Will Sen̓áḵw Traffic Plan for Kits Point Get an “F”?

How long have you waited at the Cypress/Cornwall intersection? One light in the morning? Two lights in the afternoon when school lets out? Three lights on summer nights when Bard on the Beach ends and vehicles are backed up?

The City of Vancouver (CoV) has accepted the Traffic Plan the Sen̓áḵw presented to them, agreeing that one of Sen̓áḵw’s two exits be through Greer to Cypress/Cornwall—already a congested chaotic intersection before we add thousands of new residents and their cars, trucks, car-shares, service vehicles, delivery vehicles, bicycles…

How could the CoV approve the Sen̓áḵw’s Traffic Plan when, based on very limited disclosure, it will not score well for Level of Service?

Level of service (LOS) is a qualitative measure traffic planners use to analyze roadways and intersections by categorizing traffic flow and assigning quality levels of traffic based on vehicle speed, density, congestion, etc.

Focusing on the Cypress/Cornwall intersection, what is the LOS today, what will it be during construction and when Sen̓áḵw is occupied?

Relying on our collective experience, have any of you waited for more than 55 seconds to depart at the Cypress/Cornwall intersection? If so, your LOS was “E”, unacceptable under Highway Capacity Manual 6th Edition. The LOS at this intersection is often “E,” at times “F.”

LOSSignalized IntersectionDelay
AUncongested operations; all queues clear in a single signal cycle.≤10 sec
BVery light congestion; an occasional approach phase is fully utilized.10–20 sec
CLight congestion; occasional backups on critical approaches.20–35 sec
DSignificant congestion on critical approaches, but intersection functional. Cars required to wait through more than one cycle during short peaks. No long-standing queues formed.35–55 sec
ESevere congestion with some long-standing queues on critical approaches. Blockage of intersection may occur if traffic signal does not provide for protected turning movements. Traffic queue may block nearby intersections(s) upstream of critical approach(es).55–80 sec
FTotal breakdown, stop-and-go operation.>80 sec
(sources: Wikipedia, City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County, 9 Numbers Every Traffic Engineer Should Know)

Some of the worst delays we experience are after a Bard on the Beach performance. What traffic load does Bard impose? Their main stage has a capacity of 790 persons. Assuming 600 people travel by car, with three persons per vehicle, those 200 vehicles jam the Cypress/Cornwall intersection, queuing cars back to the Chestnut/Greer intersection and to the Cypress/Creelman intersection.

Now compare that to the Sen̓áḵw projection from the CoV for Greer, Chestnut and Cypress: “using projected PM peak hour volumes, approximately 50% of trips would occur by motor vehicle (~400 vehicle trips).” That’s twice what we already experience with Bard!

For multifamily high-rise housing, there are two peak hours where volumes are very similar – one in the morning (AM) and one in the afternoon (PM). During the morning peak hour, they all will have to exit at Cypress/Cornwall. This will be as bad as Bard doubling its capacity, but at a time when Kits Point residents traditionally leave for work, drop their children at school or day care, not at 10 PM at night when Bard is done. With the addition of Sen̓áḵw traffic, we will experience LOS “F” daily.

The previous City Council endorsed the City of Vancouver UNDRIP Strategy, wherein Recommendation 4.7b provides “Co-develop mechanisms and agreements for co-management and transfer of title of parks and protected areas with Musqueam, Squamish, and TsleilWaututh to ensure their rights, title and interests, and cultural heritage are addressed.” What institutions and attractions are the Squamish Nation planning for Vanier Park? Chris Lewis, a founding member of MST Development Corporation, in a 2021 Urban Lunch Series (recently removed from public viewing on YouTube) presented the Senakw vision for Vanier Park that included a new Indigenous STEAM School, a new Elementary School and a new Indigenous Performing Arts Centre. Under the CoV Transportation Assessment and Management Study Guidelines for Consultants (TAMS), for future time horizons the TAMS must include “other study area developments within one kilometre” and “major trip generators/attractors within the Study Area should be indicated.” Why hasn’t this been addressed as a pending development in the Sen̓áḵw Traffic Plan? How many Bard loads of traffic will this add?

This is further compounded by the CoV’s lack of plans for access to the shopping strip at Cypress/Cornwall. Paul Storer, Director of Transportation CoV, responded that the CoV’s plans were no more than “it will work like it does today”. But it doesn’t work today.

I asked the CoV for an analysis of the Traffic Plan for the development. Here’s their response (with my addition of bold for emphasis):

The transportation improvements are based on the transportation study undertaken by the Squamish Nation (the Sen̓áḵw Traffic Plan – my designation) as part of developing the Services Agreement. They are aligned with the construction access and occupancy of the new development. The upgrades – including new protected bike lanes, widened sidewalks and safer intersections – are designed to maximize the safety and comfort for everyone, including people walking and biking. In addition, the upgrades on Greer Ave, Chestnut St, Cypress St and Cornwall Ave are intended to support increased walking, biking, and transit use while accommodating local access for motor vehicles. These modifications also connect people to the broader transportation network and mitigate vehicle shortcutting through the Kits Point neighbourhood. All of this supports the City’s policies including the Transportation 2040 Plan and the Climate Emergency Action Plan.

The transportation study undertaken by the Squamish Nation evaluated the influence of Sená̓ḵw on the City street network including new walking, rolling, cycling, and driving trips generated by the development. Initial analysis indicates volume increases for motor vehicles, bicycles and walking on Greer Ave, Chestnut St, and Cypress St after the development is complete. Using projected PM peak hour volumes, approximately 50% of trips would occur by motor vehicle (~400 vehicle trips), and approximately an equal number by walking and cycling. Given projected vehicle volumes, a protected all ages and abilities (AAA) facility is needed to ensure a safe and comfortable walking and biking experience. The City is currently reviewing traffic assessment submissions from the Sená̓ḵw Development project and will continue to review as project designs and timelines advance.

I proposed a half-day workshop to review the data and discuss options that are feasible, inviting Nch’ḵaỷ Development Corporation, Bunt & Associates (the Sen̓áḵw transportation engineering consultant) and CoV traffic management to meet with HUB Cycling and the Kits Point Community Association. None of the Sen̓áḵw advocates have responded.

At peak times, traffic flow in Kits Point is already unacceptable, LOS “E”. Unless there is some undisclosed magic within the Sen̓áḵw Traffic Plan for Kits Point, funnelling pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles to Cypress and Cornwall will lead to a daily breakdown of all modes of transportation resulting in a LOS “F” – Fail.

Kerry Sully

2 thoughts on “Will Sen̓áḵw Traffic Plan for Kits Point Get an “F”?”

  1. Ken and Louise McGregor and Graham

    Thank you so much for the recent traffic update. It is important to plan for current needs and for our future with the mega project being built nearby.

    I note that Creelman is being put forward as a bike route choice by the KPRA. I am not sure how I missed the opportunity to provide input into this decision. The area between Cornwall, Creelman, Chestnut and Arbutus has the highest residential density on Kits Point and Creelman plays a key role in accessing those residences.

    Please let me know how I can contribute additional information and encourage neighbours to get involved. As a 40 year resident of Creelman Ave I would be happy to gather information and suggestions from the neighbourhood.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Louise Graham

    1. Bart Vanstaalduinen

      Hi Louise,

      I reside on the corner of Creelman and Maple and wish to help point-out that this intersection is already extremely unsafe due to Creelman being a straight shot without any speed controls from Cypress to Arbutus and vice-versa. Cars need to “creep” out when crossing Creelman when they are going either north or south on Maple to see around parked vehicles on Creelman, and this causes conflict with cyclists and other motorists, especially in the summer when the whole city shows up to use the beach. From my backyard you can here near collisions, collisions and profanity laced road rage from cyclists and motorists all the time. The orange plastic barrier was a decent temporary measure, but this is ugly, quit frankly, and a band-aid solution.

      I raise this point because Sen̓áḵw will only add to the overall volume of traffic, and i feel that the City hasn’t looked at the impact to the entire neighborhood whatsoever. Motorists who normally exit via Cypress will take Maple, Laburnum or Walnut . Same for Sen̓áḵw residents frustrated with Cypress/Cornwall, they will cheat and turn right onto Chestnut (its only a half block run to Creelman) and use Maple, Laburnum or Walnut. A traffic circle or even-redirection along the lines of what was done in the west end should be considered to discourage these cars from heading west.

      Before Sen̓áḵw hit, I was hopeful that KP would actually be calmed, however it looks to be going the other way.

      Bart V.

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