Point Grey Road has long been a favoured shortcut for drivers who seem to prefer the view of the street’s multimillion-dollar houses and occasional glimpses of the ocean over less spectacular routes.
But the pivotal waterfront artery may be transformed into a bicycle and local-cars-only route, as three factions converge on it: cyclists, the current bike-friendly city council – and residents who are fed up with the car traffic.
If the option to barricade two ends of a lengthy stretch of the road comes to pass, that kind of local support will be a first for the bike-promoting Vision Vancouver council, which has seen vocal opposition to many of its efforts in recent years.
It’s not so much that Point Grey residents love bikes. Some do. But many more are sick of cars, especially the 13,000 a day that use the route.
Residents say they hope the city’s Transportation 2040 plan, due to be presented at council this fall, will spell relief from what they say has become an unbearable situation.
“It’s really scary living here,” said Pamela McColl, one of a couple of hundred residents who have come out to meetings about the plan in recent months asking for significant change. “The aggression here is amazing. My car’s been hit two times this year. They’ve actually propelled cars onto people’s lawns.”
Because the four-lane road is so narrow, cyclists trying to follow the route, which doesn’t have the seawall that other parts of the Vancouver waterfront do, create additional conflicts.
“People are riding their bikes on the sidewalk and they’re riding over little old ladies,” Ms. McColl said.
Another resident, Fay Dean, said she can’t even cross the road in front of her condo. Even though there’s a marked crosswalk, no one will stop.
The road-closing option, which is being proposed for the stretch from Macdonald Street to Alma Street, is the culmination of years of efforts to both reduce traffic and get more cycling room.
Residents lobbying for change during the 1997 transportation-plan consultations were successful in getting the road designated a 30 km/h zone – though drivers ignore that, they now say.
Former Non-Partisan Association councillor Peter Ladner, a dedicated cyclist who lives a block off the road, once suggested handing over one complete road lane to cyclists all the way from the south end of the Burrard Bridge to the western end of Point Grey.
Mr. Ladner said the current option being discussed in resident meetings with the city’s engineering department is better. “It’s the best idea I’ve heard so far, but it still has to be bounced off everybody because it affects a lot of people.”
The change would mean drivers coming south off the Burrard Bridge could still go part of the way along Cornwall Avenue, which turns into Point Grey Road. Then drivers would be steered to Fourth Avenue at Macdonald.
City transportation engineer Jerry Dobrovolny said nothing is going to be done overnight, even once the 2040 plan is passed. That plan will only lay out broad new directions for transportation in the city. After that, engineers will work with people in a number of “study areas” to look at options for changing traffic patterns.
Mr. Dobrovolny said once the transportation plan is passed, there will be detailed talks about how exactly to accommodate bikes, cars and pedestrians in the Point Grey area. One option is to build a parallel route for cyclists, possibly along Third to the south or along the water to the north. But that would only be a partial solution for those who live along Point Grey Road.
“We don’t want to create a problem for everybody else,” Ms. McColl said. “But it’s about safety. You’re frightened to go out on the street here.”