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(Background) Union Street Bike Route


In September of 2010, after it became apparent to members of the community that there were some dangerously unsafe aspects to the Union Street Bike Route, the SRA created the committee: Concerned Neighbours and Cyclists for Union Street Bike Path Safety. Safety issues were magnified by the marked increase in bicycle traffic along Union, one of the City's busiest bike routes with almost 3,000 trips a day (according to City staff) and had resulted in a number of collisions and near misses - the most serious of which involved cyclists and pedestrians. The committee presented a petition (view original petition here.) advocating for improved safety on the Union Street bike route which garnered some 600 signatures from community members and cyclists alike.

In November of 2010, a neighbourhood pedestrian and a cyclist were both seriously injured in a high speed collision

The following statement was passed at the January 6 SRA Meeting

Concerns regarding safety deficiencies and liabilities
along the Union Street Bike Route

Whereas we applaud the City of Vancouver's recent initiatives to encourage cycling: in light of a recent and steadily escalating number of collisions and accidents - we have identified the following safety deficiencies on the Union Street Bike Route requiring the City's immediate attention.

Union and Hawks

A busy intersection especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours, with significant north-south pedestrian traffic between the elementary school, park, community gardens, seniors’ housing, transit routes and popular neighbourhood bakery. The marked stop signs are not observed by a significant number of east-west cycle traffic, many of whom are traveling at considerable speeds. The situation has resulted in a few serious bike/pedestrian collisions and caused a considerable amount of anxiety among our elders, dog walkers and parents of small children especially.

We request:

• That the City install marked pedestrian crossings and zebra crosswalks at both east and west intersections of Union and Hawks (on road and path respectively) - pursuant to the City's own Engineering Services 2001 report on pedestrian safety (see link ) that recommends "the installation of zebra pavement markings at crosswalks involving school children, the elderly or disabled, mid-block crosswalks, crossings of right-turn channels, and Special Crosswalks"

• That the City improve existing signage; replace confusing and graffiti covered signage on the path, lowering and repositioning stop signs for cyclist visibility and add road-painted SLOW markings particularly on both sides of the Union Street approach to the intersection.

• That the City physically alter the path to slow bike traffic through the meridian park path with speedbumps, cattle gates or a combination of both.

• That the City use this location to actively encourage or enforce cyclists' obligations and responsibilities pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Act. Provision of appropriate cyclist amenities or a plaza/rest area could be employed to engage cyclists and remind them that our's is a community not a throughfare. Note that this intersection is already a popular location for City-sponsored cycling outreach events.

Union and Gore

This intersection currently has an east-west stop sign, but no traffic control along the north-south axis. Currently, westbound auto traffic wishing to access Main Street from the Prior/Venables corridor must negotiate a west bound left turn at Union and Gore and there is a significant amount of (sometimes high speed) auto traffic heading south from Chinatown to Prior. With the growing number of east-west cycle traffic this has become a dangerously unsafe and confusing intersection.

We request the City install some means of four way traffic control at Union and Gore. We've since come to understand that the City does in fact plan to install traffic lights at Union and Gore.

We request the City immediately address the issue of potholes and uneven surfaces on Union between Main and Gore as a significant safety hazard to cyclists.

Moving Forward

We request that the City move as soon as possible to remediate the safety situation we have identified before someone is seriously injured or killed. In the weeks since we first tried to bring this to the City's attention, at least one major accident resulting in dental, plastic and orthopedic surgeries has occurred on the Union Street Bike Route.

Moving forward however, we consider that Union Street cannot safely contain one of the City's busiest bike routes (according to the City about 3,000 trips a day) we feel public interests and safety would be benefitted by a more appropriate and dedicated bike route on Prior Street, consistent with the goals of various stakeholder towards greening Prior and reducing motor vehicle and truck traffic on Prior/Venables.



For more info email: bike-route-safety 'at'