June 2, 2015

Burrard Bridge: Surprising Facts

Here are some captures taken from the display boards that will be used at the Burrard Bridge open houses by the City – with some unexpected items.


(1) Motor-vehicle volumes have been dropping since the mid-1990s:

Burrard Bridge history.


(2) Collisions at Burrard-Pacific have been dropping since bike lanes were installed:

Burrard Bridge collisions



(3) Some travel times will drop after the bridge and intersection are reconfigured, including the reallocation of a lane:



Click to enlarge


If the comments on media sites are an indication, however, none of this will matter much to some.  Even the CBC’s comment section was full of this:

  • Absolutely ridiculous. The amount of bike traffic doesn’t warrant another bike lane.
  • Ridicolous! The Pacific/Burrard intersection has had a 600% increase in accidents after this stupid ill-planned, poorly engineered bike lane was put in!
  • One time it took me 30min just to get across this bridge. Its ridiculous!
  • The rendering should show the actual bridge: bumper to bumper cars, with a few cyclists here and there during the summer

But data matters, as do supportive comments from those who experience the change for the better.

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  1. This message provides a lot of valuable information with respect to the Burrard Bridge and proposals by the Vancouver Engineering Division to improve use by all classes of users, but I guess it says even more about public participation by fickle publics.

  2. Every afternoon the traffic from English Bay is clogged eastbound on Pacific. Fumes and tempers rise. The restoration of two lanes eastbound on Pacific to turn right (south) on Burrard is good to see and very much needed.

  3. Gordon,

    How much of this is part of the “click bait” journalism? I would be interested in how much the editors change the stories. This is a win for motorists too with the upgrade for turning. However, playing the “drivers are victims” card gets more comments, clicks and views, and pays the bills.


    1. It’s so obvious from the headlines. None of them proclaim that drivers will be able to travel eastbound on Pacific better than now. No, they go after some idea that they’re having something taken away from them (bridge lane) instead of all the things they’re going to benefit from (better intersection, new turn lanes, etc.)
      But happy stories about good things don’t “sell papers”.

  4. It seems it’s not so much a fault of drivers but of those people who consume mainstream media (aka corporate media) without questioning it. This colours their view of events later so when for example there’s clogged traffic because of something unrelated, people will suspect bike lanes or Chinese drivers or whatever else.
    Fortunately we live in a city where there’s enough people who have a larger view of things and can see past it and understand what causes things and what the long term solution is instead of just reacting to the immediate annoyance.

  5. This makes me happy:

    “The right-turn lanes onto Pacific would be controlled by a signal, rather than the current free-turn right that crosses cycling and pedestrian paths.”

    That intersection always seems dangerous to me. I hope the same thing is done on the north west side as well.

  6. Another data item from the City’s display boards is that 13,000 transit riders use the bridge daily, exceeding the 10,000 pedestrian and cycling trips (for reasons unknown the City didn’t separate pedestrian and cycling trips). Yet there is no mention of the impact – positive or negative – of the proposed changes on transit users.

    The trip time graphs shown above indicate that Route 44 bus riders can expect increased travel time between 4th/MacDonald and Burrard/Davie in the PM peak hour. If similar increases affect Routes 2/22/32 along Cornwall, will the CIty consider mitigation measures to improve transit speeds through this area?

  7. While there is no doubt that bike lanes have been success if I recall correctly the original estimate for widening Burrard bridge in 2009 to accommodate proper bike lanes was in 50-60 million neighborhood. When you add up all the improvements to the south side intersection, set up of bike lanes and now the north side intersection improvements we are coming very close to that number (north side alone is 30 mill). So in retrospective we should have widened the bridge and dedicated one traffic lane each way to buses, taxis and HOV. Now that would have been win-win-win all around.

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