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Bike Lanes on Burrard Bridge

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West End Residents Association at SFU 22 February

Burrard Bridge Facing South

This meeting was called, I thought, to build the case for lane reallocation on the bridge. It turned out that it was supposed to be a forum. And contributions from the floor were supposed to just be questions of the experts on the panel. Yet more than one panel member admitted to be unfamiliar with the issues and there was a lot of expertise in the room.

John Whistler of WERA introduced the meeting with a quick run through of the history, starting with the 1960 freeway plan, which gave rise to the Hornby Connector. While this is still part of City Policy it now seems highly unlikely. Bikes have always an issue on the bridge but up until 1988 shared the roadspace. The city bike plan and city bike network followed but on Burrard Bridge pedestrians and cycles have to share a narrow sidewalk which is a poor solution for both groups. In 1994 Delcan was appointed to look at False Creek crossings and many options were looked at including new bridges. The lane reallocation on Burrard rated highly. In 1995 Vancouver produced its City Plan, and on transportation priorities pedestrians and cyclists were the top two priorities.

Eventually a six month trial of lane reallocation was started in 1996 but stopped within a week when motorists called City Hall on their cell phones. A staff report of the brief trial showed that most of the 9% reduction in motorists trips simply “disappeared”. In 2006 another trial became an election issue and was cancelled by Sam Sullivan. Delcan was then hired to do widening study.

Times are changing – traffic volumes across the bridge have decreased, transit riders, cyclists and pedestrians have all increased. We also now have to deal with climate change and peak oil, neither of which were an issue 16 years ago when this debate started. A report from Delcan to is due to go to council in the next few months.

The moderator was provided by the Vancouver Public Space Network: Andrew Pask

He chuntered on about urban fabric, residents, sustainability and said that questions are being asked about our ecological footprint. He also mentioned the bridge’s importance to our urban experience and quoted Bing Thom’s remarks at that iconic buildings meeting that it is his favourite place. “Burrard Street is designed for speed” and creates all sorts of conflicts but there are a multiplicity of perspectives. Sadly he did not use the amount of time he took to explain the way he was going to run the meeting, which led to conflicts later. He seemed inexperienced in moderating meetings.

Tara Scollard represented the City Engineers Department but was the first to admit that she had not been part of the process and had in fact fairly recently arrived in Vancouver. Throwing her at this meeting was unfair on her and her audience, but she was treated very gently. I suspect if the man responsible for the current mess had been there that would not have been the case. She also recited the history and said that the current condition is that SOVs are “constant” across the bridge while numbers of bikes and pedestrians are increasing. [In fact traffic volume dclined 5% from 1996 to 2004] In 2005 design direction was determined by Council (expansion of the footway) with final design in next month or two. There are two choices either widening both footways for the length of the bridge or retaining “pinch points” at the arches to preserve the current design.

Larry Frank

“I use the bridge every day and I see near disasters every day. How much money are we really saving? I am all for accommodating non-motorised travel. I think we need a Cost Benefit Analysis of how much we should accommodate the car. Since I arrived here, we seem to be in the dark. The problem is analogous to the Port Mann twinning: the policy here is to preserve the roadway. Why do we need to accommodate capacity for cars? Is there to be a transit lane on this bridge? If not, then it’s wrong! Don Buchanan [who was in the audience] has pointed out that transit is the missing piece. There is a significant volume of latent demand for cycling but people are currently afraid to ride their bikes over the bridge. This is due to a combination of conflicts with pedestrians and the high curbs, which threaten an errant cyclist with being tipped off into fast moving traffic. There is not enough space for both pedestrians and bikes on the sidewalk. Take a lane for bikes and then leave sidewalk for pedestrians. This not only mitigates vehicle use, it sends right message. How does that accommodate transit? By diverting cars to Granville Bridge which has spare capacity and is designed for cars. All my research on obesity and physical activity shows that we need to get moire people cycling and walking. Of the present plans pinch points are just a way to create accidents: neither is consistent with the vision for the region or the city but only one option (widening) is being looked at.

