March 9, 2021

Another Traffic High for Vancouver

We don’t have many Traffic Highs in this city, so those we do feel extra special.

Like the downhill slope on Nelson Street, from Burrard Street to the Cambie Bridge.

It’s so sweet when it all comes together: the car gliding with gravity, the right music at the right beat, no stalls, no swerves – and you hit every light!  Without changing pace or lane.  Just like it was meant  be.

That’s a Traffic High.  And since there aren’t many one-way arterials in this city, it’s almost impossible to get harmony when everything is moving and making left-hand turns.

But there’s a good chance we will get another soon – on the arterial that crosses Nelson at Richards.  It has an almost-finished separated bikeway that will be a real treat. Potentially a Traffic High.

Richards Traffic High 

There’s a perfect downhill slope on Richards from Dunsmuir to False Creek.  Once at a sustained speed, the cyclist won’t need to pedal much.  Thank you gravity and inertia.   If the lights are timed so that the bike can hit the signals without changing speed or stopping, well, that’s biking bliss.

For both cars and bikes it would be the Richards Traffic High.


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  1. What do you call it when you have to travel in the OTHER direction? A traffic grind?

    One of my pet peeves is how Vancouver planners have placed a lot of bike routes on unnecessarily hilly streets, such as Vanness east of Earls instead of the much gentler Euclid just a block away – or the awful grind up Gladstone south of Trout Lake instead of the much more genteel Commercial St (not Drive). 14th Ave west of Commercial Drive instead of 13th Ave is another example.

  2. The Nelson St. green wave disappeared when the bike lane was installed on Nelson St., as the City wanted to slow down traffic, in particular, I think, because of the number of downhill right turns across the bike lane.
    I think the Dunsmuir St. green wave has also disappeared.

  3. I found living in Yaletown next door to a one way street ie Nelson unliveable due to the noise and particulate from the free flowing bursts of traffic. The apartment had no mechanical ventilation so the windows stayed open most of the year as the building faced southwest and it felt like a noisy oven. Ear plugs were de rigeur at night to sleep. But some people must be ok with living with that….. just not me.

    As for traffic highs….I use to go for that….but now I prefer my ‘Awe’ walks where I can observe more in the downtown and West End, I also often walk my bike so I can see more rather than have city life be a passing blur. That’s just my personal preference…each to their own.

    1. I face that direction between Smithe and Nelson and I find it fine.
      There is a lot of dirt in the sir downtown (even high up, as I am).
      Noise travels up the building, but the constant sirens are worse than general traffic noise (but I do think sirens are necessary, even at night, and that flashing lights alone are inadequate). Motorcycles are less noisy than they used to be 20 years ago.

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