Report Date:

April 6, 2005



D.Wong/D. Louie


Phone No.:



RTS No.:



CC File No.:



Meeting Date:

April 26, 2005


Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic


General Manager of Engineering Services in consultation with the Director of Current Planning


Burrard Street Bicycle Lane and Peak Period Bus-only Lanes



Council approved the Downtown Transportation Plan on July 9, 2002, to improve downtown accessibility and liveability by creating a balanced transportation system that included establishing a southbound bicycle lane on Burrard Street as part of a downtown bicycle network.

Council approved the Downtown Transportation Plan Implementation Schedule on June 10, 2003, which recommended the implementation of a significant proportion of the bike lane network within 3 years.

Council approved the 1997 Vancouver Transportation Plan that emphasizes the need for developing more bikeways. The plan also emphasizes that transit will be given greater priority to meet the needs of increasing demand for transportation across the City, especially in peak times and for journeys to and within the downtown.


This report seeks Council’s approval for funding to proceed with the implementation of the Burrard Street Bike Lane and Bus Only Lanes as identified in the Downtown Transportation Plan.


The Downtown Transportation Plan (DTP) identified a bike route network for the downtown as shown in Appendix A. This bike network was developed with two guiding principles. Firstly, it aimed to provide direct connections to existing bike routes and key destinations in and around the downtown. Secondly, it aimed to minimize the impact to other road users in the downtown. Burrard Street forms the southbound component of a one-way couplet. A northbound bike lane on Hornby Street was approved on March 30, 2004 and is scheduled to be implemented in Spring 2005.

In addition, the DTP identified Burrard Street as a Transit Priority Corridor and recommended that staff investigate the potential for introducing transit/HOV lanes from Pender Street to Pacific Street during the peak periods in the peak direction.


Burrard Street Bus-Only Lanes

Bus-only lanes reduce trip times for transit passengers by limiting lane access to buses and right turning vehicles to decrease traffic congestion. Bus-only lanes along Burrard Street between Pacific and Pender are recommended to be in operation northbound during the morning peak period (7AM – 9:30AM) and southbound in the afternoon peak period (3PM – 7PM).

The recommended hours of operation of the bus-only lanes are the result of a detailed review of recent bus frequency and passenger occupancy data. Estimates from computer models show that the implementation of the bus-only lanes during the peak hours in the peak direction would reduce the trip time for each transit passenger by approximately 30-60 seconds. Bus-only lane operations outside of the peak periods or during the peak period in the non-peak direction do not provide any trip time savings to transit passengers. During off peak periods, transit trip time is not constrained by traffic congestion, but rather by the passenger loading/unloading process and traffic signal operation. Furthermore, extending bus-only lane operations would result in the elimination of more than 70 parking spaces and a loss of about $245,000 annually in parking meter revenues.

The operating hours of the bus-only lanes will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary in the future in response to increases in transit usage, changes in traffic patterns, and the construction of the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit Line.

The bus-only lanes are compatible with the Vancouver/UBC Transit Plan currently being prepared by a team of TransLink and City Staff. The bus-only lanes on Burrard Street will be implemented in advance of the finalized Transit Plan to take advantage of cost savings as a result of performing the work concurrently with other construction planned for the street this Fall. Translink staff support this proposal.

Some design highlights are as follows:

Burrard Street Bike Lane

A 1.5 metre wide southbound bike lane on Burrard Street between Cordova Street and Pacific Street is proposed. The bike lane provides a cycling connection between the Coal Harbour Seawall and the Burrard Street Bridge. Fortunately, the bike lane can be accommodated by narrowing the existing curb lanes to standard widths (about 0.75 metres each). The proposed bike lane will be situated between the southbound curb lane and the adjacent general purpose lane. The southbound curb lane is proposed to be bus-only during the afternoon peak period and a parking lane at all other times.

Some of the design highlights are as follows:

Colour Treatment of Burrard Street Bike Lane

The project on Burrard Street presents the City with a unique opportunity to conduct a trial implementation of a fully coloured bike lane. While this practice is common in parts of Europe, this installation on Burrard, if approved by Council, would be one of the first known installations of a fully coloured bike lane in North America.

In recent years, several small, high-conflict sections of bike lanes in Vancouver have been coloured to increase the visibility and prominence of cyclists using the bike lane. These installations have generally been very well received. Safety studies of similar applications conducted in Montreal and Portland show marked changes in driver and cyclist behaviour resulting in overall safety benefits. Examples of changed behaviours include cyclists exhibiting a tendency to cycle in a straighter path and drivers generally increasing the frequency of shoulder checks prior to changing lanes.

