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.