City of Vancouver pushing forward with Smithe Street bike lane extension

May 17 2021, 4:19 pm

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.

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

Existing configuration of Smithe Street looking west between Granville and Hornby streets. (Google Maps)

smithe street vancouver existing

Existing typical configuration of Smithe Street from Richards Street to Hornby Street. (City of Vancouver)

smithe street bike lane route

The “gap” in the Smithe Street bike lane route. (City of Vancouver)

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.

smithe street bike lane richards hornby

Before and after: Smithe Street with a bike lane from Richards to Hornby streets. (City of Vancouver)

smithe street bike lane burrard thurlow

Before and after: Smithe Street with a bike lane from Burrard to Thurlow streets. (City of Vancouver)

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.

smithe street bike lane

New configuration of Smithe Street with a bike lane from Granville to Richards streets. (City of Vancouver)

smithe street bike lane

New configuration of Smithe Street with a bike lane from Thurlow to Hornby streets. (City of Vancouver)

smithe street bike lane

New configuration of Smithe Street with a bike lane from Thurlow to Burrard streets. (City of Vancouver)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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