Boulevard makes way for safer commute

Relief is in sight for long-suffering commuters bound for UBC along University Boulevard.

Thanks to grants from the Alma Mater Society (AMS), the provincial government, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, the UBC TREK Program Centre and ICBC, the four narrow traffic lanes on the popular route will be converted into two lanes for vehicles and two lanes for bikes this summer.

The conversion will provide proper space for cyclists and bus stops along the busy artery, and safety and reduced delays for not only cyclists, but also pedestrians, motorists, bus drivers and passengers says Gord Lovegrove, UBC director of Transportation Planning.

"This is something that has been talked about for more than 10 years," says Lovegrove. "Fixing the University Boulevard bike path is the number one complaint from bicycle commuters."

The current bike path, which is used by up to 3,000 cyclists a day, is unsafe, Lovegrove says, because it is narrow, poorly lit and in a general state of disrepair. As a result, cyclists frequently resort to the motor vehicle lanes and cause problems for bus drivers who already have trouble negotiating the narrow roadway.

New bus bays will enable transit drivers to pick up passengers without stopping other traffic, including the B-Line express bus, which should result in a smoother and shorter ride for transit users.

The existing bike path on the south side of University Boulevard will be re-opened to joggers and pedestrians once the new bike lanes are built.

Initial funding for the estimated $161,000 project came in the form of a $25,000 seed grant from the UBC TREK Program Centre and an additional $15,000 donation from UBC students' AMS Innovative Projects Fund.

The Ministry of Transportation and Highways and the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority contributed $75,000 and $40,000 respectively. ICBC provided the remaining $6,000 in recognition that safer bicycle facilities may help reduce auto use and traffic collisions.