TraC Recommends Gibsons Way Improvements Be Postponed

In late June, TraC met with the Town Of Gibsons in order to go over the details of the plan for cycling and pedestrian improvements to Gibsons Way. There are a number of issues with the plan, the most serious being lack of bi-directional travel, and we have recommended to staff and Council that some of the improvements be postponed. The full recommendation sent to Gibsons Town staff and Council is listed below.
We encourage you to review the plan and contact the Mayor and Councillors with your concerns.



Gibsons Way – Marine Dr. to School Rd Recommendation



Since members of TraC met with Town of Gibsons staff in late June, we have had some time to consider the issues regarding the Town’s plan to build pedestrian improvements and a one-directional bike lane on Gibsons Way. This route is the primary connection between Upper and Lower Gibsons. Every planning document spells out that this route must be accessible, safe and comfortable for all community members. In fact, the Harbour Area Plan 2011 states that  “future improvements to all roads shall be designed to accommodate a range of transportation modes, prioritizing travel on foot, bicycles, scooters and transit vehicles, while allowing for automobile circulation.”  As we see it, the present design will make this route less safe than it is presently as highlighted in the attached email from Allan Callander of the Ministry of Transportation. At this point we would support the Town in postponing the majority of the pedestrian and cycling improvements until next year. This will allow enough time to develop a bi-directional design that adheres to the stated goals of the Town.



  • Postpone any pedestrian and cycling improvements beyond what can be covered with the CWW funds
  • Any improvements will provide dedicated space for pedestrians and cyclists to travel in both directions at every phase
  • Look for matching grant funds in order to achieve what is required within the Town’s limited budget



Current Status

Gibsons Way between Marine Drive and School Rd is important to all travel modes.  It is the primary connector between upper and lower Gibsons for vehicles of all classes (buses, trucks and cars), cyclists and pedestrians largely due to its central location and relatively low gradient.  It is classified as a Major Collector in the OCP.  Not only is it the primary connection between the Town’s two commercial areas, it is also the primary connection between the neighbourhoods that border it and the services easily reached in upper Gibsons.  It is the only connection for the Heritage Hills area.  It is the most convenient route for North Fletcher, Martin and Wyngart and Corlett to reach upper Gibsons. It is also the most convenient route for the Crucil, Farimont and lower Hillcrest.  There are also several multi-family complexes along the upper portion of Gibsons Way. There is zoning which allows for more of this type of development along this corridor.  The newest of these complexes was built with limited vehicle parking anticipating considerable non-vehicle travel by the residents.  There are currently at least three bus stops in each direction along the route with a pull-out at only two of these.

Even in its current state, upper Gibsons Way is a well used school route to both Gibsons Elementary and Elphinstone Secondary.  The only school bus stop on the route is at the Marine Dr. intersection since the rest of the route is within the walk/bike to school zone.  Though the Town does not identify School Routes, this is a key one.  The current OCP has the following to say about the safety of School Routes:

“Safety – The pedestrian and cycle plan shall emphasize safety through appropriate routing, construction, materials, signage, lighting and education.  Special attention should be afforded to common routes used by children when travelling to school.”

Existing Road design and non-vehicle use

Gibsons Way can be broken into three sections:

Lower  (Marine Drive  to Seaview Road 150m) – Sidewalk on the east side of the road.  Vehicle parking between the sidewalk and vehicle lane.  Shared bike / vehicle lane in both directions.  Though possible, it is tight for vehicles to pass cyclists traveling up hill without crossing the centerline. See image below.   Going downhill, vehicles generally must cross the centerline to pass cyclists.  The Town recently required Gibsons Tap Works to pay to add 5 additional on-street parking stalls in this section as a requirement to re-zoning.  Both Town staff and Gibsons Tap Works referenced alternative transportation focus of lower Gibsons language in the OCP as justification for dramatically reducing the parking requirements for this business.

Middle (Seaview to Bals Lane 400m) – minimal to non-existent gravel shoulder on uphill side.  Two travel lanes. Very little pedestrian or cycling use presently.  Pedestrians from Heritage Hills area primarily use Bals lane to access upper Gibsons Way.  This is the worst section for cycling presently. There is an open ditch adjacent the downhill travel lane.

