Complete Streets for Canada

policy and design hub for building safe and inviting streets for all

Burrard Street Bridge, Vancouver, BC

False Starts

Vancouver's Burrard Street Bridge has, in the past, been a hotly contested piece of asphalt.   In 1996, what was supposed to be a six-month trial that converted one lane of traffic into a bicycle lane only lasted a week, due to public outcry.  From 2005 to 2009, proposals to again trial bike lanes or expand the sidewalk were stymied by rising costs and concerns from motorists, heritage preservationists and the Squamish First Nations group, whose land falls under the bridge.  With the Olympics coming in 2010, the City finally agreed to a trial that reduced the number of vehicle lanes on the west side (heading out of downtown) to two and added a separated bike lane.  Three vehicle lanes were maintained heading into downtown, and the sidewalk on that side was reserved for eastbound cyclists.   Pedestrians were restricted to the sidewalk on the west side. 

 Trial Bike Lane Success

The trial was extremely successful, with the City of Vancouver reporting 24% more bicycle trips over the bridge between July 13, 2009 and July 12, 2010. This amounts to an additional 200, 000 bike trips in one year. Growth on summer and fall weekends was the most dramatic, with volumes up 40-70%. A study by the University of British Columbia indicated that accident rates for cyclists on the Burrard Street Bridge decreased, and the process was also the focus of a research paper at the University of Toronto, titled, "The politics of bicycle lane implementation: The case of Vancouver's Burrard Street Bridge."

 Expanding and Improving

In light of this success, the City moved to expand the bike lanes in 2016.  Removing another lane of traffic creates a downtown-bound bicycle lane on the pavement, and allows pedestrians to use the east sidewalk again.  An intersection redesign also enhances pedestrian and bicycle safety by adding bike boxes and removing righthand turn channelization lanes.    


Before and After

Photo - After: 
Burrard St Bridge after complete street upgrade
Photo - Before: 
Burrard St Bridge before complete street upgrade


Burrard street bridge
British Columbia