Vancouver Set to Claim Another Bridge Lane for Active Transportation

City officials want to add another bike lane to the Burrard Bridge. Image: Vancouver
Vancouver officials want to remove a car lane on the Burrard Bridge to make room for a walking path. Image: City of Vancouver

In 2009, Vancouver converted a southbound car lane on the west side of the Burrard Bridge to a protected bikeway using concrete dividers, freeing up the sidewalk for pedestrians. On the east side, the city converted the existing sidewalk into a bike path.

The bridge, pre-bike lane, via Wikipedia
The bridge, pre-redesign. Photo: Wikipedia

The three-month experiment defied predictions of carmageddon and became a permanent fixture. Thanks to the protected lane and an overhaul of the intersection on one end of the span in 2013, the Burrard Bridge has become “the city’s most popular bike route,” according to Metro.

According to the city, the bridge handled about 300,000 bike trips per month between September and November last year.

Now, six years after the first change, Vancouver is looking to remove another car lane to open up room for a walking path on the east side, and to redesign the intersection at the other foot of the bridge to reduce conflicts between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The main part of the span would have four car lanes and dedicated paths for walking and biking in each direction, compared to six car lanes and narrow, mixed-use paths before the 2009 redesign.

Burrard is one of three key bridges into downtown Vancouver, which is situated on a peninsula. Built in 1933, it is scheduled for structural repairs and maintenance in 2016 and 2017. In addition to repurposing space from driving to walking in the center of the span, the city’s plan calls for turn lanes on the east side that will widen the structure.

Vancouver presented the new plans for the bridge at a public meeting yesterday. Here’s a look at the intersection redesign proposed for the north end of the bridge:

burrard_north_after
Image: City of Vancouver
burrard-north
Photo: Google Maps
  • Alexander Vucelic

    time for Brooklyn Bridge to get same treatment – the current bike path is at capacity. 3,600 riders per day use a 6′ wide path. Imagine how many people the bridge could move if bicycles had ( 2)10′ wide lanes ?

    imagine how much congestion would be reduced if 2 car lanes were dedicated to bikes on the Brooklyn bridge ?

  • Gezellig

    It really is the year of the Protected Intersection!

    From that rendering it looks like Vancouver will be doing another protected intersection at Burrard and Pacific. There’s already one on the other side of the bridge at Burrard and Cornwall, which was redone recently:

    Before:

    http://edmontonbikes.ca/uploads/post/before-and-after-transforming-a-15-lane-pedestrian-crossing/Burrard-and-Cornwall-before.jpg

    After:

    http://edmontonbikes.ca/uploads/post/before-and-after-transforming-a-15-lane-pedestrian-crossing/Burrard-and-Cornwall-after.jpg

  • J

    looks good, but I’m worried that they’re also adding car lanes at the same time.

  • Gezellig

    It looks like they’re really just adding turning lanes, while reducing overall through lanes.

    Also, the new intersection looks great–gone will be the current freeway-like broadly curving turning ramps (which prioritize fast car turns even while endangering people on bike and foot in the crossings).

    In its place may be 2 turning lanes but they’ll need to line up and wait for a green light to turn–and make a tight turn, at that. I’d gladly take the After over the Before.

  • Don’t be. The only space being added is for turn lanes where there are presently slip lanes. This is a case of a smart reallocation of road space, not an addition. Be worried about the transit connections in the area.

  • gb52

    I was thinking the same thing the last time I walked the Brooklyn Bridge. And there are so many other bridges that could see similar benefits. (Also, if there’s a heavily biased commute pattern, a movable median can help. Like the newly installed movable median on the Golden Gate Bridge)

  • Patrick Devine

    So glad they’re doing this. The old configuration on both sides of the bridge was totally nutty, even for drivers. Originally I was thinking they should just add another pedestrian bridge, and leave Burrard for cars, but I think this worked out much better.

  • Aron

    Looks like an improvement. Too bad though that they didn’t go full-on Dutch concerning the intersection design.

  • Gezellig

    Looks pretty close! Down to the protective refuge islands and stop-line setbacks for cars. Presumably it will also have bike-specific signal periods, as well.

  • Ryan Price

    Are those bikeways contraflow?

  • That was my first impression, but those are not arrows, just funny looking bicycle silhouettes.

  • I talked with a pedestrian advocate about the bridge a few years ago before they redid the south intersection (third interview on Episode 196): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWsXhVeVvvA It will be a great improvement for pedestrians to get the east sidewalk back.

    If they really want a challenge, they can work on the narrow sidewalks and nasty ramp crossings on the Granville Bridge.

  • Gezellig

    Though it’s not entirely clear from the rendering, I think in parts
    these may be two-way bikeways and/or two-way crossbikes. For instance, on the other side of the bridge they did the following protected treatment with a combination of two-way and one-way bikeways meeting, with both crossbikes being two-way, as well:

    https://flic.kr/p/oKZpin

    Wouldn’t be surprising if they did something similar again on the other side.

    After all, from the rendering if you’re biking SW on Burrard and wish to turn left to go SE on Pacific, the only way to do it is to cross on the crossbike on the near side of the intersection (the renderings don’t show a crossbike on the other side), so it’s almost certainly a set of two-way crossbikes, at least.

  • Ryan Price

    Thanks for the image

  • Gezellig

    Sure thing! I don’t think Vancouver’s status as having implemented the first true protected intersection in North America has been publicized enough–in fact, prior to visiting Vancouver last September (2014) I did some research into recent bike infra updates around Vancouver but it didn’t pop up.

    I actually ended up biking through the adjacent park a mere half block away from this intersection, totally unaware there was an awesome Dutch-style protected intersection that’d just been built on the northern side of the park.

    D’oh! Will have to check it out next time. 😀

  • Gezellig

    @disqus_KiVh8UCUsK:disqus exciting update!

    I just got word from a councilmember in Davis that Davis’s own protected intersection has just opened within the past day or two.

    It has a really interesting All of the Above design that incorporates both on-street as well as protected options (including the hybrid option to bike on-street but join the protected lanes briefly during the intersection)

    http://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/7/29/1438169869141/c6b3c05a-afd9-4e37-b801-011fe3a8a868-1020×579.png?w=620&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&s=04c34a9116c050e5ddc391d088363bb9

    I think I may have to make a pilgrimage from SF to Davis again pretty soon to go check it out.

  • Ryan Price

    I’ll have to head over from Oakland too. Looks odd though, like you’re supposed to mix on the sidewalk, then the planners expect people to leave the sidewalk…

  • Gezellig

    Yeah, I’ll be really interested to see how it works in person. I can’t go this weekend but probably going to go with a couple people from SF Bike/SF Streetsblog/Cal Bike next Saturday to check it out!

    The way it appears to work along Covell is this:

    http://www.peopleforbikes.org/page/-/uploads/GLP/davis%20protected%20intersection.jpg

    –> In the more technical rendering above it appears it’s a Class I (multiuse shared path) that is separated the whole time mid-block as well as at the intersection.

    –> In addition, there’s also a conventional Class II on-road bike lane for those who do not wish to use the Class I shared path. For those who don’t with to use the separated infrastructure at all, they don’t have to–they could even still do a vehicular left if desired.

    –> What’s really interesting to me, though, is that Davis appears to be allowing for the hybrid approach whereby people could use the Class II lane mid-block and then join the Class I for the intersection using the channels connecting the two before/after the intersection.

  • Gezellig

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