Start the Trial. End the Debate

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Well, finally, after 16 years the decision is near. See below for more
information on speaking to council at the meeting on May 5.

It is critical that you e-mail mayor and council or speak at the
meeting on May 5 in support of the two lane trial which is by far the
best solution for almost 6,000 people per day that walk, cycle and run
over Burrard Bridge.

There are three options being considered:
- A two lane trial with bike lanes separated from traffic by barriers
- A one lane trial with a bike lane separated from traffic by barriers
on the west side of the bridge with cyclists and pedestrians sharing the
sidewalk on the east side
- A one lane trial with a bike lane separated from traffic by barriers
on the west side of the bridge with cyclists only on the east sidewalk.
Pedestrians would be banned from the east sidewalk

Two Lane Trial
The two lane trial enables people of all ages to safely walk, cycle and
run over the bridge. Faster cyclists will have room to safely pass
slower cyclists. The traffic noise and pollution will be further away
from the sidewalk, making the bridge much more pleasant to walk
over. People will be able to enjoy walking over the bridge without
worrying about cyclists whizzing by.

By creating a great walking and cycling experience in both directions,
the two lane trial will provide many people with a real option to
driving over the bridge. This will maximize the number of people
walking and cycling while decreasing traffic on the bridge thus
ensuring the success of the trial. Granville Bridge is only a short drive
away for motorists and will even be quicker for many trips. Also, with
the Canada Line opening this fall, traffic downtown will decrease.

Mayor Robertson unveiled this week, the Greenest City Action Team's
Quick Start Recommendations which included the Burrard Bridge Trial.
The two lane trial is the type of bold measure that will be required if
Vancouver is to become the Greenest City in the world. Other cities
such as Portland, New York, Paris, London and Copenhagen are
already reallocating lanes of traffic on major roads and bridges for
cyclists and pedestrians. In these cities there is the predicable reaction
from some motorists who think there will be traffic chaos. In spite of
the dire predictions, people are resourceful enough to adapt to these
changes and any traffic issues are minor.

continued...

One Lane Trials
Regarding the one lane options. First of all, pedestrians are the city's transportation priority.
It is not acceptable to ban pedestrians from the east sidewalk nor would it likely be effective
unless the city posts guards on the bridge. At both ends of the bridge, the connections to the
other side of the bridge are not very convenient, requiring people to wait for several signals.

Neither of the one lane option provides a barrier to prevent cyclists from falling off the
sidewalk into the traffic. Assuming the trial is successful, more people will be walking and
cyclist over the sidewalk increasing the chance of conflicts and cyclists getting knocked off the
sidewalk by either pedestrians or other cyclists. It just does not make sense to provide a safe
bicycle route in only one direction over the bridge.

Speaking to Mayor and Council
Tuesday, May 5th, 9:30 AM
Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall
To address council, please call Denise Salmon at 604.873.7269, by 1:00 p.m. on Monday, May
4, 2009. Please limit comments to five minutes.

Contact Mayor and Council
Please e-mail mayor and council and let them know you support a safer, more sustainable
Burrard Bridge:
gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca, clranton@vancouver.ca, clrcadman@vancouver.ca,
clrchow@vancouver.ca, clrdeal@vancouver.ca, clrjang@vancouver.ca, clrlouie@vancouver.ca,
clrmeggs@vancouver.ca, clrreimer@vancouver.ca, clrstevenson@vancouver.ca,
clrwoodsworth@vancouver.ca
It can be a brief message. The most important thing is that council hears from both sides of
the debate and understands they have the support of the voters, so they can implement the
progressive policies for which they were elected.

If you wish to call them, their numbers can be found here:
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/mayorcouncil/mayorrobertson.htm
http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/mayorcouncil/councillors.htm

More Information
The staff report, which has a lot of good information in it, can be found at:
http://www.geoffmeggs.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/tt1.pdf

Greenest City Quick Start Recommendations:
http://vancouver.ca/greenestcity/PDF/greenestcity-quickstart.pdf

Councillor Megges has a good summary of the history of the Burrard Bridge process:
http://www.geoffmeggs.ca/the-burrard-bridge-archive/

For those of you on Facebook, please join the group:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44613493519

Invite your friends. Let's show Council a 1000 people and more want a two lane trial.

