Two-lane Burrard Bridge trial finds support

A prominent SFU urban geographer and a Victoria-based transportation expert have both applauded Coun. George Chow’s push for a trial this spring that could see both outside lanes on the Burrard Bridge reassigned to cyclists and pedestrians.

“It reflects the future needs that our cities have, which is taking alternative modes seriously,” Todd Litman, economist and planner with the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, told the Straight by phone. “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.’ ”

Last month, council voted 10–1 in favour of Chow’s motion asking that city staff report back on council’s options for the trial, including its possible duration. Tom Timm, Vancouver’s engineering-services manager, indicated at the time that he would like the trial to start around the end of April and end soon after Labour Day.

Warren Gill—SFU’s vice president for university relations, a geographer, and a keen cyclist—called a two-lane reallocation a “worthwhile experiment”.

“My wife doesn’t like riding her bike on the bridge, just because it is tight and it’s a big hill when you come down [Burrard Street],” Gill said by phone. “I don’t think that we should jump to some great conclusion, but we should at least look at the experiment and say, ”˜At least give it six months or a year.’ ”

Kits Point resident and former NPA councillor George Puil called Chow’s proposal “a bit ridiculous”.

“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.”

Litman said the lane reallocation is actually a “modest measure” that should also be tried elsewhere. Gill said it is important to get moderate cyclists on the road and offer them safety.

“If the Burrard Bridge experiment helps do that, then more power to it,” Gill added.




Jan 8, 2009 at 8:20am

Warren Gill is a legend in his own mind and knows little about the science of urban transport, his input, as always is more about being in the limelight, rather than providing sound analysis.

Tod Litman in Victoria doesn't have a clue about traffic across the Burrard Bridge, is making a 'political correct' analysis.

George Chow, Vancouver's new version of Gordon Price, will be popular with the bicycle lobby and the (lack of) Vision politicos.

The whole thing is high farce, steeped in utter silliness and who has seen many bikes on the road in the past month? Only bike zealots.

Matthew Burrows

Jan 8, 2009 at 11:11am


George Chow the new Gordon Price? Please far I struggle to see too many similarities, but please do tell me how the two form an association in your mind.

I accept that you don't agree that the lanes should be reallocated. That's fine and you are entitled to that opinion. However, the point Warren Gill makes is a fair one. Fairweather cyclists, if they are to up the ante and enjoy riding more than the Seawall on weekends, do need to feel safe and need to feel that the city engineers are designing streets and infrastructure that will not result in their deaths. Tom Timm seems to understand this point, as he has already pointed out the safety merits of a two-lane trial. Also, it is cheap to do, unlike the outriggers and sidewalk-widening costing upward of $63 million (and described by heritage advocate Don Luxton as a "hatchet job").

And yes, of course there were no bikes around last month, Grumpy. This reporter has ridden for 13 years here and only today, after close to a month (unprecedented for me) did I break out the bike. Roads are way clearer, but boy is it tricky along 10th Avenue just west of Clark Drive. It'll all be melted in a day or so though and then there will be more cyclists out and about.


Jan 8, 2009 at 1:22pm

I can see this perhaps maybe working during the warmer months, but, not during the Winter. I rarely see more than a few bikes going over the Burrard Bridge at any time during winter months. Imagine how frustrated people will get when there are thousands of cars inching across the bridge while a few dozen bikes whizz across 2 car lanes + 2 bike lanes. I predict this will be another Vision fiasco in the making.


Jan 9, 2009 at 9:43am

More inane comments from the deep fried couch potato lobby. There is nothing more symbolic of the moral rot and corpulent corruption of first world society than hearing the reactions of obese drivers of overpowered parade floats complaining about attempts to mitigate all the damage done by the aforementioned possessors of tiny intellects and even tinier under utilized manhoods.


Jan 9, 2009 at 3:12pm

Those who assume that people who drive cars don't ride bikes and are just obese morons with tiny genitalia need to get a life. If cars bother you so much, move to Tibet.


Jan 10, 2009 at 5:16pm

I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule but generally speaking the bigger the penis substitute....the smaller the ED plagued peepee.
The bigger the bloated bodies the less chance they support anything above the brain stem that has the good sense not to eat themselves to death. The truth usually hurts...that's why I use a pseudonym. You can't be as big a prick as I am when you comment on the issues of the day and not keep fine tuning your katas and keeping your profile low.
By all means...keep your carbon footprint as big as you like while you load up on dead animals and comfort food...your kind will be extinct long before the planet becomes uninhabitable for the rest of us.


Jan 11, 2009 at 12:48pm

I will agree with the "being a prick" self-assessment. That seems to be your M.O. and you do it well. Congratulations.

Eric Doherty

May 6, 2009 at 1:01pm

I will refrain from commenting on the relevance of penis size to the question of lane reallocation. Instead I will comment on the two real choices before council, a one or two lane re-allocation. The status quo is not an option given the legal liability of allowing this unsafe situation to continue (continued gross negligence can create rather large damage awards).

The Burrard Bridge reallocation trial is an experiment. The goal is to find out what happens when both north and south bound traffic lanes are re-allocated to cycling, saving over $30 million if an expansion of the bridge proves unnecessary.

Some people believe that the computer models used by the city can give us this information. However, even the most sophisticated computer models are often completely wrong; sometimes reallocating lanes can improve travel times even if automobile volumes stay the same, as explained by Braess's paradox. The only way to find out what happens is to do a real world trial. And, as City staff have pointed out, the only trial that will provide the necessary information is the two-lane re-allocation.

City council must choose the two-lane trial; a one-lane trial will not produce the required data, or do much to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.