The ‘golden age’ of active transportation development in Vancouver continues, with ongoing expansion of the downtown bike network now reaching Drake Street.

Despite what you may hear elsewhere, Drake isn’t very sexy, or even that interesting. But as the City suggests, Drake is actually essential to the concept of a complete network, because it connects where people are coming from, to where they want to go.

A fair number of people cycle beyond the protected cycling facilities on Drake Street, indicating…strong desire.

Currently, cycling volumes on Drake Street are highest between Burrard Street and Hornby Street, the only section with dedicated cycling facilities.

That “strong desire” is based on evidence of an average of 500 daily midweek bike trips in the summer, about 40% of the volume at the separated portion.

By focusing on the rest of Drake, one can infer that, not only is the ultimate goal to provide safe passage for those venturing between Burrard/Hornby and Richards, Homer, or to destinations like David Lam Park, but that more people could be drawn into downtown by bike in the first place, if only these connecting bits (like Drake) had dedicated facilities.

Here’s where the City needs your input — they’re seeking feedback on two different design options, plus ideas on how to support the activities of local businesses, organizations, and residents.

Tuesday, June 18
2pm to 6:45pm
Roundhouse Community Centre
181 Roundhouse Mews

(See the boards here.)

Can’t make the Open House? Give feedback online:
Drake Street Bike Lane Survey

To see the full scope of the Downtown Bike Network Expansion project to date, check out this summary page of progress since the original, 2015 council presentation.

By giving long overdue attention to lesser-known connector streets like Drake, City of Vancouver planning staff are doing the essential heavy lifting to help the city reach a golden state for active transportation.

Yes…what I’m saying is City staff are golden state warriors, thanks in part to Drake.


  1. The City’s plans for Drake St now include extending it to Pacific Blvd, which makes it a useful bypass for Pacific in the area under the Granville Bridge, where the off and on ramps make it uncomfortable for many people cycling, and have been the site of numerous crashes.

    The bi-directional option is particularly useful for connections to the planned Granville Connector, and includes protected intersections at Hornby and Richards, where the bike lanes meet.

    This is an important downtown link, and in conjunction with the upcoming Richards St protected lanes (Water St. to Pacific Blvd) will move us ahead significantly.

    Now to extend Smithe and Nelson protected lanes up into the West End (perhaps to Thurlow?) where the population centre is.

    Lots of good things happening. These improvements will make many who move around downtown by various modes happy, perhaps even rapturous.

    1. Agreed. It’s been pretty weird biking Drake. Going downhill is just barely workable. The traffic is slow and the downhill helps go fast enough so that I don’t stress out any cars behind me; I stay in the middle like a car lest I get doored. Going uphill on Drake sucks, I avoid it.

      Smithe and Nelson might be challenging to engineer with so much traffic, perhaps a route to Thurlow will be achieved by upgrading Helmcken from Richards to Hornby, so if you’re coming from Cambie Bridge to WE, you can go Smithe > Richards > Helmcken > Comox. Only 4 blocks of Helmcken need the upgrade, in very similar fashion to Drake proposal.

  2. Drake is a good choice. Davie and Helmcken both have a steep uphill slope between Hamilton and Homer. Drake doesn’t have that.

    I checked the boards and I’m leaning towards the single two way option one one side.

  3. Very exciting! The addition of Drake and Richards will enhance the downtown AAA grid significantly.

    The only thing I was hoping for was an emphasis on the connection directly to the seawall. But that may have to go through Parks Vancouver, which is a different story…

    1. The Drake St lanes are planned to end at Pacific, near David Lam Park. The connection to the seawall will be further along Drake (which is fairly quiet in that block), then either on the path between the school and the park, or from Marinaside Cres, which both connect without going through parks.

      What would be a welcome addition (and which may have been added in by now) is a transition zone on Drake just east of Pacific, to go from the protected lanes to the local street route. If the selected option is the protected bidirectional lanes on the south side of Drake (the preferred option, for connectivity and a host of other reasons) then a transition would be a really good idea, for a few meters along Drake. It would be like the transition planned for the south end of Richards after it crosses Pacific, and the one installed on Hornby south of Beach.

  4. The city report says this was a long thought of route for a bike lane and will help fill the east/west gap in the downtown. I think they and most people forget that that is what the city said about Helmcken St. Wasn’t Helmcken supposed to be the continuation of the bike route from Stanley Park, through the West End and then through the downtown? That route makes more sense. With Drake so close to the seawall, most friends I know just go to the seawall rather than going all the way down Drake to get to the seawall.

    Not a fan of the 2 options given. I feel it is over engineered for the street. I walk, cycle or drive on Drake several times a day (I live in the area) and I find it hard to know where the city came up with the current number of people cycling on the street, past Hornby. I would rather they keep the 2 lanes of driving, one lane of parking and a bidirectional bike lane on the other side. The city was able to do this on Drake and could have done it on Nelson (take out one lane for a bidirectional bike lane). I am for the bike lane but not the 2 options at the expense of how it could negatively affect businesses and people that actually live and move around daily in this neighbourhood.

