The new bike lanes over the Burrard Street bridge are up and running and from what I saw today at noon, they’re a pretty clear success. That’s a cyclist’s two thumbs up of course.
I’ve avoided the bridge by car since the lanes opened, but all the same, traffic seemed to be moving smoothly according to plan today: three lanes north into the downtown, and two lanes south out of it.
That’s not to say there aren’t some problems with the temporary lanes. According to the traffic cop I talked with on the south side of the bridge, there have been a few instances of frustrated taxi drivers and clients rolling down their windows to yell at all the usurping cyclists. Still, the benefits are huge. Cyclists no longer have to ride with the extreme trepidation of either clipping passengers on the sidewalk as they go by (see photo) or fall off the two foot drop to their left into traffic just an arm’s length away. That’s been the worst fear about the Burrard Bridge for me in the past, and ironically, that makes the ugly new concrete barriers separating cars and cyclists about the best thing to happen to this Art Deco-inspired bridge in decades. The safety factor just went up a thousand fold for cyclists in the downtown area.
Oh, one other major issue still to be addressed: bad signage. The city really needs to post signs to make the flow of traffic absolutely clear. At the moment, there are smallish temporary signs announcing the traffic experiment in general terms, but there is no signage explaining any of the following:
– northbound cyclists take the sidewalk on the EAST or northbound side of the bridge
– pedestrians take the sidewalk on the WEST or southbound side of the bridge
– southbound cyclists take the brand spanking new southbound lane.
All the same, big props to the city for this one!
btw, for a nicely detailed breakdown of the culture change we’re seeing on the Burrard Street Bridge, take a look at Gordon Price’s blog here.