People gather at a vibrant public plaza off Cambie street

Vancouver streets see increase in post-pandemic travel volumes and public space use

May 31 2023 –

Vancouver continues to see an increase in travel volumes, while also embracing streets as spaces for vibrant public life. 

Transportation volumes and priorities

Data from the annual Vancouver transportation survey (18 MB) presented at City Council today shows that the number of people walking, biking, rolling, and taking transit is on the rise year over year:  

  • Overall, the number of daily trips is still below pre-pandemic levels but is showing continued growth.  
  • Pedestrian: Walking trips increased to 28% of mode share, up from 26% in 2021, which is similar to pre-pandemic levels.  
  • Cycling: Volumes increased to 7% of mode share, nearly reaching pre-pandemic levels 
  • Transit: Regionally, transit ridership has recovered 82%, leading the way compared to North American peer cities. In Vancouver, transit mode share increased to 16%, with an additional 48,000 daily transit trips compared to 2021. 
  • Vehicle mode share is slightly above pre-pandemic levels but has decreased 6% from 2020 and 2021 levels. Overall, fewer trips are being taken by car than pre-pandemic. 

As part of its key transportation priorities and plans, the City remains committed to eliminating transportation-related fatalities and injuries, while supporting efficient, healthy, and cleaner modes of transportation that benefit communities, businesses and the environment.  

Key projects under the City’s current Capital Plan that will offer safer, more comfortable and easier access to active transportation routes include: 

“We’re pleased to see this continued work from staff. These forward-looking plans surrounding active transportation, pedestrian infrastructure, and public space activation will play a significant role in the future of our city,” says Mayor Ken Sim. “These improvements will go a long way towards helping building healthier, more prosperous, and vibrant neighbourhoods across Vancouver.”

Public space programming and uses  

When streets are activated as shared public spaces through special events, plazas and patios, they become places of opportunity to enrich public life and support Vancouver’s diverse communities and businesses.  

The City is committed to fostering safe, welcoming, accessible and vibrant public spaces where there is something for everyone.  

Key upcoming public space and street use planning projects:  

2022/23 public space initiatives that helped to enhance the quality of life and vitality of local businesses in Vancouver: 

  • 24 public plazas, 13 parklets and 12 social service parklets were maintained by the City and community stewards;  
  • 1,500 metres of curbside patios were permitted in 2023 (175 summer patios, 69 curbside patios);  
  • 312 special event permits were issued in 2022.  

Streets continue to be the City's biggest assets and we are working to ensure our transportation and public space networks support a growing and livable city.