The politics of bicycle lane implementation: The case of Vancouver's Burrard Street Bridge

Shifting commuters out of cars and into active modes of transportation such as bicycling is necessary if communities and cities are to become more environmentally sustainable. Coupled with the resistance of drivers to change modes is a resistance on behalf of the politicians they elect to support the building of infrastructure for active transportation, particularly when this means taking resources away from the dominant automobile-based mode. Before scholars promote specific policies or methods for dealing with such issues, it is necessary to understand what strategies have been successful and unsuccessful in attaining a shift of resources into active transportation infrastructure such as bicycle lanes. Vancouver presents a case study of both such strategies. In 1996 a pilot project aimed at transferring a lane on the Burrard Street Bridge from cars to bicycles failed and ended in political acrimony. However, another such pilot attempted in 2009 was successful with the lanes made permanent shortly afterward. This article documents what transpired and analyzes the reasons for the initial failure and the subsequent realization 13 years later. The Burrard Street Bridge story provides lessons for how bicycle lanes, even those that take space away from cars, might be implemented in other contexts, given the reality of a politics that favors a status quo dominated by automobility.


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  • Accession Number: 01597550
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 15 2016 3:06PM