With increased congestion and air pollution, cars shouldn't be the only option in cities. Vancouver is attempting to make cycling a legitimate mode of transportation with its Transportation 2040 plan, categorizing pedestrians and cyclists needs first. The BC city is undergoing a transformational, concerted effort from prioritizing traditional car-only roadways to multi-use and cyclist-only streets. Cities around the world are catching up with the increasing popularity of cycling by installing proper infrastructure, but in my opinion, Vancouver is progressing most amicably.
To show YVR’s continued efforts in combating congestion, I’ve assembled a photo essay of the great bike paths and multi-use streets that make for a bike-friendly city. These photos show us that establishing a bicycle route network eases congestion while creating community. Studies of cycling infrastructure show improved health and alleviated health care burdens, decreased stress, a release of endorphins, and many more benefits that are not measured solely by economic capital, but by the equally important societal gains.
These photos show how the traditional intersection of only motorists with occasional sidewalks is no longer a common practice. Intersections and roadways are becoming highly specialized by introducing cycling infrastructures. Arguably, there are even areas of Vancouver where cycling could be the only method of movement, including Granville Island, Hamilton Street in Yaletown, or the Granville Street Entertainment District, Commercial Drive, or Gastown’s Water Street.
The cycling network in Vancouver is remarkable, and it’s still continuing to be advanced and improved. Vancouver is giving other Canadian cities a shining example on how to cater to those who would prefer to travel by alternative means, and showing cynics how beneficial it can be.
29th Avenue at Cambie Street
This green carpet bike lane eliminates the pinch point caused at intersections whereby a cyclist is wanting to continue straight through an intersection but a motorist wants to turn right at the red light. By creating space between the motorists continuing straight and the motorists turning right, the pinch point and blind spot is eliminated at the curb. Green paint is the colour of choice for most cities to delineate a bicycle lane.
Yukon Street at 12th Avenue
Bicycles continue straight without impeding right turning motorists. Pinch point and blind spot at the curb is eliminated because cyclists have a space to the left of the right turning motorists.
Dunsmuir Street viaduct & two-way separated cycle track
Very wide space is given for two-way cycle traffic heading into (West) and out of (East) the downtown core. The yellow line in the center delineates two-way traffic. Motorist travel only one way into the downtown here, bicycles both ways, and pedestrians both ways on the far right. Skytrain is below this viaduct. This viaduct is slated for demolition in favour of an at-grade roadway with a separated cycle track.
Dunsmuir Street two-way separated cycle track heading West
Planters on the left act as the barrier. Yellow line delineates two-way cycle traffic. The sign post at the end of the planters signals to motorists to yield to bicycle traffic. Green paint in the intersection delineates a bike box, this area is a safe area for cyclists to be when stopped at the red light when heading southbound. This section of the Dunsmuir Street cycle track has a modest green wave.
All three major modes of transport are featured here on their respective networks. Pedestrians on the sidewalk on the far left, two-way cycle track in the middle separated by planters, and one-way motorist traffic on the far right. Trees and greenery along sidewalks and cycle tracks are intentionally placed to provide a sense of soothing nature, and to allow shade on hot days and shelter on rainy days.
Hornby Street at Nelson Street
Another photo from the major North-South separated cycle track along Hornby Street. A bike corral is featured here, where numerous cyclists can lock their bicycles. Two-way cycle traffic is delineated by the yellow line, a bicycle-specific traffic light (red) is featured at the curb to indicate when cyclists have the time to cycle across the intersection, and a green carpet guides cyclists across the intersection and alerts motorists that they are at a cycle track.
A bike corral is featured here, where numerous cyclists can lock their bicycles. Two-way cycle traffic is delineated by the yellow line, a bicycle-specific traffic light (red) is featured at the curb to indicate when cyclists have the time to cycle across the intersection, and a green carpet guides cyclists across the intersection and alerts motorists that they are at a cycle track.
Adanac Street at Main Street
A bicycle-specific traffic light. The bicycle symbol illuminates with the same colour sequence as a regular traffic light to alert cyclists when to proceed, when to slow, and when to stop.
A bike box is a green painted square that is strategically placed at intersection to give motorists a clear view of cyclists that are also waiting at the same traffic light. It is often placed ahead of the stopped motorists so that cyclists don’t stop in the blind spot of motorists at intersections.
Burrard Street at Cornwall Street
The intersection at Burrard Street and Cornwall Street is highly multimodal. Traditional cross walks with wide white rectangles delineate pedestrian crossings. Two-way bicycle traffic is delineated by yellow lines and green carpet crossings over the motorist’s intersection. There are bicycle-specific traffic lights to indicate when bicycles can proceed.
Burrard Street bridge
The separated cycle track on the Burrard Street bridge. Once heavily protested because it takes up an entire motorist lane. It is heavily used by bicycles and is now a permanent fixture in Vancouver’s cycling network.
Comox-Helmcken bike route
This two-way separated cycle track, the Comox-Helmcken route, crosses Burrard Street diagonally to continue as a separated cycle track on the other side of the road. This is a newly installed, popular route going East-West with direct connection to the West End neighbourhood.
A pleasant example of a two-way separated cycle track in the West End neighbourhood on Comox Street. A cement curb gives protection to cyclists, there are also green painted sections where motorists can enter/exit an alleyway. Trees act as shade and shelter from sun and rain.
This photo gives a good example of the space needed for cycling infrastructure and its traffic compared to the same amount of people in vehicles and the large amounts of space needed for vehicle infrastructure. Cycling takes up much less space and is cheaper to install and maintain.
This is Vancouver’s newest two-way separated cycle-track, along Powell St. It is currently opened and functioning well in its first few weeks.