City looks into making Burrard Street bridge safer for cyclists and motorists

The city of Vancouver is looking at possible changes to the traffic flow at the north end of the Burrard Street bridge, where there’s been a spike in accidents since the bike lanes were put in.

The city is working to make that location safer as part of its planned upgrade of the Burrard bridge.

The bike lanes have been on the Burrard Street bridge for four years now and some things haven’t changed.

Cyclist and motorist are still getting in each other’s way, and cars blocking bike lanes when the bikers have the right of way.

“The data proves that this is still a confusing concern for us as a city,” says Vancouver city councillor George Affleck. “I understand staff are going to deal with it. They have been studying it for quite a while.”

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The main problems are on the north end, where motorists are making illegal turns off Burrard crossing bike lanes and where merging traffic is cutting off the bikers.

There have been over 20 collisions of bikes and cars in the last two years, and hundreds of near misses.

“It is a tough intersection…it’s kind of awkward here,” one man told Global News. “I have been in probably a dozen near-accidents at this intersection.”

There were fewer collisions last year than the year before, but the near misses are happening too often despite a decline in traffic flow.

There are 20 per cent fewer cars coming downtown today, as commuters change their habits.

Still the city has widened the bike intersection and painted it green to increase safety.

“We painted the green markings on the lane there, and we extended the separation so you would really have to make a concerted effort to make that right turn, which you are not supposed to make,” says Vancouver city councillor Heather Deal. “We have already seen a drop in accidents. We don’t know if it is specifically because of those actions or because we have less and less traffic downtown in cars. We will continue to monitor it and decide whether any future modifications are necessary.”

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The long term city plan is to upgrade the Burrard bridge and at the same change traffic flow onto the bridge, making it safer for both bike and cars.

But, the facelift, including new bridge rails, is a multi-million dollar expenditure and it could be years before that’s done.