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anonymouse

As it happens, Vancouver is going to be opening a new rapid transit line in pretty much the same corridor in September. I think transit improvements don't get any more major than that.

Daniel

Reminds me of the Seattle freeway shutdown in 2007, cited here:

A few days before the state began what it was calling the most disruptive road project in local history, [Oliver] Downs put out a contrary view. He forecast no extreme clogs anywhere - not on I-5, nor on alternate routes such as Highway 99 or 599. So far he's been right about that.
...
"Drivers are not stupid," Downs says. "They change schedules. They don't take some trips, or they delay them. The net effect of all these little decisions can be dramatic."

EngineerScotty

For a second, I thought you were gonna write that one lane of traffic was being closed on the Lyons Gate bridge. Now THAT would be an interesting experiment. :)

CroMagnon

Another possibility is that the anticipation of congestion leads people to simply not make trips. I liken this to traffic calming implementations where traffic is "calmed" out of existence, in that individuals decrease their overall productivity and economic output. This may be good from an environmental perspective, but from the planner or the engineer's perspective would essentially defeat the intent of attempting to improve the City's mobility.

anonymouse

What about the economic impact of the individuals not in the hopsital with asthma problems? Or the individuals not killed/injured in accidents? How about the individuals who collectively save many hours from the decrease in overall traffic congestion? If you want an honest economic analysis, you have to factors these costs in too.

Tabitha

It would indeed be interesting to see some comparative traffic counts and infer from that if drivers made different decisions knowing there would be fewer lanes, and if more people biked or walked feeling more confident that they wouldn't be squished to death.

However, CroMagnon, I severely doubt that any drivers outright decided to drop out of the economy because of an anticipated lane change. I'll believe that some drivers completing downtown shopping trips or seeking entertainment were discouraged, but you're displaying a textbook case of a false choice scenario by pitting environmental concerns against the supposed planner's perspective and I will have none of that. Also, as drivers see that massive back-ups didn't occur, I can't imagine too many will continue to be discouraged (though perhaps we will see problems then).

LisaB

Since Vancouver has two other bridges (6 lanes each), one of which is 2 blocks away and has excess capacity, and a land connection (Main St) to get people downtown - closing one lane of Burrard Bridge to cars shouldn't be a big deal - but it is! People get so upset!

As a chicken cyclist who wouldn't ride over the bridge in its previous configuration, I love this. Am about to go ride over it now actually!

Ben

Toronto is planning on doing something very similar. Jarvis St is an arterial that runs along the east end of downtown, and helps to connect some of the city's wealthiest neighbourhoods to the CBD. However, there are a few issues with this strategy I am concerned about:

1. I find that roads in Downtown Toronto serve different needs. While some cater to pedestrian and transit use (especially those with streetcars running in mixed traffic), others focus more on auto traffic. Jarvis is one of those few roads, and changing its focus could result in increased congestion, especially if transit is not factored in (see second point).

2. Though being in the downtown area, public transit on Jarvis is not very good at all. I believe the only service it has is rush hour express. This area is close to the Yonge subway, however this part of the line operates above capacity and during the rush hour it can be very difficult to squeeze on to a train. As far as I know, there are no plans to improve transit along this corridor to help convert car trips to transit.

Greg

Your headline ("insane"), Jarrett, is at odds with your post! Just wanted to mention that.

One aspect only briefly touched upon here, is the pedestrian experience on Vancouver's three bridges across False Creek, namely Burrard St., Granville St., and Cambie St. Of the three, only Cambie (also the newest, built in the 1980s) has a generously-wide sidewalk, albeit only on the eastern side. The other two bridges date from the 1930s and 1950s, respectively, and have narrow sidewalks.

But cyclists on the Granville and Cambie tend to use the roadway rather than the sidewalk because of wider traffic lanes and lower traffic volume. Only on the Burrard Bridge would you find pedestrians and cyclists warily sharing a 8-foot-6 (2.6 m) sidewalk. And because of the bridge's proximity to West End beaches on the downtown side, and the popular neighborhood of Kitsilano on the other, not to mention the spectacular views, peds and bikes have turned the Burrard sidewalks into a congested, conflict-prone corridor.

Safety has been an acute concern for years.

Hence, the campaign to separate out the users, and the resulting "trial" with an outbound bike lane replacing a motor vehicle lane, and a bikes-only sidewalk on the east (south) side. And with cyclists moved to the street in the bike lane, the west (north) sidewalk has been reclaimed as a pedestrian-only passageway.

I, for one, am relieved in not having to constantly look over my shoulder as I walk across the bridge. (And I can't wait to ride a bike across as well.)

More than the approach of shorter daylight hours, winter climate, and the stated 3-month trial, we can expect the traffic plans for the upcoming Winter Olympics to return the Burrard Bridge to its former 6-lane status.

The real test will be for Vancouver to decide next Spring, after the Games are long gone, if the Burrard "experiment" will be made permanent.

In Brisbane

How did this one go?

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

The bike lane (at the expense of a traffic lane) has been made permanent!  I don't believe traffic in the other lanes is any worse, but TransLink would be able to verify that because they have several major bus lines that would show a sudden change in reliability if that were the case. 

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