May 8, 2018

Burrard Bridge: The Last Piece (with pigeons)

This looks to be the final piece of the Burrard Bridge upgrade — a masterpiece of engineering design: Complete separation of multiple modes while simultaneously addressing issues of infrastructure, heritage, safety, means prevention and traffic flow.
A few blocks on the south side of Pacific from Burrard to Howe remained unfinished until recently.  Now, as the pigeons quickly discovered, even the grass is planted.

Bridge drivers are still figuring out the new lane flows.  Here, for instance, north-bound at Pacific, there are two right-hand-turn lanes.  But (very Canadian-like), drivers tend to queue in the longer line-up at the curb, not realizing they have a choice.

Which means there is underutilized capacity for even smoother traffic flows once drivers figure out their options.
We haven’t seen any data yet to compare the pre- and post-upgrade traffic flows — but anecdotally, bridge traffic seems to be flowing better. Certainly more safely, and presumably happier.
So where oh where are the ‘mageddon predictors, who maintained that taking away two lanes from the bridge deck for bike and ped crossings could only lead to (all together now) Carmegeddon!

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  1. Congratulations to the City on completion of this project!
    The delay in completion of the bike lanes on the two blocks on the south side of Pacific wasn’t because of the City, according to the construction updates. It was due to electrical work by a third party, likely related to the BC Hydro distribution system work a few blocks south.
    It is great to see the paths shown above finished, this was a dangerous pinch point where the painted lane just ended suddenly, and it is now much better. At least going towards Yaletown.
    Although it wasn’t part of the Burrard project scope, we are still waiting for improvements on the north side of Pacific, from Seymour to Hornby. That is tied to future development projects in those blocks, but now that the rest of the Burrard access routes are done, the north side of Pacific stands out as a gap, especially next to the Granville Bridge on and off ramps.
    On the other side of Burrard, the improvements on Pacific are great, right up until Thurlow. Then they stop. Neither Pacific or Beach Cres is a bike route towards Denman and Stanley Park, which means that people on bikes are funnelled on to the Seawall bike route. That is a great path, but would be better set aside for those wanting a slower ride along the water, with a faster and more direct safe route on the street.

  2. For the double right turn lanes, people do tend to go to the right right turn lane, but it may also be a function of time of day and where people’s destinations are.
    The left right turn may get backed up by the immediate left turn to Hornby. There is a left turn lane there, but it only holds about 3 cars. Any more than that and they blokc the through lane.
    The other factor is that many driver turning right will eventually make the circle and turn right on Howe Street to get to Beach Ave.. If they go into the left right turn lane, they will have to merge back into the right lane to turn right – within 2 short blocks – and if there is a steady stream of cars in the right lane, they may not be allowed in – so they are polite and wait in the queue on the bridge
    (yes, drivers do think THAT FAR in advance).

  3. I’ve said it before, but I really like this bridge. I drive both ways (from the North Shore) regularly, and I’ve found it super easy and super stress free. I hope it’s that good for cyclists.
    I didn’t find that it took any thought to “adapt” to the new lanes. They’re well enough designed that you tend to just find yourself going in the right place without much thought.
    I usually automatically move into the right turn lane when heading south, but that’s really because I know I’ll be turning right again not too far past the other side of the bridge.

    1. Of course it’s good for driving. It’s was the second most dangerous intersection in the city and now it’s not. Any slight fender bender will slow down everyone driving there.
      I’m getting tired of people stating that this project was just for cyclists. (Whoever they may be. It’s an activity not a type of person.) It was a trunk sewer replacement for the most part. That would have happened anyway even if they would have made it the same after. They were smart enough to include multiple projects into one, saving lots of money.
      It’s an extremely well designed project and is something the engineers can be proud of. The only people I know who complain about it haven’t actually been anywhere near it in years.

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