March 9, 2021

Another Traffic High for Vancouver

We don’t have many Traffic Highs in this city, so those we do feel extra special.

Like the downhill slope on Nelson Street, from Burrard Street to the Cambie Bridge.

It’s so sweet when it all comes together: the car gliding with gravity, the right music at the right beat, no stalls, no swerves – and you hit every light!  Without changing pace or lane.  Just like it was meant  be.

That’s a Traffic High.  And since there aren’t many one-way arterials in this city, it’s almost impossible to get harmony when everything is moving and making left-hand turns.

But there’s a good chance we will get another soon – on the arterial that crosses Nelson at Richards.  It has an almost-finished separated bikeway that will be a real treat. Potentially a Traffic High.

Richards Traffic High 

There’s a perfect downhill slope on Richards from Dunsmuir to False Creek.  Once at a sustained speed, the cyclist won’t need to pedal much.  Thank you gravity and inertia.   If the lights are timed so that the bike can hit the signals without changing speed or stopping, well, that’s biking bliss.

For both cars and bikes it would be the Richards Traffic High.


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As we’ve noted for the last few weeks on Instagram @gordonpriceyvr, the transformation of Richards Street is remarkable.  Once a four-lane high-speed arterial, it’s now down to one lane for moving vehicles on some blocks.

The northern blocks in blue below are now open, and construction is well underway to the south:


It’s been transformative, and not just for transportation.  The feel and look of the street is now tamed and dignified.

There will up to five rows of trees in a 75-foot cross-section – a street experience unlike any I can think of, including Paris.

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From Jeff Leigh of HUB, with photos by Clark.

Construction continues on Richards Street, with the new protected bi-directional bike lanes.  These lanes replace the painted lanes that were one way, and will provide valuable connections to our downtown cycling network.

Construction is underway from Cordova to Nelson.  This summer City crews will shift to the southern end of Richards and complete the improvements through to Pacific Boulevard..

Details here.

The planter boxes for the new street trees. (There are 100 trees planned.)

PT: Planning and construction for Richards did not take decades obviously, but the route to get to this point goes back to the 1970s when, after lobbying and advocacy by many of our two-wheeled pioneers, the first vision was developed by the cycling advisory committee and then approved by Council in the early 1980s.  From there, it took decades more to approve funding in capital plans, to develop specific work plans, to evolve ever more advanced designs (particularly the separated bi-directional routes pioneered on Dunsmuir Street), and to commit to a completely integrated network not only through downtown but across the city and region. That may take decades more.

But as the Beach Flow Way and the new Slow Streets show, it’s possible to advance a decades-long vision in a matter of months.  They, however, are temporary and experimental.  When you start pouring concrete, it’s best to have done the detail work only possible by building on the work of generations past.

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Six years after the adoption of Transportation 2040 by city council, work continues to expand and connect the downtown Vancouver cycling network.

Up next are upgrades to an extension of the Richards Street protected bike lane, from Cordova to Pacific, to provide better access to downtown, and of course the commensurate infrastructure for the safety and comfort for people of all ages and abilities. (Can you say triple-yay?)

An open house is happening next week where the public can ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed design:

Thursday, December 6
4pm to 8pm

Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch
Promenade Trade Fair (North End)
350 W Georgia Street

Can’t make it? You can be part of the consultation — check out the design boards and information displays, then:



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