A couple living near the latest section of the city's Greenway project has started a petition against the redevelopment work that affects the area near their home.
"I've lived here for 25 years and it's been so peaceful, but suddenly this government has decided to build a bike lane in front of my house," said Richard Yau. "This has made me very angry and anxious."
Once complete, the North Arm Trail will include an 11-kilometre greenway/bike lane located along or near 59th Avenue connecting southern neighbourhoods to each other. The trail will also connect to major bus routes, five bike routes and four greenways. Construction of the traffic calming and bikeway began last fall.
The section of concern to Richard Yau includes improvements to the intersection connecting Ashburn and Elliott streets.
Yau believes the bike lane under construction is too close to the sidewalk. He noted there's a school close by and young students use that sidewalk, as do dog walkers, residents going to the nearby bus stop and a neighbour who uses a wheelchair. "It's just going to take someone not paying attention for an accident to happen," said Yau. "Or for a dog to run into that bike lane."
Yau added while his family is not affected by the loss of several street parking spots, some of his neighbours are not happy about it. In the past several weeks, more than 40 of Yau's neighbours signed the petition against the project. Yau blames the public consultation, which he says lacked clarity. "We didn't know what 'greenway' meant," said Yau. "We thought they were going to plant some trees."
Yau said some of his neighbours use English as a second language, so when he explained to them about the designated bike lane, they were surprised but also happy to sign his petition. "I've been knocking on doors and everyone has said yes, they'll sign the petition," said Yau. "I first heard about this project two years ago, but then I didn't hear anything else until last week when they started working on it."
Jerry Dobrovolny, the city's director of engineering services and transportation, told the Courier public consultation on the project included seven public meetings or open house events since the project was proposed in November 2008.
Dobrovolny said while council approved the project last June, staff haven't stopped listening to residents. "Even when the project was finalized, we continued the discussion," said Dobrovolny. "At the end of the day we have a couple of hot spots we're still working with residents on."
Dobrovolny said nine street parking spots were to be eliminated in this section of the project, but after speaking with residents that number was reduced to four. He said placing the bike lane parallel to the sidewalk is a safe, proven practice used in many cities.