Bikeway Traffic Changes in Kitsilano
About three weeks ago, three intersections on the Off-Broadway bike route had their stop-signs changed. First, the four-way stop at Stephens Street and 8th Avenue was changed from a 4-way stop to a 2-way stop, with the stop signs for north/south traffic. Next, the 2-way stop at Collingwood and 8th was switched so that there are stop signs north/south instead of east/west. Finally, the 4-way stop at Bayswater and 8th was converted into a 2-way stop, again for north/south traffic.
The net result of these changes is that there are no stop signs from Yew St. through to Alma St. along the bike route, with the exception of the Macdonald St. crossing.
These changes are a result of the City of Vancouver’s Bikeway Spot Improvement Program. I put a series of questions concerning these changes to the city, and Mike Anderson, a civil engineer in the transportation department, responded.
Anthony (AF): How can I find out about these changes before they happen?
Mike (MA): A key goal of the City’s Transportation 2040 plan is to make cycling in Vancouver safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all ages and abilities. These changes are part of the bikeway spot improvement program established after Transportation 2040 to help the City achieve its long-term transportation goals. The spot improvement program is generally focused on small changes we can make to address emerging issues of safety and convenience for cycling in Vancouver. In most cases where changes to traffic patterns result, we will typically provide a letter notification to nearby residents in advance of the change.
AF: Why were these specific changes made?
MA: A key goal of the City’s Transportation 2040 plan is to make cycling in Vancouver safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all ages and abilities. These changes are part of the bikeway spot improvement program established after Transportation 2040 to help the City achieve its long-term transportation goals.
AF: Are they related to the Seaside Active Transportation Corridor improvements?
AF: Were local residents consulted before the changes?
MA: Residents living near these intersections were notified in advance of the changes being made. This is our typical practice for changes like this.
AF: Were local residents notified about the changes after they were made?
MA: Residents were notified before the changes were made.
AF: What were the considerations on local traffic patterns?
MA: We reviewed the traffic volumes at each intersection before recommending changes. For those intersections that were previously four-way stops, our analysis indicated that the current total traffic volumes passing through the intersections do not warrant four-way stop control. Where the two-way stop control was switched, cycling traffic on the Off Broadway Bikeway is considerably higher than motor vehicle traffic on the cross-street. We also reviewed nearby intersection controls to see how these changes fit within the neighbourhood traffic pattern.
AF: Are there any concerns about increased motor vehicle traffic (rat-runners) now that there are no stop signs along the route?
MA: We will continue to monitor traffic volumes and speeds on the City’s bikeway network and respond if issues arise. On bikeways throughout Vancouver, most stop signs have been reoriented or removed to make cycling more convenient and safer by assigning right-of-way to traffic on bicycle routes.
AF: Are there any more changes coming along the route?
MA: No further changes are imminent in this section of the route, but we are continually reviewing the bikeway network City-wide to determine where future spot improvements should be made.
AF: Will the traffic-circles be removed or modified?
MA: No changes to traffic circles are currently planned for this route.
AF: Will there be any traffic diverters installed?
MA: No additional diverters are currently planned for this section of the route. There are already traffic diverters along the Off Broadway Bikeway at Macdonald St and Alma St.
AF: Are the stop-sign changes permanent or on a trial basis?
MA: They are intended to be permanent changes.
AF: Will any other bike routes in Kits be changed like this?
MA: No further changes are imminent in Kitsilano apart from the pending Seaside Greenway completion and York Ave Bikeway. However, we are continually reviewing the bikeway network City-wide to determine where future spot improvements should be made. As well, future development on or near bikeways can lead to changes to ensure that bikeways are not negatively affected by changing traffic patterns.
Road users are notified by “Traffic Pattern Changed” signs, but in all cases the notification signs are at least 3/4 a block away from the affected intersection, and are typically posted on utility poles that are on the property side (not road-side) of the sidewalk. Which is to say, even when you’re looking for them, they’re hard to see. It’s been a few weeks now, and I’m happy to report that even with riding through them twice a day, I’ve not had any problems with vehicles being unaware of the stop sign changes.
Did you notice the changes? Did you receive one of the notifications from the city? What do you think about prioritizing traffic along the bike routes?