Navigating Around Vancouver & the Fraser Valley
The Fraser Valley stretches a distance of about 100 kilometres from the coast at Richmond, inland to Hope, and then northwards to the point where the Fraser and Thompson Rivers become one. The portion of the Fraser Valley that points east-west if often called the "Lower Mainland", and the part that goes north-south is often called the "Fraser Canyon."
In the Canyon, there is only one major road, the #1, also known as the Trans-Canada Highway. In the Lower Mainland there are several key routes: The #1 on the south shore, the #7 Lougheed Highway on the north shore, and from Abbotsford to Burnaby is the #7 Fraser Highway. These highways will connect most major cities with each other.
Also, keep in mind this wide valley is bisected by the mighty Fraser River, which is tidal up to Mission. Because of its width, there are limited opportunities to cross from north bank to the south bank, specifically with bridges at Hope (Highway #1 in the east), between Aggazis and Rosedale/Bridal Veil (highway #9 in the middle), and between Mission and Matsqui/Abbotsford (highway #11 further west). The next bridge after that connects Surrey to Port Coquitlam, which then has a bridge connecting it to Pitt Meadows, crossing the Pitt River. Between the last two bridges is a ferry connecting Fort Langley with the community of Albion in Maple Ridge. In mid-2009 TransLink opened the Golden Ears Bridge which offers a toll connection between the #1 and the #7 highways.
If you are heading to or from the USA, you will need to cross at any of the following crossings: the highway #99/I-5 Peace Arch at White Rock, highway #15 form Surrey, #13 from Aldergrove/Langley, and highway #11 from Abbotsford.
Vancouver, like many Western Canadian cities was planned and laid out by the railway's surveyors. Such there is a strong logic in its design. "Streets" generally go north-south, and "avenues" go east-west. The first avenue north of the American border is 0 Ave, which starts in White Rock and runs east from the coast. The Avenues increment from there northwards, though this system stops when you hit the Fraser or the Pitt Rivers. The Streets likewise increment from west to east (higher numbers are further from the coast, though "zero" seems to be in the middle of the Georgia Strait). There are 8 streets or avenues to the mile.
In Richmond, the major Roads, No.1, No. 2, .... increment each mile from the coast. You'll notice the major roads in Richmond form nice 1 mile squares, called "sections."
In Vancouver, the numbered streets occur south of English Bay and False Creek, though here they are neither evenly spaced or even straight, most likely because of the hilly terrain. Streets that run west of Cambie Street are called "West", as in "West Pender". Streets that run east are called "East" as in "East Pender." Building numbers also increment from this point onwards.
On the North Shore, there is a similar system. In North Vancouver, the "streets," now running east-west, increment from the waterline. Lonsdale Ave, the main street in North Van (running north-south), marks the split between east and west. In West Vancouver, they do things a little bit differently: they too increment streets from the waterline, but here they do it in alphabetical order.