Upper – Bals lane to School / North Roads – Wide uphill vehicle lane with faded bike stencils.  It is possible for all vehicles to pass cyclists without crossing the centerline but is uncomfortable.  There isn’t sufficient road width for a bike lane.  An asphalt curb separates the vehicle lane for a paved walking path.  The path has a number of water diverters crossing it that look like large diagonal speed-bumps.  Two new developments have build cement sidewalks in front of their properties as part of their frontage requirements.  There is a primarily open ditch beside pedestrian path.  This section is commonly used by pedestrians, including kids going to Gibsons Elementary and Elphinstone Secondary.  While most walk on the paved path some pedestrians walk on the gravel shoulder adjacent to the downhill travel lane.

OCP Designation

It was first identified as one of two cycling connections between upper and lower Gibson in the Bicycle and Trail Master Plan in 2000 and has remained so in all successive planning documents.  However, there is no dedicated space for cycling for travel in either direction.  Bicycle road stencils were painted on the edge of the uphill travel lane on the upper section of this route in the distant past but have since faded.  The OCP’s more detailed Harbour Plan provides guidance about road design, how to accommodate vehicle and non-vehicle traffic and how to prioritize decision making in the case of limited resources.  These are documents for providing and even prioritizing safe and convenient cycling and pedestrian infrastructure accessible to a wide ability level along this corridor.  

2014 Official Community Plan

7.4 Public Consultation during the planning process indicated a strong desire to improve the pedestrian and cycling environment in Gibsons.

7.4.5 To help validate trail section selection and prioritization, the following key objectives shall act as guiding principles to trail and cycle network development:

  • Connections – the overall network shall include pathways, sidewalks, trails and bike routes that efficiently connects neighbourhoods with each other, in additions to community and regional amenities and services;
  • Multi-use – the network of pedestrian and cycle routes shall be usable by all members of the community, wherever physically possible, throughout the year.  Appropriate staging area and rest stops should be located within the trail network;
  • Safety – the pedestrian and cycle plan shall emphasize safety through appropriate routing, construction, materials, signage, lighting and public education. Special attention should be afforded to common routes used by children when travelling to school;
  • Affordable – the overall trail network shall be achieved in a cost effective manner through a phased implementation approach, creative funding strategy and use of community partnership initiatives;

12.0 Objectives

  • Ensure that the Town’s transportation system emphasises the creation of a safe, supportive environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles.
  • Develop a continuous, integrated bicycle network in order to promote bicycle use for both recreation and transportation.


Harbour Area Plan 2011 (this now forms part of the OCP and gives specific direction to the Harbour Area).  The lowest section of Gibsons Way is within the Harbour Area and the middle section forms its uphill  boundary.  This plan begins by outlining three main goals, each of which are broken into sub-goals.

Goal 2 – Complete and enhance the Town’s pedestrian and cycling network, by creating a cycling and pedestrian friendly Harbour Area.

Goal 4 – Improve connection to and from the Harbour area, particularly connections via transit and other alternative transportation options.

Goal 5 – Plan for increased parking and traffic and allow for an acceptable impact from this activities.

Other relevant sections include:

5.4 Pedestrian and Bicycle Circulation

Pedestrian Circulation Policies

5.4.3  Future improvements to all roads shall be designed to accommodate a range of transportation modes, prioritizing travel on foot, bicycles, scooters and transit vehicles, while allowing for automobile circulation.

Bicycle Circulation Policies

5.4.15 Through the development process, acquire bicycle routes as shown on the Bicycle Circulation Plan Map.

5.4.16 Actively support the development of a safe, continuous bicycle route from the Langdale Ferry Terminal to the Harbour Area.

5.4.17   Budget for improved cycling facilities as indicated on the Bicycle Circulation Plan Map and, where possible, provide for separated bicycle lanes. As an interim measure, install signage and maps indicating the safest and least steep routes for cyclists.

