Kitsilano: Residents divided over cycling upgrades

Kitsilano residents are divided over the City of Vancouver’s plans to reconfigure the Cornwall Avenue-Point Grey Road network of streets in an effort to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

In recent weeks, residents have mobilized to launch media campaigns in hopes of garnering attention to why or why not upgrades between the Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach would be good for the community.

City council is expected to vote sometime this month on whether to go ahead with a series of changes along the corridor, including separated bike lanes, implementing one-way only streets, wider sidewalks, more green space and reducing parking.

So far, the changes proposed to the stretch between Alma and Macdonald streets along Point Grey Road have been the most divisive among residents. The favoured option from a group that claims to have the support of 2,000 citizens on a petition calls for Point Grey Road to be blocked to through-vehicle traffic at Macdonald and Trutch streets, with a one-way street created between Alma and Waterloo streets.

The same option, known as 2a, features a two-way separated bike lane between Volunteer Park and Tatlow Park, wider sidewalks and more park space. “It’s addressing the pedestrians’ needs, it also takes the traffic down to reasonable levels so the bikes can share the road with the cars,” said Pamela McColl, an organizer of the petition who lives at Point Grey Road and Bayswater.

The group’s petition, which McColl delivered to city hall this week, includes the names of former city councillor and area resident Peter Ladner, Bev Ballantyne of Putting Pedestrians First, and Chip and Shannon Wilson of Lululemon fame. McColl said the “vast majority” of businesses she visited along Fourth Avenue, between Alma and Macdonald, also signed the petition because the redistribution of traffic is anticipated to be good for business.

“Putting cars past businesses and more traffic and more customers is kind of fundamental marketing and retail,” she said, noting the HUB cycling coalition also supports the option which would see traffic diverted to Burrard, West Fourth, Broadway, West 10th and West 16th avenues.

The city’s other option, known as 2b, proposes a two-way separated bike lane on the south side of Point Grey Road between Alma and Macdonald.

The stretch would turn into a one-way street for motorists travelling west, with on-street parking removed from the south side while the sidewalks and boulevard would be widened on the north side. The option would mean no vehicles would have access to Point Grey Road from Collingwood and Trutch streets.

For Larry Benge, a resident of Seventh and Blenheim, the city is moving too fast with the proposals and not factoring in the bike route along Third Avenue when outlining options along the corridor. Benge also believes road closures will divert traffic through his neighbourhood and others in the area, creating congestion and dangerous intersections.

As for safety concerns on Point Grey Road, Benge said the city could add traffic calming measures such as raised crosswalks and have police enforce the 30 kilometres per hour speed limit.

Benge said he and a small group of other residents are organizing their own petition to call for more public consultation to explore other safe cycling and pedestrian routes along the corridor. “I want to make it really clear that we are not opposed to increased safety or accessibility for bikes, pedestrians or drivers,” he said. “What we’re looking for is a solution that satisfies all of those stakeholders.”

The city has had 50 public meetings on the proposals since January, according to the city’s transportation director, Jerry Dobrovolny, who added that misinformation on the facts of the proposals is being circulated in the community.

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