Kevin Quinlan, who was working in the mayor’s office at the time of the Burrard-bike-lane blow-up, apparently saved files of the coverage, perhaps with the intent of doing what he does here – a delicious reiteration of how over-the-top most of the assumptions and criticism was at the time.  Here are excerpts from his Twitter thread.

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@KQ_VanCity

Guess who is 10! Happy birthday, Burrard bridge bike lane: today marks 10 years since the Burrard Bridge bike lane opened. Let’s take a casual bike ride back through time and look at the calm, nuanced media commentary that greeted the plucky bike lane in 2009.

Quick refresher: 6 car lanes on the Burrard bridge went down to five, to enable separated bike lanes to keep people from falling into traffic. Months of media hysteria that it would be a complete disaster. it would fail within days!

Political opponents tried to get ‘Gregor’s gridlock’ to become a catchy slogan (lasted about as long as ‘who let the dogs out’.) Radio pundits predicted Mayor and Vision would be trounced in next election. Nobody bikes! It rains! Social engineering! Radical green agenda!
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On first day, morning commute had news choppers flying overhead. CKNW set up a live booth on Burrard at Drake to talk live to all those angry commuters stuck in traffic. ARE YOU MAD CALL IN NOW AND GIVE US A PIECE OF YOUR MIND NOW HERE’S A RADIO AD FOR ALARM FORCE.
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The Burrard Bridge bike lane media commentary has aged really well. Vancouver Sun: BURRARD BRIDGE BIKE LANES DOOMED TO FAILURE. Not just won’t work: DOOMED TO FAIL. Like a curse.
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Jon McComb at CKNW was having none of it. The bike lane is a “battle for the hearts and minds of city residents.” Totally. Like the Cold War. Communism and capitalism, except with spandex 
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More classic McComb. A “disaster” that awaits commuters. “three month trial project is going to evoke howls of outrage so loud and angry, you won’t need a radio to hear them.” “SOCIAL MANIPULATION MADNESS”
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Top story on Global news the night before the launch. Includes a charming clip of a tour bus driver saying the Mayor should be hanged over the bike lane that had not yet opened. Shout out to my boys at City Caucus who saved the video! 
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Jon Ferry at the Province: “Sucking up to bicycling minority may cost Mayor his job.” Nailed it.
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Spoiler alert. The bike lane launch was smooth, and the traffic chaos never materialized. It ultimately became a huge success and was instrumental in making Vancouver a leader in North America in cycling.
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2 months after the bike lane opened, cycling numbers had jumped. BUT THAT’S JUST THE SUMMER, said critics. Wait for the cold weather. Then you’ll see!
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Burrard bridge bike lane project so successful it was written up in academic journals as a case study on how to deliver difficult public policy.
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And now, it’s been named the busiest cycling route in all of North America.
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Happy ten year birthday, burrard bike lane!
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City engineering staff did an amazing job working out the design details of the Burrard bike lane. And they were under incredible scrutiny as drivers drove past during construction – and bore lots of verbal abuse from irate drivers. could never thank them enough.
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Without the success of Burrard bridge bike lane, there wouldn’t be safer cycling and pedestrian routes now on Cambie bridge, Dunsmuir, Hornby, Union, Helmcken, Pt Grey, or west 10th. Definitely no public bike share. Remember that the next time you ride over it!
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Car-mageddon, forecast with much wailing and gnashing and dour expressions, once again failed to occur. Will anyone ever be held to account for their abysmal thinking??
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Price Tags: It’s not so much that the media in its herd mentality got the story so wrong.  That happens – and they were reflecting the consensus at the time.  It’s that the media and commentators who got it wrong didn’t follow up and ask: Why didn’t the bike lanes cause massive congestion?  The one-lane experiment in 1996 did before; it’s reasonable to expect that it would again.  And yet this 2009 trial (and many of the interventions before, like West End diverters and miniparks) didn’t result in Carmageddon.  Why is that?  There must be a really interesting story here.
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But they never pursue it.

 

Comments

  1. Another story not pursued by the media is the role of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Area (DVBIA), especially its excutive director, in the rush to condemn investment in cycling infrastructure. It’s of course good that they’ve moderated their tone over the years. But the same efforts by another BIA currently occurs on Commercial Drive.

    1. The DVBIA didn’t moderate their tone. They changed positions. From expressing concerns over the potential impact on businesses of separated bike lanes, they now actively promote active transportation infrastructure. They are to be commended.

  2. DVBIA looked around, and saw that it was good. No carmageddon. Downtown thriving.

    Where did we do wrong, they asked themselves. Maybe we should find out what people really think.

    So DVBIA asked 11,000 people who live, work and play in downtown Vancouver: “What do you want to see here?”

    “More bike lanes”, the 11,000 answered, among other things.

    “Goodness me”, said DVBIA, “Let’s get busy and help this to happen.”

  3. It’s just so obvious from the wording and framing the corporate media uses that they’re wanting to suppress alternative transportation. They can appear to be just innocently car-centric but really they know exactly what they’re doing. They know how to manipulate opinion and get the reactions they want. They’re owned by the same companies that serve to lose profits from auto manufacturing and fuel for them if the public has more options. They do this to transit as well.
    The real story here is about manipulation by the media.

  4. This trial 10 years ago later resulted in a new design (piggy backed onto a sewer line replacement project) which widened both ends of the bridge for the benefit of motor vehicles. This is something the mainstream media tends to always not mention, (probably intentionally,) when there are improvements for motor vehicles as part of any cycling project.

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