The Seaside Greenway is a well-loved open space that links Coal Harbor to Spanish Banks and runs along the seawall for much of its 17-mile route.
Vancouver recently closed a critical gap in the greenway between the Burrard Street Bridge and Jericho Park with the Seaside Greenway Completion and York Bikeway project.
That helps explain why the intersection of Union and Main was a collision hotspot for the city, and why that stretch had the bikeway’s highest number of crashes between people driving and biking.
To make the route safer, Vancouver closed Union west of Main to vehicles.
When reducing numbers of cars isn’t possible, the city has taken portions of bikeway routes and added separated facilities for cyclists to get them out of car and truck traffic.
For example, along Ontario Street, the bikeway has a bicycle-activated traffic signal where it crosses a busy street. It was the city’s first local street bikeway, and it carries large numbers of commuters into downtown from east Vancouver.That growth correlates with the installation of the Dunsmuir separated bicycle lanes.Overall, the number of Vancouverites riding bicycles to work increased from 3.7% in 2006 to 4.4% in 2011, compared to 6.3% in Portland and 3.45% in Seattle in 2011.Some local street bikeways carried too many cars, making it uncomfortable for cyclists to share the road.Just adding bike lanes and sharrows to busier streets wasn’t helping attract as many riders as the city expected, so Vancouver opted for a new approach.In the rest of this post, I’ll share some images from my family’s rides around Vancouver, BC, to show examples of the city’s local bikeways, greenways, and separated bicycle lanes.Local street bikeways are the cornerstone of Vancouver’s bicycle network.The goal is to create a network of “neighborhood bikeways to get you much of the way from your home, then cycle tracks to get you to your destinations,” Kay Teschke explains.“The latter is new thinking both in bike advocacy and in the city planning groups, but it is definitely taking hold as the benefits of the few cycle tracks we have are becoming clear.” Those benefits include climbing ridership, more women bike commuters, more children riding with their parents, and more youth riding on their own, Teschke said.When complete, Vancouver’s greenway network will total about 85 miles and have 17 routes, with particular emphasis on dense, destination-rich areas like the downtown peninsula.But the goal is for every residence in the city to be within a 25-minute walk or a 10-minute bike ride from a greenway.