Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Standing Committee on City Services and Budgets


General Manager of Engineering Services and Director of Current Planning


False Creek Pedestrian and Cyclist Crossings Study - Final Report



A. THAT Council receive for INFORMATION the "False Creek Pedestrian and Cycling Crossings Study" dated November 2001 and the "Burrard Bridge Heritage Study" dated December 2001.

B. THAT Council support the following overall long term strategy for making improvements to the pedestrian and cycling environments across False Creek:

C. THAT Council approve the Terms of Reference, as outlined in Appendix C, for undertaking further detailed design development of providing additional sidewalk capacity for pedestrians and cyclists through either outward extensions of the sidewalks or alternative design solutions at the deck or upper level of the Burrard Bridge that is consistent with the transportation capacity, safety, and heritage principles as outlined in this report and Terms of Reference;

D. THAT staff include a submission to the 2003-2005 Capital Plan for improvements to the Burrard Bridge pedestrian and cycling environment, including the redesign of the Burrard/Pacific/Hornby intersections, as a supplement to the existing funding.


Improvements to the pedestrian and cycling facilities across False Creek would be important additions to the transportation network in this area, and would represent a very real application of Council's policies. The steps outlined in this report will move these needed improvements forward while respecting the heritage values of the Burrard Bridge.


Walking and cycling are the City's highest priorities in the transportation system.

The Transportation Plan approved by Council in 1997 has pedestrian and cycling targets for both the Downtown and Central Broadway area. While the percentage increase is modest (2% to 3%) the actual numerical increase is substantial.

Council supports the provision of pedestrian and cycling facilities that encourage the use of non-motorized travel for commuting and recreational purposes.


The conceptual study of the False Creek Pedestrian and Cyclist Crossings Study is complete, along with a study of the heritage aspects of the Burrard Bridge. This report summarizes the work of the consultants, most particularly the findings and recommendations of the study, outlines a strategy for improvements and recommends further work be done so that Council will have sufficient information to make a decision on where and when cycling and pedestrian improvements across False Creek should be undertaken.


In July 25, 2000, City Council approved a consultant study to review the feasibility of False Creek crossing options for pedestrians and cyclists and their associated costs and impacts.

A number of factors led to this study:

· Increased residential densities around False Creek and greater interest by the public to walk or cycle across False Creek.

· Increased pedestrian and cyclist demand on the Burrard Bridge is leading to increased conflicts between the two modes. While short term operational treatments have been recently implemented to enhance the shared environment on the bridge, a more permanent long term solution needs to be developed and implemented.

· Bike routes are required in the downtown and south shore which connect to the False Creek bridges. In this regard, there has been significant liaison between the staff and consultants working on this study and the Downtown Transportation Plan Team.

· An idea proposed during the development of CityPlan in 1993 was a pedestrian/cyclist facility suspended below the Granville Bridge.

· More recently, two architects have proposed a pedestrian/cyclist crossing below the Burrard Bridge (Snauqway Proposal).

Interim Update Report to Council - July 2001

In July, 2001, Council received an Information Report that provided an update of the work of the consultant. The key information contained in that report included:


The public, consultant team and staff had identified 37 potential options that could result in improved pedestrian and/or cyclist crossings across False Creek.


A two-level screening process was developed to reduce the 37 options to a more workable number, recognizing that options not short-listed could be studied in the future. The first level of screening reviewed each option against the study objectives and feasibility. The second level of screening comparatively assessed the options against six broad categories: Usage, Quality of Trip, Cost, Traffic Impacts, Neighbourhood Integration, and Urban Design/Appearance.

This screening process resulted in a short list of 7 major crossing options and 11 associated access or connectivity improvements.


The scope of work of the study only provided for a limited number of the 7 major crossing options to be carried forward for detailed study. Therefore, staff, in consultation with the consultant, concluded that the following 5 major crossing options on the Burrard and Granville bridges be carried forward as part of the current study:

· Burrard (B1): Outward Sidewalk Extensions
· Burrard (B2): Inward Sidewalk Widening (Reduce the 6 lanes on the bridge to 5)
· Burrard (B3): Low Level Crossing Beneath the Bridge
· Granville (G1): Mid Level Suspended Beneath the Bridge
· Granville (G6): Reduce the Number of Lanes to Provide Separate Bike Lanes

At the same time, staff concluded that the 2 remaining major crossing options on the Cambie Bridge should be examined as part of a future study. While absolutely necessary, it was agreed that the review of the Cambie corridor options could be deferred given that thesignificant increase in pedestrian and cyclist demand would occur in the future as Southeast and Northeast False Creek redevelop.

