Driving & traffic, Vancouver
I wouldn't quite call it a danger, but more or less a warning!
This might be something you may not think of immediately, but for those of you traveling beyond Vancouver be aware of the new Port Mann Bridge (part of Highway 1) which crossed over the Fraser River. This is a toll bridge although you may not notice it when you drive over it. If you take Highway 1 from Vancouver in the direction of Hope or if you come from Hope to Vancouver you will be crossing the new "Port Mann Bridge". It costs $3.00 CAD to cross this bridge one way, but there are no toll booths on the bridge itself. It works via electronic cameras that take a picture of the vehicle's license plate and this is then sent to the owner on the insurance policy. So be aware of this if you rent a car / RV as this toll will go through the rental company. Be sure to ask about the tolls when you drop the car / RV off so can pay for it there and then. If not, they may send you a bill in the mail which can add up to a lot more costs as the rental companies may charge your for administration fees and such. There are "Treo" signs before you get on the bridge on either side and you could follow these signs which end up off the highway at a ticket office where you can pay the toll, I've never done that myself as we have our car registered with Treo and every month via our credit card.
I would just like to add that in BC, I don't know about any other provinces, it IS legal to turn left onto a one way street while red but you must use extreme caution. The common sense rule of thumb here is, if there is only one direction of traffick to watch out for, then it is ok if you adhere to strict safety precautions. If there is an accident, then you are at fault in most cirmcumstances.
If you look at the photo for a moment, do you notice something strange? It's the middle of the day, there are lots of people around, yet . . . ??? In the distance you see two buses. But where are all the cars? Did I get lucky with this photo? Were they filming a movie? Nope. This section of Granville Street downtown is called "Granville Mall". Regular vehicles are not allowed, except for buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles.
The street was changed over this way in the 1970's, with the aspiration of it becoming a European style pedestrian mall. Instead, it has become a North American style scumbag zone.
In the past few years it has slowly improved, but does not come close to shining like the once glamourous street it used to be.
So, before you turn down this street with your car, observe the signs to see if its permissible. As a tourist you may not get a ticket ... but there are no guarantees!
I'm fully aware that in some cities it's common practice to ignore amber traffic lights and treat red one as a "suggestion". If this is the way you drive then change your habits when you get to Vancouver!
Throughout the city are a number of special cameras like this one that photograph every vehicle that enters the intersection during a red light. You WILL get fined and it will cost you a bundle, so don't do it!!
I don't know why, but it seems like folks from Seattle and Vancouver are some of the worst drivers I've ever seen. Not bad like New Yorkers, but kinda absent-minded....like them trying to make a left turn before on coming traffic arrives, and you having to slam on your brakes. Also, people will just walk across the street into oncoming traffic like they are made of plastic or something!
Parking in the downtown core is to say the least, unpleasant. The closer you are to important areas of downtown the number of available parking spaces declines exponentially. My recommendation is to take the bus into downtown and stop somewhere central (Granville & Robson) and explore the downtown core by foot. This will save you the headache and frustration of finding an open spot not to mention more than a few dollars that can be better spent elsewhere.
The Road Network is Horrible - ladies and gentlemen, I usually don't complain when I visit other cities and other countries, but the road system that they have in Vancouver is terrible. There is construction all over the place, signs guiding to you to the place you need to be are absent, and traffic is a nighmare. Please note that if you need to be somewhere at a certain time, allow 2 hours to get there! Vancouver is a wonderful city, but the traffic planners must have graduated from another planet to setup a system like this. So do as I did...find a nice place to eat and enjoy your surroundings!!!
The top 10 accident locations, as supplied by Vancouver Police Traffic Services Department:
1.) Stanley Park Causeway
2.) 49th Avenue at Knight Street
3.) Burrard and Georgia Streets
4.) 33rd Avenue and Knight Street
5.) Cambie Street at Marine Drive
6.) 100 East Hastings Street
7.) Broadway and Clark Drive
8.) 49th Avenue and Oak Street
9.) Burrard Street and Pacific Blvd.
10.) Broadway and Rupert Street
Lots of one-way streets, traffic and limited parking. Also be prepared to pay anytime you park the car.