Translink, cities plan upgrades for the BC Parkway

Post by Mike Klassen in

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The BC Parkway route greets you with good and bad, like this graffiti

On Monday morning CityCaucus.com got to speak with Ian Wasson, Urban Design Planner for the City of Burnaby, who is now working closely with Translink on planned future upgrades of the BC Parkway pedestrian and bike route along the Expo Line.

As we wrote this weekend, we rode the BC Parkway route from Edmonds to Central Park last week and found that this 25-year old amenity is in serious need of attention. Translink are placing emphasis in their long-range planning on improving bicycle and pedestrian routes, as well as improving the surroundings of their older stations.

Cities along the route include Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey, and all of these cities are working with Translink on plans to upgrade the BC Parkway, which goes back to the time when the grand dame of BC politics Grace McCarthy was the minister responsible for it.

"Cyclists are not using the trail as much now because it's become too busy with pedestrian traffic," comments Wasson. "The original Parkway consisted of the John Molson Trail, a gravel walking path, and the 7-11 bike trail which was paved. Today the Molson trail has pretty much disappeared, and most of it is now asphalt."

Wasson went to photograph sections of the BC Parkway at dusk because he "wanted to see first use of LED lights in the city" near Patterson Skytrain/Central Park route. "I was astounded by how many pedestrians used BC Parkway," says Ian. This short stretch was recently renovated with new lights and a wider path thanks to a water line improvement project.

Wasson described the goal of improving the sightlines and lighting along the entire route eventually. "We'll have to do it in stages due to the cost, but the City of Burnaby is on-board in making the upgrades as long as Translink remains a partner." Connections at problem intersections like Imperial Avenue will be improved, and clearly pathways for cyclists and pedestrians will be built.

We spoke about some of the effort that the City of Burnaby is putting into bike routes, in particular the lessons learned in creating the Central Valley Greenway. "We have a vested interest in getting it done right across the city, and the work we did on Central Valley taught us a lot."

I asked Wasson if Burnaby was working with neighbouring cities like Vancouver to improve connections across boundaries. I pointed out the poor connection from Vancouver's 29th Avenue route to their new midtown urban trail.

"Five years ago I would have agreed with you, but today the connections are strong and getting better," replied Wasson. "We've made a concerted effort to work with Vancouver on Central Valley Greenway, Marine Way and BC Parkway. I definitely see Burnaby doing its part in making those crossings connect."

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That will be a short lived partnership. Translink has been told by Minister Bond that it can find funding for the Evergreen line by eliminating frivilous spending such as the 6 million a year it spends on cycling infrastructure.

So if you would like to enjoy cycling the BC Parkway (and avoid all those pesky intersections), may I suggest taking your bike on one of the new Mark II vehicles on the expo line instead.

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