Gridlock is typical on the main westbound thoroughfare into Vancouver's downtown core
We've had a number of emails from folks who wanted us to have a closer look at the Dunsmuir Viaduct bike lane, which re-engineered the traffic patterns along the bridge and especially on the Main street onramp. Given that our position on bike infrastructure is generally supportive, we thought we'd let the "dust settle" and wait for commuters to adjust to the changes.
Well it's been almost 2 months since the bike lane opened and it's true that there has been an increasing amount of gridlock throughout the day on this major route into Vancouver's downtown core. The $300,000 approved by Vancouver city council for this change has resulted in bumper to bumper traffic on this short but important stretch of roadway, especially during peak hours (rush hour, mid-day, etc.) and during other parts of the day.
We Eastsiders must be a patient lot, because if this kind of gridlock happened on the Burrard Bridge happened, we'd never hear the end of it.
My initial expectation is that the reallocation of a lane would not cause any traffic problems. The fact is that the south lane of the Dunsmuir Viaduct had been closed for months during the construction of new housing just west of GM Place. Traffic seemed to flow relatively well during that time, albeit with some delays. Who'd think that closing the entire north lane of the viaduct instead would have traffic moving at a snail's pace?
What immediately irked commuters who used the Main street onramp was that the 2-lane merge which happened at the top of the ramp now occurred at the bottom of it. This meant much more awkward turns off busy Main street during the advanced turning light, sometimes impeding southbound traffic on Main. Then once you get up on the viaduct you inevitably have to merge with the gridlock forming from cars who've entered off Venables.
Of course, everyone predicted that the real mess would be the Burrard Bridge. That didn't happen, of course. So it was expected that drivers would adjust to the changes on Dunsmuir as well. Well, that doesn't seem to be happening either based upon reports we've been getting. The photo above was taken during a typical morning commute.
So what do we expect will happen now that city council has made the $300,000 commitment to this traffic change? Given the political emphasis on bike lanes, it's unlikely council will retreat on this. It's possible that Chinatown will become more agitated by the increasing cars passing through to avoid Dunsmuir – but who else will object?
What do you think? Are any of you finding Dunsmuir gridlock to be a problem and avoiding it? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.
- post by Mike