One lane of the Burrard Street Bridge is being converted into a bicycle-only path as part of a $1.45-million trial to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety while also gathering data on how removing a lane will impact transit and drivers.
The trial, which was passed Thursday afternoon by council, would see the westernmost curb lane (heading from downtown into Kitsilano) converted into a bike lane.
Cyclists heading into downtown would have exclusive use of the east sidewalk while all pedestrians would share the west sidewalk.
“We kowtowed to car and said, ‘the car is more important than cyclists or pedestrians,’” said COPE Coun. David Cadman, who along with Coun. Ellen Woodsworth supported reallocating two traffic lanes to bicycles.
Twenty people shared their views with council. All but two were in favour of converting two traffic lanes. Some cycling advocates shouted their disapproval when it was decided that only one lane would be converted.
“This says to pedestrians ‘move over’ and to cyclists ‘satisfy yourself with a little more space on the east side,’” said Cadman.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said the decision was not easy, but was important to address safety for everyone crossing the bridge.
“This has to happen urgently,” said Robertson. “Waiting for another year or two for sidewalk expansion is not reasonable nor appropriate and doesn’t make people safe in the meantime.”
Data from the trial would be used in any future decision to upgrade the bridge, which could include widening the bridge deck at a cost of roughly $63 million.