Another bike lane is being pushed forward by the City of Vancouver to fill in the “gap” of downtown’s cycling network between Yaletown and the West End.
A six-city-block extension of the Smithe Street bike lane from Richards Street to Thurlow Street is being pursued by the municipal government. This is a continuation of the existing road configuration of a separated bike lane on the north side of Smithe Street between Richards Street and the Cambie Street Bridge.
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To accommodate the bike lane extension, the changes to Smithe Street would reduce the segment between Richards and Hornby streets from the existing four traffic lanes to a new configuration of three lanes. There would effectively be two travel lanes for vehicles, as the third lane is also used as a turning lane or off-peak taxi zone/short-term stopping zone.
Currently, Smithe Street as a one-way, westbound street ends at Burrard Street, where it becomes a two-way street for the single-block stretch reaching Thurlow Street. The changes would reconfigure the unprotected bike lanes between Burrard and Thurlow streets to a new protected bike lane on the north side of the street, retaining two-way lane directions and without any lane reductions.
Smithe Street is the major arterial route for vehicle traffic leaving the bridge, and entering and dispersing across downtown. Heavy traffic congestion is often experienced on this route, even outside peak hours.
The municipal government claims the new design retains “sufficient motor vehicle capacity” by including the dedicated turn lanes at busy intersections, separating turn phases at Hornby Street and Burnaby Street to reduce conflicts and provide more dedicated time to turn, and reducing the current lane changing near Burrard Street.
The continuous Smithe Street bike lane ending at Thurlow Street would connect to Haro Street, which is currently undergoing a street reconstruction for a cycling corridor.
An online survey for the Smithe Street bike lane will remain open until June 7, 2021. Construction is scheduled to begin late Summer or Fall 2021.
Currently, the municipal government is in the process of constructing the Richards Street bike lane. The northern segment from West Cordova Street to Nelson Street is now largely complete, while the southern segment from Nelson Street to Pacific Street is expected to reach completion this fall.