Slower speed limits on Mt. Seymour Parkway

A stroad becomes more like a street

 ยท 3 min read
 ยท Andy McKay

The Parkway is a stroad 1 in North Vancouver that is the only road maintained by the District of North Vancouver that has a speed greater than 50km/h 2. There are only two roads connecting east of Seymour to the rest of the world, this and Dollarton Highway. Dollarton Highway runs through the Tsleil-Waututh first nation land, has no sidewalks in places and a 40km/h speed limit for a good chunk of it.

The Parkway is the primary road where development has occurred in this area over the last few years. The area multiple schools, recreation centres, shopping malls and rapidly increasing density, some by the Parkway, but all connected to it. I've put some markers on the map to indicate some of these points. If you want to get to a supermarket, a school, go to a recreation centre then its more than likely you'll be going down the Parkway. Because of the road configuration in North Vancouver, there is often no other way to get there without going down the parkway.

With a 60km/h speed limit, 2 lanes each way of traffic it has a roughly 0.5m wide bike lane designated by some paint. In June 2024, a new Motor Vehicle Act will come into force that requires a 1.5m passing distance for cars around bicycles. I went out and measured what that meant when it was a 1m passing distance and the results weren't good.

Recently the District of North Vancouver announced changes to the Parkway that include:

  • Lowering the speed limit to 50km/h
  • Some physical separation from cars

As a cyclist I can confirm that despite a 60km/h speed limit "observed speeds are well above that, between 73 km/h and 77 km/h" and I'm not surprised that "On average, a driver collides with a cyclist or pedestrian about six times per year". 3

What advantage does the 60km/h give over 50km/h? If you start at one end of the Parkway and get to the other without getting a red light, that extra 10km/h will save you 45 seconds as a driver.

But more importantly at 60km/h your chance of survival as a pedestrian or cyclist is 0%. At 50km/h it's 20%.. Also bear in mind that observed average speed is much higher than the 60km/h.

This is important because the Parkway is a key artery for so everyone who lives in this area. It's often the only way to get between key locations that make up part of people's everyday lives, getting to the pharmacy, going to school or work all require going along the Parkway. As the area increases population density more and more people need to travel along it or cross it to participate in society.

I've had conversations with friends and family who don't feel safe cycling on the Parkway, because: there are large vehicles passing close by so fast, at least one dangerous intersection at Blueridge, lots of parked cars to provide dooring opportunities and parts where the bike lane disappears. Slowing traffic down and allowing more active transportation will make the area better for everyone. It will be safer for those who don't want to drive a car without inconveniencing those who do decide to drive.

However there is one real problem, without active changes in the road design, or automated enforcement, then speeds on the Parkway will not drop.

  1. "stroads are wide arterials (like a road) that often provide access to strip malls, drive-throughs, and other automobile-oriented businesses" see Wikipedia 

  2. Highway 1 is not maintained by the District, just cuts through it. 

  3. See the District website