After about four months of construction, there is now a new configuration on Beach Avenue in downtown Vancouver that gives the pandemic-time bike lanes a certain degree of permanency.
The traffic cones have been replaced with a concrete curb to protect the two-way bike pathway, occupying the previous eastbound road space west of Hornby Street.
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The previous temporary configuration completely closed the eastbound direction for vehicles since last spring. But with the new roadwork, vehicle traffic has now been restored eastbound between Denman Street and Pacific Street.
This has also allowed TransLink’s No. 23 Beach/Main Street Station bus route to resume service on the eastbound direction of Beach Avenue, ending the prolonged detour along Davie Street.
Other changes to Beach Avenue include new pedestrian crossings at key locations such as painted zebra crosswalks, median islands to shorten the crossing distance for people walking, tactile walking surface indicators, level bus boarding islands, and modified traffic signals at Bidwell and Cardero streets.
There was also a redesign of the entryway into waterfront parks to allow for the reopening and expansion of accessible vehicle parking.
The total construction cost of these changes is $250,000.
However, at least one local resident believes the changes have made Beach Avenue worse to the extent that it has caused more traffic congestion and idling.
Stevan Perry, who has been living in an apartment overlooking Beach Avenue since 2015, told Daily Hive Urbanized the new configuration has resulted in severe bumper-to-bumper congestion, especially when emergency vehicles and garbage trucks serving the buildings are stopped and parked on the narrow roadway.
He says there have been near misses and collisions as a result of the changes.
Up until early 2020, this stretch of Beach Avenue was a four-lane, perimeter, arterial roadway — an alternative secondary route into the West End and Stanley Park, and for regional traffic from the North Shore and points beyond. It provided reliable redundancy for the downtown road network, particularly for incidents and special events that result in the closure of West Georgia Street.
Other residents have also told Daily Hive Urbanized east-west traffic across the downtown peninsula has spilled into the West End’s local streets as a result of the Beach Avenue reconfiguration over the past year.
It is unclear if the reduced roadway width and barriers will affect the logistics of the Vancouver Pride Parade.