Traffic Volumes Unsustainable on Historic Quartier Streets

High Traffic Volumes Unsustainable in Vancouver’s Historic Quartiers

Today’s High Traffic Volumes are unsustainable in the Vancouver Historic Quartiers.

Three consecutive streets—Water-Powell, E Cordova and E Hastings Streets—carry a combined vehicular volume of over 64,000 average daily trips (ADT). Just a five minute walk south, Prior-Venables Streets carry an additional 30,000 vehicles per day. A daily total of 94,000 trips cuts a swath of blight from east to west across the Historic Quartiers.


Most trips are commuter trips to the Central Business District. Water-Powell’s traffic shows up during the morning rush (going to work); Cordova’s traffic arrives in the afternoon (going home). Prior-Venables experience both morning and afternoon rushes. (Note: the Prior-Venables change in street name occurs at boundary between the old East End and the Drives; the Water-Powell change in street name happens at the boundary between the old East End and the Granville Townsite [Gastown]).

We hear often that in the 1960′s “We Won the Freeway Fight”. However, given the high traffic volumes present today, it is more accurate to say that we lost the war. Traffic volumes today exceed the limit for neighbourhood functioning, and the signs of the damage wrought by this type of traffic engineering are everywhere in plain sight.

As suggested by the Appleyard studies quoted below, present-day levels of high traffic volume destroy social functioning in the neighbourhoods, and make conditions on fronting residential uses un-livable. The results of high volumes of traffic on fronting properties are always the same: negative living conditions, threats to health and to life, eroding values of community, and values of place. Similar conditions can be observed along 1st Avenue outside our study area, and along all Vancouver arterials fronted by residential uses.

The good news is that we have a way to remove traffic from neighbourhood streets: Implementing rail transit on Hastings Street and bus rapid transit on Main Street.

© Lewis N. Villegas, Vancouver, January 2012.


4 thoughts on “Traffic Volumes Unsustainable on Historic Quartier Streets

  1. The traffic data that we used for the charrette comes from VanMap. You can set VanMap to show “Directional Traffic Flow”, then click on the icons that appear to access a table with the information. VanMap data we used in June 2011was not up to date but reliable.

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