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Downtown businesses weigh in on Burrard Bridge bike lane

May 4th, 2009 · 26 Comments

The debate over the bike-lane trial on Burrard Bridge is clearly going to be intense, judging by the volume and passion of comments on this blog. Here is what the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, which has maintained a pretty consistent position on this over the years, has to say. Decision on whether it’s going to be two lanes, one lane or no lanes will be tomorrow morning, by the way.


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  • Sungsu

    From the city report: “By May 2009, Canada Line construction affecting traffic on Cambie Street and Cambie Bridge will be largely completed. Construction on Granville Street will continue between Davie Street and the waterfront but will be complete between Pacific and Davie Streets.”

  • Darcy McGee

    “2 out of 6 lanes”

    I like that. As if it’s already a fait accompli.

    Not too mention the fact that this is AT MOST 2 lanes of 20 bridge lanes that move into downtown. 10% of the total space.

    Vancouver’s targeted goal for trips by bike is about 10%, is it not? Does it not make sense to give cycling 10% of the capacity?

    From the 2006 – 2008 Capital Plan Cycling Program details

    “· A mode shift resulting in 10% cycling would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 68% of Cool Vancouver’s overall target. ”

  • LP

    Although I agree with the position taken by the DVBIA, the likelihood of mayor/council backing down from this trial and the full implementation of some change on the BB after it’s over, is pretty much slim to none.

    Mayor/council (VV) said they would do this before the civic election, and with the creation of their “greenest action team” have boxed themselves into a corner with respect to this initiative regardless of how bad it is.

    If they back off at any point, regardless of public sentiment, they look foolish and their “greenest action team” appear useless.

    I’ll go so far as to predict that even with public anger at it’s height, Gregor will come out and say that “we” all need to make sacrifices and this is the right thing to do, and he’s going to stick with this even with the public against him.

    Bad messaging and arrogance…..perhaps he should look no further than his new friend the premier, for what that’s done for him.

  • Chris

    Interesting how none of the downtown bike shops are part of the DVBIA. I just perused the member directory and it’s mostly fast food restaurants, hotels, hair salons and convenience stores. Nobody even worth boycotting.

  • My personal highlight moment of the DVBIA letter is how businesses are going to vacate the downtown core should the trial go ahead. I read on to find out if dogs and cats would indeed live together, but was disappointed.

    I find so often that when reading about the use of vehicle capacity that drivers fill the capacity when it’s there. The DVBIA letter states the obvious, that drivers are using the current capacity of the bridge, and then slyly implying that there is no other configuration of cars to bikes and pedestrians possible. It’s BS, and a very awkward position to hold in the face of a mere trial of concept. Why are naysayers so against finding out if it actually works or not? Why is evidence so frightening to this debate?

  • Scott

    Does anyone have a link providing the criteria that will determine the success or failure of the trial and why is this going to cost almost $1.5 million?

  • LP


    You and others seem to continue to call this a trial. In essence it’s foreplay to what will be whether it works or not.

    Gregor/council, VV and the greenest action team will go ahead with this whether it works or not and while you and others call this a trial, the rest of are at least being realistic in what it really means.

    To back off this bad idea will be a failure and Gregor/Meggs/Louie and friends don’t have the balls to admit when they’ve made one.

    Stop sniffing your chain grease.

  • Vision governs, the NPA blogs

    LP what’s your solution? Are you covering the $63 million bridge widening out of your pocket? If so, spread the word and we can go onto different topics.

  • LP

    Did I touch a nerve Vision Blunders?

    The fact of the matter is that you and your team don’t have the pragmatism needed to govern a body of people who disagree with your myopic views.

    It also means none of you will have the balls to admit when you’re wrong. And you will be wrong with this bridge trial. I’d be happy to eat these words but know I’ll never have to.

    If you folks had any REAL vision, perhaps you and your team would have come up with something other than the hashed, rehashed and out-dated idea of screwing with the Burrard Bridge.

    There are solutions, real ones – that are practical and make sense to a wider range of the population of Vancouver than congesting a bridge for nothing more than what is really a green legacy project for your “team”.

    With respect to sharing my ideas with VV, if I thought for a moment I would be heard and taken seriously – I would have by now.

    We all know that this is the only plan Gregor and co. want, and that further discussion on options has been muted. His public quotes are on the record already so don’t try and suggest other options will even be considered at this point.

