This is circulating widely around the interweb today, so I’ll add to the buzz:

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Petition

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Oh no. The Commercial Drive BIA has put out a very persuasive “survey”/petition opposed to the proposed bike lanes on Commercial Drive. Streets for Everyone … help us respond to this by reaching out to your business contacts in the area to come out in favor of the proposed street enhancement project! Please help!
Yes, the Commercial Drive “Business Improvement Assocation” is out to delegitimize the some two dozen Commercial Drive businesses that are already supporting a Street For Everyone (see list below). One of their arguments is that a bike lane is apparently a “high speed cycling lane” and would be unsafe for pedestrians. Really, less safe than four lanes of fast moving cars and trucks? The protected bike lane improvements on Hornby Street made the road safer for people walking, cycling and driving reducing crashes by 19%. We expect similar results on the Drive.
None of the BIA’s protest points are empirically founded.
1. Tax burden:
The opposite is the case. Study after study finds that walking & cycling places is not only less of a burden than driving, it brings economic benefit to society, while driving is effectively subsidized by government.

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2. Decreased customer traffic and “job losses”:
Myth. Here is “every study ever conducted” on the topic: cyclists are “competitive consumers”. Is the BIA under the impressive that cyclists have no money to spend, that they don’t eat?

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3. Parking:
SFE’s analysis, backed up by independent analysis, has already found that a bike lane can be implemented with no net loss of parking. The experiences of Union Street and downtown lanes has shown that business continues to thrive..

Surprisingly, the BIA’s own Vision and Guidelines document says:
“If the City determines that a bike lane is required on Commercial Drive resulting in any loss of on-street parking, this vision proposes that the City mitigate any such loss of parking” 
“If the City does decide to implement bike lanes on Commercial Drive, the CDBS would suggest converting one (or two) travel lane(s) to two-way painted bike lanes, rather than removing on-street parking.”
Well, why is the BIA launching a campaign on the false pretence that parking needs to be taken away, when in fact their own vision describes a scenario similar to Streets For Everyone’s? Their own policy contradiction is a head-scratcher.

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4. Connecting to other bike routes:
It will connect to other bike routes: the Central Valley Greenway and Lakewood, Woodland, and Adanac via side streets. Would we like the bike lane to go even further? Yes, of course! If this was truly the BIA’s central point of contention, they could join us for that campaign.

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5. Topography:
Commercial Drive hardly has the city’s most challenging topography.
The BIA doesn’t explain what they mean by this.

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The Downtown Vancouver Business Association is far ahead of the Commercial BIA, coming out last month in favour of more cyclist infrastructure. See this and this. Their representative said, “There’s often a disconnect between how businesses think their customers get to their store and what their reality is.”
And clearly, judging by SFE’s business supporters, the Commercial Drive BIA is not representing all businesses’ points of view. Nor is it representing the community’s point of view: following an extensive community engagement process, the Grandview-Woodland Citizens’ Assembly said ‘yes!’ to a Commercial Drive bike lane.
 
How to act:
1. Email the BIA and tell them they’re wrong: info@thedrive.ca.
Check out out Fact Sheet for some content inspiration.
2. Talk to all the Commercial Drive businesses you visit.
Tell them that pedestrians and cyclists shop, too, and deserve to be treated with respect. There are tons of reasons for businesses to support a bike lane: we talk about them in our Fact Sheet and on Facebook sometimes. Tell businesses you support a Commercial Drive for Everyone in-person, by email or phone, or write on their Facebook wall or on Twitter.
3. Sign our petition
We’re already thousands strong!
4. Help us out in February with canvassing small businesses.
Respond to this email if you have some time to offer, particularly on the weekend.

Comments

  1. One wonders if bike lanes have to be on commercial, or rather a block or 2 off ?
    Parking is relevant, as it flow of traffic and bike lanes hinder both.
    Yes to more bike lanes in Vancouver, but not on every major artery, and yes to more traffic flow AND increased parking fees.
    Free parking on roads you do not own is no different than squatting in inner city parks.
    Commercial is too far away from major residential area and it is a myth that more bike lanes will generate more business. Only rapid transit, say a subway station nearby, will increase commercial traffic. More bike lanes there will annoy drivers and reduce parking and commercial traffic.
    What would increase commercial traffic is a pedestrian zone of several blocks AND a rapid subway/LRT station nearby.

