What is the policy background on this project?

    In January 2019, Council directed to engage the public on the project, beginning with a discussion on goals and ideas. 

    Previous Councils have endorsed improvements to the bridge at a policy level on several occasions over the years:

    • In 2002, Council endorsed the creation of a long-term strategy to improve all three False Creek Bridge for walking and cycling, after completion of the False Creek Pedestrian and Cycling Crossing Study and significant public engagement.
    • In 2012, Council unanimously approved Transportation 2040, the City’s long range transportation strategy, after significant public and stakeholder engagement. The plan included a priority direction to improve all three False Creek bridges for walking and cycling.
    • The City’s 2019-2022 Capital Plan includes $25 million earmarked for Granville Bridge walking, rolling, and cycling improvements.
    • In January 2019, Council directed staff to conduct public and stakeholder engagement to confirm the project goals and explore multiple options for consideration.
    • In April 2019, Council approved the Climate Emergency Response report to increase the City’s efforts to address climate change. The report includes a transportation-related ‘big move’ so that by 2030 at least two thirds of trips in the city will be by active transportation and transit – 10 years earlier than previously planned. The Granville Bridge Connector project – coupled with related projects to build a better-connected active transportation network – has been identified as a key project to help deliver this target.

    Staff are planning to report to Council in spring 2020 with a recommended design concept. Subject to Council approval, detailed design would take place in 2020.

    Why are you doing this project? What challenges are you trying to address?

    The eight-lane Granville Bridge was built in 1954 and designed to connect to high-speed, high-volume freeways that were never built. It has more motor vehicle capacity then needed as a result.  The current design creates challenges for many people walking, rolling, and cycling across the bridge, including:

    1. Narrow and uncomfortable sidewalks next to high-speed traffic.
    2. Steps in the sidewalks at crossings make the bridge inaccessible for people with mobility aids such as wheelchairs and scooters. 
    3. Unsignalized crosswalks at vehicle ramps feel unsafe and contribute to motor vehicle collisions.
    4. A lack of cycling facilities on the bridge, which requires people cycling to either share a lane with high-speed motor traffic, or mix with pedestrians on the sidewalk.
    5. Confusing connections for all modes due to vehicle ramps and signage designed for high-speed traffic. 

    The project is important to serve the growing number of people living, working, visiting, and playing in Vancouver. 

    How are you engaging with stakeholders and the public?

    Public and stakeholder engagement is taking place throughout 2019 and early 2020. This work informs ongoing design efforts and includes:

    • targeted discussions, walking tours, and workshops with key user groups and stakeholders that are most directly affected; and
    • a three-phase public engagement process including open houses, workshops, walking tours, and surveys for the broader public to share their ideas and concerns.

    The three phases of public engagement are described below.

    1. In Phase 1 (April 2019 – completed), staff sought input on the draft project goals, and invited the public to share how they currently use the bridge, along with specific ideas and concerns.
    2. In Phase 2 (September 2019 - completed), staff reported back on Phase 1, and provided the public with an opportunity to review and comment on a range of options at a conceptual level.
    3. In Phase 3 (early 2020), staff reported back on what was learned in previous phases, and provided an opportunity for the public to comment on the preferred option in more detail.

    The engagement will culminate with a report to Council on recommended design option(s) in 2020.

    For a more in-depth summary of what we’ve heard so far, see the documents area on this webpage.

    What have you heard from the public and stakeholders so far?

    Staff have completed three phases of public engagement, with over 3,000 people participating at nine open houses and twelve workshops, over 9,000 surveys completed, and over 50 personalized discussions and walkshops with key stakeholders representing a wide variety of interests.

    In Phase 1 (April-May 2019), staff gave the public and stakeholders an opportunity to review the draft project goals, and provided space for people to share experiences, hopes, concerns, and ideas. Notably, staff heard:

    • high levels of project interest from the public and stakeholders;
    • support for the project and draft goals, with ideas for refinement; and
    • many ideas for how the goals could be delivered.                

    Based on Phase 1 engagement, staff refined the draft goals and explored over 20 options for the Connector. 

