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That title is sure to conjure up all kinds of images. As part of the City of Vancouver’s cycling network upgrades for years 2016-2020, the City is proposing a dedicated buffered bike lane on Commercial Drive. Some people think that championing Vancouver’s Commercial Drive as a biking and walking street will reinforce the friendly, neighbourly vibe The Drive is so well-known for. Others, like The Drive’s Business Society fear the death of retailing by cyclegeddon.

The executive director of the Commercial Drive Business Society  has written  a compelling statement clearly stating that in the society’s view, bike lanes on Commercial are not financially sound for their businesses.

Recently, businesses along The Drive have been working with the City of Vancouver to update the area’s transportation infrastructure. The dynamics of the city are changing and with that, the way we get around must adapt. Recently, however, the City has been aggressively pushing a strategy that we cannot support – the installation of permanent bicycle lanes on Commercial Drive itself.

For the record, businesses on The Drive support enhanced infrastructure for cyclists in Vancouver. Many of our business owners are cyclists themselves, as are our customers and our employees. We recognize that thanks to organizations like HUB and Mobi, cycling is on the rise…

What we cannot support, however, are permanent and blocked off lanes on an already narrow high street, with limited parking and no room for our vendors to make deliveries as is.”

So there you have it. The issue is access to parking (and a lack of dedicated parking facilities)  for people arriving by car, and deliveries servicing the businesses. As the Business Society summarizes “After all it is called The Drive for a reason”.

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Commercial Drive merchants have not yet felt the tipping point  where walkers, bikers and transit riders visit more often and spend more per month than people arriving by car. But that has been the experience of the City of Toronto and the City of New York when walking and biking facilities are expanded in commercial areas and car facilities minimized.

Price Tags editor Ken Ohrn examined the changing attitudes to biking and commercial areas in this June post, and also referred to the  thorough Stantec Business Impact Study of downtown bike lanes from 2011. Let’s hope the Commercial Drive’s Business Society gives it a read.