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2016 FCM Sustainable Communities Awards — Transportation Project

WINNER: City of Vancouver, BC

Upgraded infrastructure for active transportation

Three major upgrades to cycling and pedestrian networks in the City of Vancouver have created a seamless active transportation corridor running from the city's western neighbourhoods and across the Burrard Bridge to the downtown core. Active transportation is now safer, thanks to the Seaside Greenway, South End Burrard Bridge and York Bikeway projects, which have led to an increase of 20,000 new cycling trips per year.

Read the case study below to learn about project highlights, as well as the challenges and lessons learned that can help your community in planning similar projects. 

At the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge the city installed protected lanes and signaling for cyclists.

About the project

Municipal population Project duration Total project value
603,502 December 2012–June 2014 $12 million

Setting a new high water mark for active transportation infrastructure and healthy communities, the City of Vancouver has dramatically improved cycling and walking connectivity throughout a major waterfront corridor running from Vancouver's western neighbourhoods to its downtown core.

The entire 28-kilometre Seaside Greenway route is now a seamless, safe corridor for cyclists and pedestrians. The city closed a three-kilometre gap in the Seaside Greenway (the Seawall), where pedestrians and cyclists previously had to travel along busy Point Grey Road, by redirecting traffic and converting the road into a quiet greenway. The city also created the York Bikeway to extend the cycling corridor to the Burrard Bridge. The bikeway features protected bike lanes, bicycle signals and alternating one-way streets to calm traffic. The city also reconfigured the intersection at the southern end of the Burrard Bridge, making it simpler and safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. With Dutch design features such as protected road space for cyclists and protected signal phases, it is now one of the most complete multi-modal intersections in North America.

The projects have enhanced waterfront access and sustainable transportation opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. They help to fulfill the city's Transportation 2040 goals, and they contribute to Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) Milestone 5 (corporate and community).

 

Transcript

"People in the city are now realizing that walking or riding a bike is an extremely viable option to getting into their car, whether it's for work, play, shopping or whatever else they are doing around the city."
Councillor Heather Deal

Cyclists along Point Grey Road

Cyclists along the York Bikeway

Project Highlights

Results

Environmental Economic Social
  • Contributes to municipal 2020 target to reduce vehicle kilometers travelled by 20 per cent per capita from 2007 levels

  • Contributed to walk/bike/transit target of 50 per cent, achieved in 2014

  • No increase in motorized traffic congestion

  • 97 new trees and 2,850m² of paved surface converted to green space

  • Simple, cost-efficient traffic calming measures and reallocation of existing road space to accommodate bicycles
  • Avoided major infrastructure upgrade to Burrard Bridge by improving cycling and pedestrian capacity rather than widening the bridge or adding a separate crossing
  • More affordable commuting for people who choose cycling
  • Increase in annual cycling trips across the Burrard Bridge from 1.0 million in 2013 to 1.4 million in 2015

  • Improved public access to waterfront

  • Increased percentage of women cycling across the Burrard Bridge on weekdays (from 33 per cent in 2012 to 38 per cent in 2014)

  • Safer active transportation infrastructure

Challenges

  • It took time for the city to identify and agree on the best model for the intersection at the south end of the Burrard Bridge, because the chosen design was a new type of intersection for North America.
  • To calm traffic on Point Grey Road, the city installed a permanent diverter that could not be moved. When adjustments were needed to accommodate changes in traffic patterns, the city had to install an additional diverter.
  • City staff had to reconcile manual "before and after" counts. The city did not install automatic bicycle count equipment in time to track the beginning of heavy ridership over the summer. Additionally, the city could not use automatic equipment to track bicycle trips prior to construction, because bicycle traffic was mixed with motor vehicles. 

Lessons learned

  • Be bold and courageous: build on the momentum and support generated during municipal planning efforts by taking on "hard-to-do" projects right away once long-range plans are established.
  • When altering streets and intersections to better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, draw individual elements from best practices in other jurisdictions to create unique configurations tailored to local needs.
  • Apply the new model to a whole corridor or network of streets, rather than imposing the change on a single street or intersection. This increases the impact and the likelihood of successful uptake.
  • Conduct continual network monitoring in various forms (including traffic cameras and trip count equipment) to measure results and inform ongoing adjustments.
Partners and collaborators Project planning documents Related reading
City of Vancouver

TransLink

Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC)
Transportation 2040

Seaside Greenway Completion and York Bikeway (project website)

Burrard Street Bridge south end improvements (project website)

Seacycles: Burrard Bridge to Point Grey Road (video)

False Creek Bridges: Burrard Street Bridge South End Improvements (city council report)

Active Transportation Corridor: Seaside Greenway Completion and York Bikeway (city council report)

GMF funding opportunities for transportation projects

GMF transportation resources

Case study - City of Ottawa, winner of a 2015 FCM Sustainable Communities Award (transportation category)

More information

David Rawsthorne
Senior Transportation Engineer
City of Vancouver, British Columbia
T. 604-873-7343

Jeca Glor-Bell
Advisor, Knowledge Services, FCM
T. 613-907-6393

Page Updated: 25/04/2016