June 1, 2015

Burrard Bridge: Have we learned anything from experience?

“Cue the howling,” notes Ohrn, anticipating the media coverage and accompanying comments to the Burrard Bridge announcement, below.

Do we have to go through this every time?  No matter how many times the city reallocates road space (miniparks in the 1970s and 80s, bike lanes in the 90s and 2000s),  no matter how many controversies (Hornby Street,  Burrard Bridge, Point Grey Road, the Viaducts), the pattern is the same: predictions of Carmaggedon, attacks on council and staff, calls for more process, lengthy public meetings, approval and construction – and then nothing.  Maybe a week of adjustment, and life goes on.

A few years later, the data confirms what the engineers had predicted: sufficient existing capacity, some mitigation, improved road design, and more use of other modes means little negative impact on vehicle flows – and in some cases actual improvements.

Best of all, the city moves forward on the goals that every council and community process affirms:





So let’s see, now that the south end improvements on the Burrard Bridge are clearly a success, whether the north end proposals will be greeted with equanimity.

Maybe this item from CityLab might give some reassurance:

When Adding Bike Lanes Actually Reduces Traffic Delays


“A big reason for opposition to bike lanes is that, according to the rules of traffic engineering, they lead to car congestion. …

But the general wisdom doesn’t tell the whole story here. On the contrary, smart street design can eliminate many of the traffic problems anticipated by alternative mode elements like bike lanes. A new report on protected bike lanes released by the New York City Department of Transportation offers a great example of how rider safety can be increased even while car speed is maintained.

… just because a city values travel alternatives over car-centric engineering doesn’t mean that city’s traffic has to come to a halt.

Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on


  1. When will we close Robson all the way from Stadium to Lost Lagoon to see cafes with more business and flourishing shops, and eventually, higher lease rates ? Such a no brainer to make Robon into a linear park / shopping street / walkway to revitalize that car choked part of Vancouver !

    When Davie, and when Denman ?

    Where is the subway below Burrard to Kerrisdale ?

    1. I always liked that it was nicknamed Robsonstraße … the name is meaningless in that there are plenty of non-pedestrian streets also named Straße, but the connotation of european walking street is wonderful.

      Walking along Denman on Saturday evening, I couldn’t help noticing on each side of the street, each block had about 2 cars driving, 6 cars parked, 50 people walking and 15 people squeezed along the edge at a restaurant. The balance of space priorities was certainly screwy!

  2. Nice to see them reinstate two pedestrian sidewalks and the Pacific bike issue finally resolved (which has been dicey for both cyclists and drivers through those 2 blocks).

    The key to the north end improvements is the double right turn lanes to Pacific and the widening of Pacific on the former Kettle of Fish block.
    It also looks like the bridge itself will be widened – but not so far along as to interfere with the heritage aspects of the towers.

    I assume that the City has analysed the south end double right turn lanes and will be applying that knowledge to two double lane right turn movements
    – northbound Burrard to eastbound Pacific, and
    – eastbound Pacific to southbound Burrard.

    Given the extra timing required for the eastbound Pacific to southbound Burrard, I am very surprised that they have no reinstated a right turn from southbound Burrard to westbound Pacific. That movement could coincide with the aforementioned movement, as bikes would have to be stopped for that cycle. It would eliminate the “point of no return” aspect of heading south on Burrard.

    One other comment is that they should lengthen the right turn lane on eatsbound Pacifc to southbound Howe. There are a lot of right turns at that corner, and if there’s a dedicate right turn signal that will back-up traffic and if there isn’t a dedicate right turn signal, pedestrian traffic (blocking right hand turns) will increase with the Vancouver House Tower, grocery store, etc. slated to be built nearby.

  3. I think that Vancouverites buy now have seen the reality and are liking it, loving it or no longer see it as a threat. However, you still see newspapers, who’s body of text is neutral have headlines like “LANES TO BE ELIMINATED!”, instead of “TURNING LANES ADDED!”. People see that and it colours their view when they look at the plan. (If they even look at it.)

    In any case, it doesn’t matter if some suburbanites have a wrong idea of what’s going on or what is and isn’t. People here are liking many of the new changes and that’s all that matters.

  4. It’s not too often I get to say this. Check out how the headline that a Calgary AM radio station gave to the story that a new separated bike lane opened today on one of the city’s main car arteries into downtown.

    == Calgary cyclists jump at chance to use new bike lanes ==

    For a bonus, read the quote they chose to run from a driver:

    “Liam drove down 12th Avenue in a car, and said he wasn’t too bothered by the new kind of traffic.”


Subscribe to Viewpoint Vancouver

Get breaking news and fresh views, direct to your inbox.

Join 7,291 other subscribers

Show your Support

Check our Patreon page for stylish coffee mugs, private city tours, and more – or, make a one-time or recurring donation. Thank you for helping shape this place we love.

Popular Articles

See All

All Articles