It should be noted that each of the above major crossing options includes a number of different end connections to the existing street system. These would be reviewed as part of any further detailed design development of a major crossing option.

The consultants have now completed their work. They have reviewed in significantly more detail the 5 major crossing options identified above and have submitted their findings (on file with the City Clerk).


There are two key findings of the consultant:

1. The Burrard Street Bridge Corridor should be given the highest priority for any initial improvement, specifically at the bridge deck level either through widening the sidewalks outside the existing railing (B1) or narrowing the roadway by one lane (B2). This finding is based on the following observations:

· Pedestrian and cycling demand along the Burrard Street Bridge Corridor is and will continue to be the highest of the three bridge crossing corridors.
· Safety issues persist on the bridge deck sidewalks which must be addressed.
· Commuter pedestrian and cycling demand, which is overall higher than recreational demand, is best served at the bridge deck level rather than a low level option under the bridge (B3).

2 There is merit to improving the pedestrian and cycling connections across False Creek between the Burrard and Cambie bridges. A pedestrian/bicycle facility suspended under the Granville Bridge (G1), rather than a new, stand alone pedestrian/cyclist bridge is preferred for the following reasons:

· Council policy is to not construct any new, stand-alone structures across False Creek.
· A new crossing fills the void between the Cambie and Burrard Bridges, especially with respect to recreational users.
· A new crossing in the Granville Bridge corridor enhances accessibility between Granville Island and the downtown.
· A new crossing within the Granville Bridge corridor could improve user comfort for those pedestrians and cyclists currently using the deck level of Granville Bridge and for whom a lower level crossing is an option.

Given the diversity of the above findings, the Consultant is recommending that further design work be pursued for each finding as follows:

· A "deck level of Burrard Bridge" study that would, in recognition of the heritage sensitivities, "marry" the talents of an engineer and an architect to come up with acceptable design solutions. The goal of the study would be to examine both deck level options to best determine a permanent solution that solves both the short and long term transportation needs along the corridor.
· A "beneath the Granville Bridge" study that would examine the more routine, technical engineering nature of suspending a facility off the Granville Bridge.

The consultant also observed that it is important not to forget that the Cambie Bridge will become a much more important pedestrian and cycling corridor as the SE and NE False Creek areas redevelop. Demand in this corridor will approach the Burrard Bridge Corridor by 2021. Appendix A contains more detailed information around the Consultant's findings and recommendations.


To assist in the Consultant's review process, a Burrard Bridge Heritage Study was completed to identify the heritage value and provide heritage direction for evaluating major crossing improvement options. The Burrard Bridge is listed on the Heritage Register under the Landscape Resource section but currently does not have an evaluation classification.

Key findings of the study are:

· The Burrard Bridge merits an "A" category evaluation on the Heritage Register.

· The bridge was designed as both a functioning bridge and as a civic monument. It was designed to perform like a ceremonial "roadgate" between the west side of Vancouver and the downtown, and as a "seagate" between the False Creek Basin and English Bay.

· Because the bridge has maintained its integrity and stature as one of the most prominent and significant civic monuments in the City, the pedestrian and cyclist crossing options should respect the bridge's original heritage and urban design values wherever possible.

· To guide and evaluate alterations to the Burrard Bridge, the consultant defined the bridge's heritage values as well as the principles and parameters that should be followed in the design of any improvement options.

· Of the three Burrard major crossing options examined in the study, Option B1 (outward sidewalk extensions) has the highest potential impact on the character defining elements of the bridge followed by Option B2 (vehicle lane reduction) and then Option B3 (low level option/Snauqway).

Appendix B contains more detailed information around the heritage values, conservation guidelines, and principles and parameters for improvement options.


Overall Strategy

Staff have worked closely with the consultant and public on this project and have learned much from the process. The work to date has been an extremely valuable exercise as the public generated an impressive number of options, far beyond what staff and the consultant expected. Many of these would be worthwhile improvements to how the non-motorized public could make their way across False Creek and therefore should not be forgotten. In addition to the options being recommended for further study by the consultant, other examples include:

· Improvements to the existing decks of the Cambie and Granville Bridges,
· Widening of the west sidewalk of the Cambie Bridge,
· The low level option underneath the Burrard Bridge (similar to the original Snauqway proposal) which would have significant recreational benefits,

This leads staff to conclude that there is a need to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities across False Creek in all three bridge corridors both in the short and long term. In this regard, staff are recommending that an overall long term strategy for making improvements to thepedestrian and cycling environments across False Creek be supported by Council. This strategy includes:

· Improve the safety and capacity of pedestrian and cycling routes along the three bridge corridors (Burrard, Granville and Cambie)
· Identify and include street, bridge end, and Seawall connections as part of any proposed improvements to the bridges
· Favour solutions that optimize usage, safety, quality of trip, cost, and minimize negative impacts on traffic, heritage, urban design and neighbourhoods
· Support and encourage a role for water-borne transportation to serve the diverse travel needs
· If feasible, that the deck level or upper level of the Burrard Bridge be the first to be structurally modified to increase pedestrian and cycling capacity, followed by a study of improvements in the Granville corridor and then a widening of the west sidewalk of the Cambie Bridge.
· That staff review options to improve pedestrian and cycling facilities on the deck of the Granville Bridge.
· That widening of the west sidewalk of the Cambie Bridge be done as part of the study of the redevelopment of SE False Creek
· That staff report back to Council upon completion of the physical work on the deck level of Burrard Bridge to re-confirm the scope and timing of subsequent priorities to improve the pedestrian and cycling environment across False Creek.

Burrard Bridge Corridor

The Burrard Bridge is the first Bridge that should be the highest priority to improve the pedestrian and cycling environment and capacity. The existing high pedestrian and bicycle demand on the Burrard Bridge and safety issues that persist due to the limited width and shared usage of the sidewalk clearly needs to be addressed now. Future increases in demand will only exacerbate these existing capacity and safety issues.

Low Level Crossing Beneath Bridge

Staff concur with the consultant that while a lower level option (B3) could work better for recreational users as it better connects the north and south seawalls, the priority for improvements should be at the deck or upper level of the bridge where commuter pedestrian and cyclist trips are, and will always be higher than recreational trips.

As a low level crossing underneath the Burrard Bridge would be a "live" bridge that would open and close for marine traffic, the effective capacity of the crossing would be reduced whenever the bridge opens. A preliminary marine survey conducted on a sunny day in the summer of 2001 indicated that as many as 15 to 25 boats per hour would necessitate opening of the bridge.

Additional analysis of the bridge opening and closing procedures indicated that it would take approximately 6 to 8 minutes to open and close the bridge for marine traffic. This delay combined with the potentially high number and randomness of marine traffic entering and exiting False Creek may deter users from this route as compared to the other options short listed in the study. Another concern with a draw bridge option is that it requires operating costs (staffing and maintenance) estimated to be a minimum of $350,000 per year.

Upon resolving an acceptable solution at the deck level of Burrard Bridge, low level crossing options such as the Snauqway proposal could be reexamined at a later date.

Deck Level of Burrard Bridge

The following table highlights the two deck level options for the Burrard Bridge Corridor:


Option B1

Option B2


Widening the sidewalks outside the railing of the bridge

Narrowing the road by one lane to provide for wider sidewalks or bike lanes

Additional capacity

6 metres
(3 metres on each side)

3 metres
(1.5 metres on each side)

Capital Cost

$10.1 million

$3.25 million

Public Consultation

The public agrees that the Burrard Bridge Corridor is the highest priority for improvement.
However, any physical work done to the bridge should be sensitive to the heritage aspect of the bridge. Heritage Vancouver is strongly opposed to any crossing option that could potentially alter the appearance or integrity of the bridge.

Many of the pedestrians and cyclists who participated in the public process prefer to narrow the vehicular portion of the bridge by one lane to achieve 1.5 metre bike lanes in both directions in the centre span of the bridge (The 6 lane cross section of the bridge would have to be retained at each end to provide sufficient capacity for vehicular traffic). Therefore, the bike lanes would have to transition back to the sidewalks and the sidewalks be widened at the ends. The Bicycle Advisory Committee supports this option but notes that if it doesn't work technically, their fallback recommendation is to widen the sidewalks outside the railing for the full length of the bridge.

While the public process around this most recent work did not capture opinions from the motorist segment of the public, the 1996 Burrard Bridge Study survey determined that about 7 in 10 bridge users (69%) would prefer maintaining the existing 6 lanes on the bridge and widening the bridge outward as opposed to reducing the number of lanes on the bridge from 6 to 5.

Staff Comments

Whatever improvements are made to the pedestrian and bicycle facilities to the Burrard Bridge must be considered permanent and long term. It is not unreasonable to expect that these improvements must meet the future transportation needs of the public in this corridor for the next 40 or 50 years. Further, the bridge railings and lighting have to be replaced regardless of the ultimate design treatment because of their deteriorating condition.

Staff do not support taking forward Option B2, which narrows the bridge deck from 6 lanes to 5, to the next stage of design development, for the following reasons:

1. Narrowing the bridge by one vehicle lane may not serve the long term transportation needs of this corridor to and from the Downtown Peninsula in terms of:

· Preserving existing road capacity and future flexibility for transit and/or vehicular traffic. For example, the installation of bus/HOV lanes or future rapid transit becomes problematic if only one lane is left for general purpose and goods movement vehicles.
· Reducing the level of service for transit, goods movement vehicles, and general purpose traffic crossing the bridge.