    As for your $63 million price tag, why not be honest with yourself and everyone else and mention that $63 M includes the much needed repairs to the bridge deck as well. To suggest it’s solely for the widening of the bridge is just showing your continued ignorance or deception – I’ll go with whichever word you choose for yourself.

    The reality is that all you VV folks want are party cheerleaders that support the VV agenda. I believe the phrase is “preaching to the choir”. That is extremely apparent from the lack of respect your party has given to experienced city staff by mayor/council and Penny “the ledger troll” Ballum.

    As I said before for a little more than $1M this whole thing can be undone and new ideas will surface in the next civic election campaign to be voted on by the citizens of Vancouver.

    Since VV et. al., don’t have any comprehensive plan for the city and instead are content with the band-aids they keep implementing without careful thought or consideration for the city as a whole, anyone running in 2011 with a true vision for the city will have a considerable advantage over your current bunch of buffoons.

    There isn’t a political party in this province with more fallacy in their name than Vision Vancouver.

  • > Stop sniffing your chain grease.

    LP, do you talk this way with people face to face? I’m willing to take proponents at their word that it’s a trial and not give over to conspiracy and ESP. Maybe it’s just the chain grease talking.

  • MB

    The DVBIA report is too biased, myopic and full of holes to rebut in detail.

    The Burrard Bridge is not the sole lifeline to downtown for business. There are 23 bridge lanes and about 30 more road lanes, for a total exceeding 50 lanes attached to the downtown peninsula. Then there’s tens of thousands who participate in the downtwon economy they access by SkyTrain every day.

    The downtown peninsula and its business community is very well connected to the region and won’t feel a 3% loss in total road space.

    The fairest way is to have the bike lane trial and let the stats determine the final decision. Period.

    By the way, if one wanted to shift mode share, then a fair way to accomplish this would be user pay, say where tolls were determined by GVW (commercial, emergency and transit vehicles excepted).

    In such a scenario one can guess bikes, transit and shoes would jump very quickly to the top of the stats.

    So, here’s to user pay.

  • The West End Residents Association( WERA) have had a consistent position on this issue as well.

    To see WERA’s presentation to the CoV transportation committee today please visit:

  • Interesting discussion, as always.

    As I advocated at City Hall today, it is imperative that an economic analysis be conducted while the trial takes place to measure impacts to the local economy.

    We know from surveys that we’ve commissioned that 4 out of 10 Metro Vancouver respondents refrain from coming downtown to shop, dine and be entertained because of traffic congestion.

    If the trial increases traffic congestion and travel times, as City staff are predicting, then we believe that it will have a detrimental impact on visitations to downtown based on previous surveys that we have commissioned.

    Since it is very likely that this Council will approve the trial, in one form or another, let’s be very methodical and comprehensive in our approach in gathering as much information as possible so as to conduct a thorough review of the trial after it has concluded. Was it an unqualified success? what can we do differently? how can we mitigate the negative impacts? how can we make it a win-win for everyone?

  • rf

    I think looking at it as 3% of total road space is ignorant.
    More than twice the amount of traffic during peak hours is going in one direction. Really there’s only 12 lanes going in the needed direction at any one time. That’s more than 8.3% (or 176% higher than your estimate, MB).

    The key is that you are taking away 8.3% of space at the exact times that it is needed. The opposite rush hour space is a non-factor……..although….it seems like the downtown bound lanes are always backed up during rush hour.
    In fact, Lionsgate aside, I believe the downtown bound lanes of the Burrard Bridge are the only ones that are ever in any kind of constant grid-locked state.
    So if we look at it as 2 of the 15 peak hours/packed lanes (making the assumption that the downtown bound 3 on burrard are always packed), then its more like 13.3% of necessary space (over 343% higher than your estimate, MB)

    I actually think that taking one of the under-utilized Granville Bridge lanes, carving it into two bike lanes is a better answer. It’s better connected with cycle routes and Cornwall will never be safe for bikes.

    Then we could do the most significant transportation experiment of all! Would bikers also ignore the deathtrap crosswalk at the Fir/4th Ave exits and stop for pedestrians?……or will they only want to be treated like a car when it’s convenient? hmmmm….

  • MB

    The same balderdash can be used for other experiments, RF, like say shutting down 66.6% of the lanes for 19 blocks on Cambie for a lot longer than a few months.

    Vehicular traffic is like fluid dynamics, it shifts, moves or disappears altogether when constricted. Most of us shifted to the Granville Bridge and found it wasn’t that inconvenient.

