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Biking nightmare prompts Burrard and Pacific intersection redesign plan

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Jerry Dobrovolny, city director of transportation, said he’s reviewing a “major rebuild” of the Burrard and Pacific intersection after the city noticed a jump in the number of cyclist versus vehicle crashes. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

Jerry Dobrovolny, city director of transportation, said he’s reviewing a “major rebuild” of the Burrard and Pacific intersection after the city noticed a jump in the number of cyclist versus vehicle crashes. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

Vancouver’s most dangerous intersection for cyclists could be completely revamped to deal with a spike in collisions over the past two years.

City director of transportation Jerry Dobrovolny said Monday work at the downtown crash-heavy intersection at Burrard and Pacific might be co-ordinated with an expected upgrade of Burrard Street Bridge.

A budget has yet to be set for the proposal that would “normalize” the intersection to resemble more common junctions. The idea is currently being reviewed.

“The design is under way, intended to come forward over the next year,” Dobrovolny said. “Rebuilding an entire intersection is a much bigger scale, that’s something we want to coordinate with the bridge maintenance (upgrades).”

The increase in cyclist-vehicle crashes was first noticed at the end of 2011, when 13 crashes occurred in the intersection. Last year, there were eight.

While the numbers might seem low, Dobrovolny said the study examines whether there were “dozens and dozens” of narrowly avoided crashes.

The city has since identified the intersection’s northwest corner — where drivers sometimes illegally turn right onto Pacific from Burrard — as the major cause for crashes.

Dobrovolny said green paint to highlight the bike lane has been added, along with a meridian extended slightly into the intersection to discourage illegal-turning drivers.

Lisa Slakov, Vancouver-UBC HUB cycling group co-chair, said the intersection has been a concern for cyclists.

“I’m really pleased the city is taking this seriously since it’s such a high-collision zone.”

Coun. George Affleck called Dobrovolny’s proposal a “band-aid” solution to a more pressing issue of the “crumbling” bridge.

“This was a major, contentious, separated bike lane we created,” he said. “Yet, we’ve created a more hazardous bike lane for cyclists.”

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