Currently we are awaiting the development of national standards for colouring bike lanes by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC). In anticipation of the release of the draft guidelines by TAC in the Fall of 2005, it is recommended that the bike lane on Burrard Street be the first to be fully coloured on a trial basis. The bike lane on Burrard Street was selected because of the high potential to improve safety given the bike lane’s unique location between a curb bus/parking lane and a general travel lane. Also, the newly paved surface from the preceding sewer construction work will provide an optimal surface on which to apply the new colouring product. This will maximize the value of the application before the street is subsequently repaved in the next maintenance cycle.

Being the first fully coloured bike lane in North America, it is recommended that partnerships with other interested transportation agencies and organizations be pursued to jointly fund the trial implementation and study of the safety benefits of the coloured bike lanes. These partnerships will reduce the implementation cost for the City and will provide information to the larger transportation community. It is foreseeable that the results of the proposed study could be used to further develop coloured bike lane standards both nationally and internationally. This is consistent with the City’s commitment to be innovative in providing sustainable transportation mode choices.

The coloured bike lane may also increase maintenance costs substantially. The surface will be subject to wear from being crossed repeatedly by vehicles and will need periodic treatment. Staff will report back as necessary after gaining experience with this trial implementation.


In addition to the extensive public consultation during the development of the Downtown Transportation Plan in 2002, further input from the community was gathered through a notification letter and a public open house on February 24, 2005. 2200 letters were delivered to residents and businesses along Burrard Street in February 2005 seeking their input into the bike lane design and inviting their attendance at the public open house. A sample of the notification letter and open house advertisement is included in Appendix D. Approximately 90 people attended the Open House and 35 people submitted comment forms. A further 10 people submitted comments by email. Of the responses that expressed an opinion, 80% were in support of the project. A summary of responses is included in Appendix E.

Various stakeholders were also contacted directly, including the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC), the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) and the Bicycle Advisory Committee. All three organizations generally support the proposed bike and bus-only lanes. A letter of support from the VACC is attached as Appendix F. Recommendations of the Bicycle Advisory Committee are attached as Appendix G.

Some comments received at the open house and from the Bicycle Advisory Committee requested an extension to the operating hours of the bus-only lane. The recommended peak hour-peak direction bus lanes represent the best balance between competing road users at this time. Future changes can be made as conditions dictate.

Some concerns were raised at the open house regarding the potential number of conflicts that may arise between cyclists and motor vehicles as a result of situating the bike lane between a general vehicle lane and a part-time bus-only lane. The proposed design is the safest solution given the circumstances and is used elsewhere in North America. In addition, it is recommended that the colouring of the bike lane be pursued to further enhance its visibility.


The estimated cost of implementing the Burrard Street bus-only lanes and southbound bike lane is $170,000. Of this total, an application for $75,000 has been submitted to Translink’s Transit Road Related Infrastructure Program (TRRIP). The remaining $95,000 can be cost shared between the 2005 Streets Basic Capital for Bicycle Network, subject to approval of the 2005 Basic Capital Budget, and the 2005 Translink Bicycle Program. Removal of four parking spaces will result in a reduction of parking meter revenue of approximately $12,000 per year, which will be covered by increases elsewhere in the system.

Commencing in 2006, it is proposed that the annual Traffic Operations Operating Budget for Signage be increased by $12,700 for maintenance of the new signs and pavement markings.

The estimated cost of colouring the bike lane and commissioning a study to determine the safety benefits is $170,000 and $20,000, respectively. Staff will be pursuing opportunities to explore internal and external sources of funding and resources to proceed with this initiative.


The implementation of the southbound bike lane and bus-only lanes will occur this Fall as part of a coordinated construction project on Burrard Street. The bike and bus-only lanes will be preceded by the reconstruction of sewer mains and repaving of the street.

The colouring of the bike lane is anticipated to occur in the Spring of 2006. This follows the anticipated release of draft guidelines for coloured bike lanes by TAC in the Fall of 2005 and the gathering of “before” data prior to colouring the bike lane. A report back to Council will be prepared to provide details on costs and funding sources prior to implementation.


The Downtown Transportation Plan seeks to improve downtown accessibility and liveability by creating a balanced transportation system. The Burrard Street bus-only lanes and southbound bike lane are recommended as key components of this plan that will increase accessibility and mode choice within the downtown.

