November 6, 2014

COPE would scrap Burrard Bridge bike lane because of congestion

How else to interpret this?  From an interview with COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong, in Business in Vancouver:

BIV: Do you have any thoughts about how to reduce congestion, which is a concern we hear from businesses all the time?
MW: What business people tell me is, when they try to get deliveries from Richmond to Vancouver, it used to take half an hour. Now it can be two hours. Guess where the big backlog is? Burrard Bridge. I talked to the people in Kitsilano, they say that the bike lane [on Burrard Bridge] was supposed to be temporary with a report back to the community. Vision decided to make it permanent … Now it takes double the time to go downtown. I believe in providing a better alternative for business and for residents.
BIV: Would you take that bike lane out?
MW: I would look into it, and I would see what is the best alternative. That’s definitely an area where I need to sit down with residents and businesses and cyclists as well, because I also cycle. I do care about cyclist’s safety … I want to make sure that everybody can come to an agreement.

I can understand a candidate making big policy pronouncements, even ones that are not particularly feasible or outside their jurisdiction.  But one should expect a minimum regard for the facts (“double the time to go downtown”), some understanding of the implications of your proposed actions, particularly with an otherwise supportive constituency, plus options that suggest you give a damn.  It’s not something you make  up on the fly.

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  1. Come on, Vancouver politicians. If you want to be taken seriously, stop saying stupid things.
    COPE: You are taking a misguided political approach from NPA and executing it more poorly than they are. Smarten up.
    You cannot continue to let Vision run effectively unopposed. It’s bad for democracy. Come up with some viable alternatives already!

  2. I don’t know where to start with us, as there are so many holes in what she said. The one that jumped out at me was that people coming from Richmond are being delayed because of the Burrard Bridge? Huh? Why would anybody from Richmond be heading to Burrard Bridge? The most direct routes are either Cambie or Granville.
    The number of motor vehicles going into downtown has been decreasing drastically and we are back to 1960’s numbers. In July, 195,000 cyclists used Burrard Bridge. The numbers are as high as they are because they now have a safe facility. To rip it out would leave the city open to liability claims, as the old layout was too narrow and dangerous.

    1. Exactly Colin. If you research Meena’s (Cope’s) platform and listen to her (when she chooses to speak English, that is) during the many mayoral debates, it is clear that her focus is on the downtown Eastside and homelessness. Her priority is providing affordable housing in the city, particularly in Chinatown and the less affluent areas of the city. She advocates that once everyone has a roof over his/her head, drug addiction and crime will disappear. Hopeful, but not not factual. She appears to know very little, indeed, about areas of the city other than downtown.

      1. “…when she chooses to speak English, that is…”
        Oh my Susan, how fortunate none of your fellow travellers in the bike path have called you out on that.
        Of course what Mr.Price seems to overlook that in response to the question of whether Ms. Wong would take out the bike lane she replies: “I would look into it, and I would see what is the best alternative.”
        Nowhere does she say she would take out the bike lane. In fact the “best alternative” might be an at grade bike and pedestrian bridge. However saying “she’ll take out the bike lane” is a useful scare tactic to use against cyclists who may have tired of Vision’s constant pandering to developers and are considering voting COPE. Vision got a free pass on that competition from COPE the last two elections but doesn’t have it so easy this time.

    2. Not to mention that if you’re delivering groceries from Richmond you’re driving up the right hand side of the bridge, where the bike lane is on the sidewalk…

  3. “But one should expect a minimum regard for the facts (“double the time to go downtown”), some understanding of the implications of your proposed actions, particularly with an otherwise supportive constituency, plus options that suggest you give a damn. It’s not something you make up on the fly.”
    That’s what Clark did with the referendum and it worked….

  4. The city did research on travel times and before and after the cycling upgrade and as I recall, after the upgrade there was a less than 1 minute delay for southbound motorists balanced by a less than 1 minute improvement for northbound motorists. If she wants less motor vehicle congestion, she should be encouraging more cycling. The problem is not the number of lanes, but the traffic lights at each end.

  5. Number of Burrard Bridge car lanes into Vancouver before the bike lanes – 3.
    Number of Burrard Bridge car lanes into Vancouver now – 3.

