North Vancouver cyclist miffed about “retrogressive” Low Level Road vote
Heather Drugge wasted no time laying waste to City of North Vancouver council following its 5-2 vote on Monday (June 18) to approve a foreshore redesign that includes reconfiguring the Low Level Road. Heading east from Lonsdale Quay, the road currently runs parallel to the train tracks out to the Second Narrows Bridge.
“Our position of course is that, the way that the project is configured, it’s not going to do anything to promote new cyclists,” Drugge, a North Vancouver resident and head of HUB: Your Cycling Connection’s North Shore committee, told the Straight by phone today (June 19). “There was an opportunity to do that. Shutting out pedestrians is incredibly retrogressive. You don’t build a road today without a sidewalk, but space and citizen wishes combined to make the conditions unfavourable for pedestrians.”
Drugge said the City of North Vancouver is working with senior levels of government and industry to speed up access to Port Metro Vancouver. The total cost of the project is just over $100 million, she noted, and part of that funding will cover improvements to the Spirit Trail bicycle route and a resurfacing of the lower road across the municipality.
A silver lining for Drugge is that the bike lanes will be expanded to two metres wide on each side of the road, up from the current 1.2 metres. However, she said she is convinced the changes will not do much for cyclists who don’t belong to the “two percent” of dedicated riders okay with being so close to trains and not separated from vehicular traffic. Drugge said HUB had put forward two other options, the first being to provide a two-way cycle path on the south side of the street, similar to Vancouver’s Hornby Street, as well as a sidewalk.
The second option HUB floated was a multiuse path, which Drugge admitted was “not ideal”. In the end, City of North Vancouver mayor Darrell Mussatto and councillors Don Bell, Linda Buchanan, Craig Keating, and Guy Heywood were in favour, with Pam Bookham and Rod Clark opposed.
“The choice last night was not between the Low Level Road and the design that HUB came up with,” Keating told the Straight by phone today. “The choice was between the current proposed design and what currently exists. I am quite confident—and I hope you give me a call back if this turns out to be the case—that we can work through the issues to get the kind of design that HUB wants there.”
The Straight asked if Keating could still foresee including a pedestrian component as proposed by HUB.
“I believe that we can get to that point,” Keating stated. “The fact of the matter is we needed to get this thing through council last night so that we can begin even further planning and make sure that we have got the funding secured.”
Keating noted that the $100 million would cover the entire reconstruction of the Low Level Road (moving it northward), the bank stabilization, contributions to the Spirit Trail, and improved bikeways.
“It would, in the current preferred design, also include two-metre bike lanes,” Keating said. He later added, “It would also include two new rail tracks on the current roadbed of Low Level Road, which would substantially expand our port capacity there, which would be good for the North Shore economy.”