  2. We own strata property (not near Commercial Drive), but apparently qualify for the survey according to their criteria, so filled it out.

  3. Here’s my submission:
    Hi all, I love the drive!
    My spouse and I have a household income of roughly $xxx,000. We both really enjoy places like Grotto di Formaggio, Cafe Deux Soleils, JJ Bean. We love spending money on the drive!
    We usually just spend our money and time downtown, though. Without bike lanes, we find it’s just not worth going into harm’s way on your street. So we only go to Commercial Drive every once in a while. But we would spend hundreds more dollars at your businesses every year if it was easier to bike there!
    Just to underscore – we make a lot of money, and we get to spend more of it on food because we don’t own a car. We have never ever driven a car to any of your members. Commercial Dr. is a quick 15 minute bike ride from our house – it would be so easy for us to pop over for a nice evening on the town. Unfortunately, it’s a very hostile street to cyclists because there are no bike lanes. I also find that I’m hungrier after I ride a bike, and more willing to spend frivolously on dessert.
    You might be interested to know that retail sales have increased in every place that has successfully installed bike lanes. But that wasn’t because of us personally – there are lots of other people who have money and want to spend it in places with bike lanes. Just ask the DVBIA – I’m constantly in their stores and restaurants. In fact I’m typing this from the Vietsub on Robson right now!
    Oh well, I guess I’ll keep spending my money in places that have bike lanes, like Yaletown, Gastown, and the West End.
    Let me know if you change your mind! I’ll be sure to have my Mastercard ready.
    PS Don’t just ask your merchants and homeowners if they want bike lanes. Shouldn’t you ask the people that actually spend money on the drive? Or the people that avoid the drive because of the lack of bike lanes?

    1. I’ll second your observations. I also stopped shopping on Commercial a few years ago because it’s an increasingly unpleasant street to cycle on.
      My options are to walk to Main Street for groceries or cycle to Commercial, both taking about the same time. Over the years the negatives – mostly traffic related – in going to Commercial have begun to outweigh the positives (except when I want very specific deli items), while Main Street’s attractions have been growing in a number of well-documented ways.
      In the end I’m inclined to patronize the street that offers the best combination of good shopping and a pleasant/interesting environment to walk/bike to & through. Competition for shopping dollars has many aspects. It’s not just about maximizing car traffic and parking – in fact doing those things will drive many people away. For me, Main Street has become the better option in spite of a more dispersed and less complete core of shops.
      I too have been carless for a number of years, also not out of economic necessity but as a lifestyle decision – and one which has let me redirect the extra $5000 in annual after tax income to more worthwhile purposes.
      Good cycling infrastructure makes this city more livable, more interesting, and much more affordable. I’m sure there are issues to be sorted out in the case of the Commercial Drive bike lanes, but I hope they decide to go ahead with them. I would shop there more often if they do.

  4. I have not seen if there is a new iteration of the plan but the last version had a lot of negativeeffects on transit. Of which I would venture are way more numerous than cyclists will be even after the bike lanes are built. I don’t think bike lanes and transit have to conflict but the last version I saw for Commercial would be bad for transit…..and if they were willing to affect a bit more parking it could be fixed. So what is the message it is OK to affect transit users but not parking to get a bike lane?

    1. Well, if we go by the priority list then transit would be prioritized before private motor vehicles. Therefore the parking would have to go in places. If they made some new parking spots somewhere else then it would not affect anyone when they drove to Commercial.

  5. Does anybody have an image of what the new street cross section is going to look like? I think that a Carrall like setup would work better than a Dunsmuir like arrangement. Commercial has far more pedestrian and local bike traffic than either of those though.
    On the upside, at least Translink doesn’t have money to try to put a B-Line on Commercial. I still have no idea what that would look like or how someone thought that could have been a good idea. With a bike lane, a B-Line likely would have been a disaster.

