Phewww...first day of Burrard Bridge lane closure experiment a success

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

14 comments

rainy
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.

14 Comments

Did you listen to the CBC-there were a lot of objections raised to the lane closures on the Early Edition, Almana, and on whatever they're calling the afternoon drive show.
The funny thing is it seems that the media is really excited that fights might break out-BCTV coverage talked about the "Battle for Burrard Bridge".
Today was the first day of a trial-no matter what side anyone is on making any kind of judgement based on one Monday morning is a bit premature.

Oh and while you're discussing "spin" what do you call it when a page where "you can get all the latest and best information about the Burrard Bridge lane reallocation, who's talking about it, links and resources that show that this little culture war that's broken out was completely avoidable had Vision handled it better" only includeds links to articles and columns that oppose the trial? Just asking.

The only perceptible change was the lineup to get onto the bridge from Pacific, west of Burrard (from Thurlow/Jervis/Denman streets) was longer. This makes sense as there were previously two lanes to get onto the bridge from this route but now it is down to one. However, Burrard street heading south had very light traffic and hopefully some of the motorists from the lineup will switch to Burrard in the future.

Also, I love it how when the predicted chaos didn't arrive then those that were predicting chaos still stick to their theory, but now with additional qualifications that they didn't previously make. Eg: the "real" test will be the first big event downtown or the "real" test will be in September.

I think we linked the "positive" story from the Sun. We've not found a lot of rave reviews, except for our commenters of course. We'll keep looking for stories on either side of the issue and share them here.

yes, let's all wait for the "real test" to come. when will that be? the day after the next "real test" fails to generate "chaos" and doesn't become an "absolute nightmare".

guess we can all hold our breath to see the city come to a complete standstill.....some other time.

but keep on it, citycaucus. you still have half a foot to stuff in your mouth.

"We'll keep looking for stories on either side of the issue and share them here."

Why start now?

I've tried to document the changes over the last three days (with lots of pics) here - http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2009/07/13/burrard-bridge-day-three-monday-afternoon/

Don't you love the fine taste of leather in the morning.

CityCaucus is correct in that one day of a relatively successful trial does not a succesful experiment make. Supporters of the bridge are hailing it as thus; yet, the real test, and yes I do yes that word on purpose, is when traffic patterns are back to normal.

Any lane closures during the summer time, when traffic patterns are lower on account of individuals being away on vacation, university or school, should not be taken as a sign from God that the experiment worked. The true test comes when traffic patterns are back to normal - only then can it be determined if the experiment worked.

The logic of some of the supporters of the experiment is akin to this: (i) performan a rain dance in the middle of a thunder storm; and (ii) then shout from the rooftops that you're rain dance was successful. Um, no, that's not how research get's conducted. The true test would be to (i) hold a rain dance when it is not raining; and (ii) see if it rains. If so, then you're rain dance works. The analogy works here.

The point is - until the experiment takes place under "normal" conditions, and not those that are an artefact is misleading and insulting to the public.

Whether or not people eventually accommodate the traffic changes to Vancouver still avoids dealing with what really drives human behaviour.

We just returned from the southern California area, driving the highway between LA and San Diego. There were 5 of us so we were able to use the HOV lanes and generally we were the only ones there, even during rush hour. Of course it is summer traffic, but my kids did note all the one passenger vehicles and no buses, are transit buses allowed on major California highways? We were in Newport Beach and Carlsbad, no transit, even around the hotel/conference district, in fact, aside from noticing the Metrolink train that runs north/south, our first transit buses were seen in San Diego (aside from the shuttle to the outlet centres).

My point here is that gas is about 30% cheaper in California than what we pay. I think there is a correlation between our carpooling and transit use and the higher cost of gas. As long as it is legal and affordable for most people to buy a car and gas, people will use it. It is not immoral to drive a car with one person, not environmentally or financially the best option, but not immoral.

To add more fuel to the City Caucus bridge fire, you can read our proposal for a citizen-led design competition for a car-free crossing in today's Sun here http://www.vancouversun.com/free+crossing+discussions+should+involve+public/1789112/story.html.

And please let us know your views on the idea here http://www.thinkcity.ca/car-free_ideas

Kera McArthur,
Think City board member

Not a vision supporter, don;t even live in Vancouver and couldn't vote if I wanted to.

Perhaps you should ask yourself, which is more likely, that there's a conspiracy of Vision supporters flooding the airways and blogs, or that perhaps this is in fact a good idea, and it's working?

Stop looking for bad news; this is a good news story all the way.

As it turned out there was very little traffic yesterday on Beach Ave - almost deserted most of the day. Yet backups were reported getting onto the Burrard Bridge from Pacific! Duh!
Just imagine what is going to happen on a regular day?
How silly it is that this Mayor/Counci imposes increased car pollution as they wait to back up getting onto teh bridge, belching fumes into the homes of thousands of residents living along Beach/Pacific and Howe Street. No, this trial is not a success.
It has drivers driving further (from Hornby to Howe St on Pacific and then another block on Beach back to Hornby) It goes completely against "greening" the city. This City Council has inflicted their selfish needs onto those of us who live along the route - all done with no citizen consultaion. Our properties are now devalued. Our taxes should be reduced immediately!

Jennifer (and all)
'Greening' the city is going to mean making some sacrifices on all of our parts. The bottom line is that we need to cut back our vehicle use, and riding a bicycle is one of, if not the most affordable and accessible ways to do it. 'Greening' a city is going to take place in our mindsets more than it will involve cutting specific pockets of emissions.

The theory goes, that the more accessible a city is on a bicycle, the more people will choose to use that form of transportation. You could also say, the less accessible a city is by car, the less one will choose to drive.

This is not a war between cars and bikes, it simply a step in a process towards living more sustainably as a city. If we fail at it, nobody wins. It doesn't take much deductive thought to look at the size and materials of our big metal and plastic vehicles, housing often single people a fraction of the size, which burn fuel and spew it into the air to realize that this is not the pinnacle of human achievement. We made a decent try, but it's far from perfect, let's give it up and have another go.

In the meantime, hop on your bike . . . it's really unbelievably FUN!

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