  6. “But one should expect a minimum regard for the facts (“double the time to go downtown”), some understanding of the implications of your proposed actions, particularly with an otherwise supportive constituency, plus options that suggest you give a damn. It’s not something you make up on the fly.”
    This is common sense, a dying commodity, but an essential requirement if the electorate is going to vote responsibly on November 15th. All candidates should be consistently criticized by voters for their inaccuracies and held to account for them. As another example, Kirk LaPointe, in his video interview with Vancouver Sun reporter Jeff Lee and in his mayoral debates (most notably at SFU on November 4th), has repeatedly declared traffic-calmed Point Grey Road a “gated community.” This is both factually incorrect and extremely offensive to the residents and users of the road; there is no gate, there is no keyed entry. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists from all over Vancouver can and do access this road in the thousands daily. It is discriminatory toward the residents of this road and all users of this road to state otherwise. Kirk LaPointe employs this catch phrase to manufacture controversy, to suggest to the uninformed that somehow Point Grey Road is an exclusive community separate from the rest of the city because of a few very wealthy people who live on the North side. Kirk LaPointe is grossly inaccurate and prejudiced in this “gated community” epithet. I vehemently challenge him to explain and defend this name-calling as nothing more than a cheap attempt to gain support by misinforming potential voters.

      1. That is not traffic calming, it is traffic eliminating. Point Grey Road is gated at McDonald by concrete barriers and flowered memorials to errant motorists.. You cannot drive westward on Point Grey Road. Therefore it is a private enclave, ergo “gated community” of the rich. Finis.

  7. Every day I hope to hear some sense coming from the COPE campaign and every day I’m disappointed. The big money behind NPA and Vision must be laughing with glee at the lack of effective opposition.
    My suggestion for Burrard Bridge is to follow the long standing City of Vancouver order of priority: put pedestrians first by giving them back both sidewalks. Put cyclists second by putting a northbound separated bike lane on the main deck in place of the third vehicle lane and putting flexible covers on the horrible expansion joints. The remaining 4 lanes would be used for transit and other vehicles. I believe the signals on Pacific are already the limiting factor so removing the third northbound lane is unlikely to impact travel time.

    1. I second David’s proposal. I know that I am still a nervous cycling northbound on the Burrard Bridge. If I’m an experienced cyclist and I still get nervous, I can only imagine new women commuters freaking out when some spandex cyclist passes her.
      The NB bike lane on the sidewalk is too narrow for safe riding, especially when people pass.

        1. Actually, it does with regard to cycling. In areas without good cycling facilities, male cyclists outnumber female cyclists in the ration of about 75% male vs 25% female. In good cycling areas like the Netherlands, there are about the same numbers of female and male cyclists. An interesting stat on the BB lanes is that post upgrade, the percentage of female cyclists crossing the bridge showed a significant increase.

          1. I concur, based on discussion with my wife. She would never cycle along a road but would use bike lanes.
            Of course, abolishing the helmet law would help, too as women, on average, are more hair conscientious than men.

      1. I may be mistaken but i do not think you are supposed to pass on that side, i think there is signage at the south end indicating as much.

      2. @Jenables:
        Correct Indeed. You are technically not allowed to pass.
        But if you’re like me, a sit up cyclist who doesn’t ride more than 5-10 km/h, people are bound to pass me. I rather enjoy the view on the bridge.
        The person behind me wants to get to work. When a person passes me, I try my best not to swerve to the right and hit the concrete wall. It’s nerve-racking.
        I bet a lot of people can relate, especially women.
        At least it’s better than the old days where I would refuse to ride on the bridge altogether.

  8. Oh Mike, Mike, Mike . . .stop being sensible.
    Ms. Wong seems to be saying that it used to take 30 minutes to get a truckload of stuff from Richmond to Vancouver. But now it takes 2 hours, mostly because of the Burrard Bridge bike lane. So despite no change in the number of northbound lanes on the bridge, these trucks spend an 90 extra minutes on the bridge.
    Lord, that is just preposterous. Asinine. Goofy. And it is more than a little disturbing that a Mayoral candidate and her political party can be so loose with the facts, ignorant of the reality and off-base with their analysis.
    I suppose that this proposal will get COPE and Ms. Wong some publicity, but it certainly seems to be completely the wrong kind.

  9. Wow! If she wants to make up stuff it should at least be something plausible and something that most people don’t have direct experience to the contrary with. People driving from Richmond aren’t even going to be able to vote for her party.

    1. In full agreement with you. My plan had been to vote a mix of Vision and COPE. However, after this and Audrey Siegl’s unfortunate comments on cycling, I’ve decided the remainder of my progressive vote will go Green or independent.

