Stephen Rees's blog

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

Burrard Bridge Decision

with 5 comments

The City of Vancouver has now decided to close one sidewalk to pedestrians and make it one way for cyclists, and close one traffic lane to general purpose traffic for the use of cyclists in the other direction. I was going to write a lot on this but I think I will simply cut and paste the following, which Anthony Perl sent to the Livable Region List, so obviously he expects it to be published widely

Below is a copy of my letter to councillors Reimer and Meggs.  This was Vision’s chance to demonstrate their ability to make Vancouver the ‘greenest city’ and they failed the test.  But failing one test can enhance anybody’s education if s/he is willing to learn from the experience.  It will be up to the public to teach our municipal leaders what sustainable transportation really means, and how to achieve it.

Dear Andrea and Geoff,

I was deeply disappointed by your decision to remove pedestrian space from the Burrard Bridge during the upcoming bike lane trial. Instead of showing leadership in making Vancouver’s transportation more sustainable, Vision Vancouver has endorsed an inane compromise that penalizes the city’s most effective sustainable transport option – walking.

Vancouver’s pedestrian volume has been growing steadily over the past decade – faster than bicycle traffic and it is incredible to me that Vision councillors would risk a proven contribution to making our city the ‘greenest in the world’ in order to appease motorists and the road gang. This kind of political ‘triangulation’ is what has positioned our society on an ecological precipice.  I had thought that Vision would be able to move us away from the brink, but I my confidence in your leadership is now shaken.


Anthony Perl,

Professor and Director 
Urban Studies Program
Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre
#2111 – 515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC  V6B 5K

Miro was probably right. This is another experiment that will fail – but in this case I suspect it was designed to fail.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 8, 2009 at 8:53 am

Posted in walking

5 Responses

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  1. Well said.


    May 8, 2009 at 10:40 am

  2. How is pedestrian space removed? They used to have one sidewalk (half of each side) and now they have one sidewalk (one full sidewalk). How does a professor fail at basic math?

    True, pedestrians used to walk in the bike lanes, but that was the WHOLE problem, so it seems inane to count that. No one here is totally happy about this outcome, drivers nor cyclists nor pedestrians. But guess what, living in a high density city means meeting others halfway so we can all get along. If you don’t like to compromise with others then move to the suburbs.

    PS. I’m a cyclist, so I desperately wanted the two-lane trial. But I’m also thankful for what we have gained, unlike everyone else apparently.


    May 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm

  3. Why are so many Vancouverites up in arms about loosing one car lane when thousands of towns around the world have, since the late 1960s, successfully turned many of their streets and squares in permanent car-free areas? In Paris quite a few boulevards lost 4.5 metres (about 15 ft or the equivalent of 2 car lanes). It is now a dedicated lane for buses, cabs and bikes only 9a small divider separate it from other car lanes to prevent cars from”straying” into it.

    Red frog

    May 9, 2009 at 10:43 am

  4. Thank you for “putting the words in my mouth”, Stephen. This thing is designed to fail.

    David, when I desperately want/need something, I usually feel anything but gratitude when it has been delayed for years and years and finally addressed, but with a level of political cowardice that guarantees no useful outcome. I used to be an avid cyclist. Nowadays, thanks to the ravages of vertigo and a mystery neurological disorder (worst symptoms in remission), I am strictly ped. I was not desperately hoping for anything this time around(knowing Vision are every bit the car-oriented developer’s best friend as the NPA), but I still feel such ingratitude about the proposed arrangement. Too little, too late, says this little ingrate.

    Red Frog – Why, indeed, why??? Burrard is an inner urban bridge, secondary to the Granville St. crossing. In any other “liveable” town, the drivers would have been told to share the road years ago!

    Andrea C.

    May 10, 2009 at 12:39 am

  5. Take a look at how many crosswalks an ‘east side’ pedestrian has to cross to access the west side….,-123.145124&spn=0.000947,0.002006&t=k&z=19 That’s why (some) pedestrians feel they got the short end of the stick.


    May 11, 2009 at 8:03 am

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