With the Vision Vancouver-dominated council about to be sworn in within days in the City of Vancouver, the controversy over bike lanes on the Burrard Street Bridge is already heating up.
This time, it seems, a plan is in the works to close down one lane of traffic for bikes; while a second would serve as an alternating lane, much like the middle lane of the Stanley Park Causeway.
So, will this fly? Perhaps I’m being pessimistic, but in my opinion probably not. The battle for the bridge has been going on for years, and in the end, the status quo almost always reigns supreme. That’s because the issue is so politically contentious — especially with commuters who claim the bridge is already congested with traffic. Some argue that the bridge controversy was the issue that put Sam Sullivan over the top in his mayoral contest against Jim Green earlier this decade (Sullivan was against a plan to dedicate two lanes of the bridge to bike traffic).
As a cyclist who travels over the bridge regular, I question the need for more capacity for bikes at that location, or an expensive refit of the bridge for that matter. The supposedly unsafe bike lanes, are, in my opinion, perfectly safe. The problem lies with those cyclists who treat this stretch of sidewalk like it’s the Tour de France (especially a handful of cyclists who, sadly, tailgate and pass dangerously).
What I do support — and what SFU City Program Director Gordon Price has been championing for ages, including this week at his Price Tags blog — is a low-level passerelle, essentially a bridge for bike and pedestrian traffic only. Not only would the passerelle make more economic sense that an overhaul of the Burrard Bridge, it could also make an iconic architectural statement. It might also create some new cycling patterns in downtown and around False Creek.