Commercial Drive is one of the Vancouver’s busiest shopping streets, and sits at the heart of arguably the largest cycling community in the city.
Now the Commercial Drive Business Society is creating some tension in the neighbourhood by putting out a survey and petition actively opposing any plans to install a separated bike lane on Commercial. The Business Improvement Association has listed a host of negative effects from a bike lane, and their executive director is claiming a bulk of their 750 members are opposed to the lanes – citing loss of parking, loss of business and loss of jobs.
“There are two perfectly good bike lanes parallel to Commercial Drive, we can’t afford to lose any more parking,” said Nick Pogor.
The survey has now split the business community. An organization called Streets for Everyone lists more than two dozen business owners that are supportive of the idea, and there are a series of drawings on its website that shows what a dedicated separated bike lane might look like.
“The survey is slanted. The cycling infrastructure would be such an important addition to the drive. It would keep in tact our unique sense of being local,” said Aiyana Kane, the owner of Bandidas Taqueria.
The Grandview-Woodland neighborhood in east Vancouver has among the highest rates of commuting by bicycle and bicycle ownership in the city. According to recent studies, nearly 50 per cent of residents commute to work by means other than driving, and 15 per cent of all trips are made by bike. For cycling advocates like Chris Bruntlett of Modacity, a bike lane along Commercial makes perfect sense.
“The latent demand for cycling infrastructure here is undeniable,” Bruntlett said.
“The arguments that predict store closures, and loss of jobs don’t materialize.”
Although Commercial Drive is listed as one of the key projects in the City of Vancouver’s 5 year cycling plan, the city has yet to finalize a plan for the street. Any proposal would still need to go through public consultation, and would need to be approved by City Council.