June 22, 2020

Summer Evening on Seaside Greenway, Southside of False Creek


It was just beautiful weather for a walk on the Seaside Greenway on the southside of False Creek between the Granville and Cambie Street bridges. The City of Vancouver has implemented improvements here to separate people using the walkway from the folks cycling through.  The city has used a strip of concrete to provide bifurcation guidance, and placed benches, lighting and signage to indicate which side is to be used based upon your mode of transportation. This section is north of Millbank Lane.


The walking section  of the greenway next to the water was extremely busy and at times physical distancing was a challenge. Cycling traffic was fast and light in terms of volume.


A report to Council in 2016  identifies this section of seawall as being highly used, but at that time quite narrow. In this approved plan walkers and cyclists were separated, uneven surfaces removed, and the area revamped to make access easier with an All-Ages-and-Abilities target for cycling.

The City’s report states that this section of seawall is a regional as well as a local destination and in one study found 2,000 to 3,600 people walking and 1,800 to 2,500 people riding bicycles in a twelve hour study. But on a sunny warm evening, would it have worked better if the bollards could be shifted to allow more people room for walking and physical distancing in this pandemic time?



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  1. I live here and I can assure you the bike lanes are regularly at or near capacity. There is an alternate bypass which is also fairly busy with faster riders. The ratio of pedestrians to cyclists is fairly reflected in the allocation of space.

    Let’s not overdo the physical distancing thing while walking (or cycling). Yes it was good to take that super seriously before we knew that this is not how the virus is spreading. If it was, Vancouver would be among the worst hit instead of among the least.

  2. “..on a sunny warm evening, would it have worked better if the bollards could be shifted to allow more people room for walking and physical distancing in this pandemic time?”

    No. This is not one of the narrow sections, look just east and just west of this section where the width is more constrained.

    Also, the lane used for people on bikes is also used for occasional vehicle access, including emergency vehicles. That was part of the implementation plan.

    The real story along here, IMO was that the original plan was not to remove the flagstones (as seen in the first photo). Suggestions from senior’s groups, those with mobility challenges, and people cycling, led to a decision to remove the flagstones to provide a more even and safer surface. It made a huge difference. The City planning team gets credit for that decision.

  3. The two-meter rule always applies in all conditions. In the case illustrated, Sandy has identified an area of congestion, an area where the two-meter rule cannot naturally be followed, an area where redesign is required.

    The bollards demark a fire / emergency access way for the buildings seen facing the waterfront. The circulation layout is an urban design decision made well over forty years ago when the population was much smaller, a decision made long before cycling became as popular as it is today. One would think it would be easy to remove these bollards and maybe it is but it requires a process. First we need Sandy to identify the problem. Thank you Sandy.

    Then we need someone to draw up a site plan. Then a spokes person needs to take the plan to City Hall. Various city departments will have to be involved. Someone will need to act as the applicant and chase the issue through the layers of review and comment. They will need a councillor to expedite matters.

    The two-meter rule always applies in all conditions. Opinions on the level of risk are only opinions which is why there is a two-meter rule.

    1. Jolson, this seaside path is just a couple of years old – not forty – in its current form and designed to more-or-less meet space requirements for demand of all users.

      It is expected that over the coming decades it will need to be completely rebuilt to overcome rising sea levels so the city chose not to spend too much on this configuration. They did a great job.

      You came out proclaiming that Vancouver and its “covid towers” were going to be a nightmare transmission centre which didn’t happen. Your views that you’d be safer outside of the city has shown to be false. And now you’re trying to use the two metre rule as a way to limit bikes because sometimes the seawall gets crowded with pedestrians.

      The seawall has been crowded with pedestrians and cyclists since the pandemic began. If that were a vector for transmission the health authorities would have gone much further in limiting access.

      Yes, keep two meters apart as a general rule. But it’s not going to always happen on a busy seawall. And that’s okay.

  4. The seaside walkway/bikeway system under discussion was built at the time that the south False Creek neighbourhood was built back in the late 70’s early 80’s. A fact.

    The walkway will not be rebuilt due to rising sea levels as this is not a solution. It will take a sea wall across English Bay, a lock for boats, and a giant pumping station to get storm water out of the basin. Don’t forget about inundation from Burrard Inlet where another sea wall will be required.

    Covid has dampened demand for units in multi unit buildings as indicated by real estate stats. A fact.

    …. using the two- meter rule to limit bikes???????????? An assertion without evidence or merit.

    To the issue at hand: How hard is it to move a few bollards? Very difficult to even think about it apparently.

    1. Jolson could you please provide evidence of the “fact” that covid has dampened demand for multi unit buildings? Since there is no evidence that they are responsible for increased transmission rates, even if people are considering a rethink in the middle of a pandemic it may well be irrelevant a year or two later. City living won’t go away because you wish it would.

      With your anti-city biases the tone of your post insinuated that bikes should be sacrificed to ensure no pedestrian ever gets closer than two metres under any circumstances. One barely needed to read between the lines.