Previous attempts for improvements

Gibsons Way was first identified as a high priority for pedestrian and cycling upgrades during development of the 2001 Trail and Cycle Network Master Plan process.  At least two grant applications were submitted to the Province to build a bike lane for uphill travel along with a sidewalk, the most recent around 2008-2009.  According to Ministry of Transportation (Appendix 1), the Town’s Grant application were unsuccessful because of the risk they would create from building only an uphill cycle lane.  In their view,  cyclists traveling downhill were likely to use the uphill-only bike lane. This was communicated to the Town along with encouragement to re-apply once they addressed this concern.

Alternative Routes

For cycling, alternatives are less convenient and / or more strenuous.  

Helen’s Way and Shaw – The Town has indicated this route could replace Gibsons Way as the ‘easy comfortable’ connection between upper and lower Gibsons.  However, grades in places are still steeper than Gibsons Way, it is not paved and serves a different catchment area.  

School Road – This provides a similar connection but with grades exceeding 20% in its lower section, the climb is too difficult for most cyclists and descending requires higher skills and better equipment than should be expected of the target cyclists.  This is a common pedestrian route.  

Gower Point, Winn, South Fletcher, School, North Fletcher, Gibsons Way –  A much longer route that still requires a short stretch on a steep section of School Rd.  It also still uses Gibsons Way.  

Beach, Glen, Bals lane, Gower Point – Several steep sections and still requires upper Gibsons Way.  

Current Town design (as of July 26th)

The Town received a grant to fund water main replacement under several roads in Gibsons.  All water main work must be completed within a relatively short time interval as a requirement of the grant. This covers the cost of re-paving the affected lane afterwards.  The Town view is that it will be cost-effective to build bike lanes and sidewalks and to repave the other lane after the water main work has been completed.  There is even the hope that water main funding could even cover the cost of some of the cycling and pedestrian improvements.  It isn’t exactly clear to us what the extent of the savings would be.  

The Town wants to borrow $1.4 million to be repaid by taxation and to use some Development Cost Charge (DCC) funding to pay for what isn’t covered by the water main funding.  They don’t have any grant money to pay for bike or pedestrian improvements at this time.  In April, Council chose to dedicate the $1.4 million to Gibsons Way in the hopes they could do a better job than if they tried to improve the other road (Gower Pt) that also had water main work done.  Staff hopes to have approval and go to tender July 17th.  This leaves little time for consultation.  Plus, staff have largely decided on an overall design and have already commissioned the design drawings.  So any changes now come with a the cost of having to redo the construction drawings.  Dave also mentioned that we should not expect any further improvements after this is done.

The current plan includes no dedicated road space for cyclists traveling downhill.  Pedestrian and cycling facilities will all be on or adjacent to the uphill travel lane.  This can be broken into three sections:

Lower  (Marine Drive  to Seaview Road 150m) – a) no change from shared lane status or b) add a bike lane between the vehicle land and vehicle parking lane.

Middle (Seaview to Bals Lane 400m) – This would be raised and have a roll-over curb separating it from vehicle traffic. The path would vary from 1.5 – 2.5m and have no separation between bikes and pedestrians.  The uphill vehicle lane would be narrowed to allow for this without having to build beyond the existing road bed. Downhill travel lane would be narrowed so cyclists would have to use the take-the-lane approach.  The Town may paint ‘sharrows’ on the downhill travel lane.

Upper – Bals lane to School / North Roads – Build a 1.5m concrete sidewalk with a grassed buffer adjacent uphill bike lane.  Widen road surface to allow a painted 1.5 m bike lane for uphill travel.  Downhill travel lane would be narrowed so cyclists would have to use the take-the-lane approach.  The Town may paint ‘sharrows’ on the downhill travel lane.

