Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Extreme makeover Granville Mall

with 10 comments

Vancouver Sun

The list of Vancouver’s $50m of road projects includes $11m for the Mall. What I would have liked to see accompany the story would be pictures. I suppose the print edition might have them but the site in general is pretty mean when it comes to images – except for ads of course.

Translink 2709 on Granville 2002_0614

The Granville Mall “before” construction started (June 2002)

The city will also spend $5 million on a greenway along Carrall St. connecting the seawall in False Creek, Chinatown, Gastown and the Downtown Eastside. Work on the wider sidewalks and treed landscapes between Keefer and Pender has already been completed, with the next phase to cut through the Downtown Eastside along Carrall between Pender and Water Street.

The work on Cambie will include the addition of treed boulevards in the Cambie Village area centred around 16th Ave. and bike lanes south of 29th Ave. to Kent Ave., then on to a private lane suspended under the SkyTrain guideway all the way to Richmond. There will be no net loss of green space to the Cambie corridor due to SkyTrain construction once the work is completed, city staff said at a press conference Thursday.

Which is all as it should be. But there is no mention of how much the left turn bays at 49th and Knight will cost. It is the most dangerous intersection in the City and ICBC are going to help pay for it. But why do we need to widen the road to accommodate “bays”? Why not a simple advanced green for left turners in each cycle? Might it be something to do with the fact that would have the effect of reducing throughput, i.e. slowing the traffic a bit compared to widening? And what about all the left turns that can be done midblock even at peak periods – and the very high speeds seen as people race from light to light, weaving across all three lanes?

Written by Stephen Rees

March 28, 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in Traffic

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10 Responses

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  1. Plus it’s a truck route and right next to an elementary school.

    Ron C.

    March 28, 2008 at 12:06 pm

  2. There is currently no funding for a proper connection from the Cambie Street bike lanes to the Canada Line bridge. Without the funding, cyclists heading to Richmond will have to ride downhill to Kent and then climb a switchback ramp to the bridge. Ideally, the suspended lane would continue all the way to Marine Drive Station, over Marine Drive and connect near the tunnel portal north of Marine Drive.


    March 28, 2008 at 12:28 pm

  3. Re: Knight @ 49th. In 2005, it was $3,000,000 ($1,250,000 from the city, $1,250,000 from TransLink, and $500,000 from the federal government).

    Last summer, the revised cost was $4,215,000. Staff proposed getting $607,500 more from TransLink, $250,000 from ICBC, and $357,500 from the city.

    In 2005, Councillor Roberts moved to study a five-lane option, with the centre lane for alternating left turns, but that was defeated.

    Click to access csmin.pdf

    Click to access a8.pdf


    March 28, 2008 at 12:47 pm

  4. Thank you for doing the research.

    I recall once a meeting where Gord Price extrapolated the cost of an extra lane of traffic from the left turn lane costs. The biggest single item of course is buying land. And it was apparent that after that no one wanted to talk about expanding road capacity any more.

    I imagine that the ICBC share makes sense to them in terms of avoided collisions in future. But how we justify the city and government contributions (assuming the ICBC bit pays for all of the collision reductions) is beyond me.

    Stephen Rees

    March 28, 2008 at 12:59 pm

  5. A 3rd link to

    Click to access tt1knight_arrow.pdf

    details why bays with arrows are preferable to arrows only. Basically, arrows-only do not actually improve safety (remember, Knight Street used to dominate the “top 10 list” of collision locations before bays were added… The last list I saw only had Knight/49th listed on it, the rest have dropped off the list)

    Also, arrows only can result in “instances where the arrow is actuated even when there is no demand for the left-turn”. Reducing throughput isnt’ much of a consideration, anytime you add a left turn phase you reduce throughput, bays or no bays, simply due to the fact that the time allocated for the left phase has to come from somewhere; one man’s green arrow is another man’s extended red.

    As for 2-way left turn lanes, what would be the point? There is little need for ” left turns that can be done midblock”. Knight, unlike Fraser or Commercial for example, has very little commerical fontage, probably due to the fact that Knight never had Streetcar service. Correct me if I’m wrong, but most of the residences along the street have back lane access.


    March 28, 2008 at 2:14 pm

  6. “Toma is optimistic that the improvements will chase out the strip’s seedier sex shops and arcades.”

    Why chase them out? So the street can be as commercial and brand oriented (and as bland) as Robson? Why be such prudes? Why not let shops with a little “daring” stick around? One of the reasons I find Robson so boring is because everything is the same old stuff sold in malls everywhere throughout the lower mainland. One of the great things about cities is that they provide such a range of lifestyles and options. Not that I shop at sex stores really, but I’d hate to lose shops like that just because some prude thinks they’re not worthy of downtown.

    Diversity includes lifestyles people, not just ethnicities!


    March 28, 2008 at 2:55 pm

  7. But how we justify the city and government contributions (assuming the ICBC bit pays for all of the collision reductions) is beyond me.

    Tongue-in-cheek comment – because taxpayers use the roads (unlike taxes for schools, which I don’t use (and I have no kids)) – come to think of it – I’ve never used many City facilities, even though I don’t use them. (Never used the Vancouver Public Library even though I walk past it every day on the way to work.)


    WRT the ramps to the North Arm Bridge, the Marine Drive Station would be in the way and support structures diverted around it (at an elevated level) would probably look awful. The roadway south of Marine isn’t all that busy. As for the switchbacks, I see bikes riding of the switchbacks for the Cambie Bridge all the time – not sure what the elevation is in comparison, but Vancouver is a City with hills, so riders should be reasonably conditioned already.

    Ron C.

    March 28, 2008 at 6:29 pm

  8. Cambie Street south of Marine, while not an official truck route, sees a lot of truck traffic. The slope down toward the river is not insignificant and cyclists would need to cross the railroad tracks before climbing back up to the bridge path. The path could easily go around the station and need not look awful. The idea is to attract more and more people to cycle. The die-hards don’t need any special facilities.


    March 28, 2008 at 7:22 pm

  9. and what of the plans for the 700 block of Granville? looks interesting, but the image in the Sun doesn’t show any buses. Should buses return to the mall after the Canada line is completed? how about turning Granville into a true pedestrian mall, with no wall of buses.


    March 28, 2008 at 11:11 pm

  10. Personally, I think that keeping buses off the mall would work fine.
    The use of Seymour and Howe seems to work well, and if the Vancouver Police want to close Granville to control the rowdy club goers on Friday and Saturday nights, then having a consistent approach rather than shuffling routes on weekends, seems reasonable. Downtown south condos will provide a good numbers of shoppers and transit riders can easily walk a blcok over.

    The plans for the 700 block are for an open space with the stylized lighting – but no trees. According to the planners, the space needs to be open for events and trees would get in the way.

    Ron C.

    March 30, 2008 at 7:38 pm

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