So where did the traffic go?

Burrard flowed smoothly:

Burrard cyclists

Granville had capacity to spare:


There was some back-up on Pacific, but only for two or three blocks:

Pacific backup

Same on the east lane of the bridge for exit traffic heading onto Pacific – a not uncommon situation.  But overall, there was so little congestion that even City Caucus had to admit the experiment was a success.

Given that even some of the more neutral transportation engineers thought that back-ups would be severe,  it makes one wonder …

If, as the phrase goes, you build it and they will come, does this mean that if you remove it, they will go away?  (The Germans would understand.  It’s the corollary of Braess’s Paradox.)

More likely, it was the consequence of sufficient preparation, both by the engineers (who did a remarkable job in paving and striping Pacific, as well as preparing the bridge over the weekend) and communications media in preparing the public.  

It was also a testament to social networking, given the turnout of cyclists and their positive messaging that effectively offset the complaints that accompany this kind of cultural change. 

And a cultural change it is.  There’s no way the bridge will ever go back to its previous condition.  Vancouver itself has changed; we’re a different, greener city than we were in 1996.

  Burrard cyclists 4

But there will have to be some changes.  When the bridge’s sidewalks and railings are rebuilt, no doubt the lanes will be reconfigured.  And problems with the free rights (see below) will have to be addressed, probably sooner.  There’s too much happening, particularly at the northwest corner, in too small a space as drivers try to navigate the merge while cyclists are speeding down the Burrard Street grade.

Free right congestion

Pacific and Hornby have their own problems.  Too little space on the street for west-bound cyclists:

Pacific sidewalk

A problematic left-turn on to Hornby:

Hornby left

The prohibition of a right-turn onto Hornby by motorists, negatively affecting the businesses, might be abandoned without any real downside for cyclists by using a New York signal (pioneered on their 8th-Avenue bike lane) – depending on the lessons of the next few weeks.

So stay tuned for lots of speculation on just what those lessons are.  I’ll be out of town for the rest of the week, so I’ll leave that up to you.

But here’s one more.  Maybe, just maybe, the reason the traffic flowed so well on Burrard Street and the bridge,defying (and disappointing) the critics of doom, is because enough motorists decided to cycle instead.  Proving that there’s no real need for a culture war.