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As Seattle struggles with bike lanes, Vancouver, B.C., has won the battle

By David Gutman for Seattle Times

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Seattle bike advocates gaze longingly at Vancouver.

In Seattle, every bike lane, whether it’s just a painted white line or a fully separated, landscaped bikeway, seems to be fought tooth and nail, in a never-ending battle over precious street space.

The city’s been trying to build one 1.4-mile stretch of bike path in Ballard for nearly three decades. A long-planned bike lane on Fourth Avenue has been pushed back to 2021.

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North of the border, the battle has, if not disappeared, at least faded. Former foes have become allies. In less than a decade the city has stitched together a network of bike lanes, mostly separate from traffic, that lets cyclists navigate downtown and beyond without going shoulder-to-shoulder with cars.

Downtown Vancouver is peppered with interconnected bike infrastructure. Bike lanes aren’t painted or marked with pylons; they’re separated from traffic with planter boxes or other solid dividers. There are bright-green crossings, special bike traffic signals, turn restrictions for cars and all manner of textured pavement, sidewalk bulbs and signage.


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