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Implementation Team


In July of 2002 the Downtown Transportation Plan (DTP) was approved by City Council. In this plan there was a proposal for more cycling and transit facilities in Downtown Vancouver.
Additional information can be found in electronic form at


BURRARD STREET Bike and Transit Lanes,

Preliminary designs all three projects will be presented at the Open House for your comments. City Staff will be present to answer any questions you may have about the routes and obtain your feedback.

If you can’t make it to the Open House, please feel free to contact me by phone or email and I will be happy to answer your questions and receive your feedback.





I am concerned about safety of this plan. I will not feel any safer with this plan then what is currently in place. Bike lines should be separate on large highways like this one. This plan should also consider having the pavement of the bike lane a different colour. Eg. Berlin has the bike lanes in a red pavement. Drivers will be more aware of the lane if it is another colour. Montreal also has a few bike lanes which are divided from the main roadway. I feel safe with this system. It would encourage more people to switch from their car to the bike.

See above.

Looks better than what we have


12h/day HOV lane needed. There is far too much traffic crossing bike lane when there is parking. (buses, right turning cards, parking cards)

Double strip the bike lane on the last block before the bridge.

Terrific! Very brave of our City. I can’t wait.

Looks great!

The HOV lane for longer periods of extend. Time to avoid constant right turns into the bike lane.


I think on the whole, it is a good design.

1300 Burrard – will the bike lane have a line of paint dividing the bike lane from the bus lane. I think it is important that it does. Also, as Burrard approaches the bridge, make the outside lane a right turn only, that way the cyclist lane ca be painted on both sides straight on to the bridge.

A good start.

Coloured lanes please.

Satisfactory plan! Recommend that the lane has lines on boths sides (so less likely to be bumped into from either side) Recommend bike symbols painted on surface 3x per block ( between roads and alleys) so cars continuously recognise this is a bike and blading lane! Use high quality smooth surface so it’s good for blading!

Ideally the lane should be painted a difference colour so it stands out Ideally lanes should be separated (with curb divider) like bike/blading lanes in Montreal. Those give more safety & feeling of safety to users… especially those who are not presently using them! The bike riders who show up at these forums are highly experienced and confident (compared to mos people who use the seawall) and don’t represent that population. If we are to increase person-powered vehicles (bikes and blades) we have to ask what would make those other people feel comfortable.

I only wish cyclists would have North/South bike lanes. I would like to see a bike space especially at bus stops.

I would like to see dotted lines where bike lane cross at intersections so cars are aware of the bike lanes.

We shold seriously look at removing on street parking in favour of transit, bikes and peds. Traffic exiting and entering gas station in 1100 Burrard needs to be aware of bikes! It would be great to get the bike lanes.

It would be good to see bike lanes on Burrard (coloured bike lanes too)

Need cyclist actuated button at Drake Make northbound lane bike/bus lanes.

Colour lane!!! Lower speed limit to 40km per hour Remove five parking spaces just before Pacific to eliminate the risk of high speed doorings.

The sooner the bike lanes are put in place the better. Bike lanes may not be revenue generators to the city (ie one does not collect tax money on them) but a cyclist who injures himself due to a lack of a bike lane would get a lot of $$$ in the court system.


I like it. It legitimizes bike on Burrard!

Too bad not both ways

Yes we need width to climb Georgia to Nelson However, it is not guaranteed by barriers bumps, green/red pavement.

Red or green pavement for the bike lane and fluorescent white lines.

Good proposal

Visible. Safe.

I approve of the bike lane proposal.


Good plan over all. I like that you’ve separated bus and bike lanes. Please address Burrard Bridge – currently is very dangerous for cyclists. I also would like to point out that bikes and rollerbladers have to either be separated or given enough room to pass each other.

Separate bike lanes a must, for safety and for convenience. Personally, parking lanes are a low priority for me.

I’m happy to finally see a bike lane on Burrard. Thanks. I’m concerned that sharing a 4.7m lane with a transit bus will be tight. Also, my preference is for longer parking hours starting at 6pm but maybe that doesn’t work for transit. The bridge still needs to be addressed.


Like the design a lot

Great to see them going in. Why not a bike lane northbound too? Would like to see better bike lanes over the bridge too.

Let’s give it a try

A little unnerving to have a bus come up from behind on one’s right shoulder.

