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Separated bike lanes coming to city

January 31st, 2010 · 25 Comments

With the concrete-barrier-protected bike lane on the Burrard Bridge having proven to be a success (or at least not a media disaster), the city has been looking at other places to install separated lanes. I heard about some interesting possibilities, which I won’t list here for fear of needlessly inciting riots. But apparently city engineers have decided on tamer options, as per this news release that came out from the tireless news-release-writer at city hall, who apparently never gets a day off.  Especially not with the Olympics approaching, when lots of new initiatives and stories about Vancouver’s achievements on various fronts need to be dangled in front of hungry media. 

Mayor to support separated bike lanes on Dunsmuir Viaduct and downtown core

A report coming to council on Thursday supports building on the success of the Burrard Bridge bike lane trial by putting a protected bike lane on the Dunsmuir Viaduct, a move Mayor Gregor Robertson says will help make it safer for cyclists entering downtown.

“We know from the Burrard Bridge that when we separate bike lanes from cars with protective barriers, more people cycle and it reduces the risk of injury or accidents,” said Mayor Robertson. “We need more protected bike lanes in Vancouver and the Dunsmuir Viaduct is the logical next step.”

The report recommends installing a protected bike lane on the north side of the Dunsmuir Viaduct. The bike lane would be created by reconfiguring the existing barriers, and would not remove traffic lanes. Staff recommend installing the lane following the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics because the Dunsmuir Viaduct will be closed until March 2, 2010 due to security requirements.

The report also recommends developing a network of protected bike lanes through downtown Vancouver, which would connect the Burrard Bridge bike lane with the Dunsmuir Viaduct. The City would undertake public consultation on where the separated bike lanes would go, and report back this spring.

“Getting more people to bike in Vancouver is a big part of how we can become the greenest city in the world,” said the Mayor. “Cities throughout Europe and Asia have hundreds of kilometres of protected bike lanes, and we know from the Burrard Bridge bike lane that there is a demand for them here. Developing safe, separated bike lanes downtown – and eventually throughout Vancouver – will make our city a better place for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike.”

The full council report can be read at:

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Sounds great! The concept of a physically separated cycling network downtown is long overdue. I’m glad that the Vision council is taking what seems to be big steps forward on this front.

  • Bill Lee

    Crap. We don’t need “fences” on either side of bike track/too narrow sidewalk. They cause trouble.
    And is this to be enforced one-way?
    This is Dunsmuir, where is the Georgia (east bound) viaduct?

    And for some reason, the Burrard Bridge traffic data hasn’t been updated since November.

    I’m waiting for the day when everyone rides the streetcars or cycles into town.

    This is the viaduct that Mendacious Meggs wanted to tear down? He posted the bike path note on his blog on Thursday.

  • Shane

    They installed concreate barriers on Dunsmuir a few years ago and it appeared to have something to do with the construction of Spectrum Condos, but they are still there.

    All they need to do is shift the barriers and presto- bike lane.

    Perhaps it was all part of the plan.

    Regardless – I welcome it. My company may soon be relocating back downtown, and I would love to be able to cycle there quicker.

    Perhaps it was

  • Edward

    I’ve been waiting for marked bike lanes on the Dunsmuir viaduct. There’s all that wasted space since they narrowed it to make room for the stadium sidewalk. However, I am afraid that all of these segregated bike lanes might be counterproductive, kind of the way fancy crosswalks are: motorists will soon come to believe that they can treat cyclist like crap whenever bikes are in a non-segregated bike lane, which of course is almost everywhere, and always will be.

  • Edward, with separated bike lanes, more people cycle. The more people that cycle, the more motorists seem to be careful around cyclists. There is absolutely no evidence from anywhere that has installed separated bicycle lanes to suggest that motorists will treat cyclists worse.

    The problem with just painting lines is that motorists are always stopping or parking in the bike lane.

  • To be sure, the plan is to have bi-directional bike lane, on the Dunsmuir viaduct.

  • Chris

    Separated cycling-lanes on the viaduct is a no-brainer. It can all be done without losing an automobile lane, so that should keep the car-bound whiners quite.