    And road space is road space, measured in square metres, acres or kilometres, no matter what direction the traffic moves.

  • LP


    Whether it’s sniffing chain grease, glue, fumes from the 4/20 rally, or Glissando & AGT talking about who imbibed more on Remy Martin before posting on FBula’s blog…..

    Yes I talk to people in person like I do here. In person it’s a lot easier to add tone and facial expressions as part of the interaction.

    If you took it too seriously, I extend my apologies.

  • LP


    The only myopic view regarding this topic is the belief any BB lanes at all, should be converted to other use.

    As I’ve read through other posts on this topic and the comments associated to those posts, it is clear that city planners had not planned on going this route with the BB.

    Subsequently, infrastructure changes have been taking place over previous years that in combination with current lane reductions on the BB will cause much grief to all neighbourhoods on both sides of the bridge.

    Further, development and population growth in other parts of Vancouver will exceed that from the west side and would on that basis alone imply that bike lanes and alternative transportation planning should take priority on other routes.

    Lastly, over the years many people have come forward with great suggestions for integrating more alternative forms of transportation with car use in Vancouver.

    One poster here, Darcy, believes a separate pedestrian bridge should be built for example. Whether I personally agree with that approach or not isn’t relevant, but in my opinion what’s been lacking is the will – to plan for the next 50 years and pay for that infrastructure in today’s dollars.

    All we hear is excuses as to why ‘it’ [what should be done] can’t be done. Read that, EXCUSES.

    VV and “team green” are now using the current economic climate as part of their “excuse” for not having another plan while proceeding with this old stale one, that’s been beaten to death in this city for the past 15-20 years.

  • “It also means none of you will have the balls to admit when you’re wrong. And you will be wrong with this bridge trial. I’d be happy to eat these words but know I’ll never have to.”

    Frankly, it’s the height of arrogance to suggest you know anything before all the evidence is in. Such hyperbole only weakens any valid criticisms you might bring to the trial.

    Unfortunately for you LP, other jurisdictions that have re-allocated road space to pedestrians and cyclists have almost uniformly indicated such experiments turned out to be extremely successful. When it comes time to eat your words, do you want fries with that?

  • LP


    If you’ve read my other comments, you will see that one of my main points has always been that ‘strategically’, VV have backed themselves into a corner on this, and will not be able to back away from any change to the BB even after the trials go poorly.

    You’ve taken only one quote from a dialogue replying to my Newman on this blog, and attempted to come up with the ever-so-lame line “….do you want fries with that?…”

    It seems as though all of you supporting this are stuck on old ideas, and old phrases (re: fries) – lacking the originality to come up with present day solutions (and phrases – really who eats fries now a days) that will be suitable for this city for the next 50 years.

    If you’d like to debate me on the validity of strategy, I would love to hear your take on how VV and their “green team” would look should they decide the BB should not be permanently altered when the trial is over.

    So humour me and just try and imagine that this doesn’t work, regardless of how difficult that may be for you to believe……and then think of how VV and their “green team” can back out gracefully without having their face full of organic mud, after pissing off enough votes to swing the 2011 election back into the NPA.

    If you’d like to jump into my pissing match with Vision Blunders, feel free, please just try and stick to why the comment was made in the first place.

  • Vision governs, the NPA blogs

    LP old boy, so much anger. You call this a pissing match? We’re not even standing at the urinal. Classy touch referring to the city manager as a troll – truly one of your finer debating points.

    It’s actually quite easy to see how VV can back out gracefully – it’s called a trial. A trial is by definition set up to allow it to be cancelled following the evaluation., or it can be continued. Some people think it will work, others don’t.

    And yes, I’m quite happy to say that the $63 million sidewalk widening includes the $30 million for upgrades. But unlike the widening, the bike lane trial doesn’t require the $30 million maintenance as part of its implementation.

    “There are solutions, real ones – that are practical and make sense to a wider range of the population of Vancouver than congesting a bridge for nothing more than what is really a green legacy project for your “team”.

    “With respect to sharing my ideas with VV, if I thought for a moment I would be heard and taken seriously – I would have by now. ”

    Really LP? That’s it? Your policy ideas are so good but they won’t be taken seriously, so you’re going to keep them to yourself?

    I hate to be a downer, but I highly doubt the Vision caucus sits around reading the comments section for policy ideas. So feel free to enlighten us.

    But be careful – as we learned from you about the GCAT meeting agendas, your idea must be fully fleshed out and ready for public consumption. No musing!

