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.
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.