Translink Planning Department’s Response to my Critiques of the Central Valley Greenway (CVG)

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Click here for an updated, complete guide to the Central Valley Greenway – plus Video
Translink Planning Department has taken the trouble to respond comprehensively to my posts on the Central Valley Greenway, Part 1 and Part 2. I really appreciate this, and decided to post their response in full, so as many people as possible see it.

This response answers a lot of questions about the issues with the Central Valley Greenway (CVG), and also contains some exciting news about plans for the future!

“The CVG was part of Transport Canada’s Urban Transportation Showcase Program, which wrapped up in March 2009 in accordance with the multi-agency funding agreement. There has been a fair bit of criticism on the Buzzer Blog about launching the CVG prematurely, while some segments were incomplete or built to an interim standard.

We were obliged to launch it as close as possible to the federal project deadline of March 31, 2009, after six years of planning and project delivery, and held our opening celebration in June to correspond with Bike Week and the completion of the Winston Bridge, which provided important connections. We acknowledge that some areas are constructed to a interim design standard, due to budget or other temporal challenges. The major achievement of the project was to deliver a functional CVG, and it has been a valuable facility for thousands of people since it was launched.

TransLink values feedback and will share it with our partners. At this point each municipal partner is responsible for improvements along the CVG that will achieve the ultimate design standard. Again, now that the cities fully own and manage their sections of the CVG, comments should be directed to them.

Blog Part I: Downtown New Westminster to Winston

Signage. Compliments appreciated. We will aim for 100% consistency, and timely completion on the next facility. We will also recommend larger fonts for the yellow destination signs.

Columbia Street – downtown.
Average Joe Suggestion 1: separated path

It is quite true, this is a high traffic street and may not comfortable for a good many riders, particularly new or young riders. Downtown New Westminster was considered a CVG destination, and an enhanced cycling facility objective was considered in the context of multiple City objectives: downtown revitalization, aesthetic improvements, enhanced pedestrian environment, and traffic calming. The compromise was to remove two lanes of traffic and to implement back in angle parking, an innovation in this region, which is safer for cyclists than parallel parking and opened up more road space for cyclists.

The ultimate vision for New Westminster is a low level multi-use route running from Braid along the waterfront to the Quay which would provide a scenic, flat and comfortable separated route. It will take some years to acquire the necessary lands and resources to achieve the low level route, as most of it will be implemented as development occurs. This route is also identified in the Metro Vancouver Parks greenway network.
City of New Westminster.

Columbia Street – north east of Cumberland
Average Joe Suggestion 1: separated path

The original alignment for the CVG was routed along the Brunette River waterfront through the Sapperton industrial area. Because of serious budget deficiencies, technical challenges of crossing massive rail yard, and the need to meet the project completion deadline in 2009, the route between Hume Park and Cumberland was proposed by the City as an alternate which would provide a connection with the BC Parkway and the New West waterfront at the Quay. The choices were to work with Columbia Street, or stop the CVG at the Burnaby border. It is acknowledged that the on street portions of Columbia are busy and challenging to ride. Again, the low level route along the Brunette River in Sapperton, meeting up at Sapperton Landing (around Cumberland) is the optimal long term solution here.
City of New Westminster

North Road
Average Joe Suggestion 2: a solution requested

Exiting Hume Park and entering Burnaby, Columbia Street is actually named North Road. The City of Burnaby has identified the scope required to make a separated multi-use path here which requires path widening and a new bridge across the Brunette River. The New Westminster portion would consist of a multi-use path to the south of the Brunette River.
Cities of New Westminster and Burnaby

Brunette River Natural Area
Suggestion 3: lights

This corridor is owned by Metro Vancouver and managed by its Parks department. Metro Vancouver Parks has a policy of no lights in this area, for reasons of environmental sensitivity and because lights might create a false sense of security in this forested area which has limited visibility and surveillance at night.
Metro Vancouver Parks

