Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

TRANSIT EXPERIMENT PLANNED – It’s expected that Whitehorse Transit buses will be passing stopped or slow-moving traffic heading north along Lewes Boulevard next week. The bus lane experiment will take place during the mornings of Jan. 15-19. Inset Cheri Malo

Bike lane to become bus lane next week

City officials are hopeful a pilot project next week could help alleviate at least some of the traffic woes and keep buses on schedule along Lewes Boulevard during weekday mornings.

By Stephanie Waddell on January 9, 2018

City officials are hopeful a pilot project next week could help alleviate at least some of the traffic woes and keep buses on schedule along Lewes Boulevard during weekday mornings.

The city’s transit department announced this morning it will test out having a dedicated bus lane in Riverdale between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. next Monday through Friday.

The plans will see the city use a bike lane for the temporary dedicated bus route.

“We are not stopping any traffic,” transit manager Cheri Malo said in an interview this morning.

The city’s engineering department has done work to make sure there is enough room on the road for a bus lane, Malo stressed.

Along with engineering, the pilot project has involved planning and sustainability, operations and bylaw staff in looking at ways to deal with the morning traffic in Riverdale.

The congestion often causes buses to fall significantly behind schedule – thus impacting bus service throughout the city.

“As it stands, transit buses are delayed up to 17 minutes coming out of Riverdale during this busy morning period,” Malo said.

“By improving public transit, the city can also make air quality better and help commuters reach their destinations safer and faster.”

She said one of the buses out of Riverdale today was behind schedule by more than 17 minutes.

Because of the route for that bus, that left riders as far away as Porter Creek waiting for their ride downtown.

During peak hours, including the early morning runs, buses run every half-hour.

Looking at figures from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, on the Riverdale route from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. there were an average of 169 riders Monday, 173 on Tuesday, 109 on Wednesday, 133 Thursday, 122 on Friday and 29 on Saturday. There is no bus service on Sunday.

Bus drivers, Malo said, are excited about the pilot project. It can be very stressful for drivers when it’s so difficult to stay on schedule.

Malo noted with the exception of the roundabout at Nisutlin Drive and Lewes Boulevard and at a stop light, buses won’t be merging in and out of traffic as they have to now at each stop.

Instead, it’s anticipated that with the new lane, buses will be passing stopped or slow-moving vehicles in the main traffic lane.

In establishing the temporary bus lane, pylons will be placed along Lewes from Grey Mountain Primary School to the traffic lights at Hospital Road.

Drivers – including those who may be dropping off students at Selkirk Elementary School and F.H. Collins Secondary School on Lewes Boulevard – are reminded not to park anywhere along Lewes Boulevard during the pilot project.

The city will monitor the project with both on-site observers and camera footage.

A survey will also be available at www.whitehorse.ca/transit after the pilot is done.

The city will look at the results of the project and survey which will inform the development of recommendations in the city’s transit master plan.

Comments (35)

Up 0 Down 0

Daily traveller to Riverdale on Jan 16, 2018 at 2:26 pm

I'm not sure if the City has taken into consideration that this is exam week for both FH Collins and Vanier High School so the results of this "study/test" will be skewed.

Up 0 Down 0

john on Jan 15, 2018 at 3:54 pm

You could make the road two lanes, both sides and across the bridge...hmm

Up 2 Down 0

Nile Nukon on Jan 15, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Ironically this is being done during exam week at FH when traffic is much lighter and more sporadic. I'm guessing that this was done on purpose to help validate this "study". Did they think people wouldn't put this together?

Up 2 Down 0

Git 'Er Dun on Jan 15, 2018 at 2:25 pm

A second bridge is the real answer. Construction jobs, ec dev and real added benefits for hospital access, potential public emergencies and the Riverdale congestion issue. The question is where best to put the new bridge: in around Kishwoot followed by the construction of a 'Revenge of Riverdale' suburb over on the Long Lake side of the river? This option would have the added benefit of a potential staged upgrade of the 2nd/Quartz/Copper Mountainview corridor to service Whistle Bend. Or a second option: a vehicle bridge around the Millennium footbridge, which would funnel traffic up the Alsek Blvd. leg that currently peters out at the fish ladder to the benefit of the rich enviro-yuppies on the "river" crescents in Riverdale. This extension and related road work and upgrades could increase access to rec opportunities for all in the municipal parklands around Schwatka. Either or both bridge projects would really change this town for the better.
But to start, I'd be happy with a Riverdale: The Sequel on river north that would really bring this stuffy, complacent little government-town backwater into the 21st century.

