Councillor: Is removing Burrard Bridge vehicle lane for pedestrians a plot to “force people out of their cars”?

NPA's George Affleck predicts "some congestion" if plan goes forward

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      Vancouver councillor George Affleck isn’t convinced that removing a car lane from the Burrard Bridge will not clog the crossing.

      Affleck was at the bridge’s northwest end, at Burrard Street and Pacific Boulevard, where senior city staff unveiled today (June 1) details of a $30-million program to rehabilitate the bridge and redesign the intersection of the two thoroughfares.

      If it’s approved by council, the Burrard Bridge will have two car lanes in each direction, two bike lanes, and two pedestrian sidewalks.

      Based on the plan, the three northbound traffic lanes on Burrard Bridge will be reduced to two. A pedestrian walkway will be created on the east side of the bridge. The single right turn lane to Pacific will become two. A signal light will be installed at the new lanes to separate cars from pedestrians and cyclists.

      Pacific will be widened, and the left-turn bay going to the bridge for motorists coming from the east will be extended.

      Also, the right-turn lane on the west from Pacific on to the Burrard Bridge will be doubled. A signal light will also be installed there.

      The redesign of the Burrard and Pacific intersection is estimated to cost $10 million, or about a third of the overall budget.

      According to Affleck, it will be a challenging job for staff to demonstrate that taking out a lane will not impact traffic flow.

      “At this point, it’s hard to believe that we’re not going to see some congestion in the middle of the bridge,” Affleck told media.

      Affleck also commented on how staff propose to have pedestrian walkways on both sides of the bridge. Currently, pedestrians are only allowed on the west side. Both sides have bike lanes.

      “They’re cantilevering out on the side of the bridge, so why not cantilever out a bit further so that you don’t have to remove a lane at all?” Affleck asked.

      Then the Non-Partisan Association councillor turned partisan and took a swipe at the ruling Vision Vancouver party.

      “Is this process about forcing congestion to force people out of their cars so that they can’t get around the city or is it true consultation that we’re going through here?” Affleck asked.

      The City of Vancouver has proposed changes to the Burrard Bridge and Burrard Street and Pacific Boulevard intersection.
      Carlito Pablo

      Lon LaClaire, acting director of transportation for the City of Vancouver, told media at the briefing that the Burrard and Pacific intersection is the second highest collision site in the city, noting it’s a situation brought about its current design.

      LaClaire maintained that removing a car lane so the bridge can now have two pedestrian walkways isn’t going to impact traffic on the span.

      “Really the capacity is determined by what we do at this intersection,” LaClaire said.

      According to him, the capacity of the bridge is “not determined by the number of lanes”.

      “Where you experience congestion is at the intersection,” LaClaire said.

      He also said: “Even with the reduction to two northbound traffic lanes, those two lanes can actually deliver twice as much traffic that can be accommodated in the new intersection.”

      LaClaire’s announcement of the plan marked the start of a 30-day public consultation process for the project.

      Council is expected to receive a report in July. Construction is proposed to start in 2016.

      Open houses will be held on June 6 and June 16 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews).

      During LaClaire’s briefing, businessperson Jack Larbi asked questions of the city official about how the project will impact local businesses.

      Larbi, who owns the Swan laundry shop near the northeast side of Burrard and Pacific, is worried that the city will take up street parking for equipment and crew during the construction.

      According to Larbi, the block where his business is located doesn’t have a back alley that customers can use.

      Talking later with reporters, he said that businesspeople in the area do not bother bicycle riders.

      However, Larbi also noted that the bike lanes are not utilized most times of the year: “When it rains, there’s nobody. And it’s eight months—you know, Vancouver, eight months out of the year, it rains.”



      Richard Campbell

      Jun 1, 2015 at 3:18pm

      Obviously not a plot. People are not being forced out, they just don't want to drive as much. Cycling is way up and driving is declining. The City is responding to public demand.

      A bike rental shop just opened up on Burrard and Pacific. They should have interviewed them and the other bike shops around there rather than just the dry cleaner.

      Colin Brander

      Jun 1, 2015 at 3:32pm

      Traffic engineers know that traffic capacity is usually determined by throughput at intersections. Two lanes is sufficient to carry the current car traffic volumes. By widening on the north end (both on the bridge and the right turn lanes), this should maintain the about the same amount of throughput as before.

      David Paley

      Jun 1, 2015 at 4:20pm

      They keep putting in new bike lanes, and I keep getting yelled at by bicyclists riding their bikes on the sidewalks while the bike-lanes are empty. Sheer genius.

      Steve Hollingsworth

      Jun 1, 2015 at 7:21pm

      Were good little Monkeys... And being so we will adapt once again. But this time as in so many others over the millennia.... this is a man made adaptation.. contrary to nature.... Or is walking 5 kms to work a step back in evolution.... technologically or otherwise. Can we claim it as a Medical expense.

      Edward Bernays

      Jun 1, 2015 at 7:35pm

      He makes an excellent point. I agree that we should place awnings over large sections of bicycle lanes to increase usage. Thanks Lon.


      Jun 1, 2015 at 8:52pm

      When the addition of the bike lane happened on Burrard many drivers changed their behavior and took Granville Bridge since that bridge was under utilized. So the traffic currently on Burrard is now artificially low. Continuing on Granville further north is not possible as it becomes a bus only road, diverting traffic east and westward. Not sure why they want to reduce capacity as in the winter the bike traffic really declines, I should know because I lived on that corner. Why don't they consider putting a "shared economy" lane so all the car2go, Zipcar, evo, Modo and dare I say Uber can have a priority lane? Or maybe these types of transport should be allowed to use the HOV lanes and designate one all the way up Burrard.


      Jun 1, 2015 at 11:45pm

      “At this point, it’s hard to believe that we’re not going to see some congestion in the middle of the bridge.”

      There's no congestion in the middle of the bridge now. The congestion comes at the north end as traffic tries to shoehorn its way onto Pacific. The new layout would add a second right-turn lane, making it easier for traffic to get off the bridge. How in the hell is making it easier for traffic to get off the bridge going to cause traffic to back up in the middle of the bridge?

      Right. It won't. This is just political grandstanding of the dumbest kind, and I have a hard time believing Affleck doesn't already know that.

      Jimmy Mac

      Jun 2, 2015 at 12:43am

      I heartily endorse the idea of a car2go lane.

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      Jun 2, 2015 at 6:56am

      Where's Adrienne's view on this? Even she probably know the claims of Affleck and the remnants of other NPA dinosaurs are nonsense.


      Jun 2, 2015 at 8:36am

      The north intersection worked just fine before they added bike lanes. I ride and drive and can honestly say the whole bike lane thing is out of control and poorly planned and rarely do I ever use them.