Sharp rise in injuries reported on Cambie Bridge as council considers new bike lane

Vancouver's Cambie Street Bridge to lose car lane to make way for bikes

Vancouver city council could add one more protected bike lane to Gregor Robertson's legacy as mayor with a vote next week on a proposal for the Cambie Bridge.

The planned upgrades would take southbound cyclists off the pathway shared with pedestrians on the east side of the bridge and place them in a separated lane on the opposite side.

That would be accomplished by re-purposing a segment of one of the southbound vehicles lanes, according to a staff report going to council next Wednesday.

Bike advocate Jeff Leigh of HUB Cycling said the new lane is necessary to protect pedestrians using the shared pathway.

"As traffic has grown across the bridge, both walking and cycling, we see that there's a lot of congestion and dangerous situations," Leigh said.

"What we have today is people on bike and people walking, weaving through each other as they cross the bridge."

He pointed out that the spiral ramp on the north end of the bridge can be particularly treacherous, with cyclists heading into blind corners in both directions.

The staff report points to a recent dramatic increase in the rate of pedestrians and cyclists ending up in the ER because they were injured while using the shared pathway.

From January 2016 to July 2017, Vancouver Coastal Health reported more than five minor injuries per kilometre travelled on the bridge deck, compared to just one minor injury per kilometre along the seawall between Canada Place and the south side of the Burrard Bridge.

Staff took the proposal to the public at an open house in November and solicited input through email and by phone. The feedback they received showed significant concerns about the effect on traffic.

But the staff report argues the changes will not have a noticeable impact on drivers, "since the motor vehicle capacity of the bridge is governed by the capacity of the traffic signals at either end."

It also points out the volume of motor vehicles on the bridge has actually decreased over the last two decades.

If council approves the plan, construction will begin in the spring.