06/24/2013 05:14 EDT | Updated 08/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Cost, Sanity Of Bikeway Plans Questioned

Some Vancouver residents plan to hold their own community meeting to voice their objections to a city proposal to build a protected bike lane along a busy corridor.

In May, the city introduced a plan to revamp the traffic corridor that links downtown with West Point Grey's Jericho Beach, along Point Grey Road in Kitsilano.

Locals who aren't on board with the proposal planned to get together tonight at the Sunset Grill on York Avenue, but the meeting ended up being postponed so the group could find a larger venue.

Duane Nickull, who ran as a Conservative candidate in the recent provincial election, said there are many different voices that all seem to agree on one major sticking point in the plan.

"The main one that has people up in arms is to close down traffic to build a bike route parallel to an existing bike route, [which is] two blocks away ... on 3rd Avenue."

Nickull said the city's green vision may be guiding planners to close streets to traffic and add bike paths instead, but there's no proof that doing so will get more cyclists to use the route.

"My concerns ... are that they're forging ahead without doing the proper research and data," he said.

City has safety concerns

Jerry Dobrovolny, the city's director of transportation, said encouraging sustainable transportation is definitely a goal, but the plan also targets reducing the potential for accidental injury or death.

"We have, according to ICBC data, some of the highest cycling collision locations in the city along that route, along Cornwall," he said. "So it's to move us towards our city-wide goals of improving and increasing walking, cycling and transit, and also to improve safety."

Nickull, a former UCI world cup cyclist, said he couldn't find evidence of a single reported crash between a cyclist and a car on Point Grey Road, which is about half of the stretch being altered in the plan, when he looked at ICBC's crash data.

"You know, I'm not for the bike lane, I'm not against the bike lane. What I am against is spending taxpayer money without due diligence and due course of an investigation," he said.

Dobrovolny says the city is still looking at the plan and consulting with stakeholders.

Since January, there have been six open houses with over 1,000 people attending the last three, he said. City representatives have also had about 50 individual meetings with residents and community groups to share information.

Dobrovolny said the plan isn't a done deal, and the public consultation process continues. City staff are slated to make a final recommendation and provide a cost estimate for the plan later this summer.

"Ultimately, council will decide," he said.

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