Vancouver council votes to scrap proposed separated Broadway bike lane

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Vancouver city council votes to scrap Broadway bike lanes
WATCH: Vancouver city council has voted to remove two planned bike lanes from the Broadway redevelopment plan. Emad Agahi has the details of the decision. – Mar 30, 2023

The upcoming redesign of Vancouver’s Broadway corridor will proceed without a new separated bike lane.

Vancouver city council voted Thursday to accept a city staff-recommended plan that will see curb lanes reallocated to wider sidewalks and public space.

The proposal also includes the possibility to add a cycling and active transportation lane at a future date.

The vote broke along party lines, with council’s ABC majority voting to scrap the lane, and council’s two Green and single OneCity councillor opposed.

The move reverses a vote by the previous council to include the separated lanes on Broadway as the key travel route is upgraded in tandem with construction of a SkyTrain subway line from East Vancouver to Arbutus Street.

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Ahead of the vote, Coun. Mike Klassen, a member of ABC Vancouver which holds a majority on council, acknowledged there had been “a lot of very strong opinions and a lot of support” for the lanes, but that staff had suggested the time wasn’t right to put them in.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver council set to vote on Broadway bike lane'
Vancouver council set to vote on Broadway bike lane

“For right now I think it’s a win for the public because it’s going to be more walkable, it’s going to have wider sidewalks, its going to have public space and plazas that people are going to really enjoy,” he said.

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“The fact is we have routes right now that run parallel to Broadway that provide that thoroughfare right through, we have areas that are really bike focused around city hall and the hospital.”

Both 10th Avenue and 7th Avenue, which run parallel to Broadway on the north and south side, are home to well-used bike-priority greenways.

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Green Coun. Pete Fry told Global News ahead that those parallel routes force cyclists to navigate a steep hill to access Broadway, adding that a bike route on Broadway itself would be more accessible.

“People commuting on Broadway are largely using Broadway to get to destinations on Broadway,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver debating Broadway corridor bike lane'
Vancouver debating Broadway corridor bike lane

“It only makes sense to reflect the fact that we’re seeing much more active transportation in our city, more people are riding electric bikes, electric scooters, hoverboards, unicycles, on top of traditional bicycles — it makes sense from just a pure usage basis.

In a statement after the vote, OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle, who initially proposed the bike lane, called out incumbent ABC councillors who had supported the lane last spring, and alleged the move amounted to a broken campaign promise from Mayor Ken Sim to expand separated lanes on commercial streets.

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“Today’s vote is a failure for road safety in Vancouver, and for everyone who uses our streets to get around,” Boyle said.

“Broadway is a major employment area. Whether or not there’s a safe infrastructure in place, workers will use bikes and scooters to get to their jobs — and in the case of couriers, to do their jobs. We had an opportunity to help active transport users get where they are going safely. Instead ABC voted to prioritize cars.”

Along with the staff-recommended option to scrap the proposed bike lane, councillors had been offered two other potential choises.

A second option would have seen the current curb lanes reallocated as active transpiration lanes, at the cost of expanding sidewalks and some parking and loading areas.

A third option would see Broadway reduced to a single-vehicle traffic lane in each direction, adding an active transportation lane in each direction and widened sidewalks.

Staff had warned that both other options would reduce parking and loading options, and would require the city to negotiate with the province over road allocation in the blocks where new subway stations are being built.

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