Git 'Er Dun!

Up 1 Down 0

Bandit on Jan 15, 2018 at 8:41 am

Is this dedicated bus lane only for City buses or will school buses be allowed as well ? If so, you are still going to see a bottle-neck at the bridge with City buses and School buses trying to merge into traffic as well as any Hospital traffic going downtown.

Up 1 Down 1

Riverdaler on Jan 14, 2018 at 1:56 pm

Looking forward to seeing how all this works out. I foresee a number of issues coming up. Basically, there is too much traffic because too much comfort and self-serving interests have become today's society's norm.

Up 2 Down 0

disgusted Riverdaler on Jan 14, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Aren't we talking about DESIGNATED bus lanes, rather than DEDICATED lanes? If we can't express ourselves properly how on earth can we communicate effectively in order to implement whatever comes about? I don't have a university degree but a good old-fashioned basic education with, I hope, a good dose of common sense.
Transit/City manager(s)/City council: I hope for good-quality dedicated, educated and thinking people at the helm.

Up 2 Down 0

north_of_60 on Jan 13, 2018 at 1:00 am

The City could give out uniquely colored bus passes for free that would only be usable at no additional charge during specified peak congestion times. It would cost the City almost nothing and fill the buses.

Up 1 Down 1

Start the schools earlier and bike on sidewalks on Jan 13, 2018 at 12:11 am

I worked as a high school teacher in Eastern Canada....we started at my school at 7:30 am and out by 2:00 pm Benefits? You would ease traffic congestion if the high schools did an earlier start time, in winter kids would be able to enjoy more daylight finishing at 2:00, and with the French school going in, there's going to be even MORE traffic.
If they can do this outside of Montreal to prevent traffic jams on the Mercier Bridge, I'm sure Whitehorse can come up with more creative solutions for Riverdale.

As for the bikes, they should bike on the sidewalks. I do. Virtually nobody uses the sidewalks, they are plowed and safe. Get your bikes off of the icy roads. I've heard complaints that cyclists are riding out of Riverdale and taking the road lane and pissing off drivers. I'm a winter cyclist and I stay away from traffic in the morning whenever possible. Trust me, Bylaw is not going to bust your chops for being on the sidewalk, bylaw or not. Be courteous if people are walking and give them the right away.

Up 2 Down 0

CJ on Jan 12, 2018 at 6:09 pm

I just can't see how this will reduce congestion. It seems like it just wants to give about 10 vehicles priority for an hour and a half (I don't know how many buses go into Riverdale in the morning, so maybe more). Maybe the idea is to make it so frustrating for drivers that they give up and take the bus.

Up 3 Down 1

Dave on Jan 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Victor Rogers, your idea makes so much sense and is so practical that it should be implemented immediately. However there is a 'war on vehicles' being conducted in this town by both city council and the environut crowd so nothing that will actually make things more efficient for vehicle users is being considered. If the current bunch has their way 50 years from now all the future residents living across the river will still be squeezing across a two lane Robert Campbell bridge to get into downtown.

Up 2 Down 0

Hugh Mungus on Jan 12, 2018 at 1:17 pm

@ Corinne Gurtler

Don't make using cars more expensive it will force people and business from the downtown core. Make public transit free and watch what happens.

Up 4 Down 0

Tim Fordyce on Jan 12, 2018 at 6:33 am

We are all looking forward to the governments plan to allow another school in Riverdale. Maybe we should be looking at a French School only lane.

Up 2 Down 3

Corinne Gurtler on Jan 11, 2018 at 6:36 pm

As a Riverdale resident, I don’t see this plan working. I am a cyclist as well as a driver. At various times of my life, I have been a dedicated bus rider as well. I believe the way to decrease traffic congestion is increase the use of transit into and out of Riverdale. We need to make transit ridiculously easy and affordable. Right now, I can run my small car cheaper than buying a bus pass. Here are my suggestions:
1. Buses should run every 15 minutes out of downtown during peak times.
2. Trade the cost of twinning the roads and bridge for free transit. Get people into the habit of using transit.
3. YTG needs to step up and stop providing workers with free parking and plug ins. Free parking is not a right. I know this will be unpopular!
4. Require parking permits throughout downtown that are not cheap (except they should be free to downtown residents on their street). Either you have the parking permit or you park at a meter. I believe that if it becomes financially beneficial in a significant way, people will use transit.

