Curbs are being poured along Beach Avenue from Stanley Park to Hornby Street.

The City approved this permanent change from cones to concrete after a few months of consultation – albeit a ‘temporary’ permanent change, subject to the English Bay master plan currently under design by PFS Studio and Snøhetta.

 

These interventions also deal with some of the confusion and conflict resulting from this fast pandemic response in the spring when bikes were removed from the seawall.  Cyclists tended to ignore stop signals primarily designed for vehicle traffic – so now the crossings provide clarity, safety and a slowing down of two-wheelers.  (Hopefully eye-level signals for bikes will be installed where necessary.)

The most convoluted section is where Beach, Denman, Davie and Morton Streets blend, complicated even more with heavy pedestrian traffic to and from the beach, as well as a service bay for the Cactus Club.  The key to good design is providing intuitive direction without the need for excessive signage so everyone has a sense of where to go as they’re moving – and here the need to separate the bike flows makes it especially challenging.

So far, it’s looking good – even as two-way traffic and transit is restored to Beach east of Denman.

Best of all, the City engineers have not narrowed the space allocated to bikes (in fact, they may have increased it along Beach west of Denman) which means that there are still passing lanes for what would normally be just two lanes of cyclists, one in each direction.  Now the fast-moving athletic and transportation cyclists can maintain speed in the centre lane without intimidating those on either side.  It’s the next generation of bikeway design.

Yes, some will bemoan the loss of the cycling lane along the seawall, but in truth, the quality of the pedestrian experience has so improved, the trade-off seems justified.  When the daily count of cyclists gets over 10,000 regularly (the volumes more typical of northern European cities), something had to give.

This design seems ultimately win-win-win-win.  The seawall is better for those on foot, Beach is better for those on wheels, two-way traffic is restored for vehicles and transit, and Vancouver as a whole moves closer to its planning and climate goals.

Kudos to the engineers, and the Council that gave them their back.

 

Comments

  1. Maybe the city traffic engineers got it right on Beach Ave.? Vancouver City Council never voted on this project as the old city manager control everything. Still no bus service on Beach west of Denman. Route #23 is being cutback slightly on Jan 4, 2021
    Bus routes 5/6 were cutback by about 25% in Sept. 2020. West End residents want to use transit but the densest area in Vancouver had its NightBus cutback so no more 24/7 bus service. We have 3 bridges over False Creek why not build a bridge just for cyclists and pedestrians like they do in other Canadian cities?

    1. False Creek falls under Federal jurisdiction. Even if the money for the bridge would be there, you would have to clear it with the Feds to build across the water, not to mention you would need to have a minimum height of the bridge.

      As far as crossing, Burrard works fine, the connection to Burrard is a different story and it’s too bad that they didn’t extend the bike path along Pacific to connect to the “stub” they build a few years ago.

      1. Extending the protected bike lanes to Thurlow along Pacific is a no brainer. And, it looks like the new protected lanes ending at Jervis have been designed with that extension in mind. Great to see.

        1. I do expect eventually they’ll complete the connection, the one “worry” is on how you merge on the bike going westbound if they keep the bike path to one side. Curious to see what they come up with.

    2. City Council didn’t need to vote on this, as a previous council authorized the City Engineer to make decisions on road space allocation as part of the existing bylaw. The City Engineer had always had that power with respect to vehicle lanes, but the change they made was to make that authority applicable to all modes, as part of the Complete Street Framework decision. So, now every road decision related to active transportation doesn’t need to come before council and be needlessly politicized. Great progress.

      There is no need for the expense of a dedicated bridge for walking and cycling across False Creek. There are many more important things that those funds can be spent on.

  2. I guess the city isn’t as poor as they have been bleating on about if they have the money to do this. And to lose the money from the parking they have marooned off Beach (not to mention the pricey electric vehicle charging stations they installed there).

    1. Telus installed the stations, not the city. In exchange Telus could install cell towers at the stations.

    2. You forget that municipalities budget in reverse.
      They set their wishlist, then set the mill rate to tax to raise the amount that they want.

  3. Wow Gordon!

    Who could have imagined this 25 years ago?
    Slowly, slowly, we are “ right sizing” our pavement and making it better for all types of mobility.
    Very exciting!

  4. Happened to be in the west end so we went to look at the new bike lane. Looks great but there are a couple of pinch points that, to my eye as a cyclist, could be really dangerous if not well signed (or if cyclists not paying attention) – one being in the photo in the article by the Cactus Club service bay. Looking forward to cycling it without the cones!

    1. I wonder how happy Cactus Club is that their drop-off area is now blocked, given that they pay the Park s Board (aka the city) rent. But then, as we have seen the Parks Board doesn’t seem to really care about their tenants at all.

      1. Roads get blocked for construction all the time. Better get used to it.

        The new drop off area is under construction. The former cycle path directly in front of the restaurant is now shifted out towards the road. That will be a great improvement for access to the restaurant. They should be delighted, as it was a gong show previously.

        In the interim, during construction, the restaurant has their valet service working out of the lane across the street, exactly where the English Bay Cafe used to run theirs.

        This type of treatment is a good lesson for future Stanley Park improvements. It can be challenging to accommodate all uses (with parking being a good example) by simply using orange pylons. But design proper infrastructure, and more types of uses can be accommodated, safely and comfortably.

  5. What we have is the Greenest City pouring concrete and asphalt to build commerce crushing bike lanes at inflated COV construction costs while reducing Accessible transit in the densest part of Vancouver along with eroding ease of Access for Persons with Disabilities to the Public’s parks and beaches.
    No new higher seating with backrests and arm rests and no plans to raise existing benches or add arm rests to them.
    Not a single photo showing Citizens using walkers, wheelchairs or crutches which is just the image far too many at the COV and cycling community embrace and lobby for.
    A sure-fire way to make a nbhd more elite and increase housing costs is to prioritize the able-bodied.

    1. Just how much concrete are they pouring compared to what they’ve done for the automobile? Any comments there Peanuts?

      And could you elaborate on “commerce crushing”? Because when I look around I don’t see boarded up store fronts along bike lanes. Those I see everywhere else.

  6. I live in the 1400 block beach ave. Bike’s of 10,000 per day in the summer in a pandemic. It rains 165 days per yr in Vancouver on those days less than 100 bikes per day. The City did not ask for the January numbers that would give them the whole picture.
    When covid is over there phones will ring off the hook about traffic jams on Davie St. Then we will see how smart the city is.

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