GOOD

Lanes, Citizens Still Divided in Vancouver

In the GOOD 100 we applauded the idea of not only creating more space for cyclists and pedestrians on our roads, but of appropriating car lanes to...


In the GOOD 100 we applauded the idea of not only creating more space for cyclists and pedestrians on our roads, but of appropriating car lanes to do it. One place this has been tried is on the Burrard Bridge, which connects Vancouver's downtown to the Kitsilano neighborhood to the west. Last summer the city gave one of the bridge's six car lanes to bikes. The idea was controversial, to say the least. Skeptics thought it would result in gridlocked traffic and hurt downtown businesses.Now there are some numbers out, though, and they look good:-26% increase in cyclists using the bridge-31% increase in women riders-70,000 additional trips over the summer months-A significant reduction in bicycle accidents-Impact on vehicle crossing time: negligible.Not surprisingly, residents support continuing the bike lane trial by a margin of 2 to 1.But wait! This local news item on the new data has attracted an angry mob of commenters, upset about the bike lane. The tone of the comments has a whiff of astroturf about it, but their points aren't all unreasonable. One concerned citizen wonders if motorists now bear a disproportionate tax burden for the upkeep of the bridge, with the cyclists getting a free ride (heh). On that point, I'm not sure that by reducing heavy car traffic the change hasn't also reduced the net wear and tear on the bridge. But regardless, this issue shouldn't outweigh the larger gains of the experiment in terms of bike safety, cleaner transportation, and public health, right?Another concern mentioned is that the poll was small-only 310 people were surveyed-and doesn't reflect the interests of people who live far away and have no choice but to commute by car. The report says the impact of vehicle crossing time has been "negligible," but that's vague. It might be that motorists from the far-flung 'burbs are inconvenienced. And that might just be part of the growing pains of moving to denser, more locally-oriented communities.
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