Up 3 Down 1

Dr Mantis Toboggan on Jan 11, 2018 at 2:50 pm

Cyclists should use the sidewalk or get a car like the rest of the civilized world.

Up 6 Down 0

Steve Taylor on Jan 10, 2018 at 9:26 pm

Given the last report presented to council by this manager with the "incredible numbers" concerning ridership and revenues, will any results from this "test" be believable? When credibility is lost it gets real hard to take someone at their word.

Up 7 Down 1

Buddywhatshisname on Jan 10, 2018 at 8:17 pm

A couple of solutions: parents - stop driving your coddled kids to school. There are lots of transit and school buses. Secondly: change high school hours so FH and Vanier starts 30 minutes later. Evidence is that teens need the sleep and would offset peak use hours on bridge.

Up 6 Down 0

jack on Jan 10, 2018 at 6:29 pm

I'm no urban planner but even I know this will have absolutely no impact on road congestion. When that bus has to merge onto the bridge crossing, it'll cause even more mess.

Everyone knows that only a second (non-Lewes Blvd) access will solve this problem.

Up 8 Down 0

Steven on Jan 10, 2018 at 5:37 pm

This doesn't solve the traffic congestion problem, it only keeps the busses running on time. The rest of us get to wait like we always do. The City isn't helping us, they are helping themselves.

I'm also looking forward to seeing what happens at the bottleneck of the roundabout; good luck getting people to allow the bus to merge properly right before the crosswalk. I'm pretty sure you can't get two lanes through the roundabout at once... And then there's the next bottleneck of the bridge. "Yield to busses, it's the law" or not you're going to see problems.

Up 1 Down 1

Yukon Watchdog on Jan 10, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Victor Rogers, you are exactly right. A good urban planner you would make.

Up 4 Down 2

Yukon Watchdog on Jan 10, 2018 at 4:03 pm

My suggestion is to take one of the current lanes and dedicate it to the lined up schools. Put a fence up between that lane and Lewes Blvd. Keep ALL school traffic inside that lane in order to remove the school zone on the actual roadway. (Like they do in big cities!) Build another lane inside the school zone if required; yes, there is room. Move Lewes Blvd over to where the trail is aside the northbound lane cutting out the bank in order to accommodate four lanes, 2 in, 2 out. Widen the bridge to four lanes at the same time as widening the new and improved Lewes Blvd (with no school zones). Considering the hospital and emergency services are on that side of the bridge, it's unbelievable that something hasn't happened to alleviate the situation by now. It's been a problem since the beginning of time.
This is not a new issue. What exactly are you managing? Oh, wait! I know! All of Riverdale traffic!!!

Up 4 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Jan 10, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Excellent, as it will help the 7 riders on the bus get back and forth to work / shopping all that much quicker.

Up 3 Down 1

Max Mack on Jan 10, 2018 at 12:24 pm

There are too many negatives with this idea . . . I don't even know where to begin:
* alienation of Riverdale home-owners. Does CoW have contempt for Riverdale citizens?
* loss of our scenic, calming single-lane boulevard
* safety hazards created by converting a single-lane road to two-lanes (sight lines will be blocked, increasing risks for pedestrians attempting to cross the road. In addition, non-bus traffic will be squeezed into a small lane against a vegetated median).
* buses and cyclists must share the same lane
* congestion problems are not solved in the least. Pinch points remain.
* the perceived congestion problem only occurs twice a day, really - when folks leave Riverdale for work in the morning, and at the end of the school day. Has CoW weighed the costs against the perceived benefits?

Up 6 Down 0

Riverdale Resident on Jan 10, 2018 at 12:19 pm

If that lane is big enough for a bus then its big enough to permanently be 2 lanes for all vehicles right?! still does nothing about the bottle neck at the bridge.......
What Riverdale NEEDS is another way out! Connect Wickstrom Road to Front street or Alsek to Robert service way.
Whats scarier than having trouble getting out is the thought of not being able to get in!! Only Hospital access for the entire City!

