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.