Upgraded Beach Avenue in West End ready for its summer close-up

THE City of Vancouver said on Monday that its interim improvements to increase safety and public space for people who walk, cycle, take transit or drive along Beach Avenue are now complete. Everyone who travels along the popular West End route will see a variety of new features including painted zebra crosswalks, tactile walking surfaces for the visually impaired, modified traffic signals and bus boarding islands.

The City said that since last May, it has been re-shaping how we use streets and public spaces to help residents physically distance and provide opportunities to exercise and travel more comfortably as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To respond to new ways on how this key space along English Bay was being used, the City repurposed eastbound travel lanes to provide a temporary wider cycling path along Beach from Park Lane to Hornby Street last year.

Since the temporary path opened, it has provided relief along the busy West End waterfront. This past summer, Beach Avenue was the busiest cycling route in Vancouver, regularly exceeding the 10,000 cycling trips per day milestone that other routes occasionally see.

“Now that we’re facing a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing limits to travelling and socializing, it is crucial that residents continue to have safe and accessible options for walking, cycling and rolling,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “The City of Vancouver is committed to supporting all COVID recovery efforts that provide safe physical distancing as well as year-round enjoyment of our streets and Beach Avenue represents a significant milestone in these efforts.”

The complete upgrades include:

* Improved pedestrian crossings at key locations:

– Painted crosswalks to better prioritize pedestrians crossing the street (at Nicola, Broughton; upgraded to zebra at Chilco, Gilford, Morton, Denman, Burnaby)

–  Median islands to shorten the crossing distance for people walking (at Denman, Bidwell, Cardero, Nicola, Broughton, Jervis)

– Accessible design features such as tactile walking surface indicators, level bus boarding islands and modified traffic signals at Bidwell and Cardero

* Traffic cones replaced with sturdier concrete barriers along the two-way protected bike path

* Entryway redesign at waterfront parks to allow re-opening and expansion of accessible parking

* Eastbound transit (Bus #23) resumed on Beach Avenue between Denman and Pacific streets

* Motor vehicle traffic restored eastbound between Denman and Pacific streets

The costs for the interim upgrades project was $250,000.