Donald Luxton of Heritage Vancouver has been “saying the same thing since 1990s. The only alternative that we oppose is the widening of the bridge. We are not against change, but the outriggers (the worst design solution) keep coming back. We are trying to work productively but we don’t need to wreck the Burrard Bridge. It is the No 1 endangered site of Heritage Vancouver list. The present design would see masonry railings replaced with metal – and metal hoops at the piers. This will cost at least $50m, maybe more and does not address real problem which is at the bridge heads. It is on the 2006 top ten list produced by Heritage Canada and is an internationally significant art deco icon. Heritage issues do not run the show but there are times when they are paramount. We need to tackle the issue but why mess up the bridge to do it? The cost is too high and it is wrong.

Bonnie Fenton,asked why we need to do this when we don’t have to? Re-allocating lanes will not save the world or destroy the city. The major issue is the need to make the bridge safe for bikes and pedestrians. There are actually two cycling camps which she labelled pragmatists and idealists. In 15 years of talking nothing has been done. Lane re-allocation would send a strong signal about what we need to do in this city. In the 1996 trial there were 870 cyclists, a 39% increase but a 9% decrease in car trips. these were not diverted but trips not made. This suggests that these trips were discretionary and their loss caused little inconvenience. Car drivers made the adjustment quickly. And at the end of the week there was a 50-50 split in comments received by the City – for and against. Fred Bass’s motion to the last Council was visionary and would have include a major communications package – something omitted in 1996. She also quoted at length a Business in Vancouver article by Peter Ladner which conclude that if the trial was successful it would be a potential bonus for tax payers. We now that traffic disappears. The modelling assumptions used by engineers do not include this. But we know that people have brains and do not try to go where they cannot. We also know that of the trips across the bridge by SOVs, 50% are not regular. In other words those trips can be made in other ways. Logic is not being used by the City.

John Tylee was the other newcomer to the issue and represented the Economic Development Commission for Vancouver. He was the only speaker who said “I think the city is doing the right thing.” He said that strong downtowns are vital to the City and the region. “The suburban challenge is eternal and relentless.” Downtowns set the identity of the community, and you only get once chance to make a good impression. Currently Vancouver’s downtown is profitable: 25% of the region’s population is in Vancouver but 50% of its commercial property value. It is necessary to balance a large critical mass of “people like us and and people unlike us” and Vancouver has a great mix of ages, races and occupations. It must be easy for people to get in and out. Downtown is the high cost option so it has to provide a better experience than its competitors in the suburbs. “Change can be sudden and hard to spot .” There will be a tipping point: a lot of assessment left downtown Toronto for “905 area” because of congestion. San Diego and San Francisco both had similar experiences and the VEDC has “reasons for concern” as business is becoming difficult to do. Richmond and Surrey both have ambitious plans for commerce in their downtowns. Removing lanes from cars makes downtown less attractive. He said that he thinks adaptation is more interesting than preservation, and noted the way that Berlin had modernised the historic Bundestag by adding a “glass bubble” to let in more light. We can find a way but we do need to deal with the “attitude of cyclists”

At this point my battery waring flashed and we moved on to discussion, so from here on we must rely either on contributions from the small number of people who were there – or my notoriously unreliable short term memory.

I do not recall anyone supporting the City’s position. Reallocation seemed to be the most popular option though I also liked Ned Jacob’s idea. Sidewalks for pedestrians only. Two lanes for cars and cycles with a 25kph speed limit, and the centre lanes for transit only with no speed limit.

I did get to point out that the car volume across the bridge was not determined by the number of lanes but by the intersections at each end. And Don Buchanan said that the intersection at the north end is the second most dangerous in Vancouver – with a casualty number higher than all the fires in the city.

One recent immigrant from Holland was adamant that pedestrians and cyclists should never be expected to share the same path.

l to r Tara Scollard , Bonnie Fenton, John Tylee and Donald Luxton

Written by Stephen Rees

February 22, 2008 at 9:22 am

23 Responses

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  1. What John Tylee of the Economic Development Commission for Vancouver does not realize is that reducing general purpose travel lanes on the Burrard Bridge will *reduce* congestion in the downtown core.

    As an experienced cyclist, from a selfish standpoint, allowing bicycles on the roadway, with or without a reduced speed limit, would work for me. However, I realize that most potential bicyclists would be deterred by such a “solution.”

