Burrard bridge shrinking for vehicle traffic

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Today I woke up to the news of Vancouver city council’s decision to designate two bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge and I’m not sure what to make of it.  How could the Burrard span go from six lanes to four when it is already a traffic nightmare during afternoon rush hour in the summer?? Luckily, we won’t be affected this summer as the one-year trial doesn’t begin until next April.

For those of you from out-of-town, cyclists and pedestrians currently share the sidewalks on the old bridge, with vehicle traffic taking up the six lanes between downtown Vancouver and Kitsilano.  Apparently, city councils have struggled for years with the issue of keeping cyclists and pedestrians safe on this bridge.  I’ve lived in Vancouver for years and I don’t remember ever hearing about any mishaps involving the sidewalk users of Burrard bridge. The doubly-high curbs alone prevent this sort of tragedy already.

In a report to council, city staff warned against closing traffic lanes, but councilors almost unanimously ignored that advice.  Good call!  CBC’s coverage online shed a little more light on the decision makers thoughts:

The chair of the Transportation and Traffic Committee, Fred Bass, says Tuesday was his happiest day on city council. But he says he knows there will be complaints. “There will be motorists who want to cut my throat, I’m sure of that. But I will say to them, that number one, we want motorists to move as smoothly as possible, as quickly as possible”.

A similar bike lane experiment was tried for several days in the 1990s on the bridge, triggering a loud outcry from motorists. City council is also considering widening sidewalks, at a cost of $13 million. But council will hold off on that decision until it has the results of the lane closure experiment.

$13 million!! I walk the Burrard bridge regularly and the sidewalks are plenty wide. Cyclists and pedestrians have gotten used to the traffic flow and there is no reason to spend any money on this make-work project.

Last modified: December 18, 2008

One Response to " Burrard bridge shrinking for vehicle traffic "

  1. Bill MacEwen says:

    I’ve been biking accross the burrard bridge for a few years now, and I find it to be quite dangerous. If pedestrians are walking side by each, you’ve really got to thread the needle to get by. Falling off the high curb into traffic isn’t really an option, and clipping someone with my handlebars isn’t particularly attractive either.
    Sacificing vehicle lanes for cyclists is a heavy commitment. But the city has to try this sort of thing in order to encourage more sustainable modes of transportation.