    The Helcken-Comox Greenway is a more interesting proposal. We’ll have to wait a few months to see what city planners design, but I imagine it will be like the Carroll Street Greenway, but longer and more direct. I can see it becoming one of the most popular bike routes in the city.

  • IanS

    If the change can protect cyclists without increasing congestion and pollution, then why not?

    However, this statement remains questionable:

    >“We know from the Burrard Bridge that when >we separate bike lanes from cars with >protective barriers, more people cycle and it >reduces the risk of injury or accidents,” said >Mayor Robertson

    Unless there is data which has not been published, there is nothing which suggests that the protective barrier increased the number of cyclists on the bridge. Certainly, the data published by the City on the Burrard Bridge “trial” shows that there was no decrease in car use.

    As for making it safer, I recall that the final report did indicate that there was only one bike related accident last summer, as opposed to three the summer before, which is some evidence to support that assertion that the bike lane increased safety.

  • I’m a bit disappointed by the trend towards enforced separation between bicyclists and drivers. Bikes are great at traffic calming. Especially in the core, I’d rather see the money dedicated towards more bike racks / better supervision of bike racks over separated lanes.

  • Tiktaalik

    Let’s tear down the viaduct instead.

  • IanS

    Tear down the viaduct AND create a protected bike lane! 😉

  • “Bikes are great at traffic calming. ”

    I’m not sure we should be looking at cyclists as serving the function of portable speed bumps. Further, for many people, separate, protected lanes are what they need to feel safe biking in the city, and the lack thereof is keeping them away from cycling.

  • Neale Adams

    More bikes in protected lanes.
    More bikes in unprotected lanes (e.g., in lanes that are just paint on the road)
    More bikes on regular streets, taking the lane when that’s justified.
    It’s all good. No single solution. All sorts of efforts will move us forward.

  • Mr Clean

    “The concept of a physically separated cycling network downtown is long overdue”

    Biking Be Good!

    When there is well protected network of bike lanes and corridors then and only then will biking as an alternative mode of transportation go mainstream.

  • Chris B

    I remember well when they closed a lane of the viaduct to help build Costco and the condos. That was the same time as they closed the lane the first time for the Burrard trial. Funny how only one got press.

    And CK, I am sure a few drivers have wanted to make you a portable speed bump 😉

  • Bill Lee

    @Neale Adams

    More police on bikes instead of patrol cars.

    Consider that at a slow patrol crawl you see in the residential areas, they are going slower than most bicyclists.

  • Otis Krayola

    Bikes may or may not be great at traffic calming. I can’t say.

    What I *will* venture is that they have the opposite effect on motorists.

  • @Otis
    Motorists are responsible for their own lack of calm. The small percentage with anger management problems should be taken off the road for everyone’s safety. If they can’t take the “stress” of driving, they should not be behind the wheel of a lethal device.

  • Bill Lee

    @Richard Drivers automatically feel “King of the Road.” That is the nature of the car. With a bike we have the N’avi tails-to-nature of Avatar–we are One.
    IF the police , all 1300 officers rode bikes all day there would be faster calming.

    And if the city was serious about traffic crashes (mistakenly called “accidents” in the media and the public words) then they would declare a city wide 30 km/hr zone next week for the 2 months of the 2 Olympics.

    Subject: The Canadian Press: Haste makes waste: cutting speed boosts drivers’ life expectancy: study
    TORONTO — Every hour spent behind the wheel represents a 20-minute loss in life expectancy because of the risk of being involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident, say researchers, who calculate that even a slight reduction in speed by the average driver could save lives….

