The City of Burnaby has taken the time and trouble to give a long and informative response to my post on the problems with the Sea to River Bike Route. I decided to post it, because it deserves to be widely read, rather than buried in comments on a past post. My thanks to Stu Ramsey, Manager, Transportation Planning, City of Burnaby, for his time and trouble.
While of course I would rather hear that a few million dollars have been allocated to fix all of the problems overnight (!), it is nevertheless very, very encouraging that the City of Burnaby takes this matter so seriously. It gives me hope for a better future for cyclists!
Thanks for your e-mail requesting a City of Burnaby response to your blog. I am happy to provide my thoughts. While any project is a team effort, the Sea-to-River Bikeway project (including the things you’re angry about) is primarily my responsibility.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am an all-season all-weather all-roads cyclist, and have been for more decades than I care to remember. That doesn’t mean that I enjoy cycling in traffic, or expect others to do so. But it does mean that most of your criticisms did not come as a surprise to me. I’ll try to comment briefly on each of them, including those made by others on your blog, from north to south.
Yale to Hastings. No criticisms.
Hastings to Douglas. Bill Lee’s critique on your blog is actually of Gilmore Avenue, which is not the Bikeway. The Sea-to-River Bikeway in this area is one block to the east, on Carleton Avenue. This is a quiet local street which we further calmed with traffic circles and a bike-permeable centre median at Parker.
Douglas to Lougheed. This section has bike lanes for most of its length, though they get pinched at the Lougheed intersection where the road isn’t wide enough. This will get remedied, though I don’t have a specific date.
Lougheed to Still Creek. No criticisms.
Still Creek to Canada Way. Council approved construction of the Sea-to-River Bikeway in 2004. The concept for this section was wide curb lanes and a parallel Urban Trail (which is our term for a multi-use trail, like the CVG). By that time, it was already clear that the Province’s Port Mann / Highway 1 project was going to alter cycling conditions throughout central Burnaby. It was believed that any work that we did on either side of the highway might get ripped out within a few years by the Highway 1 project. As such, completion of this segment of the Bikeway was deferred. Even today, there is still some uncertainty associated with the Highway 1 project, and what the Province might be prepared to do at the Gilmore overpass. So we’re still “on hold”, but we haven’t forgotten it. I am hopeful that this question will be resolved within the next few months, allowing us to re-visit our design and hopefully proceed to construction.
With six years of hindsight, we shouldn’t have proposed wide curb lanes, or should have been clearer about them. The proposal was not to widen the road, but to shift the paint lines. There’s not that much space available, so the result would have been lanes well below the 4.3 metres that should be used. So, our focus now is on completing the Urban Trail, once the Highway 1 question is resolved.
Canada Way to Sanderson/Kincaid. This segment has an Urban Trail on the west side, not a sidewalk. The use of the Urban Trail will be more viable once the above-mentioned segment to the north has been constructed. You note the driveways, which are always a challenge for Urban Trails. This segment has relatively few driveways (five) but they can still be a challenge.
Sanderson/Kincaid to Kingsway. You have suggested painted bike lanes. This is the first time I have heard that suggestion for this segment. Traffic volumes are generally light. We would not be able to implement bike lanes without banning parking on one side of the road. We have sometimes done this (see the new bike lanes on Burris Street) but don’t do it lightly as residents generally don’t like it. I don’t see this segment as a priority for that approach.
Kingsway to Imperial. Your concern here is not with the design of the route but the construction that has disrupted it. All proposed road closures are reviewed by our Engineering Department. Most are requested by outside agencies (Metro Vancouver in this case). Our Lane Closure Request form states, “As bicycles require less space than cars, they can often be accommodated within a work zone even when cars must be detoured. Where there is a closure of a dedicated bicycle lane, an alternative lane should be provided when possible to avoid forcing a bicycle into a faster moving vehicle lane. If this is not possible “Share The Road” signs should be installed or a bicycle detour route provided.” I should note that we generally do not require a specific detour route to be identified for any mode.
Imperial to Marine Drive. As you noted, the Bikeway currently ends one block before Marine Drive, because we don’t have any road right-of-way in that block. The intention from the beginning is that we will build a trail on School District land, scooting around the house that’s in the way, to get to Marine Drive. This has not been a priority for us since this trail had no bike route to link to, southward. However, that is changing (see below). We therefore need to complete this 80-metre section of trail.
Marine Drive to Fraser River. The route you are using is the dirt trail on the Patterson alignment, leading to the pedestrian overpass above Marine Way, and then continuing on the dirt trail. This is not a designated bike route. It is a park trail, designed and intended for pedestrians. I understand why you are using it, but I will not comment on its deficiencies for bikes as that is not its intended function. You will have likely noted the development of the “New Haven” site between Marine Drive and Marine Way. This development includes an Urban Trail through the site. At Marine Drive, this will align with the above-mentioned trail on School District land. At Marine Way, it will come out at the Glenlyon Parkway traffic signal, thus providing a safe connection to the existing Urban Trail continuing southward below Marine Way.
Prior to Council approval, each Bikeway design is the result of a public consultation process as well as an end-to-end tour with interested cyclists. Both are advertised on the VACC-Burnaby listserv. I hope you can join us for our next one (no date at present).
You also provided a few comments on routes other than the Sea-to-River Bikeway, which I will address briefly.
North Fraser Way and Glenlyon Parkway. These roads have been built in segments over a period of many years, and that work is still on-going. The newer segments (say, within the last 10 or 15 years) haven been built with wide curb lanes, which is our standard for this situation. However, they are not wide enough to have painted bike lanes. I would prefer not to have bike lanes next to parked cars unless they were separated by a buffer of 0.5 to 1.0 metres (due to the “dooring” hazard). These roads would thus need to be 1.0 to 2.0 metres wider.
CVG “industrial” section. This entire road segment is being rebuilt next year. It will have an Urban Trail along the north side. Still not the Galloping Goose Trail, but better than today. (I realize you have since done an entire post on the CVG, with more to follow. That one’s not my project, so I won’t comment, but Ian Wasson might respond.)
Still Creek @ Douglas. No, this signal is not triggered by vehicle weight. It uses video cameras, and should detect cyclists. Perhaps you didn’t wait long enough? If you have waited 60+ seconds with no result, let me know and I’ll get someone to check the signal programming.
I don’t have time to provide such lengthy comments on a regular basis, but you put a lot of thought into your original blog, and I wanted to respond accordingly. It’s great to see the interest that your blog is getting, as it indicates the high level of interest in Burnaby’s cycling infrastructure. Thanks again.”