Overpass hailed as boon to cyclists

The 62-metre span is intended to provide safe a route for cyclists and pedestrians across major highway barrier in Burnaby

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By CALA ALI

A new pedestrian and bike overpass in Burnaby over a major highway will be a boost to the city’s cycling infrastructure, says a city cycling advocate.

And while Blake Standard, co-chair of Hub Cycling Burnaby, says he’s waiting for more details on the Burnaby Lake Overpass, he has faith that the city will listen to the needs of cyclists.

Detailed planning is underway on the $21.1 million Burnaby Lake Overpass, estimated to be completed by March 2026. The 62-metre span across Highway No. 1 between Glencarin Drive and Claude Avenue would provide an exclusive overpass for cyclists and pedestrians near an ICBC “hotspot,” an area with high potential for near misses and crashes between cyclists and other forms of transportation. Construction will begin in 2024.

Collaboration with Hub Cycling

Standard said the City of Burnaby and Hub Cycling Burnaby collaborated in the early design phase of the project in 2022 to ensure bike safety is a priority for the overpass.

The city has not yet provided Standard with any specific bike safety features for the overpass. However, he said, “given the City of Burnaby’s commitment to improving cycling infrastructure and our collaborative relationship, we know that we will be approached with these specifics and will have a chance to provide feedback.”

He added, “We are looking forward to working with city staff and elected officials to deliver the city’s very progressive and equitable transportation plan of making sustainable transportation modes such as walking, rolling, cycling, and transit accessible to all the residents.”

The overpass project is closely aligned with the Metro Vancouver Greenway project to increase safer pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in the region.

Detailed design, the next step

Amy Choh, director engineering transportation for the City of Burnaby, said the city engaged with the community in 2022 with “public in-person pop-up sessions.” In these sessions, “we asked the community what the priorities and features they would like to see in the design of the overpass.”

Choh said, as the project just ended its conceptual design phase, “we are now looking how will we integrate these features into the detailed design that is going on.”

Choh called the community response positive with good feedback on the project. “The community is very excited there will be a major connection to the park amenities in the area,” she said.

However, Choh said if the city encounters any negative feedback on the project, the city “will address them right away and look at opportunities to integrate solutions.”

What residents have to say

Burnaby Coun. Alison Gu said this project is crucial in creating “a north-south link,” which is currently not accessible for pedestrians and cyclists due to Highway No. 1.

Gu said Burnaby residents are overall pleased by this project. However, she received a few emails regarding the choice of the location of the overpass.

“The concerns were largely due to a perceived safety risk due to a temporary shelter currently in place,” Gu said. “Those residents will be moved into permanent housing by the time the project is complete.”

She has said some Burnaby residents are concerned the overpass will “cause a lack of investment in other types of cycling infrastructure throughout the city,”

Gu said a diversion of funds “will certainly not be the case for me, as this project is simply the foundation on which to build the rest of a connected network.”

Gu said the City of Burnaby’s philosophy on this project is “if they build it, they will come.”

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