Vancouver city councillors have voted to approve a new bikeway in Kitsilano, following a series of public meetings that saw the neighbourhood divided on the issue.
More than 200 members of the public initially registered to speak to the proposed cycling and pedestrian changes along Point Grey Road and York Avenue, and council met during the weekend to make it through the list of speakers.
The staff recommendations for the corridor were approved this evening (July 29) with a series of amendments moved by Vision Vancouver Heather Deal, including working to address concerns raised by seniors and people with disabilities, and mitigating the impact of what is expected to be increased traffic on Macdonald Street.
“Now we’ve given clear direction to staff, including some additional pieces around monitoring and working with some of the people, like along Macdonald, who may see a change that is challenging for them, and what we can do to mitigate those changes,” said Deal following the vote.
“A lot of changes were made based on what we heard from people,” she continued. “This wouldn’t be as good without that input. I think it’s a much better project because all those people came out.”
NPA councillors George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball voted against the staff recommendations for the corridor, with Affleck calling for the plan to be referred back to the community for further consultation.
“At the end of the day, we saw 70 percent of the community saying they didn’t want this,” Affleck said in an interview. “They didn’t want the road closed at Point Grey, they didn’t want the York bikeway, why? We’ll never find out because we’re not taking it back to them.”
Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs called the city's consultation process on the plan "comprehensive" and noted a petition in support of the closure of Point Grey Road to commuter traffic garnered more than 2,000 signatures.
"It’s not, as many people have said, a requirement to ride a bike," he said. "But those choices are there for people who want to make them, and they’ll be safe choices."
The changes to the corridor will include traffic-diversion measures along a stretch of Point Grey Road that will close the route to through traffic west of Macdonald Street, widened sidewalks and expanded park space. Changes to York Avenue will include alternating one-way streets between Vine and Maple Streets, and separated bike lanes between Maple and Chestnut.
Council approved a budget of up to $6 million for the first phase of the plan.
Deal said the city will begin rolling out the changes over the coming months. Safety upgrades to the Burrard Street and Cornwall Avenue intersection approved by council last week will be the first on the list.