2. Widening the sidewalks inward or providing bike lanes may be problematic and not adequately resolve the existing pedestrian and bicycle issues:

· The 1.5 metre bike lane widths would not provide room for faster cyclists to pass slower cyclists without encroaching into the adjacent vehicle lane, and the 1.5m additional sidewalk widths do not provide enough capacity with the existing sidewalk width to allow for the separation of pedestrians and cyclists.
· The modest increase in width may not provide sufficient capacity for future increases in pedestrian and cyclist demand.
· The effectiveness of using the area through the centre of the bridge must be questioned. Cyclists would be riding between relatively fast moving vehicles and the centre span structure. This would be a very poor quality of trip for many users. It is likely many would choose to stay on the outside of the centre span structure, on the existing sidewalk, thus not resolving the existing situation.

In conclusion, staff recommend proceeding with further detailed design development of pedestrian and cyclist improvements at the deck or upper level of the Burrard Bridge. Clearly, an outward sidewalk extension at the deck level of the Burrard Bridge should be designed. However, given the technical challenges associated with this, particularly around heritage, the scope of work would allow the consultant to develop and review other design options and for Council and staff to be involved in the review.

Granville Bridge and Cambie Bridge Corridors

The option suspended beneath Granville Bridge (G1) would be a significant asset to improving access between Granville Island and the downtown and, from a recreational perspective, be a fairly direct connection between the north side and south-side seawalls. Should Council wish to pursue this option after improvements are complete to the Burrard Bridge, capital funds would have to be identified noting that there may be opportunities to cost share this option with Granville Island and possibly Concord Pacific.

At the deck level of both Granville and Cambie bridges, the feasibility of developing solutions to installing bike lanes (G6) will be examined by staff. In addition, the widening of the west sidewalk on the Cambie Bridge and the connections to the bridge should also be reviewed as part of the SE and NE False Creek Planning. This work could begin with an initial study to determine whether the west sidewalk of the Cambie Bridge can be widened, at the same time retaining the existing character of the bridge.


As part of the overall strategy for making improvements to the pedestrian and cycling environments across False Creek, staff are recommending that the next step be the development of a more detailed and technical design that will provide additional sidewalk capacity at the deck or upper level of Burrard Bridge at the same time maintaining the existing six lanes for vehicle traffic. The goal of this step is to select a preferred design alternative and to then proceed to construction.

The scope of work would include undertaking design of the deck or upper level design solutions on the Burrard Bridge including the outward extension of the sidewalks (3 metres on each side) and alternatives that are consistent with the transportation capacity, safety, and heritage principles as outlined in this report. The technical details include determining what the design options would look like, how they would be built, their costs, and the effect the designs would respectively have on the heritage nature of the bridge.

Through the design process, a better understanding of the technical details will emerge. It is proposed these details be reviewed by Council in a workshop. Council will then provide guidance to staff on how to proceed with further development of a preferred option.

The work would include the necessary connections to the pedestrian system and cycling network at both ends of the bridge. The design alternatives should also incorporate the redesign of the Burrard and Pacific and Hornby and Pacific intersections. A summary of the Terms of Reference for this proposed consultancy is outlined in more detail in Appendix C. Following a call for proposals, the contract award will be reported to Council.

In anticipation of Council approving a design to take forward to construction, staff are recommending that a submission be made to the 2003-2005 Capital Plan for pedestrian and cyclist improvements to the Burrard Bridge. This capital submission would supplement the existing balance of $6.95 million previously approved for the Burrard Bridge in the 1994-1996 Capital Plan.

Once work on the Burrard Bridge has been completed, staff should revisit and report back to Council on the overall long term strategy to reconfirm the next highest priority for pedestrian and cyclist improvements across False Creek.


The consultant study and public input into the work has provided staff with sufficient information to recommend the next step to improved pedestrian and bike crossings of False Creek.

Staff are recommending the following:

· Council support the overall long term strategy that addresses the pedestrian and bicycle crossing opportunities of False Creek.
· More detailed design and cost estimates on additional sidewalk capacity at the deck or upper level of the Burrard Bridge and redesign of the Burrard Street and Pacific Boulevard intersection to address the pedestrian and bicycle deficiencies.
· A submission be included in the 2003-2005 Capital Plan for pedestrian and cyclist improvements to the Burrard Bridge.
· Staff revisit the overall long term strategy upon consideration of an improvement to the deck or upper level of Burrard Bridge.




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