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Burrard Bridge bike trial not likely til late June, July

April 3rd, 2009 · 55 Comments

Lots of speculation about what is happening with the Burrard Bridge bike trial, which will involve closing two lanes of traffic. Councillor Geoff Meggs has a brief update on his blog here, but to add a few more details that I’ve heard from the inside.

City doesn’t want to start any trials until construction is finished on Granville and Cambie, since have all three major routes impeded in some way is sure to cause gaskets to blow all over town — and not in the cars. The thinking is also that that’s a good time to start, with both university and school traffic out of the way, downtown-worker vacations starting and traffic generally lighter. It’s also when cycling is likely to hit its peak. That way there’s maximum success on the bike end, minimum disruption on the traffic end, and everyone has two months to prepare for alternative routes into the downtown when the normal rush hours resume in September.

Another factor playing in is that council wants to make sure that there is an aggressive communications plan. Many people still blame the failure back in 96 on the poor communications by those running the bike trial back then, which resulted in drivers trying to pile onto the bridge instead of trying alternative times or routes.

Of course, all of this is leading to some scuttlebutt that Vision councillors are scared of a backlash and so are dithering. Impossible for me to verify this and I haven’t heard anything from them to indicate that’s so, but perhaps my citizen-journalist-readers out there know more.

Categories: City Hall Talk

  • David

    I have been observing all modes of traffic on the Burrard St bridge for years now. To me the bridge functions as best it can given the standard it was built to many years ago. When I observe bike traffic on the bridge, and I do so regularly, it functions well given the current space limitation. Where are the actual stats of bike crossings on this bridge to support removal of a traffic lane? I have never seen the supporting traffic report or user group stats if it exists.

  • Stephanie

    Of course it’s important to increase bike ridership and decrease single-occupancy vehicle traffic, but has anyone considered what effect this will have on people who take public transit? Buses on Cornwall and over the bridge are often terribly unreliable, and I expect that the delays experienced by drivers will be somewhat worse for transit riders.

    It’s frustrating that in order to get people out of their cars, we’re going to create yet more headaches for people who are *already* out of their cars.

  • Stephanie

    The city is planning bus lanes and other measures to reduce the impact on people using transit.

    Anyway, it is all the cars on the streets around the city that really slowdown buses. The more people that walk and cycle, the fewer cars will be on the road to get in the way of buses.

    What we need is real transit priority measures all around the city. Most of the bus lanes are a joke. The buses get stuck behind right turning cars. Either ban right turns, or have cars turn from the middle lane. This is done in Paris and it works well.

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for the information, Richard. Of course a decrease in car traffic will make more room for buses, but not if that decrease in car traffic is accompanied by a decrease in capacity on the routes that cars use, and buses share.

    I do hope that council pays enough attention to people who already choose to use transit, or those who use transit because they have no other options. Often it seems to me that these projects focus on people who have options at the expense of people who do not.

  • Stephanie

    Don’t forget it is a trial. No one is quite sure what will happen. The impact on transit I expect will be one of the primary concerns.

    With Cambie Street back to capacity, the 6,600 cars a day that were diverted to Burrard during the construction will likely go back to Cambie or Granville. As well, the opening of the Canada Line should decrease traffic on Burrard Bridge and throughout downtown, improving the speed of buses.

    With the introduction of rapid transit, it is important to reduce lanes of traffic or the space will just quickly be filled up by motorists reducing the benefits of and the ridership on the rapid transit line.