July 7, 2018

Major Bike Network Funding for Metro Vancouver

TransLink has approved the routes for major new regional bike infrastructure — the Major Bike Network (MBN).

Funding is already approved, and is included in the $9.3B 10-Year Vision as $131M for “Regional Cycling”.  That’s 1.5% of total spending, showing that bike infrastructure is really cheap, and that you can do ambitious stuff, even spending less as a percentage than cycling’s regional mode share (~ 2%).

The plan calls for around 300 km of separated bike lanes, and 2,400 km of bike routes (usually in neighbourhoods with lower traffic).  The MBN will be cost-shared with the municipality.

The MBN is based on the Regional Cycling Strategy (48-page PDF) published in June 2011 by TransLink. It’s a part of work intended to help deal with Vancouver’s big transportation problem.

It looks to me that TransLink and its municipal partners based their thinking in part on the success the City of Vancouver is having with its smart but small bike lane network.  For this reason, TransLink’s funding will favour so-called AAA (All Ages and Abilities) type of bike infrastructure, since this is a highly successful way, it seems, to boost bike mode share in car-dominated Metro Vancouver.  Successful because of the focus on people being able to choose a bike for transportation, as an additional option to other methods of getting around.

Also worth noting is the identification of places with high cycling potential within a community or within the region.  See the cross-hatched areas on the map below.

Approved Major Bike Network; click to enlarge

Before the whining gets too loud, the existing Major Road Network (MRN) is getting $330 million in upgrades, including seismic ones.  And this network was built long ago.

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  1. Good though this is, I’d be even happier of there was also a commitment to fund, repair, and upgrade sidewalks, both for ordinary walkers, and for those with mobility problems.

    You might gather that I live in the District of North Vancouver, aka The Land That Sidewalks Forgot. AKA the Land Where the Sidewalk You’re on Disappears for One Block in Every Three. AKA The Land Where it’s Considered Fine to Place Telephone Poles in the Middle of the Sidewalk.

    1. Yeah, the north shore is bad for walking. Designed in an era when it was assumed that ever trip would be by car.
      I was visiting a friend there and you had to walk next to the highway to get to it. I assumed that I was the only one who walked there until one day it snowed and I could see many footprints.
      How many people walking in a place does it take to have a sidewalk put in?

  2. Meanwhile the latest new bike lane in Vancouver has a major flaw. It is now essentially impossible to get from the seawall onto the Cambie Bridge southbound.

    1. There are multiple ways to connect.

      From downtown, the Nelson and Beatty protected lanes connect directly to the southbound Cambie Bridge ramp.

      Nelson from Pacific to Beatty is not protected, but is the most direct if one finds oneself at Pacific and wants to access the SB protected lane. That route will be improved as the construction work wraps up in that section. The improvements are the first step of the NE False Creek plan.

      If that section is too busy, consider using the protected path that leads from the current switchback ramp at Smithe and Cooperage Way (the ramp to the former MUP), along Smithe, and then down to Nelson.

      Smithe Mews also leads directly up to Expo Blvd.

      The current connections aren’t ideal, but it is better to get the southbound lane now, and resolve the conflicts on the MUP across the Cambie Bridge, than to wait several years, IMO. The Cambie Bridge isn’t primarily a recreational route like the Seawall path is. If one is on the Seawall, there is always the option of carrying on along it past Science World. Most users of the Cambie Bridge SB protected lane will be coming from west of the seawall, again IMO.

      1. I will also add to my reply that ended up down below that the signage is absurd. Nobody will turn around and go back three blocks and four traffic lights once they find out it’s one way. At the very least there should be signage way back at Beatty and multiple times en route. Not signs that say the new lane is open but ones that say the old one is closed.

        But eve with better signage, this is one one-way cycling route that will be routinely ignored. And if today is any indication I counted five cyclists going the wrong way on my trip across and only a couple going my way.

  3. It’s nice to see them think (and plan) regionally. So many routes don’t match up well when you get to the next jurisdiction.
    I’m checking out the map and keep wanting to get a marker and add a bunch more lines to it.

    1. HUB Cycling was part of the process for the new MBN map, and will continue to engage with Translink on future improvements. If you have suggestions on what is missing, feel free to write to Vancouver at bikehub dot ca to reach our committee.

  4. If I ride home from the West End, English Bay, Stanley Park or the Lions Gate Bridge I ride the seawall and cross the Cambie Bridge. That is no longer a viable option. The connections aren’t less than ideal – they are horrible and not worth the effort. All of them involve multiple extra blocks of riding in MV traffic and multiple traffic lights. It used to be a short, easy car-free connection. Riding around Science World or using the Burrard Bridge adds at least ten minutes and a lot of hill for the latter. There are no good routes through downtown. For many cycling trips this change is a big step backwards.

    1. I live near Pacific and Richards, which you would ride past, and I find the bridge connections very viable. Different, but it is simply a change of habit. Until recently, if I was riding across the Cambie Bridge southbound I took the Seawall to the bridge, then the switchback ramp. I could still go that way along the seawall, and then ride two blocks up Nelson to access the bridge, but that is farther to go. And until the protected lanes are implemented on that two block stretch of Nelson some may not find it comfortable. I now use Pacific for the last stretch to Cambie, Cambie to Nelson, and right on to the bridge ramp. It is less distance for me from Pacific and Richards to the south end of the Cambie Bridge than it was previously. For those that don’t want to ride on Cambie from Pacific, there is a path through the development (the extension of Beatty) and that is shorter yet. Use the mid block crosswalk on Pacific after Cambie to access it. And there are two access routes up from the Seawall to that crossing.

      Better routes through downtown are on the list. Extending the protected lanes up Nelson up to Thurlow would provide a direct connection to the bridge.

  5. Elevators at the foot of bridges would be great for pedestrians & cycling. The cost could be offset by P 3 s

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