- Complies with the approved DTP - must maintain on-street parking at all other times since it is a public amenity that supports street level retail, service businesses in the office buildings in and around Burrard, as well as the medical office businesses in this corridor - cannot support the 3~6pm restrictions on East side of the 500~1000 blocks of Burrard - an observation – there is a lack of on-street parking on the West side of Burrard for almost its entire length; one can detect a noticeable imbalance between the two sides of the street. Why can’t more on-street parking be added to the West side? I look forward to a reply.


- I like the proposed design for Burrard St. My main concern is the bridge. As a driver, I don’t want to see any loss in the roadway for bicycle lanes. - As a cyclists, I am concerned about the safety of riding on the walkway/cycleway. It’s bloody dangerous alng there. - Has anyone thought of putting a fence (or barrier) along the edge of the walkway – similar to the Cambie Bridge or Lions Gate Bridge? - This idea would have the dual advantage of providing more safety for the cyclists and not impinging on vehicular traffic. - I would be interested in discussing the pros and cons with whomever.


- Bike lanes are a good idea.

- looks good - well illustrated - what about Burrard Bridge, when will that be improved for cyclists?

- good idea to have bus lane next to curb so bus & bikes aren’t continually crossing – but what happens when it isn’t bus only?


- It seems to me that bike lane couplets are a good idea.

- Okay

- Good – lanes must ? North of Nelson - signage will be important to divert Northbound cyclists to couplet road.


- The bike lane sandwiched between the bus lane and cars makes me nervous - Anywhere a permanent vehicle barrier (fence or cement blocks) could protect cyclists and be preferable.

- At least it’s a start for bike riders.

- If possible, provide some barrier intermittently between buses & bikes.

- I like the proposed design. I think it is important for cyclists to have there own lanes. It is safer for the cyclists & less frustrating for vehicles. - Also, more bike lanes = safer streets for cyclists = more people interested in cycling.

- I am completely in favour of adding bike lanes. As a cyclist, I don’t mind having a bike lane between transit (or parked cars) on one side & vehicles on the other.

- Overall, this looks really good! - My only concern is the portion near SkyTrain. This is also a very heavy bus traffic area, and the buses (especially the articulated ones) are making wide turns at the same point the cyclists are climbing a hill. Weaker cyclists may weave & tack slightly. Is it possible to allow a little more width to the lane between Dunsmuir and Alberni (or at least Dunsmuir to Georgia)?

- Throughout the whole project will the City consider putting in flexible dividing posts (like on Lougheed @ Rosser if cyclist discover drivers start using the lane as a drop off and stopping area? - These posts have been a lifesaver (and I mean it) on the highway in Burnaby where an illegally parked car would suddenly force the cyclist into the truck lane!

- I support dedicated bike lanes and the dedicated bus lanes in principle. - riding my bike with vehicle traffic on my left and bus traffic on the right makes me very nervous. I think it might be okay after the bridge, but across the bridge it gets to fast for bikes to feel safe.

- painted ground, inside the bike lane, makes the bike lane space more obvious for drivers.

Putting bike lanes inside the bus lanes is a good choice. It’s awkward when buses have to cross the bike lanes. - I’m glad that Hornby is going to be an alternative to Burrard. It would be nice to have Thurlow or Bute to ride Southbound.


- I really like this design. - I am concerned about transit drivers feeling trapped or having to changed lanes through the bike lanes. This works fantastic if buses don’t weave in and out.


- Bus lanes must be 24hrs for safety of cyclists. Reduce bus crossover of bike lane and car crossover to parking spaces. Current design will reduce number of people drawn to cycling on Burrard (?) - 24hr bus lanes allows for special treatment such as colouring bus lane & signage which would allow car violators to be towed away.

- coloured bike lanes - no parking by Sutton Hotel - Pacific/ Drake design not optimum – need bike lane by curb South of bus stop to intersection to ensure bus and cars do not crowd out bikes.

It is a great idea to have Burrard and Hornby coupled to open up access to cyclists.

I think it will be quite scary to ride between fast moving vehicle lanes during peak hours. The lane should be very well marked (fluorescent paint? stripes) and enforced. I would feel more comfortable riding beside the sidewalk and waiting for parked buses.






Public Access and Council Services


MEMORANDUM April 5, 2005


Donny Wong, Engineering Services



Laura Kazakoff, Meeting Coordinator



Burrard Street Bike Lane


The Vancouver Bicycle Advisory Committee, at its meeting on March 16, 2005, received a presentation from staff on draft plans for a southbound bicycle lane on Burrard Street from Canada Place Way to Pacific Street and passed the following resolution: