Q&A - Straight Through for Bicycles Only

CyclistQUESTION: Eastbound on Point Grey at Alma there are two bike lanes on the north side of the street that are allowed to cross Alma without stopping. Cars eastbound on Point Grey must turn either right or left, and there is a curb/diverter on the far side to prevent them going straight through.

Cars northbound on Alma face a stop sign, and one option is to turn right through the diverter.

On the diverter is a sign for Eastbound traffic, "no straight ahead except for bicycles".

My question is, can a cyclist, eastbound on Point Grey but not in the bike lanes, go straight across the intersection by going around the diverter on the right?

ANSWER: There is nothing in the City of Vancouver Street and Traffic Bylaw that says a cyclist must use a cycle lane if one is present. The sign in the street view tells vehicle traffic other than cyclists that they cannot go straight through, but a cyclist can.

I have had numerous near-collisions between bicyclists at this intersection.

When I am eastbound from the separated cycling lanes, a westbound cyclist (going north of the diverter) that choses not to use the separated lanes has to cross my route.  I have yet to see a westbound cyclist yield or signal their intention to cross in front of me; some seem to underestimate my speed, others that are riding in a group do not look beyond the rear wheel of the bike they are tailgating. 

There have also been conflicts when eastbound cyclists on the road (typically a group on a training ride) and others eastbound on the separated path try to merge, either before or after the diverter. 



This intersection really is a bit of an issue isn't it? Just for clarity I am assuming you are eastbound after a right turn from Alma going northbound. That puts you south of the diverter. If that's the case wouldn't a westbound cyclist going north of the diverter be in a seperated bike lane?

If the issue is a westbound cyclist crossing in front of you to the south of the diverter he/she is in the wrong lane and is opposing traffic flow. That is foolhardy as well as illegal.

Unfortunately any combination of holiday, nice weather, group rides, and pandemics serves to clog those bike lanes and there is temptation for cyclists wishing to pass on  the left to do something foolish to get around. That is why seperated infrastructure alone is not a remedy to prevent collisions. On days like these when I know bicycle traffic is at a peak I will ride an alternate route such as 4th Avenue

No, I approach this intersection from the east and west, never northbound on Alma. I also tend to avoid Point Grey road on very busy days but I also avoid 4th. I live west of Jericho beach and north of 4th; I'll take NW Marine (eastbound, I avoid it westbound where there is perpendicular parking), the southern trails through Jericho Beach Park (via the trail entrance at Discovery), then the 3rd and York Ave bike routes. 

My misunderstanding Stephen:

What do you think would be a suitable remedy for this issue? Bike on bike collisions are not often discussed but with the increase in electric assist comes an increase in the size of bikes using these lanes and the severity of injury will rise in these instances.

I see an issue with the seperated bike lanes commencing where they do (east of Alma) because they constrict flow and encourage cheating (the westbound cyclists that you mention navigating around the diverter). Better at this point to mark with sharrows and have eastbound cyclists following your route south of the diveter. For that matter the diverter is causing conflict and serves only to restrict turns from SB vehicles turning off Alma so take it out IMHO.

In reply to by Janzep

Hi Janzep,

I suppose one remedy for my first issue could be a diagram sign that directs westbound cyclists to either turn right onto Alma or continue west via the separated lanes. A "no left turn" sign might not effectively indicate that they can't continue west via the road.  They are able to turn left one block later, onto Highbury which is a bike route that connects with routes on 3rd and 8th; see https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/map-cycling-vancouver.pdf.  

I don't mind the short section of separated bike lanes nor the islands that are east of the diverter; it makes sense to me to encourage westbound cyclists to ride single file before they reach the marked crosswalk and intersection. The diverter and the western island also help separate cyclists from the traffic that is turning right from northbound Dunbar that might otherwise swing wide through and after the corner. I don't' think removing the diverter is an option as its primary purpose is to direct eastbound vehicles (from the yacht club, tennis club, Brock House, and the Jericho Beach parking lot) off of Pt.Grey Rd. and up to 4th.  

I wish the some of the world would look a little more carefully, so they do see me in my brightly coloured reflective clothing and my lights that are turned on day and night.