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This week the Province of British Columbia released their new Active Transportation Design Guide with the intent of creating consistent design for active transportation facilities across the Province. The Guide also provides expectations in  design guidance for any applications for grant programs to build active transportation infrastructure.

This Guide aims to double active transportation trips and also intends to adopt “Vision Zero” which has been implemented in Europe successfully to minimize death or serious injury related to vehicular crashes. The British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act is also going to be revamped to encompass ALL the different users of the roads, and also acknowledge the importance of active transportation. This will include a retooling of current driver education to include the legal rights of all road users.

The day to day use of “all human powered modes of transportation, focusing primarily on walking, cycling and rolling”  is finally going to be addressed.  This is an important step in that the new guide embraces novel ways of moving including segways, e-scooters, electric biycles and hoverboards. It is also looking at snow based activities like skiing and skating and water based like kayaking and canoeing as well as horseback riding.

The guide emphasizes holistic connections, so that people can walk or bike and easily change modes to bus, train or ferry transportation.

One of the goals is to make active transportation a viable option going to school, work or play. Active transportation is more sustainable for the environment relieves vehicular congestion and increases the health status of participants. There are few policies that can reduce pollution, reduce the chance of serious injury and death AND improve personal health~but strongly promoting and  building active transportation infrastructure can do all three.

You can review the new Active Transportation Design Guide here.

The official announcement of the new Guide was made by Claire Trevena  Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.. You can look at the YouTube video of the announcement below, which also includes the important  tie-in with physical and mental health, sustainability and reducing pollution.




  1. Having up-to-date engineering standards for active transportation is essential and the Province is to be commended for creating these.
    One hopes this will be quickly followed by an announcement of a province-wide commute trip reduction (CTR) program that requires all large employers to make best efforts at reducing their employees’ commutes, making active transportation viable, and reducing emissions.
    The state of Washington has required this since 1991. Let’s catch up.

    1. I participated in the consultation for the new Design Guide, and I welcome it. I think they did a good job, and that it will help move us forward.

      I would just caution that it is not a set of engineering standards, it is suggested practice, with lots of caveats. An example is the specification for the width of a path in a given situation: there will be a recommended width, a constrained width (what to do if you have less space to work in) and a minimum width (the worst you can do and still say you are following the guidelines).

  2. The engineering standards for the most part are great. It is unfortunate that our antiquated motor vehicle act hasn’t kept up with the times and lacks definitions and rules for bike lanes, separated bike facilities, bike boxes etc. The minister has promised a review and potentially a name change to the MVA, but that will take years. Some of the changes being asked for are easy to implement now, before the review completes.

    1. I agree with Colin that the guide is a great step forward, and also that our current Motor Vehicle Act is in desperate need of updating. Hopefully they will get some of this done sooner instead of later.

      I would add that another piece of the puzzle is that it would be good to see the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) commit to following the practices in the guide, for their own projects. We still see MoTI projects which set out to build new or improved roadways and that don’t consider active transportation requirements. MoTI has a published policy of including active transportation infrastructure on all their projects, but this seems to be subject to evaluation on a case by case basis. Reference the lack of cycling connections to the proposed Massey Tunnel replacement project the last time around. And the lack of cycling connections to the Port Mann Bridge. And the lack of connections to the new MUPs on the Iron Worker’s Memorial Bridge. There is a theme here.

      Given that MoTI created this Design Guide, the recommendations it contains should be given prominence in their upcoming projects.

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