Day one of Burrard Bridge lane summer closure goes smoothly. Will it remain a success when shorter days and the rain inevitably arrives later this fall?
By all accounts, Mayor Robertson has passed a huge hurdle with his $1.4 million dollar Burrard Bridge lane experiment. Despite traffic chaos over the weekend as crews finished paving and prepping for the closure, the first day of reduced vehicular capacity on the bridge appears to be a great success on two counts.
Firstly, the Mayor had mother nature on his side. Despite the cool cloudy weather, the rain held off and the evening rush hour went off without a hitch. The forecast for the rest of the week is sunny and dry. Now if the rain could just hold off for the next 89 days of the trial, this could be a piece of cake.
Secondly, the Mayor's Obama-esque call to arms asking all of his Facebook and Twitter supporters to flood the airwaves and blogosphere with positive comments about the bridge closure was also a huge success. In fact, it was so successful that by 3 pm, CityCaucus.com had its best day EVER in terms of daily web traffic since our launch last December - and there was still 9 hours left in the day! Not surprisingly, the majority of the commenters on our blog were in support of the lane closure. So were just about every caller to radio open line shows. The Vision campaign is working just as it should.
If you were to buy into all the spin of the Burrard Bridge lane closure supporters (aka Vision supporters), we should end the "trial" today and send home all the analysts from City Hall. As far as they're concerned, starting this trial in the dead of summer and having minimal traffic backups on day one is clear evidence this is a big success.
Despite what the Mayor's supporters believe, the real success will be how voters on Vancouver's west side feel in late November on a cold, dark rainy rush hour when the bike lane sits all but abandoned and they're stuck in two lanes of congested traffic. If the Mayor and his bridge lane closure can make it past a rainy November, it will make it through anything. That real test is yet to come.
So while I must agree that on day one this wasn't "Gregor's Gridlock", there are at least 89 more days left in this experiment. If the Mayor wants to consider this a political success in the long-term, he would be wise to hold off doing a bike dance until the monsoonal rain arrives.
So far it's Mayor Robertson one, lane-closure critics zero.