Most businesses along Commercial Drive in East Vancouver are concerned about the potential negative impact that bike lanes could inflict on their business.
A survey conducted by the Commercial Drive Business Society indicates 84% of approximately 300 business owners and property owners in the retail strip are against the City of Vancouver’s proposal to install separated bike lanes on both directions of the street. The proposal is part of the City Council-approved five-year master plan of building 12 new bike lanes across the city.
Opposition stems from fears over fewer sales and potential job losses, with 82% saying this is a concern. Eighty-five per cent said they are worried that the road space the bike lanes will occupy will result in the lack of available street side parking to support their businesses.
Similarly high numbers also want to see the proposed bike lane route relocated: 84% think side roads, where there is less vehicle traffic, are safer routes for bike lanes while 80% want the bike lanes shifted one block east onto Victoria Drive.
Five years ago, bike lanes were also fiercely opposed by downtown Vancouver business, including the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA). But both the organization and its businesses have since reversed their opposition to the bike lane routes on Dunsmuir and Hornby streets.
“Since then, enlightened businesses have reaped the benefits of marketing directly to cyclists,” said Charles Gauthier, President and CEO of the DVBIA, during a press conference announcing Vancouver Bike Share on February 24, 2016. “Many property owners have built end-of-trip facilities to accommodate their tenants and the number of cyclists entering downtown has increased.”
Although Commercial Drive plays host to Car Free Day festivities, any proposed changes to the neighbourhood’s character and urban form, such as new developments, are generally controversial to the residents and businesses on Commercial Drive. This includes the ongoing opposition to a proposed 12-storey building for a largely vacant site on Commercial Drive and Venables Street, despite there being a similarly tall residential building across the street.
The project is spearheaded by The Kettle Society to include 30 units of supportive housing and a new and expanded drop-in centre for mental health and social services, which will be supported by the construction of 200 market residential units.