    1. Indeed. A subway would be better, of course, continueing to N-Van and connecting to the new subway going east from downtown Vancouver, and going south connecting with SkyTrain / New Broadway subway. That is worthy a few billion $s of investment, so why are we not discussing this. Oh wait, it wasn’t in the Mayors MetroVan Transportation plan.
      A few bike lanes here and there and a few more buses will not cure MetroVan’s transit & traffic pain !
      Perhaps we need a new bolder plan or new mayors ?

      1. There’s no ‘1 thing’ that will “cure” our “traffic pain”; aside from the immediate cessation of all automobile traffic. And then we’d just complain about too many bicycles, so that’s not even a solution. The problem of too-many-cars was created incrementally over several generations through tens of thousands of small and medium-sized decisions at every level of government. It was incremental.
        And that is how it will be reduced (never “solved”) – through many small projects and an occasional bigger one. No one, single master-stroke exists; so let’s stop crapping on modest, incremental proposals because they alone do not “solve” the “problem” with one fell swoop. Because that’s just silly.

  6. I was in a public meeting about a year ago which was organized by Streets for Everyone. Many business owners and others spoke favourably about the proposal, but the head of the BIA was solidly opposed. He owns a restaurant on the Drive and his biggest objection was a proposed bike corral (which could hold 8-10 bikes) which would take the place of one car parking spot on his block and he was worried that this would remove precious parking space for his customers. I guess change is difficult, but some people become totally irrational when attempting to protect the status quo.

    1. His reaction was bizarre. From the beginning it was decided that car parking would be retained, including in front of his business yet he talks about it as if it would be removed. Does he not have eyes? Can he not see the parking spots in the plan? Has he even looked at it? The only conclusion is that there is some other motive going on.
      Not to gossip but wasn’t his restaurant the same one that refused a Lesbian wedding reception not that long ago?

      1. Isn’t it a privately owned restaurant ? Should they not state what customers they like or not ? I have no problem with restaurants stating “no men allowed” as it caters to women only, for example. Does private ownership not come with rights, too ?
        Tolerance is a two-way street, is it not ?

        1. It was kind of off topic I realize but I mention it as another example of how out of touch he is with his neighbourhood.

      2. While it is a privately owned restaurant, he claims to speak for the businesses on Commercial Drive, ignoring that some of those businesses are in support of building complete streets. One was on Global news tonight, and spoke very well in support of the proposed changes.

  7. It’s funny how short-sighted the BIA is. I ride through that area regularly on my bike, and give the Drive a pass because of the insane traffic there, preferring to ride a little up the hill to Victoria. If I do go to the Drive, I never take my car because there is never any parking there anyway, and it costs money if you do get a spot. If they did put a bike lane in there I would be patronizing those businesses more often.

  8. With so many cyclists avoiding the Drive you’d think the merchants would welcome anything that brings more business. Apparently they aren’t suffering, so any change is viewed as potentially negative. Personally, I find a shaming and bullying campaign to be distasteful. Rather, wouldn’t engagement, education and dialogue – and some supportive data about benefits – be much more fruitful?

    1. I agree. This idea benefits the businesses there so they should be all over it. And we know that most of them are. The ones who are hesitant have fears (however unjustified) and just need to learn more about it.
      This “survey” is chock full of lies and misinformation. We don’t know who’s really behind it (we can guess of course) but in any case, there needs to be a response to it.
      The fact that they have to lie is indicative that there really isn’t anything wrong with the plan. If there were then they would have something real to use to object with. They should become involved in the process and the design instead of holding a misinformation campaign.

  9. Commercial Drive isn’t really a commuter artery (nearby Clark Drive would fit that bill) so added congestion isn’t a huge dealbreaker.
    Even for transit – there’s a nearby SkyTrain Station, so transit riders who “ride the loop” on the bus to get downtown instead of transferring to SkyTrain – they may just learn to transfer to SkyTrain.
    As for the commercial businesses, if they draw customers from far away, then parking would be a concern. If they rely on neighbourhood customers, it’s not so much a concern.
    There’s so much shifting around with regard to restaurant trends that I don’t think you can base the decision for a long term infrastructure project on a few existing businesses who may not be around in the future (the same goes for NIMBY residents, too).

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