Opinion: Burnaby traffic is back with a vengeance

Chris Campbell

One of the more interesting subplots of the COVID-19 pandemic was the impact it had on traffic in Burnaby and the rest of Metro Vancouver.

Our local streets became a ghost town as people stayed home.

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If it hadn’t been because so many people were getting sick and dying, it would have been glorious to behold.

Active transportation advocates implored the City of Burnaby to make changes so people could cycle and walk with more physical distance.

“In this time of light motor vehicle traffic, and high walking and cycling volumes, we urge the City of Burnaby to rapidly expand our active transportation networks,” said a letter to the editor from the Burnaby committee of HUB Cycling. “HUB Cycling’s Burnaby Committee has submitted a proposal to the city for an Emergency Cycling Network that would put people cycling in safe spaces on the road while freeing up Multi-Use Paths (MUPs) for people walking. The proposal would also close critical gaps in the existing cycle network, like over the Gilmore overpass, Boundary Road north of the Central Valley Greenway, Kingsway, and improve access to Burnaby Hospital and other health facilities.”

And the city has listened, as it approved six Burnaby roads to be made a bit narrower, as lanes are closed to accommodate physical distancing among pedestrians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m all for this, but the problem is that Burnaby roads no longer have “light motor vehicle traffic.”

If you are still sheltering at home and haven’t travelled much in Burnaby lately, Burnaby traffic is back with a vengeance.

I try to limit my outings as much as possible still to groceries and errands I can’t avoid. While out on an errand, I take that time to also support local restaurants. I package up the things I have to do.

But the few times I have gone out in the past week have shown that Burnaby traffic is back to its terrible ways. The roads are full of vehicles and while rush hour isn’t back to where it was at pre-COVID-19 levels, it’s getting damn close.

This means, of course, more crashes as the photo attached to this blog shows.

Quiet streets recently also meant that the few drivers who were out there were excessively speeding. At least traffic might slow these maniacs down.

I hope the City of Burnaby will continue with its plans on active transportation.


In an effort to allow people to get out into the community, while still curbing the transmission of the virus, city staff proposed closing vehicle lanes in several areas around the city.

“As a result of physical-distancing requirements, existing sidewalks and multi-use paths are not able to safely accommodate as many people as previously,” staff wrote in a report to council.

Council approved closures along Kingsway, between Patterson and Royal Oak; on Edmonds Street, between Kingsway and Canada Way; Gatineau Place, from Austin Road to North Road; Hastings Street, from Boundary to Gamma; Gilmore Avenue, from Dawson to Still Creek; and Still Creek Drive/Avenue, from Willingdon to Douglas.

Staff also offered 16 other locations for potential future closures. Staff said the sites were chosen based on past observations of where there has been high pedestrian traffic. Staff primarily looked at areas around civic and community facilities, near parks, commercial areas, transit stations and stops, and businesses that require people to queue outside.

It’s a good plan, but we’ll see if surging traffic levels will have the city back off of this.

  • With files from Dustin Godfrey

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.


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