While there has been no official announce regarding the sidewalk widening, this is definitely a good sign. We won't know what the exact cost will be until after the design is complete. There is some chance that it could prove more costly than expected making the decision to proceed more difficult.
Over the past few months we have heard several accounts both directly from individuals and through the media regarding incidents on the bridge and concerns people have about the substandard cycling and pedestrian facilities. These issues further reinforce the need for improvements:
- A woman riding the IWMB for the first time during Bike to Work Week, focused on an on-coming cyclist and didn’t see a piece of debris in the middle of the path. She fell and suffered broken bones. Needless to say, she never went across the bridge again.
- A female cyclist suffered a broken hand in a collision with an on-coming cyclist.
- A senior cycling over the bridge broke her wrist when her handle grip got caught on one of the railing support brackets, which are at the same height as most bike handlebars.
- As reported in the local media, a man from Langley was viciously assaulted after he was required to stop his bicycle to let his assailant pass. While substandard facilities do not excuse such behavior, if the cyclist did not have to stop due to the narrow sidewalks, the assault quite likely would not have occurred. Cyclists in motion are more difficult to attack due to their forward momentum.
- Similarly, some women have expressed personal security concerns regarding access routes including the switchbacks on the secluded path to Bridgeway St. on the south side of the IWMB. Some travel a significant distance out of their way, using the east sidewalk to avoid the switchbacks.
- One woman refuses to cycle over the IWMB and instead goes many kilometres out of her way to use the Lions Gate Bridge instead.
- A cyclist was unable to avoid debris on sidewalk. When it became tangled in his drive train, he was forced to stop and remove it. The narrow sidewalks made this rather uncomfortable with other cyclists riding by.
The Ironworkers Memorial Bridge (IWMB) is a critical route for an increasing number of cyclists and pedestrians in the region. Currently, it presents considerable safety and access challenges to people who cycle and walk over the Bridge. Municipalities on both sides of the bridge are continuing to improve bicycle routes near the Bridge including the Spirit Trail in the District of North Vancouver and the Portside Greenway in the City of Vancouver. Such improvements will most likely increase the number of people cycling over the bridge, thereby increasing the need for improvements to the bridge.
Questions or Comments
If you have any questions or comments about the improvements, please contact Brian Atkins of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure at Brian.Atkins@gov.bc.ca
It has been great working with the members of HUB's Ironworkers Memorial Bridge Committee who have done a great job advocating for improvements to the Bridge!