  • LP

    Vision Blunders,

    Please don’t mistake my disdain for you with anger – you’d just be flatteringly yourself.

    There you go again Blunders, not speaking whole truths, I didn’t call Ms. Ballum a simple troll, but hey what else can we expect from you?

    Absolutely Penny Ballum is a “ledger troll”.

    For your benefit, a ledger troll is someone who is hired or assumes a management position they are not qualified for, and in their rush to jump into their new role, uses the ledger line items of their budget to manage their responsibilities.

    This would be as opposed to someone with adequate experience being hired for a position, which comes in and uses their knowledge to exact change necessary to better an organization, while working within their budget to do so (even if that budget is being reduced or requires reduction).

    “Ledger trolls” are known for causing more damage to their new employ than for any value they create. From the growing view of many at city hall and the public for that matter, Penny Ballum is exactly that, a “ledger troll”.

    That phrase is not copyrighted, so please those of you who like the phrase, use it whenever you like.

    With respect to the trial Blunders, the mayor has clearly stated the time for debate is done and he’s going ahead with this. This has been very clear so save me any spin b*llsh*t that they would consider anyone coming forward with a plan, regardless of who it is.

    Finally, your arrogance is reaching new heights to believe your party can back out of this gracefully when it fails. VV will have pissed off too many people on an issue that has been bitter and divisive for over a decade now.

    He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If you can’t see that, than I’ve given you far too much credit to date.

  • spartikus

    I’m having a hard time seeing your argument, LP….I’m having to continually wipe spittle from my eyes.

    Maybe dialing down the vitriol might dial up the clarity.

  • “It seems as though all of you supporting this are stuck on old ideas, and old phrases (re: fries) – lacking the originality to come up with present day solutions (and phrases – really who eats fries now a days) that will be suitable for this city for the next 50 years.”

    Lane re-allocation doesn’t seem like an old idea to me. How many places in the Lower Mainland have already tried it? It’s a new idea, hence the trepidation.

    I’m getting quite a chuckle from being accused of barracking for old ideas. This is a first for me.

    Thank you.

    p.s. I had fries yesterday. So delicious. One of the great joys of self-propulsion, esp. for folks like me that can put on pounds by merely walking past a bakery, is the freedom to indulge in deep-fried goodness on occasion.

  • “If you’d like to debate me on the validity of strategy, I would love to hear your take on how VV and their “green team” would look should they decide the BB should not be permanently altered when the trial is over.”

    They will look like leaders that can learn and adjust policy accordingly. Like politicians interested in solutions for their constituents rather than tenure and a pension.

  • LP


    Converting lanes on the Burrard Bridge is an old idea. I believe about 15 years old. Just because an idea hasn’t been implemented doesn’t make it “new”!

    Frankly your cycling lobby could do a lot of good if you were to try and implement change that works with other groups, as opposed to working against them.

    Like I stated before, if this is the vision you people have, it’s completely myopic.

  • “you people”

    Umm, ‘we people are about as diverse a cross-section of the population as you are likely to find. The Friends of the Burrard Bridge started a Facebook group so that people could express support and our members represent the full range of ages, occupations, and demographics. ‘We’ are you and your neighbours.

    As to the cycling lobby working with other people, we are also going to bat for pedestrians, so they don’t have to share sidewalk space with bikes travelling three times as fast as they are. We have repeatedly offered advice to motorists regarding nearby alternate routes for getting downtown. We have encouraged critics to come forward with valid concerns, but they are so few, that those who do present themselves simply highlight the paucity of opposition to this idea. Where are the MLAs for Point Grey and Fairview Slopes on this issue? They didn’t respond to my letters to them. To his credit, I did hear from Spencer Herbert who represents the people of the West End. He offered support for the idea. What does the Transportation Minister think? Surely he must have an viewpoint. Where’s the BCAA? They had no problem addressing the issue of the vehicle levy. The best the DVBIA can come up with regarding the trial is the request that the taxpayer fund economic studies of the lane re-allocation, and a non-committal stance on the project itself.

    The ‘cycling lobby’ is working for everyone and presenting long-term solutions to ongoing issues that can’t be fixed using the strategies that delivered road congestion in the first place. Any other characterization of those efforts looks like (to me) an attempt to marginalize and discount the hard work of a large group of dedicated individuals who give freely of their time and expertise in an attempt to improve our transportation infrastructure.