Cyclists, pedestrians get their own Richmond to Vancouver bridge starting Friday
BY KELLY SINOSKI, VANCOUVER SUN
AUGUST 11, 2009
METRO VANCOUVER — Cyclists will have their own Canada Line milestone to celebrate this Friday with the opening of a one-kilometre pedestrian-bicycle bridge across the Fraser River.
The $10-million bridge, which runs slightly beneath the west side of the Canada Line bridge linking the Marine Drive and Bridgeport stations, will officially open to the public at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s going to be a really good crossing because we won’t get the noise and the traffic,” said Arno Schortinghuis, of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition. “You’ll get the odd rumble of a train overhead, but it’s going to be nice.”
The bridge ceremony, which will be held three days ahead of the official Canada Line opening on Monday, will follow an invitation-only ribbon cutting involving the acting mayors of Vancouver and Richmond and members from the cycling coalition and the Better Environmentally Sound Transportation group.
TransLink decided to open the bridge before the Canada Line begins service because bikes will be not be allowed on the new trains opening day.
“This gives them a chance to enjoy what was done for cyclists,” Snider said.
Cyclists can access the Canada Line starting Tuesday.
Cycling advocates were hugely involved in pushing for the new bridge and its design.
TransLink spokesman Drew Snider said he expects a “couaple hundred” people to attend the celebrations depending on the weather.
Although it is still technically attached to the Canada Line crossing, this marks the first separate pedestrian-cyclist bridge in Metro Vancouver.
From Vancouver, cyclists can access the bridge at the south end of Ash Street at Kent Avenue. From Richmond, access is via Van Horne Way at River Road.
Schortinghuis said he expects the new bridge to boost the number of cyclists travelling between Richmond and Vancouver because it’s safer.
“There’s a lot of interest,” he said. “People have been asking me ‘when is it going to open?’ It’s superb. It’s another option.”
Schortinghuis described the Oak Street Bridge as “okay,” noting there are some problems with the approaches to the bridge, while the Knight Street Bridge is “pathetic” with railings below cycling standards.
And the Arthur Laing? It’s “only for the very brave,” he said, noting it’s too narrow and was never intended for cyclists.
“It’ll get more people cycling. It’s a perception of safety . . . ,” he said about the new bridge, adding it’s “an opportunity you don’t want to miss.”
Cyclists account for about two per cent of trips in Metro Vancouver. Steve Beck, operations manager of BEST, said the bridge will offer an alternative to the Heather Street bike route because it will link into it.
“I’ve talked to quite a few people who wouldn’t dare ride across the Granville Street Bridge,” he said.
Snider agreed the bridge “fits in nicely” with the rest of the cycling network in Vancouver and Richmond.
Bikes will be allowed on the Canada Line at any time as long as there is room on the trains, which are bigger and more spacious than those on the Expo and Millennium lines.
Schortinghuis said he’s hoping TransLink will relax its policy allowing only one bike per train car.