I have been wanted to talk about this topic for quite some time as I am directly affected by it on my commute to work; the City of Vancouver’s trail run of the Burrard Bridge Bike Lane that started July 13th, 2009. The City has been given the Bicycle Lane up to 6 months for the trial and keeping stats on pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist traffic. Historically, the same trial run was also initiated 10 years ago and was shut down after less than a week because of altercations between cyclists and motorists.
Previously, before the bicycle trial this past July there were 3 lanes for North and Southbound motorist traffic for a total of 6 lanes on the bridge. The Pedestrians and Cyclists had to share the relatively small sidewalks on bot sides of the bridge. Now, with the Bicycle Lanes implemented Southbound (leaving Vancouver) motorists only have 2 lanes and Northbound Motorists (coming into Vancouver) have 3 lanes. Just shutting down one lane does not sound like a big deal but what the City of Vancouver it not taking into account is the traffic patterns they have changed merging into the bridge.
Northbound End of Burrard Bridge Bike Lane – Photo by Ariane Colenbrander
My main complaint is really the way the City designed the Vancouver side of the traffic pattern – it is horrible!
Going Southbound motorists only have one lane all the way down Beach Ave. funneling onto the bridge and living in the West End I have seen motorist traffic idling for 5-7 blocks down Beach Ave. creating traffic and more fumes from cars.
Going Northbound from Kitsalino is relatively unaffected except for when you get to the Vancouver side of the bridge and this where it gets messy. As a motorists I am now merging with cyclists on to the road and to get down to Beach Ave. to get into the West End is very tricky as you have to consider the bike lane when making a right turn and not hit any cyclists.
Now, as a motorist and I would like to note I drive a Toyota Yaris which is not a horrible CO2 polluter. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable riding a bike in the City of Vancouver unless it is on a bicycle only paths as I had a really serious accident in 2001 where I was hospitalized for over 2 weeks I can’t mentally handle or financially afford to be hit by a car. So, as a motorist I take extra special care around cyclists and some of them are great, but some of them are angry and wreckless. They will weave inbetween car traffic without a helmet ESPECIALLY heading southbound on Pacific Ave over the bridge.
As a motorist I feel as though the Vancouver City and the Vancouver Police Department are not regulating the cyclists. I know the City did increase the fine of not wearing a helmet this year but I find it outrageous that over half of the cyclists I see on the Burrard Bridge are NOT wearing a helmet. As a Cyclist I realize this is very frustrating as well and they have been organizing events such as Critical Mass to raise awareness and empower cyclists.
Lions Gate Bridge Critical Mass 2009 – Photo by Random Dude
In my opinion instead of complaining about this whole situation what are some solutions???? I do have some ideas:
1) I have heard of a proposal to have a pedestrian and cyclist only bridge built alongside of the west side of the Burrard Bridge. This is in my opinion the best long term solution for the safety and sanity of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
2) Dedicate each side of the Burrard Bridge to have cyclists and pedestrians and not mix them. Maybe a ‘cheap’ solution for the Vancouver City would be to make a mini bridge’s above the car traffic going east to west on both sides of the Burrard Bridge so respective cyclist/pedestrian traffic can cross to get to their destinations.
It seems that no one is really collaborating together on this Bicycle Lane and it’s a very, Us VS Them, mentality and really no one is winning.
What are your thoughts….
Burrard Bridge, Vancouver, BC – Photo by Tyler Ingram