Vancouver city council votes to make separated downtown bike lanes permanent
Vancouver city council voted unanimously today (June 13) to make the separated bike lanes on Dunsmuir and Hornby streets permanent.
The vote followed presentations from supporters of the bike lanes and concerns from some local businesses.
Erin O’Melinn, the executive director of cycling group HUB, told council she has heard “countless stories” of the ways the separated bike lanes have had a positive impact on residents, visitors and workers in Vancouver.
“The fear of drivers coming too close or being impatient has been replaced by a feeling of comfort, convenience and belonging that comes with a dedicated space for those that choose bicycles to get around,” she said.
The head of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, Charles Gauthier, asked council to spend $2.5 million on implementing right-turn lanes from Dunsmuir Street onto Seymour and Hornby Streets on a trial basis.
He cited a study released by the city last summer, which rated the impact of the bike lanes on local businesses as moderate, and recommended the enactment of mitigation strategies.
“I think a year has gone by and there were a number of mitigation strategies that could be implemented and haven’t been to the fullest extent,” Gauthier told reporters following the vote.
“At the end of the day, I think…we’ll probably see some businesses that aren’t able to adapt and as their leases expire, won’t renew their spaces."
Councillors said implementing the right-turn lanes could pose a risk to pedestrian safety.
The city’s transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny noted installing the turns would reduce the sidewalk width to the minimum of 1.8 metres from three metres.
The separated bike lanes on Dunsmuir Street, the Dunsmuir Viaduct, Hornby Street and connecting streets were approved on a trial basis in 2010.
According to a staff report, the lanes have led to a growth in cycling along the routes, including a 19 percent increase in annual bicycle trips on the Dunsmuir Viaduct between April 2011 and March 2012, compared to the previous year.
The city plans to continue making safety modifications to the separated bike lanes.
City council also discussed another cycling issue today, after hearing an update from staff on a public bike-share system for Vancouver.