UBC study finds eight cyclists injured in five months on Burrard span

During a five-month span last year, eight cyclists were injured crossing the Burrard Street Bridge. During the same time period, only one cyclist was injured crossing each of the other two spans—the Cambie Street and Granville Street bridges.

These findings form part of a study a UBC health professional is leading, which is looking at the rate of cyclist-related injuries in public spaces.

Kay Teschke of the UBC school of population and public health presented these findings to Vancouver City Council’s transportation and traffic committee on May 5. Teschke prefaced her findings by reminding council that the study began the previous year and would not be completed until December.

“Normally we don’t look at the data before the study’s done,” she said in council chambers. “The reason that we looked at it now is that the whole bridge lane reallocation issue has received a lot of attention, and I have been repeatedly asked whether our study has identified any injuries on the bridge.”

After looking at preliminary data, Teschke learned that eight adult cyclists were injured on Burrard Bridge between June and October 2008, and that the injuries were severe enough to require visits to the emergency departments of either St. Paul’s Hospital or Vancouver General Hospital. (The study excluded pedestrians and children.)

“There may have been less severe injuries that did not require hospital visits, but our study does not include these,” Teschke added. “There may have been injuries to pedestrians, but they are also not included in our study. Many people want to know the circumstances of the injuries. I can’t report on individual events without violating confidentiality requirements of the UBC ethics board. I can tell you that five of the eight injuries involved motor vehicles. Three to five involve cyclists interacting with other sidewalk users in such a way that they fell or were pushed off the sidewalk off the bridge deck. Some of the injuries were extremely serious, involving severe trauma, including head injuries. All the injured individuals were experienced cyclists. They were men and women. They ranged in age from 24 to 65. It’s difficult to make comparisons without full study data. To date in our study there has been one cyclist injured on each of the other two bridges [Granville and Cambie] crossing False Creek.”

Teschke, like 11 of the 13 speakers who spoke on May 5, said that she supports a two-lane lane reallocation trial of Burrard Bridge. Council will vote on the issue on May 7 at a planning and environment committee meeting, where the remaining eight speakers are scheduled to address council.




May 7, 2009 at 9:27am

Two lane trial now before more people get hurt. It is not safe for drivers either. Imagine having to stop to avoid a cyclist and getting rear-ended by someone going 120 over the bridge.

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May 12, 2009 at 1:53pm

Changing the traffic pattern is not the answer. Improving the barrier system between the cyclists/pedestrians and the cars would more than suffice. Changing the traffic pattern will do little more than frustrate the thousands of people who travel by car over the bridge everyday.

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Camera Ken

May 19, 2009 at 5:43pm

Hi LV -- what barrier system? Surely you are not advocating making the sidewalks even narrower?

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Jul 7, 2009 at 7:32am

This study has no validity whatsoever unless it has looked at the total number of cyclists crossing each bridge - and I don't see that it has. Re: Camera Ken's comment: in Europe, there is a simple curb separating the bike lane from the cars, sort of like the barrier between pedestrians and cyclists around the Lost Lagoon - cheap and efficient. Not like the utter idiocy of painting lines and putting cyclists in a death zone between cars and buses on Burrard Streed downtown where they are at a huge risk whenever a taxi, bus or car needs to change lanes.

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Jul 13, 2009 at 4:10pm

It has repeatedly been shown that over time drivers will change their behaviour when faced with inconvenient driving conditions. In many cases that has meant getting out of their cars to use public transit, walk or cycle. In the short term there may be a slightly longer driving time between Kerrisdale and downtown, but in the longer term it will mean fewer cars in the downtown core, fewer cars on our streets, and more people on bicycles and buses. It would be great if bus service could be improved at the same time, but TransLink's operating deficit may prove to be quite a challenge.

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