    Reduction of one or more lanes for an extended period of time is going to happen during any sidewalk widening construction anyway, so why not try the reallocation first?

    Sungsu

    February 22, 2008 at 9:47 am

  2. Thanks for the great summary, Stephen. Wish I could have been there, but Lucas had his 4 month vaccinations yesterday and I had to be with him.

    From my point of view, biking and walking across the bridge fairly regularly, it is dangerous. I have seen many collisions between bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as an occasional car-bike collision. Granted, these collisions may be more likely the cyclists’ faults because I’ve seen quite a few speeding down that narrow bike lane, while trying to pass slower cyclists. That doesn’t change the fact that reallocation would be a cheap way to make the bridge safer.

    I’d also like to aver your point about traffic on the bridge being caused by the intersections at either end, rather than the number of lanes. The back up during rush hour is on leaving the bridge, not entering it. This is exactly the opposite situation as what I see on the Lion’s Gate.

    Andrew E

    February 22, 2008 at 11:12 am

  3. Another great post, Stephen. I appreciate your effort to capture the details.

    I walked across the Burrard Bridge to downtown throughout the 90s when we lived near Granville Island, and my observations are similar to Andrew’s. Though I got clipped from behind on occasion by some speeding cyclists on the downhill portions of the sidewalks, most were polite and gave peds a warning jingle when approaching from behind in the presence of the roaring traffic. The existing sidewalks are definitely too narrow for both shoes and bikes, especially in higher volumes.

    The really scary elements are the Boxters, Beemers and high-powered Kawasakis bulleting over the crest at 160 kmp, and the line of impatient road ragers stuck behind slow convoys of trucks from Ocean Cement. Perhaps traffic calming measures should be considered in this exercise too.

    The noted decrease in traffic must be factored into any design calculation, and that is an indication that removing a lane or two of SOVs won’t hurt that much. And if it does hurt the occasional Navigator-driving West Sider, so what?

    Removing lane capacity for cars isn’t just about traffic. It’s a social commitment to a higher quality of life, to a community that is maturing in more ways than one (and faster than the decision makers are), to the relationship between economic and environmental health, and to heritage.

    Your point about the intersections at either end is well taken. But if, say, one lane was removed from the 840+m long bridge deck with half its width devoted to extending the sidewalks inward, the remaining five could be reconfigured with one counterflow lane. Not ideal, but perhaps the best compromise. The intersections will be left with a counterflow challenge, but with one less lane.

    I agree with Ned Jacobs about making a better commitment to transit on Burrard. Perhaps this could be done using miodern streetcars that share the outer two lanes with cars, but also giving the streetcars priority at the intersections. It seems to be an easy run for a steetcar over the Burrard Bridge from downtown to 6th, then onto the Arbutus rail r/w to Kerrisdale and beyond.

    Meredith

    February 22, 2008 at 4:41 pm

  4. “Least drastic means” is a legal principal in constitutional law – and it applies very well in a situation like this.

    In my view take ONE lane and reallocate it for a bike lane width in each direction on the roadway (the same width as other bike lanes in the city). This is the cheapest solution and would provide for the needs of all concerned. The cost of the wider outrigger sidewalks is ridiculously high. I think that the 2 lane reallocation was “engineered to fail” for having too drastic an impact on the car traffic/bus routes.

    Sure, it’s not the gold-plated full-car-lane width that some cyclists want, but if demand escalates, then another car lane can be reallocated. I recall that the reason the City wanted a full lane each way was to allow cyclists to pass each other and for rollerbalders since this would be considered part of the seawall route. I think that the rollerbladers can stay on the sidewalk on the bridge (they do now in half the width they would have with all of the sidewalk) and the cyclists can do fine with a half-car-lane bike lane width on the roadway.

    I think that the bikes should be on the roadway because in my experience as a regular jogger across the bridge, the problem isn’t cyclists on the sidewalk, it’s pedestrians not being aware of where they are wandering/walking. I often see 3 and 4 pedestrians walking abreast on the sidewalk and have to yell the standard “passing” call. If the sidewalk were widened, pedestrians would just wander over a wider area into the bike lane. A small curb could be placed at the edge of the roadway level bike lane to prevent cars from wandering into the bike lane.

