I think the city of Vancouver has gone 1 lane too far with the recent addition of a bike lane on the Dunsmuir Viaduct. As a biker, pedestrian, and driver I feel like I am an advocate for all three groups. I am so proud of our fair city for embracing alternate methods of transportation. Helping people to break their love affair with their favorite method of transport, even if just for the work commute.
Bike lanes for the sake of bike lanes are a terrible idea and here’s where my respect for the cities decisions starts to diminish.
I wrote an email to the city of Vancouver at least a year ago complaining that they hadn’t removed the concrete barriers placed on the Viaduct during the construction of the Spectrum towers. I wanted to remind them that the capacity of the viaduct is actually a whole lot greater than was being taken advantage of. More importantly, I would watch people waiting, burning gas, for 5-10 minutes on the Viaduct. Cars literally crawl across the expanse during the morning commute; mostly because there are cars turning off, blocking the straight thru flow of vehicle traffic. The response to my email was simple; the urban planner who wrote me back blamed it on Concord Pacific – a local developer who had arranged for the lane to be closed during the construction. Apparently they had some more time before they were required to return the road to its former flow.
At the end of the day, my theory is simple too. We should be encouraging CARS to use the viaduct. It keeps them off of the other streets. The streets that the bikes, pedestrians, skaters, children, adults…. You get the idea. The viaduct is a perfect place for cars because it allows the rest of us the peaceful use of the streets. I personally don’t see the need for more bike lanes either? There is a bike lane on Pender, Pacific, Expo, Quebec, Burrard, Cambie, Beatty, Homer, etc. There are more than adequate bike accessible routes into downtown Vancouver. Moreover the viaduct literally is a bike lane on top of bike lanes that travel the same exact path.
I don’t always agree with the actions of the cities urban planners. For example, the curb outs… When the extend the curb at corner of certain intersections. A perfect example of this is Thurlow and Davie. A few years ago there were right a left turn lanes in addition to the two through lanes on the Thurlow. The city decided to remove the turning lanes to extend the curbs for pedestrian safety and space. Okay, I understand that the pedestrians, at rare times, may need some more space (but that’s the case on Robson almost all the time). What I don’t get it how it’s safer? As I see drivers so frustrated that it took them 20 minutes to get though that intersection on a busy day, all the time burning fuel and polluting without any productive reason. Road rage is perfectly safe? Right?
At the end of the day, whether it’s a “curb out” or new bike lane don’t you think the city should consider the cost vs benefit of implimenting these new ideas. How much is it worth to the people. The Olympics often come under critisism for the cost. People should pay attention to the cost of the small things: adding traffic circles, expanding bike lanes, adding traffic lights. These are costs which don’t just hit our pockets at tax time either…. Think about the accidents that occur as the result of changed traffic flows or congested road conditions. I’m sure ICBC could extract statics that would have us all reconsider some of the decisions (Did I hear someone say Burrard St. Bridge?).
As the taxpayers and residents we should all care a bit more. Stand up and tell the people in charge what we really want (or don’t want).