Powell Street bike lane would require “better job” on consultation, Green candidate says

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      Green council candidate Pete Fry likes the idea of a “decent” bike route north of Hastings Street in Vancouver.

      “I think it would be great as long as it’s done right,” Fry, who recently resigned as chair of the Strathcona Residents’ Association to run in the November municipal election, told the Georgia Straight by phone.

      However, Fry said that a new proposal for a separated bike lane on Cordova and Powell streets or Water and Powell streets, floated by the nonprofit HUB Cycling, raises several issues. For one thing, Powell is a truck route, he noted.

      According to Fry, Strathcona community members were troubled by what he called a lack of consultation on the Union Street separated bike lane, which was installed in 2013. If the City of Vancouver considers putting a new bikeway in the neighbourhood—on Powell or elsewhere—it will need to do a “better job” of engaging the public, he asserted.

      “What we found when they did the consultation on the Union Street path, they billed it actually as changes to the Adanac bikeway,” said Fry, who described himself as a cyclist and pedestrian. “They really didn’t get into the notion of any changes to Union Street, and they sort of engaged just the cyclists and not the homeowners and the residents on Union Street or the businesses on Union Street or the people who drive cars and that kind of thing.”

      On May 15, HUB executive director Erin O’Melinn told the Straight that a four-kilometre bike lane running through Gastown, the Downtown Eastside, and Grandview-Woodland would connect the downtown core with the city’s northeast corner. The proposed bike lane would link up with the seawall at the Vancouver Convention Centre on its west end and the Wall Street bikeway, near Victoria Drive, on its east end.

      The $50-million Powell Street overpass, which is scheduled to be completed this summer, will feature a separated bike lane.

      According to the city’s Transportation 2040 plan, approved in 2012, connecting the overpass with the Carrall Street greenway via an “all ages and abilities” bike route on Alexander Street is a potential priority for 2015 to 2017.

      As well, the Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan, approved in March, calls for the city to look at “potential new walking and cycling routes” on Water and Alexander streets.

      Tanya Paz, chair of the city’s active transportation policy council, told the Straight that HUB’s proposal is one way the city could make its planned Portside greenway, from downtown to Boundary Road, a reality.

      “The city has identified that Powell Street to Carrall on Alexander is a greenway connection that’s in the plan for the next five years,” Paz said by phone. “It’s possible that could be extended for greater connectively in that time too.”


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      May 27, 2014 at 2:35pm

      Not exactly a new idea. A Greenway along Powell was included in the City's 1995 Greenway Plan almost twenty years ago. Time to get this important link done. There is only one east west bike route in the 2km north of Great Northern way. Meanwhile, there is 18 lanes of traffic on arterials.


      May 27, 2014 at 2:57pm

      one clarification here:
      The Adanac Bikeway upgrades (as they were proposed) originally included eliminating vehicle access onto residential Union Street at Gore, and making the street a one way. The proposal would have prevented deliveries and severely impacted a venerable neighborhood institution, the 100+ years old Benny's Market, and forced the predominantly residential traffic along that stretch of Union to run perpendicular to bike traffic.

      The neighbourhood was not against the notion of improving cyclist safety and had long been advocating for fixing the treacherous potholes between Main and Gore, and better traffic lights - that said, the Adanac Bikeway upgrades were not advertised as road closures, nor were they advertised as east of Gore Street, and they did not include local input. Local input which frankly would have yielded better results.

      The City's own consultation summary (http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/adanac-consultation-summary-2013-june.pdf) indicated 76% of the information session consultants were "traveling through" the neighbourhood, and the summary's reported stakeholder meetings and media articles were only AFTER the local stakeholders demanded consultation.

      This is where the City needs to do a "better job" of engaging the public (per the stated terms on page 70 of the City's own Transportation 2040 Plan)

      James Johnstone

      May 27, 2014 at 8:51pm

      Pete Fry's call for a more broad-based and transparent consultation process for proposed bike lanes through neighbourhoods that would adequately address neighbourhood needs, including safety for pedestrians, especially the aged and childre, and businesses in the neighbourhoods involved is a no brainer. I was shoked to see what the City tried to pull on Union, particularly the proposed closing of Union Street from Gore to east-bound car and truck traffic, a move that would have forced our neighbourhood's oldest corner store, Benny's Market, to close. Cars have ruled the roads for too long... That is for sure... It is time to rework our road systems to make it safer for cyclists, indeed. But those plans have to take into account the safety of pedestrians of all ages and abilities, as well as other neighbourhood needs. If a freeway through a neighbourhood can be a bad thing, so can a poorly thought out and executed bike route. There has to be a win/win situation out there. Let's take the time to consult and involve all parties concerned, ask the right questions and come up with plans that benefit those who live along and who must cross the bike paths, not just those who speed along them.


      May 28, 2014 at 9:31am

      Why on earth are people giving the thumbs down to Peter Fry's comments, which are a reasonable summation of the history of the Union St. project? Have cyclists become so extreme that they disagree with any examination or community input into their plans?


      May 28, 2014 at 1:10pm

      @ Hermie

      Presumably because, like us, they live in Strathcona, know what really happened, went to one of the three consultations, and like everyone else had the personally addressed letters about it delivered to their mailboxes. And also presumably because we have experienced the level of hysterical anti-cycling/pro-car bombast that happens at meetings in the community.

      Jordan Bober

      May 28, 2014 at 2:59pm


      Curious that you are so in the know.

      The City's own consultation reporting http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/adanac-consultation-summary-2013-june.pdf that Fry posted indicates they only mailed out 286 letters, and had barely 95 attendants at the two open houses.

      I'm not sure if that qualifies as "everybody else" or if his comments are hysterical anti-cycling/pro-car, but speaking of bombast...


      May 29, 2014 at 8:23pm

      Hello Residents of Various Communities,

      While it is understandable that you would want an adequate consultation process, you also have, I think, a responsibility to those people crossing your territory. And since cycling is far less dangerous to pedestrians, neighbourhoods, pets, personal health, the elderly, children, plants, and the environment than motor vehicle traffic, I don't see how encouraging a bike lane is anything but good news. But Pete Fry's comments indicate, as did the web page set up to "inform" on the Adanac/Union changes, some couched inflexibility and bias against cycling, which should at least be noted. But sure: better consultation with local neighbourhoods, while acknowledging that there are other stakeholders.


      Jun 3, 2014 at 9:12am

      As someone who lives on a designated bike corridor, I have never noticed an absence of cars, or even a willingness to slow down to acknowledge the presence of bikes, children, or pets.

      Therefore, car-driving residents of Union Street, you should fret not. The introduction of a bike lane will not inconvenience you in the slightest. You can continue to hurtle your vehicles wherever you like, in your raging obliviousness, as is your right.