Up 9 Down 0

Victor Rogers on Jan 10, 2018 at 11:23 am

I didn't study Urban Planning in university but here is the solution:

Twin Lewes boulevard from Super A to 2nd Avenue (including the bridge) in both directions.

Then start the planning of twinning the Mountainview-Quartz-Copper corridor to handing the massive amount of traffic due to be added with Whistle Bend.

Up 6 Down 3

Groucho d'North on Jan 10, 2018 at 10:24 am

This fiddling with traffic solutions by the city is laughable. It’s like large individuals trying to wear yoga pants - there are limits to even the most creative desires. The bike lane may be 1.5 meters from side to side - a bus is not going to fit in that, so let’s stop pretending the required land is available for that solution. Perhaps by removing the centre median and creating another lane between the two traffic lights would reduce some congestion, but the bridge will remain the choke point that slows everybody down. A new river crossing is required. It’s been pushed to the side for decades but a second crossing would reduce the regular daily commute traffic pressure and provide an alternate emergency egress path in the event of an emergency in Riverdale. It’s time to start thinking with the bigger picture rather than applying Band-Aids to delay the inevitable.

Up 0 Down 9

BradV on Jan 10, 2018 at 3:59 am

On that note, how about a green lane like in TO, where only vehicles with two passengers can use it? I sure hope to do a good awareness campaign, big surprise for a bicyclist to be being honked at!

Up 5 Down 2

BradV on Jan 10, 2018 at 3:57 am

I think this is a good idea, but... If the path is big enough for a bus, and the roads are congested, wouldn't it serve to make it two lanes vs a bus only lane during peak hours?

Up 2 Down 4

Rob on Jan 9, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Where should the cyclists be riding during this experiment?

Up 5 Down 1

Riverdaler on Jan 9, 2018 at 7:35 pm

I'm looking forward to the learning that comes out of this. There are definitely some issues with the timing of traffic lights and traffic movement at peak travel, and so I hope CoW staff will be monitoring the situation for potential improvements. I agree with dedicated transit lanes, but wonder how it will work in this case.
I challenge fellow Riverdalers to keep their minds open (...and abide by the rules) for this brief trial period. Some short term pain may lead to better solutions.

Up 3 Down 1

Lost In the Yukon on Jan 9, 2018 at 6:21 pm

So ... this is a great idea brought to you by the folks in City Hall who don't live in Riverdale. With too many schools, too much traffic and a wonderful roundabout that has really helped move traffic along; oh and non-synched traffic lights this is bound to be a real winner. Especially in the dead of winter when the road is already narrowed by snow.

The other bonus for the City is that they will force the many cyclist who use Lewes to ride on the sidewalk where they can now fine them for riding on the sidewalk. Brilliant.

Up 5 Down 1

Pjt1959 on Jan 9, 2018 at 6:08 pm

I have a question about planning. When is this planning when it’s a knee jerk reaction? It’s been this way forever out of Riverdale when it snows a lot if you can’t plow roads correctly now how are you going to do it with the extra lanes? Then you are (no other word than) stupid to change lanes in middle of winter when you can’t see the lines and now what about bikes. Are school buses allowed in these lanes if not you are just adding to the problem. Didn’t the mayor say that there is no problem with the traffic and didn’t need extra lanes on the bridge?

Up 5 Down 2

Steven on Jan 9, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Great, now all of the cyclists will take up even more of the "car lane". I guess the cars can drive over the median. That's reasonable. And safe.

Up 4 Down 6

Paul maguire on Jan 9, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Where will bikes ride? This is an inappropriate perceived solution. You don't force bike riders to compete w/33K lb. buses. Cycling should be encouraged and safe. Please collaborate with bike shops and clubs. You're going the wrong way with sustainable, healthy, low impact transportation.

Up 8 Down 3

joe on Jan 9, 2018 at 4:05 pm

These City planners are messed up. We pay outrageous wages for people to come up with these ideas. Guess what! There is too much traffic for the current roads in /out Riverdale, it's not complicated. The planners messed up the design now everybody pays for it. Hope someone is held accountable.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.