Despite the major hazards that exist along the highway and the obvious pitfalls in planning for cyclist safety, certain mitigation options are more feasible and appropriate. It is important to determine those that should be implemented based on their cost, effectiveness, and the resulting long-term return on investment. Although shoulder widening would be an ideal upgrade to the route, it is one of the least cost-effective mitigation methods. Many areas along the route, beyond just the Porteau Cove area, would benefit from shoulder widening; however, with single lane paving costs often averaging $100,000 per km (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, 2011), it remains a poor option for future upgrades.

The study finds that the most appropriate mitigation methods to pursue are increased signage, more frequent shoulder-sweeping, and improvements in drainage and hazard marking.

Increased Signage:

The current deficiency of signage is substantial: our surveys discovered that signs for wildlife (i.e. deer) along the Sea to Sky Highway far outnumber those of cyclists. At under $500 per sign (Ministry of Transportation, personal communication, March 12, 2012) - including installation - an increase of signage along the highway remains the most economically-feasible area for improvement. For less than $15,000 a total of 30 bike signs could be added to the highway (from West Vancouver to Whistler and return) at an average spacing of less than 8 kilometres apart. A no-cost option that should be pursued in addition to increased signage is the reconfiguration of notices on the electronic highway message boards. Currently, these boards are typically used to notify drivers of road conditions; however, when conditions are acceptable it would be beneficial to post messages relating to sharing the road and watch for cyclists.

cyclesignThe Porteau Cove area is identified as the most dangerous for road cyclists. As shoulder widening is not feasible, it is recommended that cyclist-activated signals are installed at each end of Porteau Cove. To purchase and install two cyclist-activated signals, there is an approximate total cost of $45,000 (California Department of Transportation, 2002; Edwards, 2009; Gardener & Kortegast, 2010). The approximate cost includes two loop detectors; this expense can be significantly reduced if button-activated signals are installed in lieu of automatic detectors.


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At present, highway sweeping is carried out only once per annum (Ministry of Transportation, personal communication, February 17, 2012). For an area susceptible to such regular weathering and debris accumulation, this annual sweep is insufficient. Cost to sweep the shoulder averages $100/hour (Ministry of Transportation, personal communication, March 12, 2012): at a pace of 10km/h, the Sea to Sky Highway could be swept (north and southbound shoulders) for approximately $2400. The study recommends expanding sweeping to be done on a monthly basis from April to July, for an estimated annual cost of $9600. Clear shoulders will allow cyclists to remain off the road and in turn lower their risk for being involved in an accident with motorists.

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Krista Falkner, a traffic engineer, explains that drainage location is dependent on a variety of factors: slope, cross-section of the highway, and so forth (personal communication, March 15, 2012). Thus, it is not possible in many circumstances to avoid placing highway gullies in the shoulder; however, choice in drainage system can be altered. Scuppers can be added at a cost of $110 per meter (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, 2011), and are therefore a cheap alternative to highway gullies where regulations permit. ‘Bicycle Safe’ grates can be used to replace any conventional highway gully as they meet regulations, while contain design specifications that ensures bicycles can traverse them. Bike safe grates cost approximately $250 USD each (Hampton Concrete Products, Inc. 2012); combined with installation costs extrapolated from the 2009 highway improvements (M. O’Connor, personal communication, March 16, 2012), it is estimated the replacement process would cost $900 per grate. For $45,000, fifty of the most dangerous grates could be replaced with ‘Bicycle Safe’ alternatives.

Hazard Marking:

sign2Many of the highway gullies were either unmarked, or paint indicating the hazard had been severely worn. The perimeter of each gully is measured as being approximately 1.8 metres. The cost for line painting is $487 per kilometre (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, 2011); assuming the price is for labour and materials (i.e. excluding the varying difficulties of painting different lines), painting 50 gullies with a 1.8 metre perimeter would equal less than 100 metres, costing under $1500 (due to added labour time resulting from distances between gullies).

In conclusion, the suggested mitigation upgrades to improve cyclist safety on the Sea to Sky Highway will total approximately $116,000.

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The Sea to Sky Highway cycling safety project was undertaken by five Geography undergraduates at Simon Fraser University enrolled in Geography 455