Is Vancouver ready?

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We’ve seen the fuss around the simple addition of a bike lane across the Burrard Bridge. Are we ready for the Olympics? Here is an article from last March that projects some much bigger changes ahead for the city …

Copyright © James Page. Please click on the photograph to view his flickr site.

Olympic organizers, working under the umbrella of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, have developed a transportation plan for the Games. It foresees a drastic reduction in automobile use by residents of the Lower Mainland.

The projections are ambitious: “Games-time operations will reduce the capacity of the local road network into downtown by 50 per cent from the east and overall into downtown by 20 per cent,” predicts the plan, released this morning.

That reduction in cars is going to happen because some of the city’s major arteries are going to be given over to what’s called Olympic lanes. That essentially means clearing lanes for Olympic vehicles containing officials, VIPs and athletes. Some of the key roads shut to the public are Expo and Pacific Boulevards, the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, and Canada Place and Waterfront roads.

So best forget about parking downtown from January 21st to March 21st. In fact, don’t even think about driving downtown unless you absolutely have to. You will probably regret it. Parking will be hell.

One alternative is try and work at home, if possible. But the option most people face is taking public transit. That’s what Olympic officials are hoping for.

There will be at least 180 extra buses in operation during the Games. Olympic officials forecast in their transportation strategy “daily transit trips are expected to increase by 33 per cent (230,000 additional trips) during the Games, from 730,000 trips today.”

Its going to be a wrenching change for Vancouverites and mean rewiring traffic patterns in the downtown. To make it happen as smoothly as possible, a special command centre is being set up.

Whoever has that command will need the wisdom of Solomon — and a two month supply of Aspirin.

Vancouver Sun

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