      1. I wish the Greens were more enthusiastic about bike lanes, but their position has been oddly similar to the NPA’s – only if the community supports it. None of the Green Parks Board candidates responded to HUB’s survey. Probably because they don’t support bike lanes in parks, as Stuart Mackinnon has confirmed on twitter.
        I’m having a really hard time deciding who to vote for after Vision.

        1. In fact, I’ve never found the Green Party at any level of government to be able to articulate their position on anything very well. Sure, they’re called “Green” but what does that even mean?
          And you’re right about them sounding similar to the NPA: all they provide are vague platitudes about “consultation” and “community backing”, while proposing nothing substantial.

        2. Stuart Mackinnon seems to have a very sensible opinion
          May be he didn’t answer to the questions of the Hub survey which seem to have been drafted by Vision, because they involve a way too much ideological view on the bike lanes: (e.g. : do you support bike lane in parks? yes/no… )
          I also notice that the Stuart Mackinnon is in line with his Parisian green colleagues, and in fact most of Parisan politicians (save for the right): it has been a topic of the last Parisian election (re. Petite Ceinture : eitehr park or bike lane)).
          The opposition to bike lane in Parisian park has been rationalized as below:
          -“bike speeds are not compatible with other use of parks mainly geared for relaxation and promenade” (what is the primary use of Parisan parks). … (Green position)
          -if you make the choice of “active transportation, it needs to be done at the expense of other transportation mode” (Modem, “center right”)
          -“Bikes need to be on the street, part of the city, not to be above” (that is also the Gehl opinion)
          but obviously, the general rule suffer exception such Bois de Boulogne or Vincennes (which are very large parks), or obvious shortcut …so not an ideological position with a definitive “yes/no” to a general question.
          I will assume it is also the Stuart Mackinnon position.

        3. Voony;
          I can confirm that Vision had no part in drafting the questions on the HUB Cycling survey. And that candidates who wanted to understand the questions and put forward a position took the opportunity to meet with volunteers from HUB Cycling and discuss the issues. Look at Adriane Carr’s responses to the survey, as an example. She wrote that she agreed with separated facilities on busy commercial streets such as Commercial Drive, Main, and other collectors, and said that she would want to prioritize transit lanes first on streets like Broadway. This isn’t an ideological response, and it certainly is more help in understanding a position than those who ignored the survey and declined to respond.
          If we want to talk about cycling facilities in parks, we would do well to move away from the ideological debate around Hadden Park and consider instead the tragic death of a cyclist on the Stanley Park Causeway. MoTI is planning improvements to that route as a result, but any changes will require agreement from the Vancouver parks board since the road runs through the park. Will the new parks board block it, or work collaboratively to improve safety?

  10. I have a suspicion that she’s confusing delays due to bike lanes with delays caused by the construction at the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge. That construction is now completed, of course, and whatever delays it caused have disappeared.

    1. No, not unless they are cutting through residential neighbourhoods, but if we are going to get into how logical the claims were, then we should ask her why doubling a thirty minute drive makes it two hours. And why the apparent delay is in going downtown, when there has been no reduction in motor vehicle lanes on the Burrard Bridge heading downtown.

  11. As someone who worked on getting the separated bike lanes on the Burrard Bridge for many years – after 2 women were seriously injured there when having to share the sidewalk with pedestrians – I can assure Meena that there was a huge amount of community consultation. That’s why it took so long. As a long time COPE supporter, I find Meena’s comments very disappointing. We need more separated lanes so that people of all ages and abilities can ride safely – not fewer. The only way to reduce congestion is to make it easier to choose alternatives to private cars.

  12. Canadianveggie, would you please ask Ms. Wong to elaborate on what “problem” she means? I think people on this site would be interested to know from her directly Cope’s position on the Seaside Greenway and her plans for altering transportation to businesses in the downtown core (including the installation of new bike paths and/or removal of existing bike paths). Thanks.

  13. Meena Wong’s vapid and slogan filled approach policy making also extends to her $30 a day transit plan and her invasive tax empty condos plan. She clearly has not a clue about how to finance these “Pie in the sky” policies nor does she have a hope in hell of ramming them through jurisdictional and legal roadblocks. Her publication, The Georgia Straight recently trashed her transit plan as “defying logic” and Chris Brayshaw recently said in the Tyee that he is angry that he signed the nomination papers for Meena Wong as mayoral candidate. Her messages are muddled and her platforms are a disaster. Perhaps COPE believed that an Asian candidate would be the winning strategy, but they did not factor in the dumb factor.