Cariboo Road
The unfinished intersection at Government was problematic for over a year and a source of frustration to all. The City was waiting for the railroad to install panels to permit a level crossing of the tracks, which only they can do. This work was completed in September 2010.
City of Burnaby

Winston bicycle Lanes
Average Joe Suggestion 4 – separated path

The City of Burnaby’s long term plan is to replace the existing bicycle lanes on Winston with a separated multi-use trail (aka “Urban Trail” in Burnaby), exactly as per your Suggestion 4. This would make a huge difference to the quality of experience on the CVG east of Sperling for both cyclists and pedestrians. At present, there is no sidewalk on Winston and so the CVG pedestrian traffic is routed through Metro Vancouver’s Burnaby Lake Regional Park, which for the same reasons as the Brunette River Natural Area, has no lighting and is only open during daylight hours.
City of Burnaby and Metro Vancouver

The map – and suitability ratings.
TransLink notes the excerpted quote from the CVG Route Map: “Most sections are suitable for all kinds of walking and wheeling etc”. This is a really helpful comment on an oversight, and we will be making a note in the next map issue about the high traffic streets, noting they may be less comfortable for some riders. For the same reason, we distinguished between types of routes on the map.

Blog Part 2: Winston overpass to Vancouver.

Douglas Road and Still Creek Drive to Gilmore

The City of Burnaby will be rebuilding Douglas Road, and Still Creek Drive all the way through to Costco in 2011/2012. It is acknowledged that the current interim route is unpleasant, and fortunately there is a quality solution in the near future for this section which will be a fully separated, multi-use path on the north side of Still Creek Drive and east side of Douglas Road. We are please to pass on the compliments on the rest area just close to the intersection of Still Creek Drive and Gilmore. The credit goes to the City of Burnaby.
Agency responsible:
City of Burnaby

Great Northern Way
As you noted, the slope connecting Clark Drive with the False Creek Flats is steep and a challenge for cyclists. One reason for providing a path on both sides of Great Northern Way between Clark and Glen Drives is to give cyclists more space and choice. The original vision for the CVG was to provide a bridge connection for non-motorized users between the False Creek Flats and Clark Drive at the top of the escarpment. Unfortunately the bridge was unable to proceed as part of the project because of cost and time constraints. As for the driveways, it would be worth letting the City know of your concern and experiences there.
Agency responsible:
City of Vancouver

Safe cycling for everyone?

Your observation that the point of view of seniors and/or kids is key in assessing bike routes is very valid. It echoes the philosophy of Gil Penalosa of Bogotá, Columbia, who heads an organization called 8 to 80 Cities which urges leaders to …

“make decisions about our built environment based on what would be good for an 8 year old and an 80 year old which would result in great cities for all”.

Through TransLink’s Bicycle Working Group, a forum involving representatives from the municipalities in the region, there are active discussions and plans to advance standards for cycling facilities which suit a large segment of our population which is interested in cycling, but concerned.

We appreciate the time you have spent in creating this commentary and hope that understanding some of the context and forthcoming developments is helpful. It is important for the walking and cycling communities to focus their advocacy on projects which are important to them, and advance the realization of those projects realized. It took years of dreaming and planning to get the CVG to the present point. We consider it a work in progress.”

Thanks for this, Translink! Also, my thanks to Jhenifer at Translink’s Buzzer Blog for passing on the links to my posts to Translink Planning Department, and for bringing back this response.

The Central Valley Greenway – may the dream continue to grow …

More posts about trails:

Cycling the Galloping Goose Trail, Part 1

Here’s Part 2 of my Guide to Cycling the Galloping Goose Trail!

And here’s my Guide to Cycling in Sooke!

Here’s my Guide to Cycling the wonderful Lockside Trail on Vancouver Island.

Here’s Part 1 of a whole series on the joys of cycling in Montreal.

Here’s a trail to avoid at costs in Richmond (unless you have nerves of steel and the cycling skills of a super hero).