You can also visit the blog:
http://burrardbridgetwolanetrial.blogspot.com/

Finally, here is a flyer you can print and handout to cyclists and pedestrians
encouraging them to contact Mayor and Council.
http://www.everyoneforever.org/burrard/Bridge_Flyer.pdf

More lanes or entirely new ped / bike bridge? What say you? I'm still undecided. I'm all for big, bold moves that make a statement about a city's priorities (e.g. the pedestrian) but the investment would be huge. That said, City of Portland (and others in N.America) has made these investments in the face of tough criticism and the world didn't end....

M

PS: I sent my email to Mayor and Council yesterday. That pre-written text is super handy :)

Whether it's a new bridge or not, the trial is still worthwhile, if only as an interim measure. My major issue with the separate bridge would be reintegrating the bike/ped traffic at either end, but maybe others have better vision in how to accomplish that.

Either way, my email was sent this morning, though it was shorter and less detailed than YourMom's.

I'm for a bike / pedestrian span that is substantially lower. For now a trial will have to be done anyhow (maybe it'll be unnecessary) but long term I believe it makes sense for another span. I wonder if it could even just be suspended from the existing bridge.

If this means a few taller boats couldn't fit under c'est la vie.

I don't think anyone would turn down a ped/biker bridge, but such a facility would cost tens of
millions of dollars... and is at least a decade away from becoming reality.

Between personal decisions to adopt sustainable travel methods, transit improvements, and
the likelihood that many of us will be tele-commuters in the not-too-distant future, it seems
that a two lane reallocation makes the most sense, in both the short and long term.

For comparison, the Lion's Gate Bridge handles just as many vehicles a day as the Burrard
Bridge. The cries of traffic chaos from the opponents to the trial aren't based on science and
aren't borne out by preliminary studies. Drivers will adapt to the change after the first few
days and things will be pretty much back to normal quickly, with the bonus of a safer crossing
between Kits and downtown for bikers, walkers, joggers, and inline-skaters of all ages.

sent my email today and encouraged others to do the same

cheers

What happened to Option #4: Start trial, get scared off by traffic nightmare (that will be much less than the nightmare that the Cambie Street Bridge was for the last 2 years) and stop trial after 3 days?

That has servered us well in the past.

Long term suggestion - Build a 4th crossing between the Burrard and Granville Bridges that is for Bikes and Peds only. I bet that would be the cheapest option (other than standing pat).

m2c

I would like to see an option where bikers and motorists abide by the laws. Bikers will stay in the designated bike lanes, will not go before the light turns green, will not run reds, will not ride on the sidewalk, etc. while cars will stay in the motorist lane, stay out of the bike lanes and also follow traffic laws. I bike to work every day, and I despise the cars who stop in the bike lane in front of Tim Horton's, put their hazard lights on and go in for a coffee. I hate the cars that stop in bike lanes, wait in the bike lanes to turn right and don't watch for bikes when they do turn. I also see why many motorists hate bikers, as I see every day, multiple incidents, where bikers cut off pedestrians and cars, don't stay in their lane, hop the sidewalk, start biking when the light is red and don't know where in the lane they are supposed to bike on Pender. There are clearly marked signs that show you the time and position you should be in. I think both bikers and motorists are annoyed with each other, but they both deserve equal blame in the situation. Until both parties take more care and more responsibility for their actions, the emotions will continue.

Agreed, Squiggsy. In the interim, I think best results will come if the two groups are separated as much as possible. In one European city (I think it was in Demark), cycle paths are between the line of parked cars and the curb. They are completely isolated from moving cars, thus reducing conflict. People crossing from a parked car to the curb need to be careful, but they can only cross at certain locations, not everywhere along the road (there's a fence between the parked cars and the cycle lane).

"[...]
For comparison, the Lion's Gate Bridge handles just as many vehicles a day as the Burrard
Bridge.[...]"

That is a pretty bold claim there. While I can not quote any studies about traffic volumes on the two bridges, I would have to disagree that they would be equal. IMHO they are not similar enough in volume, traffic, or usage patterns to be realistically compared to one another.

"[...]
The cries of traffic chaos from the opponents to the trial aren't based on science and
aren't borne out by preliminary studies. Drivers will adapt to the change after the first few
days and things will be pretty much back to normal quickly, with the bonus of a safer crossing
between Kits and downtown for bikers, walkers, joggers, and inline-skaters of all ages.[...]"

While people will adapt, it will still be chaotic for a while. My personal opinion is that doing this after the construction bottleneck on Cambie is cleared up would be better.

I don't recall who commented on the rules of the road, but I have to admit I have seen some crazy drivers, and some insane cyclists.