Issues With Current Plan

  1. Not bidirectional for cyclists and inherently unsafe – As pointed out by MoTI in 2009, this plan will very likely lead to cyclists riding down the hill on the left-hand side of the road.  Riding the wrong way on the North to Bals section (1.5m bike lane) multi use Bals to Seaview section (1.5 – 2.5m) could lead to collisions with pedestrians that could also spill onto the roadway and then involve vehicles as well. The risk of accidents is enhanced by the fact that downhill cyclists will be moving at an increased speed.
  2. Does not make use of grant money – Taxation alone is paying for the majority of the road works.  This makes poor use of these funds since they aren’t used as in combination with cycling related grants, which often require a certain percentage contributed by the town.  This was the case for the Shaw / Helen’s Way project.  50% came from grants and the other from the Town.  
  3. Entry from lower Gibsons not safe – Cycling uphill between parked cars and the travel lane without adequate clearance is one of the least safe and least desirable infrastructure options (Appendix 2).  This is clearly the result of prioritizing vehicle parking over cyclists safety or increasing cycling rates.
  4. Bikes not raised from traffic on upper section – For the same road width, raised bike lanes provide improved safety and also substantial increases in cyclists willingness to use the route.  While conflicts are possible between cyclist and pedestrians, they are not likely to be as severe with slow moving uphill cyclists as between cyclists and vehicles.  Considering the vehicle travel and that it is also a truck and transit route, maximizing the separation between motorized and nonmotorized users should be a high priority.
  5. Multi-use path from Seaview to Bals is insufficient and does not meet multi-use standards – A too narrow multi-use path with no buffer between it and a narrow vehicle lane could lead to cyclists having to enter the vehicle lane to pass pedestrians.  Any collisions between cyclists and pedestrians could easily result in someone falling onto the travel lane.
  6. Fails to implement long-standing planning direction (see above) to build safe, connected active transportation corridors that accommodate the needs of all users.


Preferred option – Reduce scope of 2017 road works and plan for cycle and pedestrian route for travel in both directions in 2018.

The Town’s short timeline and advanced stage of design work simply does not allow adequate time to re-evaluate the overall approach of building cycling facilities for travel in only one direction or individual design details necessary for a successful project.  We relied on information such as the table in Appendix 2 about what cycling facilities would be safe and enjoyable – two key factors for a cycle route accessible to the entire community.

  1. For 2017, reduce the scope of road improvements to what can be funded through the Water Main Replacement funding –  Only build curbing or permanent cycling and pedestrian infrastructure if it does not limit design options that allow two-way cycle and pedestrian traffic at a future time.   
  2. Aggressively seek grant funding to extend the taxation funding –  Federal and Provincial infrastructure grants often require the municipality to provide a portion of the project funding.   The Town’s contribution could be doubled given the Province’s funding agreements or possibly more if coupled with federal funding as well.  Gibsons has rarely been able to take advantage of grants due to the lack of matching funds.  
  3. Seaview to Bals – This year, only increase space for pedestrians by clearing vegetation and adding crushed gravel to shoulder.   This would improve conditions for pedestrians at a much reduced cost.  Also, provide way-finding signage to notify pedestrian that the Bals Ln – Glen – Seaview is comparable in length and a pleasant alternative to Gibsons Way.
  4. Bals Ln. to School Rd – Highest priority section for two-direction cycle and pedestrian facilities in 2018 since it since it would connect a large residential catchment to schools, stores and services in upper Gibsons.  For now, depending on the extent that the water main replacement impacts the paved walking path either;
    1. Maintain as it is;
    2. Narrow travel lane and build permanent curb only if it allows passage by cyclists and pedestrians on a paved shoulder until 2018 buildout and it is consistent with designs that include dedicated space for two – direction bike travel and sidewalks on either side.  
  5. Marine to Seaview – Remove parking adjacent to the uphill travel lane between Marine Drive and bus pullout at Seaview Rd.  As long as parking exists along this section, it will remain an undesirable route by cyclists as well as one with a relatively high accident rate according to UBC researchers.(Appendix 2)  Cycling between vehicles and parked cars with or without a bike lane is one of the most undesirable and unsafe route types (Appendix ?).  Without on-street parking, Town staff indicated there is sufficient room for bike lanes on either side of the road.  In this case, it is a choice between supporting active transportation by providing bike lanes and vehicle parking.  TraC’s view is that both the Town’s OCP and Harbour Area Plan prioritize promoting active transportation options above private vehicle use in the Harbour Area.  Ironically, the rationale for reducing parking requirements for Gibsons Tapworks were in large part based on the premise that patrons will walk, cycle or take transit when visiting the Harbour’s commercial center.   
  6. Use an Active Transportation Expert – We commend the Town for the resources it has committed to this project.  An Active Transportation expert with a thorough knowledge of what is working well around the globe will not only be able to suggest options with the best chance of achieving the desired result, they could also provide the kind of background material so councillors and residents are comfortable with what will be a novel street design.  The success of the Churchill Avenue project in Ottawa (Appendix 3) to win broad public support of a new street design that emphasized pedestrian and cyclists safety was largely attributed to using professionals with extensive experience with active transportation planning.  