    In Phase 2 (September 2019), staff provided space for people to review six shortlisted design options, and shared information on other options which were explored but eliminated. Notably, staff heard:

    • a preference for the ‘West Side +’ option from both stakeholders and the public; and
    • suggestions for refining and improving the design.

    In Phase 3 (January-February 2020), staff provided space for people to review the recommended design in more detail. Results are still being analyzed, but overall sentiment was very positive.

    What are the goals of the project?

    The project goals are based on the City’s existing policies (e.g. Transportation 2040 Plan) and reflect comments, concerns, and ideas we’ve heard from stakeholders and the public.

    In the first phase of engagement (spring 2019), stakeholders and public were encouraged to provide input on the draft goals of the project described below.

    1. Make walking, rolling, and cycling across the bridge accessible, safe, and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. 
    2. Provide direct and intuitive walking, rolling, and cycling connections to key destinations and to the rest of the network.
    3. Create a special place that provides an enjoyable experience for all.
    4. Accommodate motor vehicles, considering the needs of transit, emergency services, and people driving.
    5. Design with the future in mind, considering related projects and opportunities to coordinate work.

    Phase 1 survey results indicated strong support for the draft goals overall, with many people providing ideas on how to achieve them, and some new themes suggested. Staff used the feedback to revise the goals including adding or strengthening themes related to climate emergency, public transit, means prevention, environmental considerations, and value for money.

    The revised goals are:

    1. Support the City’s climate emergency efforts by enabling more trips via sustainable transportation.
    2. Make walking, rolling, and cycling across the bridge accessible, safe, and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. 
    3. Provide direct and intuitive walking, rolling, and cycling connections to key destinations and to the rest of the network.
    4. Create a special place that provides an enjoyable experience for all.
    5. Enable reliable transit and continued access for emergency vehicles.
    6. Accommodate motor vehicles, considering the bridge’s role in the transportation network.
    7. Integrate means prevention to deter self-harm.
    8. Incorporate environmental features into the design, including provisions for rainwater management and wildlife habitat.
    9. Design for the future, considering compatibility with related projects and flexibility to adapt as the city grows.
    10. Provide value for money and maximize coordination opportunities.

    Who would this project serve?

    The project is important to serve the growing number of people living, working, visiting, and playing in Vancouver by improving their options for getting around the city in a sustainable way.

    Many people already live and/or work close to the bridge, making them good candidates for using the bridge if it felt safe and comfortable, and if the connections were convenient.

    • In 2016 there were about 18,000 residents and 17,000 jobs within a 5-minute walk of the Granville Bridge
    • In 2016 there were about 90,000 residents and 125,000 jobs within a 5-minute bike ride of the Granville Bridge

    Beyond serving those living and working nearby, the project could become a major part of the region’s active transportation network, and a regional amenity and destination in its own right.

    • By extending the Arbutus Greenway into the downtown, and by connecting to the seawall and to the existing walking and cycling networks on both sides of the bridge, the project could become an important part of the regional all ages and abilities network
    • By offering spectacular views and public amenities, the project could become a major destination and tourist attraction

    How many people walk and bike over the Granville Bridge today?

    About 2,000 people walk across the bridge on a typical mid-week summer day (during winter, average pedestrian volumes typically drop to 60% to 75% of the summer volumes).  This is significantly less than on other False Creek bridges (e.g. Cambie Bridge pedestrian volumes are roughly twice as high), but still fairly high considering the challenging conditions on the bridge. These challenges include narrow sidewalks with steps, unsignalized crossings across high-speed ramps, and confusing connections at either end.

    Cycling numbers on Granville Bridge are especially low, with less than 5% of the volumes seen on the Burrard Bridge, and less than 10% of the volumes seen on the Cambie Bridge. This isn’t surprising given the lack of bike infrastructure on the bridge. People cycling on the bridge today are forced to share a lane with speed traffic, or else mix with pedestrians on narrow sidewalks.

    Despite the relatively low numbers, the potential for increased walking and cycling on the bridge is very high given the large numbers of people who live and work nearby, and the possibility of an integrated citywide connection that is also an attractive regional destination.

    What about people who cycle on the sidewalk?

