Yet another report on the benefits for business and real estate in the emerging ‘velo-city’:
It’s a property rule of thumb that some of the most sought-after homes are near Tube and train stations — but now a new transport hub is driving up prices: the Boris bike docking station.
Estate agents are reporting a surge in demand for properties with easy access to the Mayor’s cycles for hire….
Stephen Ludlow, director of Ludlow Thompson, said: “Demand for properties for rent around docking stations and cycle routes has gone up by about a third in the past year, and has been soaring since the launch of the cycle hire scheme. Our agents have been inundated with questions from prospective tenants about the nearest docking station. ”
As Richard Campbell notes: “Here is yet another reason why businesses and property owners should be excited about the Hornby Bike Lane. When the city gets a bike sharing system, I would expect streets like Hornby with protected bike lanes to be prime spots for shared bike stations.”
Like near the Wedgewood Hotel.
Located on the west side of Hornby between Robson and Smithe, it has been one of the most vocal critics of the proposed cycle track.
But imagine this scenario. A well-heeled patron of the Wedgewood drives up from Seattle in his Lexus, and immediately checks his car with the valet. He won’t need it for the rest of the weekend.
Instead, come the morning, he walks out of the hotel to the closest docking station for a bike-share or, more likely, asks the valet to bring him an upscale touring bike especially selected for the Wedgewood’s guests.
From there, he has a choice. Either get on the green-coloured cycle track to head north, directly to Coal Harbour and eventually to Stanley Park, or south to False Creek, perhaps to catch a ferry across to Granville Island for brunch. The return trip takes him along the Seaside route, back to either end of the Hornby cycle track, to return to the hotel.
The entire route is separated, scenic and simple to grasp. He feels like he could be somewhere in Europe, possibly, but in fact it’s a uniquely Vancouver experience. It’s the highlight of his trip – something he’ll talk about to his friends for weeks.
Perhaps on his next trip he’ll explore other routes that connect with Hornby, like the Dunsmuir, and ride past the St. Regis Hotel at Seymour, where a slightly hipper crowd is discovering the same experience for themselves.
Yet instead of seizing the possibility, the Wedgewood sees only inconvenience. Here’s Nelson Skalbania, the husband of Eleni, the Wedgewood proprietor:
He said the hotel pays $400,000 in city taxes and parking in the area is already so limited that he has to provide valet service for his customers.
Speaking in front of media, city officials and passersby, he said saw no reason why he or his guests should be put out by the city’s acquiescence to the two-wheeled world.
And here’s the paradox: Nelson is an avid recreational cyclist. As is Rob Macdonald, developer of the St. Regis, most recently profiled as a participant in the GranFondo, who is also white-hot in his criticism of the way the City imposed the Dunsmuir route.
At the recent open house at Pacific Centre, Macdonald and representatives of the Wedgewood were there to make their criticisms known.
My hunch is that it’s not the cycle tracks per se that are annoying them. As people used to power – and having their power acknowledged – they are upset at having something that affects them and their customers imposed without what they believe to be appropriate consultation.
And yet, oddly, they seem to be missing the point. The City is changing in ways that they personally have already experienced: better living, better health, through active transportation.
Now they have to see how their businesses will benefit too.