It was a good strategy. By paving Pacific Street where it crosses Burrard Street two days before the introduction of a separated bike lane on the bridge, the City took some of the sting away from critics opposing the experiment.
The congestion experienced today wasn’t because of a harebrained scheme to pander to cyclists; it was to make the roads better for motorists.
Now I don’t think City Hall was all that scheming. It made sense to schedule the resurfacing of Pacific at the same time as the bike-lane experiment, thereby inconveniencing drivers only once.
But it induced the shock for a reason that can’t really be disputed. And it allowed the City to do all the heavy lifting to get the lane in place.
Already some of the effects are apparent. Cyclists are using the lane in both directions, even though north-bound cyclists are supposed to use the east sidewalk.
Pedestrians are getting as much out of the separation as the cyclists. With bikes off the west sidewalk, it’s a pleasure to walk across the bridge – a relief even for regular users who were used to cyclists whizzing by inches from their shoulders. (Pedestrians are also buffered from the traffic roaring by at a hundred klicks.)
The traffic is still moving – at least at 2:30 pm when these pictures were taken, and at least on Burrard and Cornwall south of the bridge. The traffic was backing up on the bridge going north as it usually does on a busy weekend, but it didn’t seem to be resulting in gridlock on the blocks beyond.
But any increase will fuel outrage, magnified by a media frame that sees only anger. It will take at least a week before we know how this is also going to shake out. But, as evidenced in Pete McMartin’s column today, I think there’s a chance we’re going to give it a fair shot.