01/17/2014 14:41 EST | Updated 03/19/2014 05:59 EDT

Bike lane construction closes Point Grey Rd to traffic

Drivers in Vancouver may have to change their route this weekend when a one-kilometre section of the Point Grey Road is closed permanently to through traffic so construction can begin on a controversial new bike route.

The City of Vancouver is closing the road between Macdonald and Alma street to start construction on the $6 million Point Grey—Cornwall bike route.

Full access to business and services along Cornwall Avenue, York Street, Yew Street, 1st Avenue, and Point Grey Road will remain open as usual. The new bike path will connect the Burrard Bridge bike lanes with Jericho Beach and neighbourhoods on Vancouver's West Side.

The project hasn't been without controversy. Many residents are expressing their frustration over fears of a large increase in traffic on other streets.

Business owners concerned

In June, the Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce surveyed its members and found that 62 per cent of them did not want to see the street closed to commuter traffic.

Business owners were concerned about congestion on 4th Avenue and the loss of parking spots. Vancouver City Councillor George Affleck says they'll be monitoring the situation.

"One of the challenges when you block off a major arterial road like this, which 10,000 cars travel down every day, those cars have to find new ways to get to wherever they're going, so we'll be watching how those 10,000 cars change their habits."

Jerry Dobrovolny, the city's director of transportation says the plan also aims to reduce 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, so this is to move us towards our city-wide goals of improving and increasing walking, cycling and transit, and also to improve safety."

The work will complete the Seaside Greenway, a continuous 28-kilometre path for people who walk and cycle that starts at Vancouver Convention Centre and will end at Spanish Banks Beach. The Seaside Greenway links  Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, English Bay, False Creek, Kitsilano, Jericho Beach, and Spanish Banks.

Read the city staff report

The city held several open houses in the summer to seek public input into the plan followed by a five-day public hearing with well over 200 speakers.  At the time many local residents questioned the need to change traffic patterns in their neighbourhood.