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Council decides: One lane for bikes on Burrard Bridge

May 7th, 2009 · 28 Comments

In their first step towards taking away car space for bikes, Vision councillors opted this afternoon for the compromise solution of taking away only one lane on the Burrard Bridge instead of two lanes.

The bike trial, which will start in four to six weeks, will go like this: All pedestrians confined to the west sidewalk (closest to the ocean and West End, for the directionally challenged). All cyclists going south out of the downtown get the western-most lane. All cyclists going north into the downtown get the eastern sidewalk. All drivers will get free clickers to count how many cyclists they pass on the bridge so they can fume about how few there are or be blown away by the city’s massive cycling community. Okay, that last sentence isn’t true, but the rest is.

Couldn’t be at the meeting because I was busy driving my SOV back and forth across town for various reasons, but my understanding of the reasoning for choosing the one-lane option was that this was a pragmatic first step in what is undoubtedly going to be a much-watched experiment. If it goes well, there’s not a huge traffic pile-up and loads of cyclists, I presume there might be some consideration of going to two.

The engineering report doesn’t say so, but I presume one of the reasons why this is considered a more attractive option is that it doesn’t require trying to figure out the headache-inducing problem of what to do at the north end of the bridge if cyclists got the curb lane going northbound there. That curve off the bridge onto Pacific Boulevard is heavily used all day long by drivers who prefer to inch along Hornby rather than Burrard as they’re making their way downtown. There’s not quite the same problem going south, in my personal experience, as it doesn’t seem like as many commuters try to use Thurlow and Pacific to get ON to the bridge going south. (Though I could be wrong.)

The main inconvenience to this for pedestrians is that anyone who normally uses the east sidewalk will have to cross over. Again, the engineering report doesn’t provide any stats on how many people that might be on average.

I’m curious to know what people think of this option, as apparently it was not an option that was ever presented at the open houses on this issue.

P.S. I should note, for the record, that David Cadman and Ellen Woodsworth of COPE supported the two-lane option, while NPAer Suzanne Anton was out of town for the vote but has indicated that she opposed any of the lane-closure options.

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