Posted by: VPSN | March 11, 2010

Dunsmuir bike lane: creating another safe route to and from downtown

The new Dunsmuir bike lane officially opened yesterday – with Mayor Gregor Robertson making the journey across on his two-wheeler, accompanied by Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, Deputy City Manager Sadhu Johnson and a host of other City staff.

The new one kilometre lane moves the state of the city’s cycling infrastructure forward yet again – providing a safe and convenient linkage from the well-used Adanac bike route into the downtown core.  Kudos to the City’s Engineering staff for moving this initiative forward so effectively.

The ride, short as it is, is a nice one – with a decent grade, a good pace and a pleasing view of the city — all key ingredients that give the route an enjoyable quality.  This is important – in order for cycling to truly succeed as a popular alternative it has to be more than just safe and economical… it has to be fun too.  (It’s this last part that sometimes gets left out of planning work, but that’s another story).

The really exciting thing, as the precipitating Council report from early February makes clear, is that there is more to come.  The next stage of work to take place downtown will be to look at developing a series of separated bike lanes to link the Dunsmuir viaduct with the Burrard Bridge.  The same Council report that preceded this new lane, also reiterates other, earlier, proposals for separated lanes elsewhere in the downtown core.

As the following Engineering map illustrates, the number of separated bike lane routes (and the total length of these routes) in the city is, at present, woefully small.


On the positive side, there has been a definite increase in the amount of cycling infrastructure created over the last two decades:


But as we’ve argued, it’s separated bike lanes that will ultimately be most effective in broadening the cycling demographic, making it a more intuitive option for a wider range of people.

At a cost of $300,000, the Dunsmuir bike lane is expensive, but ultimately money well spent.  It’s one of the more high profile projects currently being undertaken by the City’s Engineering Department, and an initiative that will, (along with the Burrard Bridge lane installed last year), provide people with good opportunities to gear into more sustainable modes of transportation.

* * * * *

On that note… isn’t the Dunsmuir lane a marked contrast to the Burrard Bridge bike project?

Where the lead-up to the installation of the Burrard lane saw a veritable twelve-lane pile-up of apocalyptic renderings (lots and lots of honking and bleating about traffic chaos, endless gridlock, the economic collapse of the city… none of which actually happened), this latest Dunsmuir venture seems to have generated nary a peep.

True, the lane had been closed for construction for some time before hand, and perhaps drivers had simply learned to live without the lane… or is it possible that we’ve actually turned a bit of a corner?  Perhaps the Burrard Bridge and Olympic lane closures have yielded a bigger lesson than anticipated.  Like that new public art installation on Pender Street says: “Everything will be all right.”



  1. Another article which pulls together some other recent references on the Dunsmuir viaduct separated bike lane:


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