Bridges to a new life or just to work

Vancouver Bridges

The Burrard, Granville, and Cambie bridges from a bird’s-eye view as cars, bikes and people travel to and from Downtown - Photo by Evan Leeson, Flickr

Bridges allow you to hopefully commute to work unscathed, go shopping, or venture on a driving holiday and just sight-see in one’s own neck of the woods.

Some of the world’s most majestic bridges were built for walking instead of traffic; examples include the Khaju in Iran and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. But in Vancouver, bridges can be a tangible thing or a metaphorical link.

These metaphorical bridges allow immigrants to experience a new culture and perhaps even freedom.

To travel over our very own Golden Ears Bridge requires a toll. The same can be said for some of our new citizens traveling over their link to a new life.

It too may require a toll as there is a cost to pay for settling financial matters in their former country and, of course, setting up a new home in Canada.

If their home country is under political or economic distress, their bridge may only be ‘one-way.’ If planning to go back periodically for visits or for business, their bridge will have two lanes. Still for others a bridge is just a bridge.

“I’m dreading the ride home…[to]…Maple Ridge,” says James the garage door repair man at a strata’s parkade. “I have to cross both the Iron Worker’s Memorial and the Port Mann Bridge.”

Often times James says he won’t get home until just before 7:00 p.m. This was his last call of the day and it being 4 p.m. it seemed odd that he was slow on leaving. He explained that he was delaying the agony, but finally relented and drove off.

A majority of people would give our local bridges a lower number on a ‘majestic’ scale as they often cause major headaches. An accident or construction delay can result in massive holdups in traffic flow. A good majority of commuters like James have experienced the Port Mann Bridge, the Lions Gate Bridge and the Iron Worker’s Memorial Bridge during ‘rush hour’ while trying to slowly head to work in the morning or back home at the end of the day.

Even the location of a bridge can influence one’s perception of the bridge itself. There is a waste water treatment plant under our majestic Lion’s Gate Bridge; a little known fact to new comers of our city and maybe even to those who have lived here for a long time.

While driving with the windows open, or worse, cycling over the bridge and with the wind in the right direction you can get the aroma from the plant below. If you’re cycling, you might want to hold your breath and pedal faster.

And maybe there is one of our newer citizens to our country, who while trying to cross the Port Mann Bridge may say something like, “crossing this bridge is nothing compared to the troubles I had leaving my country.”

Well, we’ll see how long he or she repeats that mantra while driving during our infamous rush hours.

He or she might soon be chanting the same phrase that James mumbles each time he heads back home.