    1. Helmcken is a greenway, but there are issues and delays in carrying it through eastwards to Pacific and False Creek, with the parking lot in the way at Mainland. It hasn’t been decided if it will be developed as a greenway for people walking and people cycling, or just focus on walking along that stretch. While that is sorted out, Drake makes more sense as an east-west connector. It is several blocks from the seawall, (which provides a useful minimum grid); it provides a bypass for people cycling on Pacific under the Granville Bridge where the loops are; and it isn’t as steep as Helmcken. It will also provide a direct connection to the Granville Connector at the bridge, for people walking and people cycling.

      If people just want to get to the seawall from Burrard and Drake, it would be more direct to go down Hornby, Richards, or Homer than follow Drake to the eastern end at Marinaside. Drake will be a connector to the bike route along Pacific, more than to the seawall, as well as providing network connections to Hornby, Richards, and Homer bike routes from Burrard.

      The more northern routes across Granville will be Smithe and Nelson, which both connect to the Cambie Bridge, and need to be extended westwards to the population centre in the West End, perhaps to Thurlow. With those extended routes in place, Helmcken will make less sense as a bike route.

      Some of the people moving around daily in this neighbourhood are not doing it by motor vehicle, and I think the City knows that well. In fact, motor vehicle trips now account for less than 50% of trips in Vancouver, so balancing infrastructure out with improved walking and cycling makes sense.

      I attended the open house, and I heard some people suggesting taking out a sidewalk on Drake to put in the bike lane, suggesting people didn’t need to walk on Drake or access buildings on one side of the street. That is an example of unbalanced infrastructure. It will be interesting to see the results of the open house and what attendees thought of the two concepts.

      1. Thank you for your different points of view, they are well taken. But the city’s ultimate goal has/had been to take the bike lane down Drake right to the seawall. Just ask staff/parents that fought a bike lane being put in front of Elsie Roy and the residents at Marinaside and Drake that fought the idea of putting a bike lane through Marinaside Park (from a few years ago).

        I see your point of having Drake as a bike route to Pacific but I question if the number of cyclists that might use this route will warrant the planned infrastructure and cost as the city has planned and put forward.

        I lived in the West End for 20+ years and was there when the West End Plan was being discussed and implemented. I definitely recall the city planned the bike route to go from Stanley Park, up Comox, along Helmcken straight down to the seawall. They got stymied by the parking lot owner at Mainland. The city website says they are taking time to study the route further. That was 3 years ago. They could have carried the bike lane down Helmcken to the Richards or Homer bike lanes or even down to Mainland.

        I guess we were at the public meeting at the Roundhouse at different times. I heard many of my neighbours telling the city staff they didn’t want through traffic on Drake St. blocked at Pacific. I heard people say they were okay with bike lanes but not at the expense of losing too many parking spots and bidirectional car traffic. And yes, I would agree with you that taking away a sidewalk for a bike lane would be an example of unbalanced infrastructure. That is why my third option would be to include the current sidewalks, bidirectional car traffic, a bidirectional bike land and one lane of parking. Again, just looking for common sense.

        1. This is going to be a great amenity for the neighbourhood and to the businesses lucky enough to be near it. In regards to the cost, we spend a smaller percentage of the transportation budget on cycling than the cycling mode share. Regarding the numbers of cyclists who would use this, well, currently many already do because of the ability to climb the hill easily but these types of things aren’t meant so much for the people currently cycling but for those who would like to cycle but don’t. They’ll be the ones mostly using it. Everywhere in the world where a well designed bike lane has been installed, some of the people who live near it start cycling.
          It doesn’t necessarily have to continue east of Pacific but to end west of Pacific at a big scary intersection is not how things should be done. The future, post-viaducts plan is for Pacific and Drake being a protected intersection and there being protected bike lanes on Pacific. It’ll happen eventually so why not now?
          It’s probably possible to maintain two way motor vehicle access east of Pacific plus most (or all) of the curb side parking and still put in a protected intersection at Pacific.

      2. I met with City staff prior to the open house, and expressed that while I think people a percentage of the people on bikes on Drake may want to go down Drake past Pacific, it should be a local street bike lane there, and doesn’t require physical barriers. Simply a 30 km/hr limit, which works with the school and park zones as well. It would take more work to incorporate a drop off and pick up zone at Elsie Roy (similar to the school on York at Cypress, and the work coming to 10th Ave near Arbutus where there are multiple schools), and isn’t likely necessary.

        The issue with a protected bi-directional bike lane on a street with two way vehicle traffic is the turning movements at the intersections It is considered better practice to install bi-directional bike lanes on one way streets for safety reasons.

        To maintain two way vehicle traffic thus requires two uni-directional bike lanes, and that option comes up short in the analysis IMO due to issues at Granville, the very narrow bike lanes that would be required, and the elimination of parking.

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