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Burrard Bridge Day Two – Sunday

July 12, 2009

The paving is complete, the traffic is flowing.   From watching the webcams for most of the day, there hasn’t been any of the predicted chaos.  Even for a Sunday, the traffic seemed light.

People are still trying to figure out the new arrangements:

Peds figuring it out

Cyclists figuring it out

But it’s already clear that that the new bike lanes are a pleasure to cycle, particularly the downhill grade on the west side.   Before, when cyclists gaining speed had to watch for predestrians on one side and the drop-off of the curb on the other, it made for a very tense experience.  One of the reasons so many people wouldn’t even try.   Now it’s a joy.

Downhill grade

The changes at the northwest and east corners, where Burrard meets Pacific, are as significant as the changes on the bridge deck  itself.   The ‘free rights’  have been reconfigured.  Free rights are the curving turn lanes that allow motorists to merge into traffic without necessarily stopping, so long as they yield to walkers and cyclists who cut across their path. 

Until now, there were two lanes in each of the free rights coming on and off Pacific.  Now there’s one for cyclists, one for cars.

Free right off Pacific onto bridge

The bike lanes extend back along Pacific for a block, giving cyclists enough road space so that they don’t have to be on the sidewalks.

Pacific bike lane going east

It’s simpler, it’s safer, but it’s probably going to result in a back-up of traffic waiting to merge.  I won’t be surprised to see the lines extend up Thurlow tomorrow.   That, and the requirement for north-bound motorists coming off the bridge who want to get to Beach Avenue to now have to go another block further to Howe before turning, will cause no end of annoyance to those who really dislike change to their daily habits, especially when they’re inconvenienced.   And that includes most of us.

What I am really looking for, though, is this:

Kid cycling

And this:

Kid cycling 2

Will kids and families now be cycling (and walking) across Burrard Bridge?  Will a mother feel it’s safe to take her children by bike from Kitsilano to the Aquatic Centre?  Will, for that matter, everyone from eight to eighty now feel safer and more comfortable?

This experiment is not about hardy youth and confident athletes.  This is about accomodating Burrard Bridge for everyone.  The goal is to find the right balance for all the users, including drivers, while addressing a lot of related issues.   Legal commitments, yes.  Safety and comfort, yes.  Reducing greenhouse gases, yes.  Fitness and health, yes. 

We may not get it exactly right the first time, but for a lot of reasons we’ve got to keep trying.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ron C. permalink
    July 12, 2009 7:19 pm

    Drove westbound on Pacific to southbound Burrrad Bridge and they haven’t done too bad a job at the lane allocations.
    There are 3 lanes westbound at Richards – the right lane disappears at some point – not sure where (possibly a dedicated right turn lane to Seymour?)
    At Howe there is a new left turn bay (to southbound Howe) – that removes at least a couple of cars that would normally back-up the left lane (making 2 de facto through lanes during most busy hours)
    So the new configuration of 2 through lanes isn’t much different than the situation when a car is turning left at Howe.
    Not sure if left turns are prohibited at Hornby – hopefully they are.
    Of the 2 through lanes, the left lane becomes a left turn lane at Burrard and another left turn bay emerges on the left. The right lane as before leads to the West End.

    As you mention, the eastbound Pacific traffic to Burrard Bridge southbound will now have to wait for gaps in traffic, especially with the retention of 2 left turn lanes from westbound Pacific.

    BTW, the 2 lane aspect of the northbound to east bound right turn near Kettle of Fish was eliminated a number of years ago with the installation of a short curb to narrow it to one lane. That short curb has now been removed for the trial and the car lane will run over its former location (with the bike lane in what used to be the right turn car lane).

  2. Ron C. permalink
    July 12, 2009 7:22 pm

    Also – a forummer on SkyscraperPage.com reported that the southbound to westbound off-ramp from Cambie Bridge to 6th Ave. will open tomorrow – same day as the bike trial.
    Too bad that wasn’t advertised with the Burrrard Bridge ads that plastered the papers last week.

  3. July 13, 2009 8:26 am

    I’m taking my son across the bridge in the bike trailer for the first time this afternoon. The shared sidewalks were too narrow for me to feel comfortable on the bridge with the trailer.

  4. Ron C. permalink
    July 13, 2009 12:01 pm

    This test will primarily determine whether 5 lanes works for the bridge.

    If so, hopefully the City will shift the barriers half a lane to the west, remark the car lanes half a lane to the west and give the pedestrians back the east sidewalk.

    And if you complain that bike can’t pass each other, there are lots of streets in the City where cars can’t pass each other either – you just have to line up in single file as you do in lots of other places in the City – on narrow escalators, narrow sidewalks, or narrow streets.

  5. Holly permalink
    July 15, 2009 5:53 pm

    I’m looking forward to taking my 2 year old daughter over the bridge in her trailer tomorrow. I never would have felt safe enough to do that before the bike lane. Instead of riding the bus we’ll be cycling in style!

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