Vancouver Gives a Bridge Lane to Bikes

New York isn’t the only city that’s experimenting with closing roads to improve traffic and create better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Today, from Streetsblog Network member Human Transit, we hear of a bridge in Vancouver where a lane of car traffic has been given over to cyclists:

3717925612_6fee0558f6.jpgHappy cyclists coming off the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver. Photo by Ariane Colenbrander via Flickr.

Last
weekend, after years of debate, the City of Vancouver
experimentally converted one of the outbound lanes of the Burrard
Bridge to a bike lane, leaving two outbound traffic lanes where there
had been three. This should have been a problem on the afternoon peak.
The media were out in force, ready to interview angry motorists and
stream live video of gridlock.  And as Gordon documents on his blog, nothing much happened.

They’re
not over the hump yet. The experiment will run for at least three
months. Schools come back in September. And it’s easy to get people on
their bicycles in Vancouver’s bucolic summer, when it’s light until
9:00 PM. What will the bridge look like as Vancouver heads into its
famously gloomy winter, when windy rain lashes the bridge and the whole
PM commute happens in the dark?

My guess is that many
of the fair-weather cyclists, knowing there’s not room for as many
cars, will try to use transit. And it will all come down to a tipping
point: do enough of them do this that the bridge still flows fairly
well? Or do they generate just enough car traffic to strangle the
transit, so that both motorists and transit riders lose?

It’s great that Vancouver’s
political leaders had the gumption to go ahead with this despite the
doubters. It’s actually quite a sensible thing to try. A study released
last year called "The Price of Anarchy in Transportation Networks" floated some interesting ideas about why having fewer route options can speed traffic. The study’s authors found that narrowing drivers’ choices resulted in shorter collective travel time.

In
New York, the Brooklyn Bridge — where pedestrian-bicyclist conflicts
are constant and sometimes ugly — would be the obvious place to try
giving a traffic lane to bicyclists. We hope the city’s DOT keeps an
eye on Vancouver’s experiment. Anyone else out there know of places
where this kind of trial might be merited?

More thought-provoking posts from around the network: The Vine asks whether there is such a thing as sustainable biofuels. Seattle’s Bus Chick is car-free, but laments the necessity of occasional car-seat drama. And Copenhagenize highlights a peculiar Audi ad — it seems to promise that driving might be as fun as riding a bike.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Vancouver, Canada: A City on Bikes with Lessons for Los Angeles

|
(In advance of tomorrow night’s presentation with Modacity about the bicycling culture of Vancouver and what L.A. can learn; we asked Streetsblog contributor Roger Rudick to write about his recent trip to Vancouver.  For more information about tomorrow’s event, click here.- DN) Ten years ago, Jeff Leigh, a businessman and engineer, lived in the suburbs, […]

Another Wonderful Long Beach First: Protected Bike Lanes

|
The city of Long Beach is Southern California’s undisputed leader in innovative infrastructure for safe and convenient bicycling.  They’re at it again this Saturday, April 23rd 2011, when they unveil the first genuine protected bike lanes west of New York City. Opening festivities are from 11am to 2pm at the The Promenade – one block east of Pine Avenue. […]

Caution! Please Pass with Care!

|
Signs also available in Spanish.  Photo: LA Ecovillage When I first heard of the signs that popped up all over Los Angeles two nights ago urging drivers to pass cyclists with care, my first thoughts were that L.A.’s D.I.Y. culture has reached a tipping point.  Not only have advocates learned that the LADOT and other […]

If L.A. Is Going to Invest in Bike Lanes, Then Do It Right!

|
Bike Lanes are a deterrent for me to ride in and I oftentimes cringe when I hear people blindly supporting them without asking for enhanced safety standards and regulations. So when the LA Draft Bike Plan proposes Bike Lanes and Paths all over the city without taking into consideration what the people want, it upsets […]