It's not a bold claim - it's fact. The patterns may differ, but the traffic volumes are similar. The bridges are different in terms of approaches, controls and constraints at either end, speed limits (?) and rise and fall, but the fact remains that the bridges carry a similar number of vehicles throughout the day. In fact, the Lion's Gate's peak hourly volume is more than that of the Burrard bridge, despite only having two lanes at that time.

If it's a direct comparison you want, good luck finding a replica of the burrard bridge. The point was that two lanes can carry as much traffic as three are currently.

This is taken from traffic count data on the city's public online mapping tool.

"ong term suggestion - Build a 4th crossing between the Burrard and Granville Bridges that is
for Bikes and Peds only. I bet that would be the cheapest option (other than standing pat)."

Current estimates are $1.5M for the two lane trial (no real expense to keep it going once it's
up and running) vs $60M for a new bridge.

The relationship between cars and bikes is a problem, but not part of this issue. This is about
a cheap, safe solution that will potentially save lives and will almost certainly save the city
from yet another expensive out-of-court settlement to an injured cyclist or pedestrian.

Car drivers need to work with each other to maximize the efficiency of their use of the lion's
share of road resources already at their disposal. Walkers and bikers are not asking for an
undue share of the road with this trial, simply a kilometre's worth of peace of mind.

Fantastic, visual, presentation on bicycle - motorist separation strategies and infrastructure options, from our friends in the People's Republic of Portland.

Bottom line is it is all about separating these two users as much as possible so that percieved (and real) safety on both sides increases. A good litmus test: would you suggest to your Grandma that she hop on a bike to visit the library?

Got this today in the e-mails:

Dear friend:

Thanks for sending me your views on the Burrard Bridge Lane Re-allocation trial.

I'm sending you this e-mail to tell you about council's decision to approve a one-lane reallocation trial on the Burrard Bridge. I expect to do these updates periodically. If you do not wish to receive further updates, click unsubscribe below.

Today council approved an option that allocates a southbound road lane to cyclists, the east sidewalk exclusively to northbound cyclists and the west sidewalk to exclisively to pedestrians travelling in both directions.

Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vision councillors supported the one-lane trial, COPE councillors supported a two lane trial and NPA councillor Suzanne Anton was absent.

Mayor Gregor Robertson committed to a one-lane trial during his election campaign. During debate today, he told council "this is not a decision that comes easily, but it is driven by safety first and affordability.

"We heard compelling calls for a two-lane trial but there are obvious ongoing concerns about the shift of traffic volume. This option represents an opportunity to demonstrate how quickly traffic can shift. For cyclists this is an opportunity to begin a transition."

The arguments for a trial are conclusive. It is the best way to learn whether or not the Bridge can be made safe for cyclists without a $30 million sidewalk widening procedure that would destroy the Bridge's heritage character. That's equivalent to an entire year's expenditure on transportation improvements.

This decision may disapppoint cyclists, who overwhelmingly favoured the two-lane option presented to council. But the one-lane trial is an important first step in the drive to improve cycling and increase the number of cyclists in Vancouver. Success on this lane separation project should demonstrate the value and necessity of creating separate lanes for cyclists city-wide.

In addition, a one-lane trial should go a long way to assuring motorists that lane re-allocation is a sensible way to grow more sustainable transportation options in Vancouver. As many studies have shown, concerns about new gridlock are often unfounded.

The Burrard Bridge lane re-allocation can't wait. We need the trial. I'm hopeful this trial will lay the groundwork for more improvements on the bridge and citywide, for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Watch my blog at www.geoffmeggs.ca for longer and more detailed reports on the Burrard Trial and other cycling initiatives and other issues before council. You can always reach me directly at geoff.meggs@vancouver.ca. Again, if you don't wish to receive further updates, click unsubscribe below.

Thanks again for your interest,

-- Geoff Meggs, City Councillor

Sad we're only getting a one-laner, but at least the two-directional nature of cycling over the bridge was somewhat addressed. Maybe once everyone figures out that it's not so bad, a two-lane trial could be revisited.

I pity the pedestrians that now have to cross traffic twice.

I was at City Hall for both days of discussion of this issue, as a supporter of the two lane
trial. I am of course disappointed with the decision. The very strong safety arguments in
favour of the two lane re-allocation received plenty of lip service from all sides, but when it
came time to vote, only Councillors Cadman and Woodsworth were willing to vote for the
safest option.

In attempting to appease those who made no effort to appear before council, a decision has
been made which actually bans walkers from one side of the bridge, despite the official city
policy that pedestrians have first priority when designing transportation facilities in our city.

Your council received hundreds of emails in support of the two lane trial. The city staff report
identified it as the option with the best chance for collecting good data, as well as being the
plan that provided walkers and cyclists with the greatest measure of safety. Yet, it was the
possibility that drivers of single occupant vehicles might spend a few extra minutes in traffic
that apparently dominated the concerns of the mayor and council.

If we are to realize Mayor Robertson's dream of becoming the greenest city in the world, we
have a long way to go. The odds of achieving this goal when Council isn't willing to take the
small step of creating two kilometres of safe road space for cyclists of all ages aren't great.

My real fear is that someone will die or suffer permanent injury due to this half-measure.
Given the statistics regarding cycling injuries on the bridge, it's (IMO) almost certainly a
question of when rather than if. When such a tragedy occurs, we as taxpayers are almost
certainly going to find ourselves paying for an injury or wrongful death claim.

Big props to Councillors Cadman and Woodsworth for their valiant attempt to have the public
good outweigh political expediency.

Agreed.
While it's tempting for some to say "well, it's better than nothing" I think this is too half-assed a move to celebrate. This is not a "bold environmental policy change" that is required, according to the City's Greenest City Action Team, to meet our GHG reduction targets and, as CK states, it is not planning for the pedestrian first. Am I wrong in assuming that now, (almost immediately after being voted in) would be a prime time to make these bold decisions? Why did Council shy away from this? Grr.

I have published my thoughts on the decision on the blog "I support a two lane trial on the
Burrard Bridge" (linked below)

I think others should comment as well. Especially if you see the result in a more positive light.

Of course, you should find the time to let the Mayor and council know how you feel, whatever
your opinion might be.

Regardless of what council does, it is always only a matter of time before someone is killed or injured. There is nothing that will ever change that. While certain options may reduce this risk, it will ALWAYS be present.
As for any such event costing the city lots of money in a settlement payout. I don't see that happening unless the city was negligent in some way (ie didn't repair or mark a pothole that caused the incident). Otherwise the settlement costs would be borne by the driver and his/her insurance company or the cyclist if he/she turned out to be the cause.

Well, Emmanuel, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. But, given that the city already
settled out of court once to avoid having a court case over injuries suffered by a cyclist who
fell into the roadway, it would seem their legal advisors don't see it the same way you do.
Given the current publicity and the city's decision to go with a solution that doesn't address
the safety issues still in play, one would expect the next case to end with much the same
kind of result, if not an even larger settlement, given that the city has not taken all the steps
available to it to reduce the possibility of serious injury or death to people using city-
maintained facilities as directed.

A two lane reallocation would have made it nearly impossible for pedestrians and cyclists to
end up in conflict, and would have provided a safe place for bikers to cross the bridge without
fear of being run over. You may wish to do a little more research on the topic before weighing
in on the implications of this decision.

cheers,

CK

There was a recent article in the Courier that was making the claim that inside City Hall they were very worried about the City's liability in terms of the Burrard Street Bridge, I think it is safe to say that this was a partial driver.

While I would have liked to see a 2 lane trial, at least there is something, however...

"the city's decision to go with a solution that doesn't address the safety issues still in play"

The trial does not take away all concerns, but it certainly addresses some. Bikers and Peds will no longer use the same road surface on the bridge. As well, there will be no more "two way traffic" on the same road surface. Was this not the major safety issue, that a bike or ped could force one or the other onto the car path? Tell me if I'm wrong.

So while 100% of the safety concerns have not been resolved (new bike/ped only bridge may be the only way to achieve this) I think the trial solution does reduce the hazards.

m2c

"In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/science/earth/12suburb.html?_r=1&em

"the city's decision to go with a solution that doesn't address the safety issues still in play"

The trial does not take away all concerns, but it certainly addresses some. Bikers and Peds
will no longer use the same road surface on the bridge. As well, there will be no more "two
way traffic" on the same road surface. Was this not the major safety issue, that a bike or ped
could force one or the other onto the car path? Tell me if I'm wrong.

---

Partially safer. The east sidewalk that is now bikes only will continue to have safety issues
where a faster cyclist will run the risk of being bumped into traffic if passing a wobbly slower
bike. Esp if the plan to add a concrete barrier between the sidewalk and bridge deck makes it
(sidewalk) even narrower.

The bigger issue would be the banning of the walkers from one side of the bridge. Note they
will now have to cross over twenty lanes of traffic in many cases to get to and from common
destinations (Granville Island to Roundhouse Centre for instance). Pretty weird to promote
walking as a primary transportation choice in the city and then take away one of six sidewalks
crossing False Creek.