Pedestrians squeezed on Burrard Bridge
According toLisa Slakov, her cycling advocacy organization “never wanted to replace a pedestrian facility with a cycling facility” on an iconic Vancouver bridge.
Yet that’s precisely what happened when the Vision Vancouver–dominated council opted in 2009 for a one-lane rather than a two-lane trial on the Burrard Bridge, she told the Straight by phone. Slakov is the Vancouver chair of HUB: Your Cycling Connection, formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, a major supporter of the trial.
By reallocating only the outside southbound lane of traffic to bicycles and other non-vehicular traffic, all pedestrians were forced onto the western sidewalk. Northbound cyclists have sole right-of-way on the eastern sidewalk.
“I don’t think HUB’s position has ever changed, which is that we felt that there should be the two traffic lanes reallocated, and that the sidewalks should remain for pedestrians,” Slakov said. “As excited as we were to get the reallocation a couple of years ago…that [final configuration] was a disappointment.”
Slakov said that, even though the separated lanes are well used by cyclists, the long-awaited bridge upgrade work should begin and pedestrians should have access to both sidewalks.
City transportation engineer Jerry Dobrovolny told the Straight that significant upgrades to the Burrard Bridge are included in the 2014–16 capital plan, but not the one accepted by voters in November 2011, which covers 2012–14.
“However, it is possible that we reallocate,” Dobrovolny said by phone. “I mean, there is some thought to reallocate the money and do it earlier. So it’s not in the plan now, but we are looking at our construction schedules on an ongoing basis, and it could be possible to reallocate money sooner, but we haven’t had that discussion or made the decision on that.”
Downtown Vancouver resident and first-term Non-Partisan Association city councillor George Affleck answered a 2011 election survey by the Straight giving a “no” to upgrading the Burrard Bridge to two lanes—one in each direction—for non-vehicular traffic.
However, Affleck told the Straight he now walks much more than he cycles, and is so frustrated by pedestrians being shut out of the Burrard Bridge that he no longer walks to Kitsilano with his family, because he finds it too inconvenient. Initially, Affleck blasted the trial, but added later, “I’m not blaming cyclists. It’s not a war of cyclists versus walkers; this is an issue of design.”
Affleck said the situation on the bridge is not working. However, Dobrovolny said council must give direction for any change in policy.
“Council has made a decision on the bridge, and that’s the five-lane configuration that’s there today,” Dobrovolny said. “So there’s not an open request for us to report back on something. It’s closed in terms of where it is now.”