Point Grey Road is an important part of regional transportation infrastructure used for over two and a half million commuting trips each year. It connects the second-largest employment hub in the metro Vancouver area with Downtown, the North Shore and further communities.
Workers, students and residents of neighbourhoods West of Kitsilano are about to face increased commuting time and more congestion while the residents of Kitsilano away from the Golden Mile can expect more traffic on their streets. Transit passengers will have fewer bus stops and more time spent on a bus as it attempts to crawl through traffic bottlenecks.
City of Vancouver cites the following reasons for this drastic transportation impediment:
- safety improvements to Point Grey Rd and Cornwall
- connecting Jericho and Kitsilano beaches
- improving cycling and walking connections with the Burrard Bridge
- supporting active transportation
- while considering impacts to local businesses, residents and transit.
Review of the proposals put forward by the City Hall show the failure to address any of the stated goals.
Safety - ICBC shows that since 2008 there was not a single cycling accident on Point Grey Road. By contrast, Cornwall has numerous accidents.
Against those facts, City Hall wants to close the stretch of this route that did not have any accidents - Point Grey Rd, and only suggest that cyclists get off Cornwall and use parallel, York Ave, through that area. City Hall does not propose any improvements along Kits Beach and Kits Pool.
Connecting beaches - by prioritizing occasional and seasonal recreational use over daily and year-round work commuting needs City Hall fails to recognize necessities of access to workplace and caters to recreational demands of occasional users.
Burrard Bridge cycling - after more than 3 years the City Hall has finally admitted that separated bike lanes did not increase a number of cyclists on that bridge. In 2012, cyclists accounted for only 5% of bridge traffic, the same as it was in 2011, 2010 and 2009 when the bike lanes were installed. Worse, the number of vehicle accidents increased sharply in 2009 and 2010, while cycling accidents went up in 2011 and 2012.
Active transportation - commuters are reasonable and practical. We all estimate the time that it takes to get from A to B and choose how we get there accordingly.
With a walking speed of about 6km/h, we walk to a corner store - in fact, walking accounts for nearly a quarter of all trips, but only around 3% of all distance travelled. At 15km/h average speeds, we hop on a bike to get to a community centre or a park. To deal with a 7.4 km typical commuting distance in Vancouver, we choose a car with its average speed of 30km/h, or a moped, or a bus or skytrain. To get to Mexico to participate in a global warming conference, we dismiss accusations of hypocrisy and get on board of a plane.
The facts are that a typical commute in Vancouver is 7.4km. Half of work commutes are longer than that. Against that reality we should compare that an average cycling trip is only 3.2km - that is less than half of a typical commute. Simply put, bike is an excellent solution for travelling through our communities and not suitable for typical, daily, year-round commutes.
Considering local impacts - local priorities vs. NIMBY'ism. City Hall proposal to close off Point Grey Road, ignores thousands of commuters that travel through Kitsilano and rely on Point Grey Road to connect the North Shore and Downtown with UBC.
Credibility of the work carried out to-date is destroyed when the City Hall boast that 40% of car licence plates travelling on Point Grey Road are not even from Vancouver. To a reasonable observer it highlights a metro-wide demand for this travel route. Cars with licence plates from West and North Vancouver, UBC/UNA, UEL and other communities depend on that route to move through the region. It is not acceptable for Vancouver City Hall to unreasonably restrict traffic flows just because local residents are not primary car commuters through that area.
This argument of "not-from-here" is as unreasonable as the Village of Lions Bay charging tolls for Vancouverites on their way to Whistler or UEL placing toll booths on University Blvd "because the traffic is not from here".
Which local is the City Hall referring to? Local as in the "Golden Mile local" that effectively get a private road paid for with public funds? Or the "Macdonald local" that would get nearly twice as much traffic as it has now trying to get through a road that is half the current size.
Facts - no cycling demand
Based on facts, City Hall failed to make a case for closing Point Grey Road. This route is in high demand for daily commuters with over 2.5 million trips each year in every season. By contrast City Hall failed to provide any cycling counts on this route and relied on polling data (from its own, voluntary polls and forced polling carried out by Statistics Canada for 2006 Census) to estimate cycling demand. Recent Provincial Election is one of many examples how unreliable polls are. The nearest reference point where cycling counts are carried out is the Burrard Bridge. There, City of Vancouver data shows that cycling accounts for only 5% of traffic and is highly seasonal. Furthermore, no cycling increases have been observed since separated bike lanes were established.
Facts - no safety improvements
ICBC data demonstrates that it is Cornwall Avenue from Burrard Bridge to Kits Pool that is the dangerous section along this route. Unfortunately, the proposed plan does not make any material changes to that section. By contrast, Vancouver City Hall proposes radical changes to the section of the route that, fortunately, did not have a single cycling accident since 2008.
Keep Point Grey Road open to all commuters. Respect neighbouring communities. Don't manufacture congestion.
UEL residents might consider contacting their only elected local government representative: Ms. Maria Harris, Metro Vancouver Director, Electoral Area A, to ask for her insight on how this road closure would impact UEL commuters and share local concerns with the City of Vancouver.
City of Vancouver feedback page (until June 10th):
City of Vancouver materials:
Other data sources: