Sunday, February 11, 2007

Second Narrows, Iron Workers Memorial Bridge

Here in Vancouver there are three ways to cross Burrard Inlet. There is a Sea Bus from Lonsdale Quay and there are two bridges. A few years ago the Lions Gate bridge underwent a costly refit that changed it from 3 traffic lanes to 3 (wider) traffic lanes. The big improvement was to the sidewalks on either side of the bridge. They were brought up to Provincial standards, almost, for width. When a cyclist approaches another cyclist or a pedestrian there is enough space to pass safely. The other big improvement was to limit cycling on the sidewalk to the same direction as traffic. That is, if you are going south then you have to take the west side walk and when you are travelling north you have to take the east side walk. Although I don't regularly take the Lion's Gate bridge, I have on occasion. It is definitely a treat, compared to the Second Narrows, Iron Workers Memorial Bridge, which is the only other alternative.

The Second Narrows bridge, by contrast, has narrow, dirty and unsafe access for cyclists and pedestrians. I have a short video to prove my point.

As you can see the bridge is too narrow and there is a lot of debris. What I think is worse though is that at either end of the bridge signs have been posted that urge cyclist to yield to oncoming cyclists. Instead of encouraging cyclists to follows the "rules of the road" and go in the same direction as traffic, the Ministry of Highways has said "we don't care about cyclists, we just want to cover our backsides."

There is hardly room for cyclists travelling in one direction while crossing let alone meeting another cyclist coming from the other direction. Both cyclists have to stop and wedge themselves past one another -- this with trucks screaming past on one side and a huge drop to the ocean on the other side.

There has been some media on this as well I cycle across the second narrows bridge daily and follow the direction of traffic (going southbound I ride on the West side of the bridge, going northbound I ride on the East side of the bridge), other cyclist don't. There has been some recent arguments about this published in the North Shore News. In fact the NS News received so many letters in response to an editorial titled "Uphill Bridge Cyclists Should Yield" then a piece was written by Erin McPhee titled "Cyclists Should Go With The Flow" to try and clarify the issue.

The first author believes that it is too far for cyclist to ride "all the way" to the other side of the bridge to access the correct sidewalk and in fact the uphill cyclist should give way to the downhill cyclist. In McPhee's rebuttal she interviewed Patrick Livolsi, regional manager of engineering for the provincial Ministry of Transportation, who stated "Northbound cyclists are to use the east side sidewalk and southbound cyclists should use the west side sidewalk" and that the ministry has posted signs to indicate and promote this mode of passage. This last statement is in fact false. The ministry has posted signs indicating that cyclist should "yield to oncoming traffic", however, these signs are at all four access points to the bridge(that is in BOTH directions). In other words the ministry is not promoting cycling in the same direction as traffic. They are in fact covering themselves by blanketing the whole issue with "everyone should yield".

I guess what we need is some consensus on who should yield and when. The REAL issue is the lack or proper cycling facilities on this crossing and the lack of respect cyclists and pedestrians seem to get in "planning" these bridges.

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  • After reading/watching the info and video. I've decided not go ahead with my plan to walk across the second narrows bridge. Since my work at Cap U has moved to 7AM on Sunday morning (no buses that early!), I'll have to find other means to get there. I had planned to walk across the bridge, but it looks dangerously narrow! Thanks for the info

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:08 PM  

  • That pedestrian/cycle crossing is horrible. Not only is it narrow, but for some reason you feel very exposed.
    Thankfully, there are plans to widen it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 PM  

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