Here’s a really cool family trail in Richmond – the West Dyke Trail.

Here are a whole lot of trails in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve – some of them challenging, some of them family-friendly.

Here’s an exceptional trail in Port Coquitlam, the Traboulay PoCo Trail – it offers a variety of terrains, distance without hills, a play park, a pub, and just generally fun for the whole family – even history buffs.

And here’s a post called Deer Lake Park: Cyclist’s Paradise for the Whole Family in the Heart of Burnaby.

Here you can read all about the Central Valley Greenway, an ambitious trail that runs from New Westminster to Vancouver, via Burnaby. And here’s even more about it.


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  1. says

    Thanks TransLink for the great reply! I really like riding the CVG, it makes it simple for me to get to Burnaby when I need to.

  2. Sid Senior says

    I am so excited to read this! Ilove the CVG but some bits of it are so scary they put me right off! I will be back on it as soon as all these improvements happen – I hope before I’m 80 (Translink you only have 11 years before I’m 80, so don’t delay!!!

  3. Katherine says

    I like the sound of what they are planning to do in the Stillcreek area. I am so heartily sick of biking through that horrible mess, and all the pollution-spewing commercial vehicles. It’s dangerous to my nerves and my healht. My only otehr alternative is Loughheed, so I put up with Stillcreek – but I think I will feel 10 years younger when I don’t have to commute on Stillcreek anymore! Thanks AJC for raising this issue.

  4. bentguy says

    I ride the CVG everyday. 140 kilometers a week on it. I used to have to ride Lougheed highway which I did for many years, often in the dark and in the rain. I have to remind myself how bad that was. My commute is now the envy of others. I live in Mount Pleasant (just off of 10th Ave.) and work in Burnaby (actually my office window overlooks the intersection at Cariboo and Government that took so long to finish — I watched them put in new sod on the boulevard yesterday and install the cow-gates at the RR crossing last Friday ). I understand that to those who do it for the first time the CVG at some points can seem poorly planned, not clearly signed or even scary, but, believe me, compared to what you would have had to do before it was open, it’s a friggin dream. Thank you to all who were involved at every level to see this thing to the point it is now and thank you for whatever else you do to make it even better.

    I have no problem with Still Creek. It’s taking a while to get that done but I’ve been watching the developments over the years and I am confident that it will get there. I’d rather it was done right then done now. I used to think that the bit from Sperling to Cariboo on Winston was the best part of my commute. Compared to Lougheed highway it was wonderful. But now with the CVG Winston has actually become my least favourite part of the commute. So I have to remind myself, and I’d like to say to others, be gentle with your criticisms of the CVG it’s the very thing that we need much more of an a bargin at half the price.

    • says

      Great points Bentguy. As you say, we have to remind myself of how far we’ve come. Your comment reminded me that I used to have to commute just from Gilmore to Holdom on Lougheed, and that was my daily nightmare (plus the bit on Gilmore from Canada Way to Lougheed). By contrast, the CVG is a dream come true (that’s why I posted photos to show the contrast between Lougheed & the CVG, come to think of it).

  5. Janine says

    Thanks to you and TransLink for following up on this. It is really interesting/sad to see how much of the vision had to be scaled back because of budget. :-( I’m not surprised the original idea for Clark and Great Northern Way was a bridge, as I’m a very experienced cyclist and go that way every day and still, every day it gives me heart palpitations. Definitely not suitable for 8-80.

    Hopefully, tho, bit by bit it will improve. It’s already unbelievably better than when I first started cycling it regularly in 2006, which the choice east of Slocan was on street Broadway (!!), on street Grandview (!!) or on an illegal path one foot from the rail tracks with the dangerous sharp rocks, mud and the occasional train.