    We have seen with the Cambie construction – and Cambie Bridge being reduced to one lane in each direction – that traffic redistributes, so one lane from Burrard Bridge will not be the end of the world. Also, Burrard Bridge just leads to the West Side – it is not a regional bridge in the way that Granville Bridge or Cambie Bridge provide through routes to Richmond. There is also excess capacity on the nearby Granville Bridge which was designed for connecting to an unbuilt freeway along Broadway.

    Ron C

    February 22, 2008 at 9:22 pm

  5. Perhaps with the five-lane solution, the counterflow lane could be for transit only.

    Sungsu

    February 22, 2008 at 9:29 pm

  6. So much time has been spent re-hashing these reports, holding open houses, public forums. The “build” options were costly and unnecessary when they were first examined, but now the costs are simply outrageous. Councils have delayed and probably will continue to delay deciding to move.

    Why not revoke the ban on any other crossing of False Creek and build a bike and pedestrian crossing west of Burrard Bridge. Better access to the Planetarium, Vancouver Museum and Maritime Museum for West-enders and Denman Street for Kits Point residents would surely be welcomed.

    Graeme

    February 23, 2008 at 8:47 am

  7. Andrew Pask- Vancouver public space network

    and don’t hate on Andrew- he was a great moderator. He can’t help it if a bunch of crazies that don’t want to shut up come to the meetings. Seriously, he succinctly stated that there was a small amount of time for questions and then the people at the mic give long wasteful stories with not useful question. I think he did a great job of trying to urge them to be respectful of time and the speakers.

    thevancouvermanifesto

    February 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm

  8. I do not “hate on” anyone. I am sorry that you think I am crazy. I think I had some information to deliver that was missing from the presentations. After all, two of the five speakers admitted they did not really have much familiarity with the issues. And one person who did ask a question did not get an answer, so his annoyance is understandable. When a meeting starts late, trying to end “on time” is disrespectful to all who made the effort to come. And meetings can run late, and people who have to may leave early. And if there is not much time in total, moderators do not normally regale the audience with their personal views on the issue – normally they try to act as impartial “chairs”.

    Stephen Rees

    February 23, 2008 at 6:34 pm

  9. i didn’t mean you were crazy althugh your point was made well early on and didn’t require THAT much elaboration.
    The other guy WAS a bit on the crazy side. It’s true, his question did not get an answer, in any succinct way- from the person to which he was directing the question. But it was clear that that gu was a dud in the panel. BUT, this guy inthe audience had no right to be so inflammatory and take up an intense amount of time to ask a heated question that could have been expressed in 2 sentences or so. Instead, he questioner tried to build it up. REally, there’s no need to build it up when so clearly Tylee was the dud.
    Although I do give Tylee props for explaining his supportive standing- he wants Vancouver to do SOMETHING- he made it clear that Vancouver sits around and debates so much that nothing gets done. There’s somthing to be said about getting over the inaction and getting on with the action. Unfortuately Tylee was championing the wrong action.

    In short, the crazies need to be more succinct in public frum where man would like to speak- and there s only so much time. (It started ontime. 5 minutes late= westcoast time.)
    Nobody needs to be up there more than one minute to pose an intriguing/hot issue. Those who do either need to work on the public speaking skills or need to get over themselves and intensely long stories that say nothing 12 times over.

    thevancouvermanifesto

    February 23, 2008 at 11:43 pm

  10. Hi Stephen,

    I came across your review of the WERA event – thank you for your feedback on the event and your commentary on the facilitation. It’s good to read your thoughts on Vancouver planning and transportation issues.

    You made a few comments about my work that evening. I thought I would take the opportunity to clarify the approach I took – which worked for some folks and not, it seems, for all.

    At the conclusion of my “chuntering” five minute introduction, I gave what I felt were fairly precise instructions: I said I was looking for “good questions from the audience” – and then defined good questions as ones that would “help to unpack the assumptions of the various speakers.” In the discussions I facilitate, and there are a lot of them, I don’t lay down a whole lot more in the way of rules – other than, perhaps, “be respectful of the speakers and of everyone’s time.” The reason I don’t is simple: because it can set a rather overbearing and paternalistic tone. 95 percent of the time, this works well enough.

