British Columbia

Traffic and collisions in Vancouver down by half in early days of pandemic

The City of Vancouver has released transportation trends for last year, showing traffic plunged dramatically in April and the number of traffic-related emergency room visits dropped by more than half.

The City of Vancouver says traffic fatalities in 2020 also dropped by 39%

Traffic heading into downtown Vancouver across the Cambie Street Bridge. (Christer Waara/CBC)

The City of Vancouver has released transportation trends for last year, showing traffic plunged dramatically in April at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of traffic-related emergency room visits dropped by more than half.

The city's transportation division collected the data and examined how the daily routines of Vancouver residents were affected in 2020.

It found vehicle traffic decreased to its lowest level in the first week of last April and was at 50 to 60 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels.

The city says almost a year later, traffic volumes have recovered to 90 per cent or more of pre-pandemic levels.

Commuter vs. recreational cycling

Data collected by the city shows cycling volumes on commuter routes decreased in 2020 in comparison to 2019, while cycling on recreational routes increased.

For example, temporary upgrades to Beach Avenue led to an average of 10,000 cyclists a day using the route in the summer of 2020, one of the highest bicycle volumes ever recorded in the city.

A partial road closure on Beach Avenue in Vancouver makes way for a cycling path. (Submitted by Martyn Schmoll)

Safer streets

The city says Vancouver General Hospital's emergency department saw a 55 per cent decrease in visits between January and October 2020 versus the five-year average for the same period. 

The Vancouver Police Department recorded eight traffic-related fatalities in 2020. That number is 39 per cent below the previous five-year average.

Lower pedestrian volumes were shown to have declined by 60 per cent at Davie, Nelson and Robson streets in downtown Vancouver. The measurements were taken by pedestrian counters at those locations.

The city says as the region recovers from the pandemic, it will continue to monitor transportation trends.

Traffic fatalities in Vancouver

The City of Vancouver says there has been a 55 per cent decrease in traffic-related emergency department visits in 2020 and a 39 per cent decrease in fatalities over previous years. (City of Vancouver)

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