    • says

      Hi Janine. You’re very welcome. I think I’m sensing a theme here … we LOVE the CVG in general, but we also look forward to the dream being fully realized …

  6. Stephan says

    I don’t really want ot hear we should be greatful for what we have and shut up about it. That’s like after African americans got the vote and then they were supposed to shut up and be greatful, well, the point is we are nowhere near equal in rights with car-drivers yet. But we have to pay exactly the same taxes! So, yes, thank you for the CVG, but I want tax dollars to go, and go quickly to making it perfect and safe for all. Just like no one would say thank you! for a road that was not completely safe why are we saying thank you for a cycle path that is not completely safe yet. AJC it is a dream yes but parts of it are also a nightmare so I say you go dude and lets just keep demanding until you me and everyone else can get on our bikes and go wherever we want to without having to be biking in a nightmare AT ANY POINT.

  7. Martian Arts says

    Well I have to say I think it would be excessive to compare our plight to that of a minority group in the early 20th century. Nevertheless, Stephan has a point in that some parts literally risk life and limb. Here I think specifically of Stillcreek and Winston – more especially the latter, as it is so long, and the traffic can very fast-moving.

    As to Stephan’s other point : it may very well be valid to question whether, if a dream has a small part that is a nightmare, is it still a dream? I know that if I am dreaming and I come across a nightmare part, I immediately awaken. So perhaps Stephan you have a point.

    • Graeme says

      I don’t think any part of Winston is actually dangerous or unsafe (unlike Still Creek), but it is certainly daunting for the casual cyclist. The lanes (for both the cyclist and the motor traffic) are plenty wide, but a noisy truck passing from behind can startle someone who’s not used to it.

      The Winston section is rather long, though. As I come from just north of the Production Way station, I often take Government/Phillips from Costco, avoiding the boring part of Winston. Sometimes I even go a couple of extra kilometres by going way up around the Burnaby golf course and down Sperling, avoiding Winston altogether.

      • says

        I agree that Winston is probably more daunting than actually dangerous. And it is LESS daunting than say, for example, Lougheed. I never thought of the Government/Phillips detour. I think I may try it – anything to get away from the thundering traffic. I guess I am just more rattled by fast-moving traffic than some cyclists. I’d like a network of car-free ROADS, let alone lanes :) – but that’s not going to happen until fuel reserves start to run out, and I don’t know if that will be in my lifetime.

  8. Oemissions says

    We have had too many personal automobiles on this planet for decades. It just keeps getting worse.
    What stupid design to make pedestrians and cyclists have to share pathways with these NOISE producing toxic exhausting stressful vehicles.
    The Departments of Health should have acted long ago.
    The auto companies should be charged for these social costs (which amount to billions of taxpayers dollars) as well as drivers.

    • says

      I agree, Oemissions. Ford only began mass producing cars in 1920 (90 years ago). Human beings have flourished and developed on this planet for somewhere between 50 thousand and 200 thousand years. Even if it’s “only” 50 thousand years, human beings still got along just fine without personal automobiles for more than 99% of our existence on this earth. In that 99% of our time here, we also caused almost NO HARM to our habitat (Earth). Now, in less than half a percent of our existence, we have come to think that personal autos are our birthright, and are essential to human survival! And we ignore the fact that these autos slaughter us like flies, and are destroying our planet. SHould we change the name of our species to “Homo lemming”?

  9. Clark Nikolai says

    I wonder what the bridge will be like at Clark Drive and Great Northern Way. I see that there’s a path parallel to Terminal Avenue on Northern Street, that goes from Station Street to Cottrell Street at the back of the Home Depot there.
    I was thinking that a bike route could connect with that and go along South of the Home Depot parking lot and then some sort of ramp spiral bridge thing (much like the one over that would go over the train tracks and then go East next to the VCC Clark station and then ramp up into the Grandview Cut, underneath Clark Drive and then slope up to connect to the path on the North side of the Grandview Cut. This way you won’t have to cross Clark Drive at all.

    • says

      Sounds good – anything that keeps you off Clark is good with me. It is a major challenge though, so it will be interesting to see how they proceed.