Vancouver council approves separated bike lane trial on Dunsmuir Street

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      Cyclists are getting a separated bike lane on Dunsmuir Street after Vancouver city council voted today (May 20) to approve a six-month trial in time for Bike Month.

      The two-way bike lane will result in the number of traffic lanes being reduced to two from three between Hornby Street and the Dunsmuir Viaduct, on which a separated bike lane opened in March.

      The cost is $810,000, which comes from $25 million already allocated this month, according to assistant city engineer Jerry Dobrovolny. While it will mean fewer lanes for cars, Dobrovolny said there are always trade-offs when it comes to the reallocation of space.

      “This is a demonstration project that will give us the opportunity to try some new things,” Dobrovolny said during the council meeting.

      Dobrovolny noted this is the first part in a two-phase set of cycling initiatives passed by council earlier this year. The second phase involves the linking of the Burrard Bridge bike lane with the Dunsmuir lane, and is “more challenging”, he added.

      Upon hearing the news of the Dunsmuir lane getting approval, one long-time Vancouver cycling advocate and regular bike commuter was so happy he yelled “excellent”.

      “That’s fantastic news,” Dave Olsen told the Straight by phone. “That’s exactly what I was hoping for. I’ve been using the viaduct part and I’ve been going against the traffic [on Dunsmuir Street] to get to it. This is great.”

      All councillors present were in support, though Non-Partisan Association councillor Suzanne Anton missed the vote after a lunch recess.

      However, Charles Gauthier, executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, said his organization would not support the concept of a separated lane on Dunsmuir “west of Richards”. He urged council to look at the Richards Street apex as the point where cyclists, in theory, could disperse and head to various parts of the downtown core.

      Echoing this, several hotel and building managers along the route expressed outrage at how the separated lane would affect their business. One general manager, Nick Marini, from the Hudson residential strata complex, said residents in the 423-unit building at 601 Granville Street were not consulted as part of a survey conducted by Dobrovolny and his staff.

      Jeremy Roncoroni, general manager of the newly renovated St. Regis Hotel at 602 Dunsmuir Street, said the trial would mean taxis would no longer be able to pull up outside his hotel on Dunsmuir and wait up to three minutes, legally, to have their bags hauled in.

      “We will cease to function as a hotel,” Roncoroni told council.

      He added that having to receive passengers in the alley behind the property—with parking already tight around the area—would put him at competitive disadvantage. Roncoroni maintained that other hoteliers in the adjoining blocks are able to receive clients right outside their hotels.

      To resolve this impasse, council amended the original motion to ask that staff designate a “troubleshooter” to work directly and promptly with stakeholders to mitigate negative impacts of the trial and “that staff prioritize a traffic management plan to minimize negative impacts on businesses and pedestrians on the south side of the 600-block of Dunsmuir”.

      While others are urging caution, Olsen is urging more separation of bikes.

      “My question is what stopped them from taking it all the way out,” Olsen said of the Dunsmuir lane. “Do cyclists all get off their bikes at Howe and say, ”˜Okay, I can either risk my life or get off my bike?’”

      Olsen said it would be ideal for cyclists if a fully separated bike lane network linked the viaduct to Stanley Park.

      The Dunsmuir trial is set to be in place by June 15 to coincide with Bike Month in the city.




      May 21, 2010 at 9:28am

      There should be a bike lane that goes over the lions gate bridge.
      Trying to walk over the lions gate bridge is impossibly difficult because of the lack of bike lane.
      Instead, walkers get bike riders to compete for space with.
      The pedestrian portion of the bridge isn't big enough for walkers and bike riders, and this can be very unsafe.
      That bridge needs to encourage all methods of transportation, not just cars.


      May 21, 2010 at 10:31am

      As a biker i'm happy, as a driver, i'm fuming mad... hehe... not sure which hat to wear on this one... I can't stand the burrard bridge lane loss to the bike lane, stupidest move in the world in my opinion... i have NEVER seen it even close to full of bikes, its usually empty. and it has totally screwed up the (previous) efficient double-merging of cars from Pacific onto the bridge... living in north van... my normal route to get to Vancouver beaches was Lions Gate, Stanley Park exit... causeway to Beach/Pacific to Burrard Bridge... but now there is always a traffic tie up at Pacific and Burrard... always...


      May 21, 2010 at 4:46pm


      No... Just, no...

      "That bridge needs to encourage all methods of transportation, not just cars."

      Its a three lane bridge, it was designed originally for cars and sidewalks on either side. It was never meant to have a bike lane, I know this because of my grandfather who paid the toll many times. The Lions Gate Bridge gets many traffic jams despite having one alternating counter-flow lane. That lane is also necessary for emergency vehicles and in case of an accident. How is an ambulance trying to get to an ER going to move through two solid lanes of vehicles without any space? It would be a safety concern, it would cause far too many traffic jams in response to sectioning off an entire lane, and it would cause so many headaches nobody would keep the lane on there.

      build bridges not lanes

      May 21, 2010 at 11:49pm

      This Mickey Mouse city needs to spend money for bike and pedestrian bridges and quit robbing lanes from motorists. Robbing a lane on a bridge just extends commutes and creates more pollution.


      May 23, 2010 at 8:05am


      I totally understand what you're saying and it makes perfect sense. However, you assume I wanted the lionsgate to shut down a lane (and dedicate it to bikes) when what I had in mind was a bike lane on one end (on the so-called sidewalk) and a space for walking on the other side (the other sidewalk). The way it is set up now, riders and walkers share a very small space. The only sign that we have is one that tells walkers to "stay left", and for bike riders to "dismount when passing pedestrians" - but this is not enough to ensure safety of people on the bridge.

      Perhaps even a bus-stop in stanley park right before the lionsgate (there is room for a stop) to help people safely cross the bridge?
      That bridge is hell to cross, unless you have a car.


      Aug 4, 2010 at 6:56pm

      nick marini is a tool