The war of words over a proposed separated bike lane for Vancouver’s Commercial Drive just got a little bit hotter.
The Commercial Drive Business Society is circulating a petition/survey against the project to business owners in the area, arguing it would create “high speed bike highways.”
The group says the lane would reduce street parking and loading spaces, cut down on customers, and ultimately result in job and revenue losses.
But while the business association has come out strongly against the project, not all businesses in the neighbourhood are on the same page.
James Buonassisi, who’s family has owned the Home Hardware for 50 years says he’s sympathetic to the issues being raised by the BIA.
“I mountain bike, I road road bike, I like feeling safe when I’m on the road riding my bike so I get that perspective. But I also see the other perspective. Parking is always going to be the issue. There’s a lot of people that travel to Commercial Drive purposely to shop on Commercial Drive because there are goods and products they can’t get anywhere else in the Lower Mainland.”
But Aiyana Kane, owner of Bandidas Taqueria sees it differently. She says she’s spoken to plenty of businesses who believe more bike access to the street will be good for business, and that the proposals she’s seen for the lane don’t mean a major loss in parking.
She says she feels like the survey being circulated by the BIA is slanted, and trying to manipulate businesses owners.
“They believe that will hurt their business, so based on that belief and not based on what I can see of any evidence, then they make these kinds of proclamations on this petition saying ‘oh this is going to hurt your business and reduce jobs in the community and reduce safety for pedestrians.’ And then they ask people ‘Do you want that?'”
The dispute has been raging since the city published its five-year Active Transportation Update for cycling infrastructure upgrades, which included a potential separated bike lane on the street.
But at this point, any specifics of the plan remain extremely hazy.
The map provided in the city’s planning appears to show the proposed lane running from about 14th avenue to one block north of 1st.
But when the city filed the update in December, it said the Commercial Drive proposal isn’t being given any serious thought until the Grandview Woodlands Community Plan is finished.
There is no set date yet for that process to conclude.
The petition/survey, which is only open to Commercial Drive Business Society members, closes on February 15th.
The Commercial Drive Business Society could not be reached for comment.
With files from Roshini Nair