      It was city staff that told me the long term plan is to raise the seawall about 1.5m. That will likely be sufficient for a hundred years. If we don’t get our emissions under control then all bets are off for the following hundred. But it’s a bit soon to be planning locks in Burrard Inlet. It’s a lot too soon to be planning locks in Burrard Inlet.

  5. Jolson, the walkway and bikeway were built decades back, but it was significantly improved a few years back. At that time the wide wooden bollards were removed. The paths were widened.

    If we are talking about walking through the area, I think moving the bollards to make more room doesn’t make any sense. Apart from moving them back into the fire and access lane, this just isn’t the narrow spot. It is much narrower at each end of this section; there is a choke point at the pub and restaurant to the east, and a narrower section to the west approaching Charleson Park. Those aren’t so easy to fix. But after those are fixed, let’s talk about whether we should widen the path through the section that is already the widest along here.

    If we are talking about stopping in this area, enjoying the spot, then immediately beside the path is Leg in Boot Square. I would guess it is 40 m deep. Lots of room for lingering. So add some programming to make it interesting. Done.

    We have to be cautious about estimating usage rates with a photo. Paths are dynamic, not static. In general, the people on bikes there are going around 4 times the speed of the people walking. That means that 4 times as many will pass a fixed point in the same time. If you see 8 people walking in a photo, and two bikes, that is likely very similar usage. The bike counter just down from here on the same path is showing daily volumes exceeding 8000 bikes some days, not exactly light usage.

    1. Ahh.. Leg-In-Boot Square. Such an underutilized and therefor under appreciated space. I always think the original planners looked at similar neighbourhood squares in Europe and brought back the scale and feeling of enclosure that Europeans do so well. They got it so right and so wrong at the same time. The scale and enclosure is excellent. The orientation is problematic, being in the shade most of the time. And by having such a great view over False Creek to the city skyline it tends to draw focus away from itself and thereby reduce it’s own qualities of space. Still, hard to imagine not taking advantage of the view and the orientation, given its location, is otherwise obvious. The significant slope is not helpful but it could be wonderfully terraced.

      Further serious problems arise because of the uses in the surrounding buildings being primarily residential. Residents don’t want activity and noise in their back (front?) yard and have played a role in inhibiting programming. To make matters even worse, the commercial spaces have been pressured to avoid anything that would make the square a successful square. Every single use but one (a small cafe) is completely and absolutely the wrong type of use and always has been.

      But did we learn a thing from that? No!

      No doubt under pressure from the developer, the city ringed the Olympic Village square completely with residential uses ensuring the space will never live up to its full potential as a vibrant space. Thought it is much more successful than Leg-In-Boot,in spite of this failing, it further suffers from being completely encircled by roads. What the????

      Public squares should be ringed by businesses – offices etc above, dynamic commercial activities at the ground level. Business is less noise averse and they add to the vitality all day by patronizing those establishments for coffee, lunch etc. then vacate the area in the evenings so they can be loud without bothering anybody.

      I tried to make that clear in the OV design. A missed opportunity.

      1. It would be even easier just to leave everything as it is since it works just fine. Nothing is stopping anybody (except motor vehicle drivers) from wiggling around to the other side when appropriate.

  6. “But on a sunny warm evening, would it have worked better if the bollards could be shifted to allow more people room for walking and physical distancing in this pandemic time?”
    That is the question posed for comments.
    The obvious answer is yes; it would have worked better for walkers. Yet, we never really get to the question.
    In one case rather than an answer we get a personal attack against the author of the question. This results in a deletion of an entire paragraph. The remaining sentence with its’ misspellings makes a smug proposal by mockery of a particular group of people. Nice. No answer here.
    In another case we get artful deflection, the answer being no, apparently because there are other sections that are narrow but this is not one of them. But this doesn’t really answer the question does it because the question is really about social distancing at the location as seen in the photographs. What follows is a defence of the emergency access, an irrelevant but informative discussion on flagstones, a speculation about stopping somewhere else, suggestions for fixes in other places, a warning that photographs can be deceiving. No answer to the question here.
    In another case we are introduced to the idea of not overdoing things and waiting till sea level rises before we rebuild. Smart. This idea accompanied by personal attacks, name calling and misrepresentations. Nice. No answer here either.

    1. I live here. I see the situation every day – often many times a day. One could easily argue that both the walkway and the bike lanes could be wider to meet peak demand. But designing for peak demand may not be the best use of limited resources. The allocation of space is fair. The pictures here show neither side is busy. I’d have made a little more effort to to take pictures that would make the case being made. It’s not hard to find a time when both paths are much more crowded. But then, that’s me, and I live here. Much more difficult if you don’t and you have to make the effort to get there at certain crowded times.

      I repeat, Jolson: this section of seawall from Stamps Landing to Granville Island was just rebuilt. What are you talking about waiting for sea level rise before we build smart? Were you involved in the public consultations that went on a few years back? Did you get involved? Do you even really care at all? Or are you just posting here to uphold your biases?