Improvements to current design

TraC does not support the current plan for providing cycling improvements for traveling uphill only.  The following recommendations are to improve on that design if the Town insists on this plan.

    1. Replace the bike lane with a raised bike lane.
    2. Re-evaluate the use of rollover curb to separate raised bike lanes from the vehicle lane.  We have not found rollover curbs mentioned as a curb type in use for this purpose.  The two curb types that are referenced are ‘mountable’ curbs, which have an angled edge not exceeding a rise to run ration of 1:4 (Appendix 4) and vertical curbs with a height between 1 – 6” but typically  2 – 3” or (Appendix 5).  



Appendix 1.  Email from Alan Callander, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Manager, Transportation Policy Branch.


From: Callander, Alan TRAN:EX []

Sent: December 10, 2008 1:46 PM

To: Jody Schick

Subject: RE: Town of Gibsons eligibility for CIPP funding



I have seen Gibson’s Trail and Bicycle Master plan and it does meet the

criteria for the Cycling Infrastructure Partnerships Program.  The issue

that has been raised with past applications for this project is that it

provides a bike lane on one side of a street and not both.  From past

experience we have found that providing a bike lane on one side has

created situation where cyclists will travel in both directions within

the bike lane.  This is an unsafe movement as cyclists do not have room

to pass each other within the lane and cars will not be expecting

cyclists to be travelling against the flow of traffic.


I realize that there are times where the topography will not easily

permit the addition of two bike lanes on a roadway.  In this case I

would encourage Gibsons to re-apply, but they must provide rationale why

they cannot place bike lanes in both directions and to provide how they

are going to accommodate cyclists on the side of the road without a bike

lane and what measures they will undertake to ensure cyclists will not

be travel the wrong direction within the lane.




Alan Callander

Manager, Transportation Policy Branch

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure


Phone: (250) 356-5563

Fax:     (250) 356-0897




From: Jody Schick []

Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 12:25 PM

To: Callander, Alan TRAN:EX

Subject: Town of Gibsons eligibility for CIPP funding


Hello Alan,


I am a member of sustainable transportation advocacy group in Gibsons.

The Town of Gibsons has made several attempts to access funding for a

bike lane and sidewalk project on one of the town’s primary walking and

cycling routes that have all failed.  I see that one of the conditions

for CIPP funding is a Bicycle Network Plan.  Gibsons has a Trail and

Bicycle Master Plan but I am unsure if it meets the criteria outlined in

the provincial guidelines for such a plan.   Do you know if Gibsons has

a bicycle network plan that satisfies the guidelines?



Jody Schick

529 Gower Point Road

Gibsons, BC


Appendix 2.

UBC’s Cycling in Cities Research Program Study


Appendix 3.

Churchill Ave Ottawa Complete Streets project

Description of the project for a TAC award it received.


Key design features:

  • cycle track (raised and buffered bike lane) between vehicle lane and adjacent sidewalk;
  • sidewalk level with cycle track but separated by buffer;
  • special marking to show where on and off loading bus passengers would cross the cycle track;
  • where bikes stop at intersections;
  • curbing the bike lane at intersections to improve their visibility by vehicles turning right;
  • raised crosswalk and cycle track at intersections.

Appendix 4.

National Association of Transportation Officials (Nacto) – Guidelines for mountable curbs separating raised cycle track from vehicle lane

If used, the mountable curb should have 4:1 slope edge without any seams or lips to interfere with bike tires to allow for safe entry and exit of the roadway. This curb should not be considered a ridable surface when determining cycle track width. Read More+


Appendix 5.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency  –  Market Street Raised Bikeway Demonstration Project: Findings Report

Compared the preference of several cycle track designs including curb types. Dimensions of common curb types included in report.

Appendix 6.  (not referenced in document)


Boulder Colorado