VANCOUVER -- On the same day that Vancouver city council is to consider a plan to make separated bike lanes on Burrard Bridge permanent, the city says it has recorded the millionth cyclist since it began the bike lane trial nearly a year ago.
The city says magnetic counters that register metal bike wheels clicked past 1,000,000 just after 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The news appeared timed to support a city staff report advocating spending $2 million to make permanent -- and even widen -- the westbound bike lane on the bridge roadway and the eastbound lane on the sidewalk.
The city says there's been a 24 per cent increase in cyclists on the bridge since the lanes opened on July 13, 2009. It says 200,000 more bicycle trips were recorded on the bridge than before the lanes went in place, and that between 500 and 800 cyclists an hour cross the bridge.
In the meantime, however, vehicle traffic on both Burrard and Granville bridges has not changed, nor has pedestrian traffic on Burrard. In other words, the same amount of pedestrian and vehicle traffic has had to deal with less space on the bridge.
In an emailed statement Mayor Gregor Robertson said the numbers show the bike lane trial was a success.
"This is a remarkable achievement," he said. "Over one million riders in less than a year shows that when you build safe, protected bike lanes, people of all ages will come out and use them. The Burrard Bridge bike lanes have been a big success and helped make cycling and walking over the bridge safer for thousands of people every day.
"Before the bike lanes were in place, only the most dedicated cyclists used Burrard Bridge. Now it's become a popular route for families, seniors, kids — it's a safe and fun way to get into downtown or head towards Kits beach."
However, a staff report dealing with the $2 million retrofit of the lanes notes that cycling in winter time still remains low in volume. However, they noted findings from a University of B.C. cycling safety study show that fewer accidents have taken place since the barriers were put in place. In the five months before the trial four cyclists were hurt badly enough to be taken to hospital. In the same period after the trial began, only one cyclist required emergency care, and that was because of a collision with a wrong-way cyclist.