With the city unveiling 12 new proposed bike lanes, it looks like at least one of them will run into some serious opposition.
Federico Fuoco, who owns a restaurant on Commercial Drive, is fuming about the plan which he says was unveiled without consulting business owners.
He says he’s worried what it will do to his bottom line, and doesn’t understand why the street needs a separated lane.
“We have two bike lanes that run North to South parallel to Commercial Drive. One on Woodland and one on Lakewood. There’s no reason for a bike lane. And it’s a bike lane to nowhere. If it starts at Broadway and ends up 1st Ave., what’s the point?”
Fuoco says the local BIA has done a study which found the majority of businesses in the area are against the idea. He says the street is a destination, and the big fear is the loss of parking.
“We have such a unique area that we attract people from all over. From the Tri-cities, from everywhere, it’s not only the immediate residents. What, are people going to ride their bikes to restaurants, to buy shoes, to the delis here – on their bicycles?”
But Alex Thumm with Streets for Everyone, a group lobbying the city for a separated bike lane, says the feeling isn’t universal in the business community.
“We have over 20 businesses on Commercial Drive who are in support of having a bike lane on the Drive and recognize that cyclists have money to spend.”
He says the lane is needed because the Drive itself is a destination for cyclists, not just a commuting route.
“People don’t just commute back and forth between where they live and downtown. People are actually shopping.”
The downtown experience
Downtown, where five new lanes are proposed, the business community is taking a softer tone.
Charles Gauthier with the Downtown Vancouver Business Association says since the fight over the Hornby street lane, his membership has changed their thnking.
“We’re less opposed to them than we were in the past, and we do see the value in terms of getting people to shift the way they come into downtown, and it’s been a growing segment of how people get into the downtown.”
He says the one study that was done on the Hornby lane found it wasn’t the businesses-killer they thought it might be, and that the street seems to be thriving with a low vacancy rate.
“A lot of our businesses on Hornby Street thought that everyone drove down… But when the bike study was done, the interest rep survey showed that the people in the vicinity of that area had got there by bike, by transit, and by walking. There’s often a disconnect between how businesses think their customers get to their store and what the reality is.”
All of this may yet be a tempest in a teapot, as unlike many of the proposed new lanes, there’s no timeline for the Commercial proposal
Vancouver Councillor Heather Deal says the city hasn’t approached stakeholders yet because the lane won’t happen until after Grandview finishes its neighbourhood plan.
“The city has not done our local consultation on this particular phase of it. There’s been a lot of conversation over many years on the potential for a bike route in the area, and we are still waiting for the Grandview Woodlands Community plan to be finished before we do specific consultation that might come up with an actual design.”
There is no firm date for that plan’s approval.
Deal admits getting the route built will be a challenge because the street is highly used by bikes, cars, and pedestrians.