    Past studies suggest that the majority of people who cycle on the sidewalk do so because they don’t feel like they have a safe alternative. For instance, Hornby Street saw an 80% reduction in sidewalk riding when the protected bike lane was implemented, despite a very large increase in cycling overall.

    On the Granville Bridge, about half of people cycling currently choose to mix with pedestrians on the sidewalk rather than risk sharing the road with high-speed vehicle traffic. 

    In contrast, on Burrard Bridge where there is a safe and comfortable option for cycling, only 0.3% of people cycling use the sidewalk compared to 99.7% using the protected bike path. Our experience is that when a safe option is provided for people cycling, they will use it, which represents a significant improvement for people walking as well.

    What are the safety issues on the bridge?

    Many people feel uncomfortable walking or cycling across the bridge today.

    In Phase 1 of our public engagement this spring, we asked about perceptions of safety for walking:

    • Over half of respondents indicated they would be uncomfortable walking across the bridge on their own
    • Almost 80% indicated they would be uncomfortable walking across the bridge with someone who needed some assistance (e.g. a child or person with a disability)
    • Top reasons for discomfort included: lack of a barrier from motor traffic, narrow sidewalks, high-speed traffic, and confusing connections at the ramps

    Similar questions were asked regarding cycling across the bridge:

    • Almost 80% of respondents indicated they would be uncomfortable cycling across the bridge on their own
    • Almost 90% indicated they would be uncomfortable cycling across the bridge with someone who needed some assistance (e.g. a child or someone new to cycling)
    • Top reasons for discomfort included: uncomfortable mixing with high-speed traffic, no bike lane, and uncomfortable changing lanes at ramps

    Regarding motor vehicle collisions, our analysis of ICBC collision data suggests that the vast majority of collisions at the bridge are rear end collisions at the unsignalized pedestrian crossings. The descriptions of these collisions suggest that they are occuring when one driver slows down to yield to a crossing pedestrian, and the driver behind isn’t expecting it.

    Will this project cause traffic congestion?

    The eight-lane Granville Bridge has significant extra capacity on the bridge deck, because it was designed to connect to freeways that were never built. The limiting factor on traffic volumes is the intersections at either end of the bridge.  Even if these approaches to the bridge were filled with traffic, the bridge deck itself would remain relatively uncongested.

    A typical summer weekday can see 65,000 motor vehicle trips and over 25,000 transit trips cross the bridge. Retaining sufficient capacity for motor vehicles – including transit and emergency services as well as general traffic – is a key part of the project and incorporated into the project goals.

    City staff are working with consultants on traffic models to help gauge the traffic impacts of different design options, paying careful attention to the ramps and intersections at each end of the bridge to ensure traffic can continue to flow and transit service will continue to be reliable. 

    Each of the options that were shortlisted for Phase 2 can accommodate existing traffic volumes and maintain reliable transit. 

    Will there be an elevator to Granville Island?

    A feasibility study is underway for a potential elevator and staircase connecting the bridge deck to Granville Island and the Seawall. Such an elevator would be a significant amenity, increasing convenience for those walking and biking to a major destination. It could also establish a new transit gateway to Granville Island via the bridge deck itself, if bus stops are added to the bridge deck.

    The recommended design is future-proofed for compatibility with this idea. Since Granville Island is under federal jurisdiction and operated by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the delivery of this elevator would be a separate project led by CHMC. 

    Given the scale and complexity of such an initiative, it is unlikely that an elevator could be installed on the same timeline and the Granville Bridge Connector.   

    When was the Granville Loops Policy Plan approved?

    On October 7, 2010, Council adopted the Granville Loops Policy Plan (amended on July 17, 2018), which calls for the replacement of the freeway-like, elevated traffic loops with a more people-friendly “H” configuration of streets that connects the surrounding transportation network and the bridge. The reconfigured street network would improve the public realm, create better development parcels and connections, and upgrade a valuable area in terms of image and economic viability.

    Delivery of this project may be contingent upon redevelopment. The recommended design reflects an ultimate condition incorporating the replacement street network, and staff are working to coordinate project delivery if possible. Staff are also investigating potential interim conditions where the loops meet the bridge to ensure a safe and comfortable Connector in the event the loops are replaced at a later date.  

    For more information, refer to the Granville Loops Policy Plans document.