    So on rolled the panel, which gave a fairly decent, if one-sided, treatment of the old positions. (I say “one-sided” because the sub for the CoV speaker was not particularly familiar with the project/decisions that she might otherwise have been defending… which left only one fellow whose position – status quo – was really contrary to others).

    At the conclusion of the panel discussion I asked the CoV candidate if she wanted to respond to any of the comments that were made in reference to the City’s activities. She didn’t – largely, I suspect, because she probably couldn’t. Finally, I lobbed a soft question at the panel around how they might recommend that someone in the City engineer’s position move about negotiating the various values. After that, I opened it up to the audience.

    I again asked people for their questions. And I again asked people to be brief because we had limited time.

    What happened?

    The first person that got to the mike launched into a speech about his opinions on the bridge and the planning and engineering decisions that were being made. When I asked, after a few minutes, if he had a specific question or point he wanted to present, his response was “no, I’m trying to tell you all how to do things right.” Fair enough… the speaker then continued on and I asked him if he could get to his point. When he continued in his circumlocution, I had to cut him off. There were simply too many people waiting, and no real directed question for me to put to any of the panelists.

    Unfortunately, I guess that speaker was you!

    I apologize if you felt slighted by my actions; however, I stand by my decision. The organizers had explicitly told me that we had to wrap things at 9:00pm. There were growing lines of people behind and beside you. And the clock was ticking.

    I hope this has helped to clarify things. Thank you again for blogging on this important event. The folks at WERA did a great job of organizing this on short notice.

    Best,

    Andrew Pask
    Vancouver Public Space Network

    Andrew Pask

    February 24, 2008 at 1:08 am

  11. Oh, I forgot to ask –

    I wasn’t sure quite what you meant by “regaling the audience with … personal views on the issue – normally they try to act as impartial “chairs.””

    Could you let me know what it is that you’re thinking of here? I tried to remain as objective as possible and said as much in my comments.

    Thank you again,

    Andrew

    Andrew Pask

    February 24, 2008 at 1:11 am

  12. Andrew

    Since John Whistler had already done an introduction, you did not need to.

    Since the panel had had their time, and some of them had not used it well, giving them more was, in my view, a mistake.

    Larry Frank introduced the idea of the bus lane as though it were essential. This was a major distraction from the issue of bikes and peds. The City of Vancouver may have a policy of favouring bikes, peds and transit over cars, but its Engineering Department has steadily protected car capacity, in successful defiance of political direction.

    I did not want to seem to attack either Larry Frank or Tara Scollard.

    VM

    I was not telling a story, I was presenting my credentials. Just in case people thought I was just some guy who had wandered in. Because, while bus lanes are necessary, in a region that has inadequate bus service, they must be introduced strategically, and Burrard Bridge is not the place to start. As I was interrupted, I was getting to the point about the bus service. Sometimes you have to set the context – and bus service – until Larry Frank spoke – had not been an issue.

    No-one had spoken about the capacity restraint of the intersections – though once I had raised it, Donald Luxton and Don Buchanan did speak about them very effectively.

    BOTH

    The meeting was allowed to drift. It should have been how to get the trial of bike lanes reinstated before any damage is done to the bridge fabric. Sam Sullivan and Peter Ladner’s position is indefensible. But they have the power.

    The WERA Pamphlet had set out clearly what the basic facts and requirements are. It is a great pity that so few took the time to read it while waiting for the meeting to start.

    A meeting that starts on “West Coast Time” should surely end on “West Coast Time” too? And why is ending a meeting promptly so important? It is not like anyone was going to take a vote. As you will see from this blog, I do feel the need sometimes to “challenge the chair” as sometimes the meeting wants to go on even when the chair is calling time. I had a similar issue with Frances Bula at the “Dissent” meeting at SFU – and for the same reason.

    In Vancouver we all talk a very great deal. But we really do not DO very much.

