After five days of council meetings and over 200 speakers, Vancouver city council has passed a motion approving the controversial bike route through Kitsilano.
Council approved the 28-kilometres of greenway intended to fill the last gap in a waterfront walking and cycling route that otherwise goes all the way around the downtown and out to Spanish Banks by the University of British Columbia. The vote was generally approved along party lines, with all Vision councillors in favour and NPA councillors against.
The route will create separated bike lanes along York Road, widened sidewalks, improved parks and benches. It would limit traffic on Point Grey Road, home to some of the most expensive houses in all of Vancouver, to local commuters and bike lanes between Macdonald and Alma streets.
The city says the traffic caused by the 10,000 commuters who use the road daily can be handled by Macdonald and 4th Avenue, a few blocks away. They also have pointed to safety issues along the narrow road as an impetus for restricting traffic. But many of the speakers who have spoken since hearings began last Tuesday have argued that incidents on Point Grey Road have been minimal and that nearby roads are already clogged.
The motion was divided up into a number of sections, with the six Vision Vancouver councillors in attendance voting in favour of each section, and NPA councillors Elizabeth Ball and George Affleck voting against all sections approving the project. Green party city councillor Adrianne Carr voted against the section creating the bike lane on York Avenue, but otherwise approved the project. Mayor Gregor Robertson did not vote on the matter or participate in discussion, citing his recent purchase of a house near York Avenue as a potential conflict. Vision councillors Kerry Jang was also not in attendance.
A late amendment to the motion, introduced by councillor Heather Deal, directs city staff to address a number of concerns raised by speakers about the accessibility, safety and traffic impacts of the route, but does not delay the timeline for the greenway.
Construction on the route is estimated to cost $6 million and will take place through 2014.