Motorists Predicted the Apocalypse...
A week ago, the city of Vancouver converted 1 of the 5 lanes of Burrard Bridge into a bike lane for a 3-month trial. This was a controversial move, many motorists predicted the apocalypse and the media, smelling blood, were on the scene to interview angry drivers. But as Gordon Price documented on his blog (choice cuts below), carmaggedon was averted and cyclists, pedestrians and joggers turned out en masse.
Photo: Wikipedia, CC
The Globe and Mail reports that "scores of bicycle enthusiasts, pedicab drivers, rollerbladers and parents with jogging strollers were in motion on the newly designated bike lane." And while many drivers were angry (the Vancouver Suninterviewed a bunch), that was expected. Anytime motorists lose a lane somewhere, it's the end of the world for a little while (or at least, that's how the media frames it, because anger sells), and then people adapt and often traffic even improves.
Pedestrians are getting as much out of the separation as the cyclists. With bikes off the west sidewalk, it’s a pleasure to walk across the bridge – a relief even for regular users who were used to cyclists whizzing by inches from their shoulders. (Pedestrians are also buffered from the traffic roaring by at a hundred klicks.)
This is a good point. Let's not forget pedestrians. They are too often sharing very narrow lanes with cyclists that are moving much faster than they are. Rarely a good idea.
Will kids and families now be cycling (and walking) across Burrard Bridge? Will a mother feel it’s safe to take her children by bike from Kitsilano to the Aquatic Centre? Will, for that matter, everyone from eight to eighty now feel safer and more comfortable?
This experiment is not about hardy youth and confident athletes. This is about accomodating Burrard Bridge for everyone.
Indeed, biking should reserved to daredevils.
But overall, there was so little congestion that even City Caucus had to admit the experiment was a success.
Given that even some of the more neutral transportation engineers thought that back-ups would be severe, it makes one wonder …
If, as the phrase goes, you build it and they will come, does this mean that if you remove it, they will go away?
This reminds me of the creation of the pedestrian-friendly zone in downtown New York City.
Maybe, just maybe, the reason the traffic flowed so well on Burrard Street and the bridge,defying (and disappointing) the critics of doom, is because enough motorists decided to cycle instead. Proving that there’s no real need for a culture war.
We'll keep an eye on it to see if the trial keeps going well in the next 3 months. Hopefully the bike lane on Burrard Bridge will become permanent.