    BBC News – Most drivers ‘feel they are superior behind the wheel’

    Most motorists fancy themselves as better drivers than others on the road, Canadian psychologists have found.
    When Ottawa University researchers polled nearly 400 drivers ranging from the youngest to the very old, virtually all rated themselves favourably.
    This was especially true when older drivers were used for comparison, even if the person questioned fell into that category themselves.
    This bravado could lead to more accidents, the scientists warned. [ more ]

    [ 20 mph is an arcane speed masurement, 20 miles per hour is the same as 32.2 km/hr ]

    Subject: Effect of 20 mph traffic speed zones on road injuries in London, 1986-2006: controlled interrupted time series analysis — Grundy et al. 339: b4469 — BMJ

    Published 10 December 2009, doi:10.1136/bmj.b4469
    Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4469
    [ From the Abstract. See full article and tables ]
    ….Results The introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with^ a 41.9% (95% confidence interval 36.0% to 47.8%) reduction in^ road casualties, after adjustment for underlying time trends.^ The percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and^ greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties^ than for minor injuries. There was no evidence of casualty migration^ to areas adjacent to 20 mph zones, where casualties also fell^ slightly by an average of 8.0% (4.4% to 11.5%).^

    Conclusions 20 mph zones are effective measures for reducing^ road injuries and deaths.^

    [ and from the public press, the popular version ]
    BBC News – 20mph speed zones cut road injuries by 40%, study says
    Page last updated at 00:03 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009
    20mph speed zones cut road injuries by 40%, study says
    UK cities should have more 20mph speed zones, as they have cut road injuries by over 40% in London, a study claims.
    In particular the number of children killed or seriously injured has been halved over the past 15 years, the British Medical Journal reported.
    The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study estimates 20mph zones have the potential to prevent up to 700 casualties in London alone.
    At 20mph, it is estimated only one in 40 pedestrians is killed in a crash. [ more ]

  • Darcy McGee

    Woo hoo! No longer do I fear the wrath of GMGW!

  • Darcy McGee

    As an aside, how is this even remotely relevant:
    > im married to a filipina and im planning to bring my bike

  • Bill McCreery

    City Council should defer their proposed $300,000 Dunsmuir Viaduct bike lane project given the budget shortfall requiring the Bloedel Conservatory & Children’s Farmyard to close or be auctioned off.  The bike lane, while a positive environmental improvement, assuming it’s been well planned, is discretionary spending in the present budget deficit circumstances.  It is not essential NOW.  It can wait a year or two.  The $300,000 Engineering 2009 capital expenditure can be moved to the Parks Board 2009 operating budget if there is political will.

    The Bloedel & Farmyard cannot wait.  The arguments for not closing these facilities, revitalizing them & operating them in partnership with non-profit societies has been well made in the past 2 months.  Council & the Parks Board had better start listening to their constituents.  November 2011 is not far off.

    The question could also be asked: why, with a $61m deficit, are bike lane projects in the budget at all this year?  If Bloedel & the Farmyard are not so called ‘core services’, neither are bike lanes [Burrard Bridge & Dunsmuir Viaduct].  The hundreds of thousands of dollars spent fro these two projects in this deficit year would go a long way to keep more libraries & community centres open, protect jobs &, keep the Bloedel & Farmyard open.

  • gmgw

    Aw, Darcy, you say the sweetest things.

  • @IanS: “Unless there is data which has not been published, there is nothing which suggests that the protective barrier increased the number of cyclists on the bridge.”

    Cycling increased 25% in the summer after the trail – it has since declined due to weather constrictions. Walking and driving stayed about the same. Where the new cyclists came from, I have no idea! Maybe off transit?

    “As for making it safer, I recall that the final report did indicate that there was only one bike related accident last summer, as opposed to three the summer before, which is some evidence to support that assertion that the bike lane increased safety.”

    Studies show that as more people cycle, cycling becomes safer and injuries are reduced. I’m sure that’s what Gregor was referring to – more general than Burrard only specifics. Google it.

  • IanS


    Yeah, cycle use went up in the good weather and declined when the weather got worse. What we don’t have are any figures comparing the summer and fall of 2009 with earlier periods, prior to the creation of the bike lane. AFAIK, there are no figures to support the assertion that the bike lane resulted in increased cycle use. I think the City’s numbers also show that care use did not decline after installation of the bike lane, though, of course, we still don’t have comparable stats from previous years.

    As for the second point, that may have been what the Mayor meant, but what he said was “We know from the Burrard Bridge…”. Perhaps he was simply misquoted?