The 10,000 vehicles driving along scenic Point Grey Road every day could soon have to find another route, as the City of Vancouver has released its final proposal on extending its separated bike path network through Kitsilano's beach district. If city council votes in favour next week, Point Grey Road would be closed to through traffic by the end of the year.
This proposal marks the culmination of six months of contentious consultations with area residents, as concerns about parking availability and traffic congestion were raised against the city's plans to upgrade bike and pedestrian infrastructure in the corridor stretching from the Burrard Bridge to Jericho Beach.
The most controversial part of the proposal would see a one-kilometre section of Point Grey Road converted to a local neighbourhood street, running one-way eastbound from Alma Street and blocked off at Macdonald Street. Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver's director of transportation, said the daily vehicle count would fall from 10,000 to a few hundred, with the bulk of the traffic being taken in by 4th Avenue and West Broadway. The intersection of 4th and Macdonald would be upgraded with left turn bays to handle the increased load.
"A third of the vehicles using Point Grey Road are registered outside of Vancouver and are through trips, and we would like to see more of those through trips away from our destination parks, our destination beaches, away from the schools," Mr. Dobrovolny told reporters at a media briefing Wednesday.
The first phase of the proposal, which includes most of the major roadwork, would start immediately and run through 2014, with an estimated cost of $6-million.
This corridor was identified as a priority when Vancouver city council adopted its Transportation 2040 plan last year. The plan includes the goal of having half of all trips in Vancouver made by transit, bike, or foot by 2020.
Mr. Dobrovolny acknowledged that about 200 of the area's 1,000 parking spots would be eliminated, but said there remains enough parking spots for local residents. He said feedback from six open houses and 48 stakeholder workshops over the past six months had caused city staff to reinstate about 90 parking spots from their original plans.
Only some sections of the corridor between the Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach would be separated bike lanes under this proposal. Much of the route along York Avenue and Point Grey Road would use traffic-calming measures to make the roads safer for cyclists and preserve parking spaces.
The proposal also includes separating bike and pedestrian paths through the Kitsilano Beach park. Connecting bike paths between Kitsilano Beach and Jericho Beach would complete 28 kilometres of a continuous Seaside Greenway network, stretching from Coal Harbour to the Spanish Banks.
A separate proposal, to be released Thursday, will overhaul the intersection at the south end of the Burrard Bridge, creating a simplified three-way intersection between Burrard Street and Cornwall Avenue. Mr. Dobrovolny said 6,000 cyclists use the Burrard Bridge daily during the summer, and the new intersection will make it much safer for cyclists and pedestrians to cross.
NPA City Councillor George Affleck, a consistent critic of the plans for bike paths on Point Grey Road, said he remained unimpressed with the level of consultation done with residents.
"I think we've heard from a lot of residents that they're concerned, and it's going too fast," Mr. Affleck said. "Residents now have one week to get back to us and respond to what we have in front of us … I would expect we'll see lots of people at council next week."
City council is scheduled to debate the proposal on July 23.