06/12/2013 05:22 EDT | Updated 08/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Vancouver bike route change fought by Strathcona residents

Vancouver City Council passed a $3-million plan to improve several bike routes today, including the connection to the Canada Line bridge at Marine Drive and downtown at the north end of the Cambie Bridge.

But it was forced to back down on part of its plan to upgrade one bike route along Union Street in Chinatown, which would have seen Union closed to motor vehicle traffic at Gore Avenue. More than a dozen residents and business owners showed up to speak against the partial closure.

The Adanac Bikeway, which connects Burnaby's Francis-Union Bikeway with downtown through East Vancouver, is used by an estimated 4,000 cyclists a day in the summer, according to city staff.

But the bike lane currently passes through the intersection of Union and Main streets — one of the top intersections in the city for collisions between bikes and vehicles.

The city says the route needs to be upgraded, particularly as passes though Strathcona and Chinatown and links up with the Dunsmuir Viaduct, so that cyclists of all ages to feel comfortable biking on it.

Bike advocates say they support a city plan that would cut the number of cars on Union Street west of Main Street and east of Gore Street, and add a separated bike lane in some sections.

Residents not consulted

But Strathcona residents say they weren't consulted properly about the proposal to restrict vehicles on Union Street, including Pete Fry, the chair of the Strathcona Residents Association.

"Throughout this communication never once was the subject of closing Union Street broached, nor was our advice sought. That's despite the fact that the 2040 transportation plan specifically calls for consultation with residents and other stakeholders," said Fry on Wednesday.

The city's plan for the section would also mean the loss of 20 parking spots on Union Street, which raised concerns with local businesses. But, the city said, 50 parking spots would be added nearby on Main Street.

In the end, city council agreed to take a month to reconsider to the plan to restrict vehicles on Union Street.