VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s a project most of Vancouver loved to bash. The Burrard Street Bridge bike lane turns 10 this weekend, and despite its detractors is now the envy of North America.
If you lived in Vancouver in 2009, you may have been one of the many people who thought it was a bad idea: replacing a lane for cars with a dedicated bike lane. From newspaper columnists to radio talk show hosts and even local bloggers, opposition at the time was overwhelming.
The lane started off as a pilot project, taking a lane away from cars and building a barrier to separate cyclists from drivers – an idea that proved to be contentious. The city voted to make it permanent shortly after the millionth rider crossed the bridge.
Fast forward 10 years, even more upgrades, and it’s now the busiest dedicated bike route on the continent.
Kevin Quinlan is a climate change and sustainability consultant who worked for then-Mayor Gregor Robertson at the time.
“There was so much media hype that it was just going to be an all-out disaster that when there really wasn’t that much impact, it came across as a huge success,” he says.
Guess who is 10! Happy birthday, Burrard bridge bike lane: today marks 10 years since the Burrard Bridge bike lane opened. Let's take a casual bike ride back through time and look at the calm, nuanced media commentary that greeted the plucky bike lane in 2009 #vanpoli
— Kevin Quinlan (@KQ_VanCity) July 13, 2019
“If you had told me, or any of us at city hall 10 years ago, that the Burrard Street Bridge bike lane would one day become the busiest dedicated bike route in all of North America, I don’t think anyone would have predicted that.”
Originally built in the 1930s, the bridge itself has undergone a number of repairs over the last decade. While only one car lane was removed in 2009 when the dedicated bike lane was originally put in, another was removed in 2017 when the city expanded the bridge’s sidewalks.
Earlier this month, Vancouver ranked 18th in the world in the Copenhagenize Index, scoring high for its progress in cycling. The city has hundreds of kilometres of bike lanes, with more in the works.
The Burrard bike route now sees upwards of a million trips each year, something Quinlan says proves the theory – if you build it, they will come.map-cycling-vancouver