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Burrard Bridge Renewal and Transportation Improvement Project

The City of Vancouver has very ambitious environmental, social and economic
agendas, guided by a comprehensive set of long-term strategies that includes the
Greenest City 2020 Action Plan and Transportation 2040. Both documents set the
following transportation goal: that 50% of trips in 2020 be made by walking, cycling
and transit, up from 40% in 2008. Given that this goal was reached in 2015, City
Council recently adjusted the goal to 55% by 2020.

Burrard Bridge is one of three City-owned bridges that cross False Creek, a body of
water separating the high-density downtown core and medium-density
neighbourhoods to the south. It is currently the busiest Active Transportation crossing
in Metro Vancouver, with about 10,000 trips per day on foot and bicycle (summer
volume).

Burrard Bridge was opened in 1932 as a six-lane vehicular bridge with sidewalks on
both sides. The bridge was built in the Art Deco style and City Council included it on
the City's Heritage Register in 1986. Over the years, the City has completed a series of
rehabilitation projects and upgrades to keep the bridge safe and functional. These
types of investments will continue in the future.

The role of the bridge has evolved over the years, primarily in response to
accommodating a growing number of cyclists using the bridge. Prior to 2009, people
walking and cycling shared the sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. As the number
of people crossing the bridge using active transportation grew, the shared sidewalk
increasingly became a safety hazard for pedestrians and cyclists. Safety was a
particular issue for people cycling, as they were directed to ride in a narrow area
adjacent to motor vehicle traffic and a minor error (or conflict with a pedestrian)
could cause them to fall off the sidewalk onto the roadway. In 2009, the City
reallocated a southbound travel lane from general purpose traffic and prohibited
pedestrians from using the east sidewalk in order to create a protected bicycle lane in
each direction. Since then, walking and cycling volumes have increased significantly
with cycling growing by over 30%.

In July 2015, after extensive public engagement, City Council approved a permanent
solution that converts a northbound travel lane to a protected bicycle lane and
reinstated the east sidewalk for pedestrians. The bridge structure on the north end
was widened to maintain current vehicle capacity and the intersection of Burrard St
and Pacific St was redesigned as a protected intersection to improve the safety of all
road users.

Author

Ross Kenny
Alex Liaw

Session title

2018 Sustainable Urban Transportation Award

Organizers

Sustainable Transportation Standing Committee
Urban Transportation Council

Year

2018

Format

Paper

File