Commercial Drive businesses concerned about the City of Vancouver’s plans to redesign the street have gathered over 5,000 signatures for a petition against the creation of a dedicated bike lane through the busy shopping area.
The opposition comes on the eve of a public consultation on the city’s plans to turn Commercial Drive into a “complete street” to make the area easier and safer for transit users, cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike.
“The people who come to our neighbourhood have told us they may reconsider joining us and shopping and being part of our neighbourhood because parking is already at a premium,” said Nick Pogor, executive director of the Commercial Drive Business Society.
He added that a key concern for local businesses is the city’s proposal to construct a dedicated bike line directly on Commercial Drive, as well as the delays caused by its construction.
Just seven per cent of people who visit the area cycle there, while 32 per cent use their cars, according to a survey conducted by the business society.
WATCH BELOW: Executive Director of the Commercial Drive Business Society, Nick Pogor joined Geoff Hastings on BC1 to talk about the petition.
But these numbers differ from those collected by the City of Vancouver. According to a study conducted by the city in August, cyclists make up 11 per cent of trips to the Drive. In addition, more than 80 per cent of all trips to Commercial Drive are made by people who don’t drive, including pedestrians, transit users and cyclists.
HUB Cycling’s Executive Director Erin O’Mellin says more people would cycle if the infrastructure was there and that Vancouver should work towards a future vision for the city where more people cycle.
“When we look at other cities that have done this, it shows that bike lanes and more complete streets bring more people,” she said. “Even though businesses are usually hesitant at the outset about these types of changes, they then realize afterwards that more people are coming and visiting their shops.”
Some businesses are already on board.
“Many of our customers come by bicycle, and we think a complete street including better biking facilities would be a wise business decision, bringing more customers through our doors,” said Aiyana Kane, co-owner of Bandidas Taqueria on Commercial Drive, in a press release.
For its part, the local business association is not opposed to bike lanes in general, but specifically to the construction of one on Commercial Drive, Pogor said. It would like to see a dedicated bike lane developed on nearby Victoria Drive instead.
Any decision on what the changes to Commercial Drive will look like is still a long way off.
The City of Vancouver is looking to the public for input on the design process, starting with two open houses scheduled for Thursday and Saturday.
These are the first step in the process of rethinking “how to make that street really for people of all ages and all abilities and all modes of transportation,” said Dale Bracewell, manager of transportation planning at the City of Vancouver.
From there, city staff will draft a series of plans and ask the public for more input before submitting a final draft to city council for a vote. It could be as long as two years before anything is changed on Commercial Drive.
– With files from Alia Dharssi