Vancouver hopes changing times and communication will curb the commuter chaos that kiboshed a previous attempt to convert a lane on the Burrard Street Bridge to cycling lanes.
The three-month trial, which begins July 13, will remove one southbound lane (from downtown to Kitsilano) to create a pair of bike lanes. There will be three lanes heading into downtown and pedestrians will be restricted to the western sidewalk.
A similar six-month trial in 1996 was scrapped after a single week because of public outcry.
Vision Coun. Heather Deal said the previous trial was for a different lane and added the plan was implemented without adequate communication nor a queue-jumper lane for buses.
“It was set up for failure then,” Deal said. “We’re setting this one up for success.”
The $1.4-million trial will provide data for a future decision regarding the 77-year-old bridge, which is slated to undergo $30 million in repairs in the next three years.
Widening sidewalks to accommodate six traffic lanes as well bike lanes and sidewalks would cost an additional $30 million.
Charles Gauthier, executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, argued that downtown traffic is already impacted by construction projects — including all of Granville Street to the Canada Line.
“When do we hit the stop button on this thing if it doesn’t work?” Gauthier asked. “If we reach a 50 per cent increase in traffic congestion does that deem it a failure?”
Gauthier is also worried that bus riders could be stuck in congestion without the option that car drivers have of taking a different route like Granville Street Bridge.
Staff said the first few days — before motorists opt to take the Granville Bridge — will be difficult and the success of the project depends on getting word of the closure out to commuters.
The city will release an intense communication campaign that includes radio and newspaper advertisements and will have banners on the bridge.