    Stephen Rees

    February 24, 2008 at 8:20 am

  13. time restraints were made clear. Organizers have a certain time when facilities and speakers are booked.
    If one has questions that cannot fulfill the constraied time limit or one just would like to be confrontational and go on a rant to potentially humiliate/shame one of the speakers (not you, the other guy), then I suggest they wait until everybody else has a turn to ask their short succinct questions and maybe continue the conversation with that one speaker that they clearly took specific issue with. The whole room doesn’t need to hear an endless rant which clearly was for the purpose of shaming Tylee instead of asking a question that could further “unpack the issues”

    TheVancouverManifesto.

    thevancouvermanifesto

    February 24, 2008 at 2:49 pm

  14. Stephen,

    Thanks for clarifying your position. As I understand it, the main concern seems to be around the structure of the event.

    For the record, I don’t disagree with all of your comments on format, etc.; however, I had little control over that aspect of the evening and was trying to keep things on track given the parameters that I was told to work with: (a) make some opening remarks, (b) end at 9:00, and (c) make it a Q&A session. That’s why I set it up and moderated it the way it did.

    In WERA’s defense, they pulled the evening together on short notice and had to deal with the last-minute cancellation of a key speaker… not very easy circumstances in which to stage an event of this sort. Also, I’m guessing it may have been challenging to identify the particular goals that an event of this might have – beyond the format they chose – given that the two public (City) consultations on the subject seemed to frame the “either/or” acceptance of the proposals as an inevitability.

    (By this, I don’t mean to suggest that there weren’t other ways to organize the event; rather, that figuring out what the alternatives might mean – brainstorm, advocacy campaign, civil disobedience, whatever – would have meant an additional investment of time and energy, as well as a potentially substantive investment of follow-up time. Again, not easy given the constraints that WERA was working with).

    On that note, you’ve clearly got some ideas on how to work on the situation. I hope that you’ve contacted WERA – this issue is important to them, and perhaps you could collaborate to do something more. I agree that there are lots of opportunities for engagement (vs dialogue)… so perhaps now is the time to figure out what that might mean in practical terms.

    Let me know if you decide to do so, as the VPSN has a lot of volunteers and is interested in working on projects of this sort.

    Best,

    Andrew

    Andrew Pask

    February 24, 2008 at 8:09 pm

  15. I think I went under a misapprehension. I had expected to be consulted on the basis of my knowledge. I thought that was why I was invited. You may not know that I live in Richmond, so coming to an evening meeting in Vancouver is something that I consider carefully. Perhaps what I got was just a copy of a widely distributed invitation. And the format was somewhat different to what i expected. I must also admit to being a bit taken aback by the later reaction to this post, as the initial comments were much more positive.

    It is also apparent that the City is using one of its favourite tactics – presenting a very limited, and woefully inadequate choice. By backing people into a corner – saying the sidewalks will be widened one way or another – seems to inevitably provoke hostility. To not send a well prepared senior official seems to me to either cowardly or insulting.

    I think, given what you have written you did your best under trying circumstances, and I am sorry if I added to your burden.

    Stephen Rees

    February 24, 2008 at 8:41 pm

  16. Nonetheless, Stephen, the majority pf your readers are no doubt glad you were to make it to the meeting and compose your post so quickly with a good level of detail.

    Getting back to asphalt, heritage and public money, this time I drove over the Burrard Bridge on Saturday to see the it from a car’s point of view, and it just confirmed that a half lane added to the inside of both sidewalks can work well. we’re talking about a 6 foot additional width in both directions, not insignificant.

    Ron’s comment about making it a marked bike lane on the road level is a good idea. However, I for one would feel safer as a bicyclist with the foot-tall curb and an additional guardrail separating me from the roaring traffic which is travelling at near freeway speeds. The additional sidewalk width is enough to privide a small curb separation between pedestrian and bike traffic, much like the seawall at Sunset Beach. One of the huge past problems is adequately marking the different lanes … a faint dashed blue line is not enough.

    Lastly, if they’re seriously entertaining a $50+ million budget fro outriggers, then they should first address options for a new bridge for bikes only. Even with the recent construction cost over runs, I doubt that a lightweight, 6m wide bridge will cost that much. Such a structure would have a very light appearance, and will be able to mitigate its impact on views. But this is secondary to the comically obvious solution of removing one lane of traffic now, and then removing another later when the bike use on the bridge inevitably quadruples.

    Meredith

    February 25, 2008 at 9:50 am

  17. A curb separation on the sidewalk may work (plus the City doesn’t seem to like painting enough symbols on the sidewalk, so more of those would help too). The type of curb (whether for roadway or sidewalk) would be a few inches high and rounded or angled up so that you could accidentally ride on it without flipping over. I can’t see a guardrail (or wouldn’t want one) because of the potential to flip over it into traffic, say if a pedestrian veers into your path (alternatively, if a guardrail is tall enough to prevent a cyclist from flipping over it, it would interfere with handlebar width).

    Ron C

    February 25, 2008 at 10:14 am

  18. Just remembered that Richmond – on No. 3 Rd. under the Canada Line – will be installing (experimenting?) with a 3-tier system.
    Roadway, slightly raised bike lane and higher sidewalk. Given that the Burrard Bridge sidewalks are already pretty high from the roadway, an intermediate level bike path (on a reallocated half lane) would work well for the Burrard Bridge.

    Ron C

    February 25, 2008 at 10:19 am

  19. The existing sidewalk is not wide enough to accommodate both bikes and pedestrians safely. No matter what markings are used this is the crux of the matter

    The problem with a high curb is the fear of being forced over it and falling into traffic.

    The traffic moves too fast. So the answer to that is SLOW IT DOWN. Three moving lanes of GP traffic are not needed for the car volumes that cross the bridge There is currently no effective speed limit enforcement. So, reduce the number of lanes for GP traffic to 2 each way. That then matches the intersection capacities at each end of the bridge. Then use hard engineering measures to slow the traffic: personally I favour average speed cameras, which do not use radar but simple number plate matching techniques used for traffic surveys.

    The level of bus service at present does not justify a bus only lane. In London bikes and buses share red lanes. I expect it will take a while here for both bus operators and cyclists to adjust to the idea. Given that there are no bus stops on the bridge, buses can mix with GP traffic and may just need queue jumpers at the intersections. And of course roundabouts would work much better than traffic lights, although light controlled pedestrian and cyclist signals can be added to a roundabout’s entrances and exits.

    Stephen Rees

    February 25, 2008 at 11:11 am

  20. Okay, that would work. In essence two 6″ curbs, one separating bikes from traffic, the other separating bikes from pedestrians. Hey, let’s put in a proposal to design and build it … we’ll need only a small fraction of the $50 million.

    Counterflow lanes are pretty common, but it’s dealing with the intersections at either end that is a challenge. Further, the extra sidewalk / bikeway space would have to continue for several hundred metres from both ends of the bridge. That would make the intersections even more complex (but who ever decided Cornwall required three northbound lanes on the bridge in the first place?). Traffic engineers are great problem solvers, if they can just get over a change in philosophy.

    Meredith

    February 25, 2008 at 11:20 am

  21. My guess is that traffic flows are more concentrated on the Burrard Bridge in the morning (getting to work on time) than in the afternoon (leaving work tends to be more varied in time) – which favours 3 lanes northbound and 2 lanes southbound.
    That maintains the status quo northbound.
    That also works because from the West Side it is marginally more difficult to access the northbound Granville Bridge (via Granville Street (whether from 4th/6th or from Broadway) or the Hemlock St. on-ramps) than it is to access the bridge southbound via Howe St and then distribute from the Fir St off-ramp or the 4th Ave. off-ramp (which is pretty darn close to Burrard where it meets 4th Ave.).

    Ron C

    February 25, 2008 at 2:28 pm

  22. Another reason to favour three NB and two SB lanes is that during the afternoon peak, the southbound curb lane downtown is bus only, which will then act as a queue jumper.

    Sungsu

    February 25, 2008 at 3:53 pm

  23. Also realized wrt the raised bike path that the existing storm drains would have to be relocated inwards of the new curb. So, having the bikepath at the current roadway level would require less construction (just regrading the grate area to flatten it and replacing the grates with bike-tire friendly orientation).

    Ron C

    February 26, 2008 at 3:05 pm


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