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Bike advocates push for two lanes, not one

May 5th, 2009 · 53 Comments

City council only made it through about half of the 20 speakers who showed up this morning to voice their opinions on the proposed Burrard Bridge bike-lane trial now up for councillors to decide on. (Decision: two lanes for bikes, one lane, do nothing or buy Hummers.)

From the look of the list, only Charles Gauthier of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association came out to express opposition, though — a sign of the times — even he described himself as a “recovering SOV driver.” His reasons were outlined in the letter I put up earlier. Gauthier, who knows a losing battle when he sees one, outlined his arguments, but also pushed for two changes: delay the trial until after the Olympics and do a study of the economic impact on downtown businesses, not just the traffic impact.

However, almost everyone else there argued that council should show “bold leadership” and go for the full two-lane option. I won’t go over the arguments why, as I think they’ve been pretty thoroughly canvassed in previous comments here. The one new bit I heard was from UBC prof Kay Teschke, who presented statistics from a study she’s been conducting, indicating the number and severity of cyclist accidents on the Burrard Bridge is significantly higher than on the Cambie or Granville bridges.

The other interesting part of the morning (and an hour of the afternoon) for those who didn’t watch, was Councillor Suzanne Anton’s several references to the “cycling lobby” that was out in force, very good at presenting their views, etc etc. That prompted Chris Keam of Friends of Burrard Bridge to say, when his turn to speak came, to identify himself ironically as part of the “insidious cycling lobby.”

I’m sure we’ll be hearing from the driving lobby soon, as the news that there’s going to be a trial starts to impinge on the general public’s consciousness. Unbelievable as it may seem, not everyone reads this blog and so they really are unaware this has been burbling away for months.

The rest of the speakers and council’s decision will continue Thursday afternoon.

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  • Ron van der Eerden

    True leaders find a way to get people to see through the same lens and come to some sort of a concensus. Unanimity isn’t likely possible, but a strong sense that we are working towards the good of everyone can be achieved. That seems hard to come by around here.
    Today Vision councilors managed to piss off everyone. Motorists will be upset to lose a lane. Pedestrians will be upset to be banished to one sidewalk. (To cross and back requires crossing up to 23 lanes of traffic.) And that’s going to get everybody mad at the cyclists. Which is going to make the cyclists mad too. Today council voted for a lose-lose which will get everybody mad at them. The trial suddenly has much less chance of success. This was a wishy-washy decision that shows that Vision’s commitment to the “Greenest City” is just greenwash.

  • Len B

    Chris,

    New York and Copenhagen also have public transit systems that are light years better and ahead of ours.

    Let’s find a solution that works for Vancouver and our Canadian way of life.

    That means respecting all modes of transport and all segments of society.

  • Hi Len:

    Please illuminate me on this Canadian way of life and its big differences between lifestyles in America and Europe. I don’t see much difference between a city-dweller in Vancouver and one in any other city. I would especially like to know why their amazing successes with returning public space to pedestrians in urban areas aren’t possible here.