February 24, 2020

What to do with Blocked Vancouver Sidewalks & What They Do in London

Writer and blogger Stanley Woodvine @sqwabb  has posted this photo of  a construction site in the 1400 block of Broadway that swallowed an entire sidewalk as its own. You can see in the photos that there is no guidance or safe way to get around  as a sidewalk user,  able bodied or disabled.

City sidewalks are never to be blocked, and if they are impeded there is supposed to be signage and an alternative route offered, which can include a coned area in the parking lane adjacent to the sidewalk.

The City offers guidance for the use of the street and sidewalk for business and other activities. You will note that there are guidelines to reserve parking spaces and parking meters, but none to block sidewalks. 

In the case of a construction area that has a sidewalk  blocked, there has to be signage and an alternative place to safely walk, with a clear Traffic Management Plan approved by the City that are set to the Province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure standards. Such a plan also must comply with the Motor Vehicle Act.

If you encounter a blocked sidewalk, let the City know the block and street through the VanConnect app or call 311. If you have a contact in the Engineering Department, call them and ask them to follow up.

Some ideas of  how sidewalk traffic diversions can be handled are in the photos below. These photos were taken in Knightsbridge in London England.

The first photo shows  a temporary covered walkway in place while the adjacent building is being constructed. The second photo is of a temporary barrier that is placed when a sidewalk needs to be closed for a construction truck, and sidewalk traffic is diverted around the vehicle.

While the London examples can be considered luxury treatments, there’s a lot that can be accomplished by the placement of simple traffic cones ensuring that sidewalk users have a safe, separated place to walk.




Photos by Stanley Woodvine, Sandy James

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  1. Seymour from Robson to Georgia has been closed for the past year (or more) during the day for construction of Vancouver Centre II.
    Construction of Deliotte Summit has Homer St. closed during the day.
    Likewise, construction at The Post has some sidewalks on that block closed as well.
    I have also encountered some sidewalks closed for construction of the Richards St. bike lane.

  2. Whoa! Talk about privilege! In the District of North Vancouver you usually have NO sidewalks to block!

    Seriously though, the answer is simple: every day that a sidewalk is blocked charge the developer exactly the same amount that they would face if they blocked off a traffic lane.

    Or, alternately, block one of the traffic lanes and keep the sidewalk open!

  3. And those stupid “sandwich boards” – I wonder what the legality is of Joe Citizen picking them up and carting them off to a dumpster. I bumped into one on Commercial Drive the other day, knocking it over – and got flack from passerby when I didn’t stop to put back it up.

  4. Yes, I found a blocked sidewalk last week in the 600 Odd numbered side of West King Edward Avenue. The barrier across both ends of the gravel pathway had a cardboard sign attached to it that said ALTERNATE ROUTE with an arrow below pointing to directing one to walk across the boulevard-ed street to the other side, despite there being no marked crosswalk or stop sign on this busy road. I fumed a bit (it was around 5 pm so no work crew in sight) and vowed to phone 311 and complain. But then I waited until there was a break in the curb traffic, gingerly stepped onto the road and around the barrier, then crossed back onto the gravel sidewalk and did the same at the other end of the barrier. Problem solved! The next day the cement was laid on that gravel pathway and the day after, a beautiful wide sidewalk was available for all to walk on. So in the end, I did not complain, there was an alternate path suggested but I am glad I was not in a wheelchair! Blocking off the nearby car lane would also have been dangerous -due to traffic volume – so crossing the street was a wise but inconvenient option. What do you think? should I have phoned and complained anyway?!