatments and lower volumes of users, we recommend carefully considering funding MUPs that would not be safe or comfortable for most users, as indicated by the examples above
Multiple driveways and rigid bollards along the Rumble Street multi-use pathway 2
- Increase the score allocated for intersection treatments. Consider making intersection treatments required on all major road crossings
- As intersections are a key component to any cycling route, intersection treatments (or lack thereof) can greatly impact the safety and comfort of a route. Intersections are often the site of collisions between motor vehicles and vulnerable road users. 3, 4 Quality intersection treatments can greatly improve both safety and comfort for people cycling, walking, rolling and using strollers or wheelchairs. The BICCS score given for intersection treatments should be increased to encourage better intersection design, and consideration should be given to making intersection treatments at major road crossings a required element for funding.
- TransLink must provide incentives encouraging municipalities to future-proof intersection design so that people using active transportation are prioritized, especially in areas of high potential. For example, in Denmark’s second-largest city, Aarhus, wheel-mounted RFID tags automatically turn lights green as people ride through. When it rains in Rotterdam, the traffic lights prioritize people cycling so that they don’t wait so long to cross.
- More robust encouragement of the 1 - 5 % available for promotion and enabling
- Money available for the promotion and enabling of new projects is often left on the table by municipalities. However, its addition can leverage a 400% increase in ridership compared to infrastructure improvements alone. TransLink should explore options to encourage increased uptake of the funding. This could include central coordination within TransLink - providing the 5% to TravelSmart as they are TDM experts and will ensure it is used and working with stakeholders such as HUB Cycling to embed education and promotion into projects.
- Prioritize equity in all projects
- A soon-to-be-released study by HUB Cycling shows that a number of areas across Metro Vancouver are disadvantaged across social equity and spatial equity measures. Such equity-seeking areas should receive consideration in the evaluation criteria for BICCS funding, as these are the areas most deserving of quality cycling infrastructure.
- Invest in cross-jurisdictional, long-distance cycling routes (cycle highways)
- TransLink has done much to encourage quality cycling routes along the proposed MBN network. However, these longer-distance routes would cross through multiple jurisdictions. Measures should be implemented to streamline a joint application from more than one municipality. This would make it easier for local governments to upgrade and build these long-distance, cycle highway-type routes that serve multiple trip types.
- Award extra points for letters of support from stakeholders
- Local stakeholders such as cycling organizations have on-the-ground knowledge of the community. Stakeholders can provide essential information on the necessity of a particular piece of cycling infrastructure. Letters of support from these organizations should be given formal points in the evaluation process.
HUB Cycling is grateful for all of TransLink’s support for active and sustainable transportation in the region. We look forward to continuing our work together toward a more connected and healthy region.
2 Image source: City of Burnaby