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Vancouver whittling down pedestrian and cyclist corridor options

A cyclist makes his way along Point Grey Road in Vancouver, where cyclists and pedestrians say it is dangerous.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

The City of Vancouver has narrowed down the possible options for a safer pedestrian and cyclist corridor linking the Burrard Street Bridge and Jericho Beach and is seeking public input before finalizing plans.

Still up in the air, for example, is the stretch of Point Grey Road between Alma and Macdonald streets, where cyclists and vehicles currently share a road lined with narrow sidewalks. One option is wider sidewalks and closed roads to allow for a bikeway; another option is wider sidewalks, a separated bike lane and one-way through traffic, according to documents recently posted to the city's website. The first option would mean a loss of 59 parking spaces; the second option, 135.

The busy Point Grey Road-Cornwall Avenue corridor has been deemed dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians due to high traffic volume, speeding vehicles and narrow sidewalks. As well, pedestrians found the road had too many obstacles and cyclists complained it was a gap in the cycling network. Improving it was identified as a priority in the city's Transportation 2040 plan, approved by council last October.

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Among other plans for the corridor: wider sidewalks and separated two-way bike lanes west of Alma and between Macdonald and Balsam streets and a realignment of the intersection of Burrard and Cornwall, according to city documents. A controversial plan to expand Vancouver's seawall westward was shelved after public protest but will likely be revisited in the future.

Richard Campbell, president of British Columbia Cycling Coalition and a resident of the area, said he was particularly pleased about a proposal to restrict vehicle access on to Chestnut Street from Cornwall Avenue – an area that has long been problematic. However, he was critical of a proposal to divert cyclists onto York Street from Cornwall Avenue, between Stephens and Chestnut.

"That is definitely a concern," he said. "There are a lot of people who cycle along there [because] it's a relatively flat, direct, scenic route."

Mr. Campbell said he recently observed cycling patterns at the intersection of Point Grey Road and Stephens – where eastbound cyclists would have to turn right to get on to the calmer York Avenue – and counted 40 cyclists in about 80 minutes, all of whom opted for Cornwall.

"If people are already cycling on Cornwall, and not York, I find it hard to believe they will go up to York," he said.

Meanwhile, some Kitsilano business owners are worried about increased traffic congestion and the impact the proposed changes would have along the shopping street of West 4th Avenue.

The city held one open house on the matter Thursday night. The next two take place Saturday, at Bayview Elementary School, and Monday, at the Kitsilano Public Library.

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In 2008, 40 per cent of all trips were on foot, bike or public transit, according to the city. It is hoping to increase this figure to half of all trips by 2020 and two-thirds of all trips by 2040.

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Based in Vancouver, Andrea Woo is a general assignment reporter with a focus on multimedia journalism. More

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