Will Broadway be reduced to only 3 vehicle lanes for new bike lanes?

May 16 2022, 10:34 pm

Broadway in Vancouver is both a city-level and regional-level arterial roadway, with a general standard of six vehicle lanes — three lanes for each direction.

This key roadway is under TransLink’s Major Road Network classification, which identifies regionally significant major arterial roads that carry commuter, transit, and truck traffic. It is also a critical route for efficient and safe access to and from Vancouver General Hospital.

As envisioned by City of Vancouver staff under the Broadway Plan, the central segment of Broadway will see its roadway narrowed to four vehicle lanes, with the two curbside vehicle lanes repurposed for wider pedestrian sidewalks, patios to support businesses and enhance street vibrancy, and other public spaces.

The rationale that allows the street to be narrowed to four vehicle lanes is the new presence and transportation capacity of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line Broadway Extension, opening in 2025. The street would also see reduced vehicle traffic from the absence of the frequent, long articulated buses for the 99 B-Line, which will see a truncated route between UBC and Arbutus Station upon the subway’s opening.

This is part of City staff’s “Great Street” concept of creating a more pedestrian-friendly experience through an enhanced public realm, and creating a more vibrant retail experience, but without removing Broadway’s critical purpose as an arterial roadway.

broadway subway road design changes

What is already being planned for Broadway under the Broadway Plan: The narrowing of Broadway into a four-lane roadway with turning lanes and business loading areas in key areas under the Great Street concept. (City of Vancouver)

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Conceptual artistic rendering of Broadway transformed into a Great Street with wider sidewalks, seating, and patios near a SkyTrain station entrance. (City of Vancouver)

But OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle is now suggesting an even more aggressive approach.

As part of Vancouver City Council’s Broadway Plan deliberations beginning this week, Boyle says she will introduce an amendment to City staff’s proposed area plan that focuses on Broadway’s future transportation roles.

At first glance, the aims and details of the amendment seem redundant as they align with City staff’s stated goals of Broadway’s future as a Great Street.

But she is proposing to request to direct city staff to “implement a car-lite Broadway,” a suggestion to reallocate more surface road space than what is already proposed under the Broadway Plan.

The key differentiating policy change Boyle is proposing is to direct city staff to “build a safe active transportation lane” on Broadway — a bike lane.

The Broadway Plan being considered by City Council does not call for adding east-west protected bi-directional bike lanes on Broadway.

City staff previously told Daily Hive Urbanized they are not looking to add bike lanes on Broadway due to limited space in the future reconfiguration. It would either require reducing the reallocated space for wider sidewalks for pedestrians, patio spaces, and other public spaces, or result in further reduced road space for vehicles — reducing Broadway to below a functional bare minimum four-lane standard for vehicles, potentially down to only three vehicle lanes (two lanes in one direction, only one lane for the other direction).

Furthermore, there are already parallel east-west bike routes and bike lanes nearby on the streets to the north and south of Broadway, including the significant recent investments made to create 10th Avenue greenway’s bike lanes.

While the Broadway Plan does not call for new bike lanes on Broadway, it has clearly outlined significantly added and improved greenways and bike lanes on other streets within the area plan. These forthcoming investments seem to be enormously downplayed.

Within just the first 10 years of the Broadway Plan’s implementation, about $109 million would be spent on redesigning roads for an improved pedestrian and cycling experience, and other public realm upgrades.

This includes a specific amount of about $39 million just for new local bikeways, protected bike routes, and greenways over the decade.

vancouver broadway plan greenways bike lanes

Existing and future greenway routes and purpose-built bike routes within the Broadway Plan. Click on the image for an enlarged version. (City of Vancouver)

vancouver broadway plan greenways bike lanes

Existing and future greenway routes within the Broadway Plan. Click on the image for an enlarged version. (City of Vancouver)

broadway corridor Broadway City Hall Crossroads subway construction

Conceptual artistic rendering of Broadway transformed into a Great Street with wider sidewalks, seating, and patios near Cambie Street. (City of Vancouver)

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Great Street concept for Broadway. (City of Vancouver)

Another $48 million would be directed towards the Great Street project of Broadway — converting approximately three to four kms. The subway project reaching completion in 2025 will complete the first Broadway city blocks with the Great Street concept of a four-lane standard for vehicles, wider sidewalks, and patios, with this design implemented on the reconstructed roadway of the station construction blocks at Main, Cambie, Laurel, Granville, and Arbutus streets. The city’s investment would fill in the Great Street gaps between the station blocks in the years after the subway’s completion.

Under the Great Street concept, Broadway’s pedestrian sidewalks would be widened to 25 ft (7.5 metres) from the curb to the building face at station blocks and at least 18 ft (5.5 metres) elsewhere along Broadway to accommodate flexible space specifically for walking, sitting, cafe, signage, and other public realm elements.

Other already stated components of Broadway’s Great Street transformation in the Broadway Plan include a boulevard, patios, planting, seating, seating, and large street trees. There would also be considerations for new transit priority measures where buses experience excessive delays.

If approved, the Broadway Plan will add 50,000 more residents and 42,000 jobs within the vicinity of Broadway between Vine Street to the west and Clark Drive to the east, and effectively expand downtown Vancouver’s economic activity and vitality southwards. By 2050, the Broadway Plan area’s population would grow to 100,000 residents and 126,400 jobs.

Beyond the Broadway Plan, the region as a whole is facing a forthcoming great debate on how much arterial road space should be reallocated for TransLink’s plans to build nine bus rapid transit lines.

Orchard Road Singapore

Wide sidewalks are a key design feature for Singapore’s vibrant Orchard Road, which is the principal shopping street in the city state. It also maintains its role as a critical arterial roadway. (Shutterstock)


Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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