A cycling advocate says the City of Vancouver has struck a good balance with its plans for the temporary path along Arbutus Greenway, while anti-asphalt activists argue their opinions have been ignored.
The city revealed late Friday that it will divide the route into five sections, with slightly different treatments for each. Overall, a separated asphalt path to accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians was selected as the best option. Path widths will vary along the route, while two sections of the corridor will also feature an additional bark mulch path for walkers or runners.
On some portions of the route, there will be a .5- to 1.5-metre separation between paths, while on other portions there will be a painted line to separate cyclists and pedestrians.
Several open houses were held in September to gauge residents’ opinions — 350 people attended the meetings, while the city received 567 emails, letters and 311 calls. Four advisory committees were consulted.
More than three times as many people (248) wrote or called in to express their support for asphalt or a smooth, accessible surface compared to the number (73) that were against asphalt, according to the city.
The city started to lay asphalt this summer, but critics demanded the work stop until residents were consulted on what material should be used.
Jeff Leigh, a spokesman for HUB Cycling, said he’s happy with the outcome.
“I think it strikes a good balance. I’m glad they’ve accommodated all different types of users, so I think it’s a good balance of addressing the different interests,” he said. “Until we saw the results of the consultation, we didn’t know the way the public opinion was on one side or the other. And given the numbers they’ve shown us, I think it looks pretty reasonable.”
Leigh doesn’t think it was only cyclists who favoured an asphalt path.
“It’s also people walking who wanted the stability of a hard surface and there were many people who were mobility challenged who asked for that,” he said.
Elvira Lount, who was among those campaigning against asphalt in favour of crushed stone, fired off a letter Sunday to Jerry Dobrovolny, the City’s general manager of engineering, outlining her concerns.
“Their figures are all designed to support their own position, which was obvious from the start of wanting to asphalt the whole thing. In order to really be able to say you’ve balanced all the views, you’ve got to take into account the non-asphalt group and try the crushed stone in a couple of the sections,” she told the Courier. Lount argues accessibility doesn’t have to equal asphalt — it’s all in the way the stone is laid out.
Lount criticized the way the city used data in its decision. She pointed to the fact 248 of the people who wrote or called in indicated they preferred an asphalt or a smooth accessible surface — and Lount maintains crushed stone can be made smooth and accessible.
She also said close to 250 people who emailed or called 311 didn’t cite a preference, so the city has no way of knowing their opinion and they may have been satisfied with crushed stone. Lount added that no figures were collected at the open houses to back up support for asphalt.
She said if people in some sections along the corridor, such as Marpole, really want asphalt, give them asphalt, but the people in lower Kitsilano are known for not liking asphalt.
“If you’re going to give a neighbourhood what they want up in the south of Vancouver, then give the neighbourhood in the north of Vancouver and Kits, or north of Kits, what they want,” she said.
Construction of the temporary path is expected to begin soon and be completed before the end of the year. The city has promised to monitor use and make adjustments if necessary. Benches will be installed in the spring and lighting is being considered for certain locations, while washrooms and public art will be included in the future greenway.
Here is the breakdown of what’s planned for each of the sections along the temporary pathway:
- Fir Street to Broadway will feature a four-metre asphalt path divided into a 2.5-metre cycling area and a 1.5-metre walking area. There will also be a two-metre bark mulch path for walking. The separation between the paths will be .5 to 1.5 metres.
- West Broadway to West 16th Avenue will feature a five-metre asphalt path separated into 2.5-metre cycling and 2.5 metre walking areas.
- West 16th Avenue to West 33rd will feature a four-metre asphalt path separated into a 2.5-metre cycling path and a 1.5-metre walking area. There will also be a two-metre bark mulch path for walking. The separation between paths will vary between .5 metres and 1.5 metres.
- The stretch from West 33rd to West 41st will feature a five-metre asphalt path separated into a 2.5-metre cycling and 2.5-metre walking path with no separation.
- West 41st to Milton Street will feature an asphalt path — 2.5-metres for cycling and 2.5-metres for walking. There will be a 0.5 to one-metre separation between paths.