Cyclists using the Cambie Street Bridge will soon have a new dedicated bike lane.
Vancouver city council Wednesday afternoon approved a plan that will add an interim southbound protected bike lane to the bridge in an effort to reduce conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians and improve safety.
The bridge’s shared path on the east side of the span is significantly wider than the one on the west side. It was constructed that way to accommodate crowds going to and from B.C. Place. When the city started designating bike routes and paths in the 1990s, the bridge’s wider east sidewalk was opened to cyclists as a shared pathway.
A report from staff notes that the number of cyclists using the bridge has increased significantly in the last several years. The city typically does a bike count every June and the number of cyclists using the shared path that month has increased from 38,000 in 2010 to 71,000 in 2017.
“At busy times the east shared path is nearing the peak of its capacity to safely and comfortably carry people walking, cycling, skateboarding, skating, and using mobility aids,” the staff report states.
The new protected bike lane will be created by reallocated a section of the far west southbound lane and a portion of the extra width on the southbound-to-westbound vehicle ramp at the south end of the bridge for cyclists.
“Since the motor vehicle capacity of the bridge is governed by the capacity of the traffic signals at either end, this change would have a minimal impact on motor vehicle capacity,” the report said.
The changes to the bridge will cost approximately $400,000 with related improvements to connections at the south end of the bridge coming in at about $200,000.
Construction is expected to be relatively quick and should be completed by the summer. Staff will monitor the changes and report back to council next year.
After some debate, the plan was approved in a 6-3 vote with NPA councillors George Affleck, Melissa De Genova and Hector Bremner opposed.
Coun. Affleck proposed an amendment, which was later defeated, to put a moratorium on making any significant changes to the bridge in favour of having staff look into creating a dedicated bike crossing over False Creek.
In speaking against the proposal, Affleck and his fellow NPA councillors said the issue was not bikes lanes but the cost and argued the $600,000 could be better spent elsewhere in the city.
Mayor Gregor Robertson argued that the plan is a “cost effective” solution to make the bridge safer for the people crossing it.