Eight years and millions of bike rides after separated cycling lanes were introduced on the Burrard Bridge, a Vancouver man is petitioning the city to eliminate them entirely.
Steffan Ileman's online petition describes the bike lanes as a "travesty" and argues that they don't attract enough cyclists to justify their impact on motor vehicle traffic. By early Wednesday morning, it had garnered more than 2,200 signatures.
"We'd like the construction to be stopped forthwith, and secondly, tear down all those concrete obstructions," Ileman said in an interview Tuesday.
The West End resident has lived in Vancouver for 40 years, and said he's never had a problem sharing the road with cyclists.
"They should have built just reasonable curb lanes instead with reasonable width and that would have satisfied everybody," he said.
But Vancouver's director of transportation, Lon LaClaire, said that the protection of concrete barriers attracts new cyclists who otherwise wouldn't feel safe on the road.
"The main reason that people choose not to bike is because they can't picture themselves out there cycling in traffic, so the separated bike facilities we're constructing are really to appeal to that market," he said.
About 10 per cent of Vancouverites commute by bike, and it's typical to see up to 7,000 bike trips across the bridge every day during warmer months, LaClaire added.
According to data collected by the city, cyclists took 157,000 trips across the bridge in June. Even in December, there were 25,000 bike trips — more than 800 per day.
'It gets a little bit worse before it gets better'
LaClaire acknowledged that traffic has been moving slowly along Pacific Street and the Burrard Bridge in recent months, but that is largely because of construction on the bridge. That work includes widening the north end of the bridge to allow dedicated vehicle turn lanes, and reintroducing a sidewalk on the east side of the bridge.
The next few weekends could see serious congestion as the intersection of Pacific and Burrard is repaved, LaClaire added..
"Unfortunately, it gets a little bit worse before it gets better, but then I think people will be really pleased with the final product," he said.
But Ileman is skeptical, and said he'd like to see a political movement to rid the city of separated bike lanes. He suggested his citizen's group, Restore Vancouver, might field candidates in the next civic election.
With files from Natasha Frakes