Mary Lavin welcomed Vancouver city council’s 2013 vote to create the Point Grey Road bike lane after petitioning to remove commuter vehicles. Three years later, Lavin and her neighbours are facing a different danger.
“That allowed us to get what we wanted in terms of safety on the road,” she said. “Since that decision was made by council, we had all kinds of issues with cyclists.”
Helmetless cyclists riding abreast down the centre of the road, rather than single-file to the right. Lavin said they are a danger to themselves, pedestrians and drivers of the few motorbikes and cars that still travel in the area.
“We've asked the city repeatedly for signage and enforcement, but the city does nothing,” she said.
The Vision Vancouver majority could soon rubber-stamp another $6.4 million of work on the city’s “Golden Mile”and Lavin said it will cause more problems.
A staff report for the May 4 policy and strategic priorities committee meeting proposes widening the north sidewalk between Alma Street and Tatlow to three metres as an inland substitute for the rejected seawall. On-street parking would be banned on the north side, the road narrowed between Waterloo Street and Tatlow Park and widened slightly between Alma and Waterloo. Cul-de-sacs would be refined near Trutch Street and some trees and hedges would be removed. If passed, construction would begin this fall.
“The cost is much, much more than we would want to spend if we, as taxpayers, had a say,” Lavin said. “We think that the money would be much better spent on social housing or transportation issues in other parts of the city, frankly we don’t see the need for an illustrious, wide promenade on the north side of Point Grey Road.”
John Cassils said it is already a white-knuckle experience to drive from his sunken garage to the north sidewalk before venturing onto Point Grey Road.
“When there’s a lot of cyclists, it puts fear in your heart, believe me,” Cassils said. “Number one, you don’t hear them.”
Lavin lives on the south side of the street and is disappointed the city focussed consultation on north siders. She said the barriers at Macdonald Street have turned the neighbourhood into an enclave, impeding access for emergency and delivery vehicles by forcing drivers to approach via West Fourth Avenue.
An average 10,000 cars plied the road daily before the closure. Now there are only 400 to 600 a day. “There’s a tremendous livability benefit,” said city engineer Jerry Dobrovolony.
Dobrovolny said he is not aware of safety concerns in the area that would be a “citywide priority” for Vancouver police, but suggested residents contact police with complaints.
He said the proposal would afford more space for pedestrians and better sightlines for cyclists along the corridor. He said there are enough parking spots on the south side to meet demand.
“This will improve safety, it will separate the crossing for the drivers for them to deal with the pedestrians first and then a clear viewpoint for them to make the maneuver onto the street and to check for clearance with cyclists and cars,” Dobrovolny said.
The sidewalk widening means the city is taking back from some north side residents land that they have used for decades, with the city’s tacit permission, for frontages, driveways and landscaping.
“The homeowners have treated that land with respect, have paid for its maintenance for a long period of time,” Lavin said.
Dobrovolny said work would take place well back from the property line, so there would be no expropriation.
Coun. Heather Deal, who is also deputy mayor and a recent advocate for road safety, did not respond to an interview request.