A significant street redesign to accommodate bi-directional bike lanes on all 11 blocks of Richards Street between Pacific Street and West Cordova Street in downtown Vancouver would reduce the roadway to just one general travel lane.
The City of Vancouver is proposing the change, which would relocate the existing southbound bike lane currently on the west side of the street between Drake Street and Robson Street to a new wider bi-directional, two-lane protected bike lane on the east side curb.
These new protected bike lanes would also extend south to connect with Pacific Street and north to reach the intersection of West Cordova Street and Water Street in Gastown.
According to city staff, the existing narrow width and painted separation created by the existing bike lanes on the street “created uncomfortable interactions with people parking.”
In the proposal, one travel lane would be eliminated to retain parking on both sides of the street and allow for space to create a median that provides a physical separation between the roadway and the bike lanes. The median north of Robson Street could also be planted with a new row of trees.
But there will be parking reductions as well; about 50 street parking spaces, accounting for 15% of all of the parking spaces on the street, will be removed to provide turn lanes at intersections, sightlines at driveways, and accommodate other street uses.
During the afternoon peak period, another 50 additional parking spaces along the west curb between Dunsmuir Street and Nelson Street will be restricted to provide more traffic flow capacity for the outbound rush out of downtown.
The municipal government says Richards Street, which is a one-way southbound roadway, can operate with just one travel lane as “volumes are generally low and the parking restrictions during the afternoon peak between Dunsmuir and Nelson streets allow for increased motor vehicles at that time.”
The southern half of Richards Street saw the installation of its first bike lanes in 2013.