Burrard Bridge Bicycle Lanes

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

Posted in: Vancouver

 7 Responses to "Burrard Bridge Bicycle Lanes"

  • I think its silly, traffic into Vancouver will only get worse before its gonna get better. I agree they need to have a bridge or something for pedestrians and cyclists and something that will not disturb the traffic flow.

  • Robyn GREAT POST !!! I totally agree with you, I work in Kits and spend a lot of time getting to Denman and Comox to visit friends. The getting to the westend is manageable, sometimes 25 mins to cross the bridge but going home to along beach ave no matter the time is crazy. I was once stopped at the inukshuk at English Bay waiting to get on to the bridge at burrard. Personally I have seen 4 car accidents as people try to merge onto the bridge and miss judge traffic coming down burrard. Over all the bike lane is a big fail in my view. I’m all for cyclist safety but this can’t be the best solution for all involved.

  • I remember hearing about how a car thought it could fit in the southbound bike lane and crashed into the median.

  • Thanks for the comments on this post – The Burrard Bridge is a constant source of frustration for me. I watched a short segment on the news yesterday from CTV and they were saying how well it was doing, ect. So I forwarded this post to the City of Vancouver and CTV. Who knows if they will actually read it but I think they should now they have not yet reached ‘Burrard Bridge perfection’ =)

  • Once the city decides on a permanent configuration for the bridge, they will redesign the Burrard Pacific intersection making it safer and more convenient for everyone. This should eliminate the traffic delays.

    Regarding cyclists not wearing helmets, it is their business, not yours. Most countries in the world, including Denmark, Holland and China, where most people cycling, people don’t wear helmets yet their fatality rates are much lower than here. It is time to stop the nanny state and get rid of the helmet law. While I encourage people to wear helmets, it should be a matter of personal choice. You might be shocked to learn that the helmet law is practically the only law that the Vancouver police enforce regarding cycling. Over 3,000 tickets have been issued this year. It spite of all this enforcement, people still don’t wear helmets.

  • @ Richard, Thanks for the comment from more of a cyclists perspective. That is interesting that the VPD have been issuing so many tickets as I was unaware they have given so many. I understand free will and choice but personally I have trouble understanding people who would not wear helmets around busy vehicle traffic.

  • Some interesting points raised. My thoughts…

    “…designed the Vancouver side …”

    I assume you mean “downtown” side? Both sides of the bridge are in Vancouver….

    “…I drive a Toyota Yaris which is not a horrible CO2 polluter. …”

    Yes the Yaris is definitely one of the best cars. Thank you for not driving a bigger polluter.

    But, even if all car drivers switched to the Yaris our CO2 emissions would still be way too high (not to mention all the other environmental, social and health costs associated with cars). The evidence is we need to reduce CO2 emissions by something like 80-90%. Which means switching to fuel efficient cars will not be enough. Doesn’t that mean we need to get more people out of cars and into other forms of transportation?

    Isn’t that why the Burrard bridge trail is a good step forward? It gives people a safer option for cycling and also helps discourage driving.

    “…the Vancouver Police Department are not regulating the cyclists…”

    As others have pointed out the evidence suggests that in areas were the police don’t regulate helmet use cyclists are actually safer. Not that helmets are bad, but in these jurisdictions there are stricter laws for motorists interacting with cyclists and more is done to encourage cycling.

    “…pedestrian and cyclist only bridge built…

    As I mentioned the science is quite clear that we need to decrease motor vehicle use significantly if we are to reduce the effects of climate change. This means that there will be plenty of extra space on the Burrard Bridge. Why would we spend millions on a new bridge when we will have plenty of under-used bridges?

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