December 7, 2015 7:56 pm
Updated: December 10, 2015 11:43 pm

New bike lanes proposed for Vancouver; some routes meeting opposition

WATCH: Vancouver city council will vote Thursday night on whether to dramatically expand the city's network of bike lanes. Aaron McArthur reports.


The proposal to build 12 new bike lanes in Vancouver in the next five years is going before council today.

According to a report, cycling trips have increased across the city by 16 per cent year over year, prompting city staff to look at the possibility for adding more bike lanes, some of the plans are meeting opposition. Eight of the possible bike lanes will be downtown, but there is one lane that is meeting heavy opposition.

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Despite a large percentage of people in the Commercial Drive area identifying as cyclists, there is a growing chorus of critics who maintain the proposal to build a separated bike track along the busy Vancouver street would take away parking, and negatively impact business owners along the shopping corridor.

For Fredrico Fuoco, who owns Fredrico’s Supper Club along Commercial Drive, says with fewer parking stalls and gridlock, people will avoid coming to area to shop and eat in the restaurants. The group Streets for Everyone says that as it is currently designed, Commercial Drive is excluding large groups of people who used the street.

Any changes to Commercial Drive would be years away but for John Neate, owner of JJ Bean Coffee, he says it is hard to be against bike lanes but supporting road sharing on the busy street would depend on whether adequate parking is provided.

“If spots are taken away in front of the coffee shop, there would need to be more parking put elsewhere.  Forty per cent of the customers at that location drive to the store,” Neate says.


The new routes and upgrades identified in the report will go before the public in a consultation process before they are approved.

The City’s Transportation 2040 plan is aiming to have at least half of all trips in Vancouver be on foot, bike or transit by 2020, and at least two-thirds by 2040.  The city also has a new approach to cycling, which places an increased focus on building low-stress bike routes that feel comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.

The new and upgraded proposed bike lanes would be located on:

  • Cambie Street (new): Cambie Street between Dunsmuir and Water Streets was recently repaved, and staff now plan to create a northbound parking-protected bike lane to connect Dunsmuir and Gastown.
  • Smithe/Nelson Streets (new): The city wants to create a new bike lane couplet (westbound on Smithe, eastbound on Nelson), to provide improved east-west connections between the downtown bike network and the Cambie Bridge.
  • Beatty Street (upgrade): Staff plan to upgrade the route to all ages and abilities (AAA) status by creating bike lanes protected by parking in one direction, and measures such as bollards or concrete medians in the other direction from Yaletown to Gastown.
  • Richards Street (upgrade): Between Water Street and Pacific Street, the route will be upgraded to an AAA parking-protected facility, like the section between Robson and Drake Streets.
  • Helmcken Access Improvement: The city wants to improve walking and cycling from Burrard Street to False Creek and improve the connection between Mainland Street and Pacific Boulevard.
  • Cambie Bridge (upgrade): The city wants to upgrade the west side of the bridge to add a dedicated southbound cycling connection to link with the new Nelson route.
  • 10th Avenue (upgrade): Being one of the busiest east-west bike routes in Vancouver, staff want to upgrade the entire route for all ages and abilities, with some minor spot improvements, traffic calming in some areas and protection from traffic in others.
  • Southwest Marine Drive (upgrade): The city wants to upgrade the existing bikeway between the UBC Endowment Lands and Wiltshire Street.
  • South False Creek Seawall (upgrade): Plans for this route include separate walking and cycling paths.
  • Burrard Bridge (upgrade): These improvements include upgrading the north end intersection to make it safer for all modes of travel and improving connections to the existing downtown cycling network.
  • Stanley Park Causeway (upgrade): These improvements have already started and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
  • Cypress Street (upgrade): Staff have already consulted with businesses along the section between Cornwall and 16th Avenue about the installation of diverters.
  • Point Grey Road Phase 2 (upgrade): Phase 2 of this project includes options to improve walking and public realm connections on Point Grey Road between Macdonald Street and Alma Street, a final traffic plan for the neighbourhood north of W 4th Avenue, and traffic signal adjustments on 4th Avenue.

In addition to the Commerical Drive opposition, the bike lane proposed in the Grandview/Woodlands area is also caused people to speak out. City council said the official community plan will need to be finalized before engineering work could begin.

In addition, key spot improvements include Oak Street & 7th Avenue, Ontario & 16th Avenue, and Seaside Greenway improvements around False Creek and Coal Harbour.

A number of the above changes will also include the removal of parking spaces along those routes.

The report also recommends skateboarders, skaters and kick scooter riders be allowed to use bike lanes for a trial period.

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