Agenda Index City of Vancouver


Date: September 25, 1997

File No: 710 172

CC File No: 5757

To:Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic

From:General Manager of Engineering Services

Subject:King Edward Avenue at west of Laurel Street - Median Crossing


A.THAT the design for a median crossing on King Edward Avenue at west of Laurel Street be approved as shown on Appendix A;

B.THAT the City’s share of $4,200 for the construction of this median crossing be funded from the Streets Basic Capital Account - 12/31/9805/999 - Arterial Miscellaneous Modifications;

C.THAT a pedestrian signal at King Edward and Laurel be advanced to the 1998 Signal Program for prioritization.


The General Manager of Engineering Services recommends approval of A to C.


Council reviews plans for geometric modifications on major streets.

The Transportation Plan provides that street changes should not increase the overall capacity for motor vehicles.


The purpose of this report is to obtain Council’s approval and funding to proceed with the installation of a median crossing on King Edward Avenue, west of Laurel Street, as shown on Appendix A.


Since 1994, the City Engineering Services Department has received many calls from the public to improve traffic safety at the King Edward and Laurel intersection. The site is confusing and has had many accidents, including one fatal accident. In response to these requests, staff conducted site reviews and made the following observations: (see Appendix ‘B’)

-Many vehicles exiting a shopping mall at the southeast corner of King Edward Avenue and Oak Street, had been making U-turns on King Edward Avenue at Laurel Street. These U-turning vehicles often "cut in" on eastbound traffic on King Edward in order to get onto the median lane. Subsequently, eastbound motorists in the median lane often changed lanes to bypass these vehicles near Laurel, just prior to an existing crosswalk. The congestion and lane changing reduces pedestrian safety.

-Because of the shopping mall, bus service on King Edward and adjoining Emily Carr School, pedestrian activity is high. Pedestrians found the crossing difficult because of congestion and confusing motorist activity.

Two traffic counts were conducted at King Edward and Laurel. The results are as follows:

Thursday, February 7, 1995, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

There were eighty-six (86) U-turns made at King Edward and Laurel, eighty (80) from the mall and six (6) from eastbound traffic on King Edward.

Thursday, April 3, 1997, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

There were one hundred and two (102) U-turns made at King Edward and Laurel, ninety-four (94) from the mall and eight (8) from eastbound traffic on King Edward.

From 1992 to 1996, there were twenty-five (25) traffic accidents, two of which involved pedestrians, at this intersection. One pedestrian accident occurred in each of 1994 and 1995. The pedestrian accident in 1994 resulted in a fatality.


The primary issue here is pedestrian safety, which is reduced by the congestion in the median area caused by U-turning vehicles on King Edward at Laurel Street. The options presented would re-direct these U-turning movements from this intersection and improve pedestrian safety:

Option 1

Prohibit U-turns for east-bound traffic on King Edward via Laurel.

This option may cause vehicles in the mall parking lot to exit onto Laurel Street and turn west-bound onto King Edward. This option would also divert U-turning movements on King Edward to the next intersection, Willow Street.

Option 2

Construct a median crossing as shown on Appendix ‘A’.

This option would enable mall-exiting motorists to turn left directly onto King Edward westbound, away from Laurel Street and other nearby intersections. Based on the observations, it is estimated approximately 150 U-turning movements would be directed away from Laurel Street from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on a weekday.

In order to facilitate this proposal, an existing Cypress tree would have to be relocated in the median. The City arborist assessed this tree and found it has a root infection. Subsequently he recommended this tree be replaced by two healthy ones, of the species which are specified for the area - Kobus Magnolia, Western Red Cedar, Deciduous Camellia and Dawn Redwood.

Residents’ Suggestion

Residents have also suggested the City install a pedestrian signal at King Edward and Laurel in order to improve pedestrian safety. A request for such a pedestrian signal was made in 1994. Subsequently, staff studied this intersection and concluded a pedestrian signal may be warranted as part of a future pedestrian signal program. It is recommended that a pedestrian signal at this location be referred to the 1998 Annual Signal Program for consideration as a priority. In the meantime, pedestrian safety is provided by the following:

a)there is a signalized crosswalk at King Edward and Oak, 185m west of this intersection, which is the official school crosswalk for Emily Carr Students;

b)at the King Edward and Laurel intersection, pedestrians have a median at the mid-point of the crossing which allows crossing of one roadway at a time;

c)near the intersection, the grades are flat and the sightlines are good.


1.Public Notice

In February, 1997, a public notice was delivered to the Emily Carr School, Canada Safeway, Shell Gas Station, Toronto Dominion Bank, the postal outlet and twenty (20) stores in the King Edward mall, and fifty (50) residents of the area. This notice clearly illustrated the proposed median crossing and it provided an opportunity to comment on the proposal (See Appendices C and D).

2.Public Response To The Notice

Three residents called City staff in March. A summary of the discussions is as follows:

Two Laurel Street residents felt this proposal would improve safety at the King Edward and Laurel intersection. However, they would like to meet with City Staff to discuss other traffic issues concerning Oak Street traffic short-cutting onto Laurel Street. They were satisfied that the Neighbourhood Traffic Branch will be dealing with their concerns.

One nearby resident, who does not live in the area but has children attending the Emily Carr School, felt that a pedestrian signal at King Edward and Laurel should be installed in place of any option.

3)Liaison With the Emily Carr School Principal and the Parents Group Chairman

Staff met on site with the Emily Carr School principal on Tuesday, May 20th. At this meeting, many of the described U-turning movements were observed. The school principal was satisfied that Option 2 would re-direct these movements away from Laurel, making the intersection safer. Staff also explained Option 2 will not hinder the normal review process for future consideration of a pedestrian signal at this intersection.

The School’s parents group chairman was also invited to the above site meeting, but he was not able to attend. Phone calls to the chairman confirmed that he prefers a pedestrian signal at King Edward and Laurel over Option 2.

Persons who contacted the City after the distribution of the Public Notice were sent a copy of this report, and advised of the opportunity to speak at this meeting if desired.


Staff recommends Option 2, installation of a median crossing, and referral of the request for a pedestrian signal at the King Edward and Laurel intersection to the 1998 Annual Signal Program.


The total cost of this project is estimated to be $12,600, to be shared equally among Canada Safeway, the King Edward Mall and the City ($4,200 each). The City’s share will be funded from the Streets Basic Capital Account - 12/31/9805/999 - Arterial Miscellaneous Modifications.

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