Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Two-lane Burrard Bridge trial finds support

with 6 comments

Georgia Straight

It has been what they call in the trade a “slow news day”. I look for things to blog about but find little worthy of comment. The Burrard Bridge should not be controversial any longer because the people who made it an issue (the NPA) are no longer in power at City Hall. Converting two lanes from cars to bikes should not be an issue since that has always been consistent with stated city priorities. And, most important but apparently always forgotten, does not actually reduce car carrying capacity of the local network. Because the volumes across the bridge are controlled by signalised intersections at each end of the bridge.

So when Todd Litman (a man I greatly admire) says

“In the past, we said, ‘Oh, we like walking and we like bicycling, and we’ll fit them in where we can, where it doesn’t impair or require a tradeoff with automobile travel.’ ”

I can smile at the generalisation as accurate, even if it doesn’t apply to this bridge in particular. But when I read that Matt Burrows decided to call George Puil for a comment (why, Matt, why?) I see red

“I really don’t believe that shutting off any lane on Burrard Street Bridge is going to endear people to the electorate,” Puil told the Straight by phone. “The Granville Bridge, for example, is not an ingress into the city anymore because of the mall and the restricted automobile access [on Granville Street]. So, really, from the West Side the only access you’ve really got is the Burrard Bridge—certainly from Point Grey and from further south.”

Granville Bridge is still the major “ingress” to downtown. In fact it is the only 8 lane bridge – and all those 8 lanes flow quite well. The section of Granville Street at the north end of the bridge is not closed to traffic for several blocks and traffic does readily use those lanes for access to cross streets. And of course the Howe-Seymour couplet of one way streets provides significant capacity – or would if one or more lanes were not almost permanently closed to traffic due to construction and those trucks and buses always parked outside the Orpheum. And that film crews that seem to dominate much of Howe.

George is apparently incapable of doing a simple windshield survey. If he had driven across Granville Bridge any time in the past few years he would have seen that it flows freely nearly all the time  – just as Burrard does. The queues form at the lights. The statement destroys any credibility that he might have retained from his disastrous tenure of the Chair of Translink (a term which resulted in frustrated citizens dumping horse manure on his front garden).

I can only assume that Matt was stuck in trying to find an NPA spokesperson – there being only NPA Councillor left.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 8, 2009 at 11:15 am

Posted in cycling

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6 Responses

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  1. It *is* more difficult to get onto the Granville Street Bridge northbound than ten years ago. Changes include the normalization of the east on-ramp on at 5th Ave. and the signals on Hemlock at 6th, 7th, 10th and 14th.

    Perhaps the city can make it easier to get onto the Granville Street Bridge in time for the reallocation trial.


    January 8, 2009 at 11:52 am

  2. Correction: Hemlock at 13th, not 14th.


    January 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm

  3. Aren’t “the people” and “the electorate” one and the same?


    January 8, 2009 at 12:31 pm

  4. You are referring to the Puil quote. He did not say “the people” just “people” meaning those advocating the lane closures. And, actually, the electorate is a diminishingly small percentage of the people

    Stephen Rees

    January 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

  5. Ahh, I see now.

    Anyway, I think it’s a great step forward. I can’t believe all the fuss myself – downtown is a nightmare to drive through as it is, and anything that will improve access by other means and discourage people using their cars down there will be a marked improvement. Though I would prefer to see slightly narrower bike lanes with a streetcar in the extra space instead. 😛

    I do hope it turns into one of those things where people smack their foreheads and say, “I can’t believe we didn’t do this 10 years ago!”


    January 8, 2009 at 3:22 pm

  6. I’ve been waiting for years for this to happen. I may just see it in my lifetime.

    Andrew Eisenberg

    January 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm

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