Inside this story is a larger one. And right on time, as the Commercial Drive bike lane debate plods on, with no resolution in sight.
Kevin Griffin writes in Postmedia’s Vancouver Sun about new businesses springing up in response to the success of Vancouver’s existing bike lanes. This is all good.
First, in respect of existing businesses, Mr. Griffin updates those few who may have missed it on the bike-lane turnaround at the DVBIA, which represents 8,000 businesses of immense variety. He quotes Charles Gauthier:
Some businesses expressed a lot of concerns primarily that they thought their customers primarily arrived by parking and driving in front of their store,” he says.. . . But a 2011 Vancouver Separated Bike Lane Impact Study included surveys that talked to customers and businesses affected by the Dunsmuir and Hornby bike routes. It found a big difference between perception and reality: 20 per cent of customers arrived by car compared to 42 per cent by transit, 32 per cent on foot and about eight per cent by bike.
“What we have seen in the intervening years along Hornby Street is that things have settled down considerably,” says Gauthier. “We’re hearing less and less about it as a point of concern.
Mr. Griffin goes on to highlight several new businesses that are bike-lane-related. But there is something else hidden in the stories, which is the City’s reputation, and the reaction of visitors to Vancouver, amid these new opportunities:
Says Cycle City Tours’ Josh Bloomfield, who offers guided city tours by bike, and is ranked spectacularly high on TripAdvisor:
We get a lot of families, parents going out with kids, and people who have heard that Vancouver is bike friendly,” he says.
“If we didn’t have this reputation and the infrastructure that you can obviously see, you wouldn’t do that. . . .
“. . . We see the smile on people’s faces when they come back,” he says. “They’ve experienced the city in a new way. They tell us ‘I wish our city could be like this.’
Says ModaCity’s Chris Bruntlett, about the move into bike-related filmmaking:
We’re telling Vancouver’s story and what’s coming out of this huge shift that’s got 10 per cent of trips to work on bicycle,” he says. “The eyes of North America are really on our city in terms of promoting and enabling cycling.
Here’s Bomber Brewing’s Blair Calibaba on their business success, located at the intersection of the Adanac and Mosaic bikeways. Don’t forget that Cycle City offers a “Craft Beer Tour”, encouraging travel (by bike) to parts of town off the typical Stanley Park – Gastown circuit:
Part of the draw for us was the location and being on such a busy avenue for cycling,” he says. “We knew we would get traffic and consistent customers. The city’s bike culture is growing incredibly in this city, thanks to the infrastructure and more cycling routes.
My take is that the bike lanes we have work fine for existing businesses, and are spawning new locally-focused and visitor-focused ones. Such opportunities will multiply as Vancouver’s AAA-network (*) spreads, and more and more destinations can be reached by people of all ages and abilities (AAA) on bikes.
I hope to see, some day in the future, more locals and tourists setting out (as they do now for other areas) for the Drive, — which is a wonderful area to explore and spend some bucks. And they will increasingly want to do it by bike. And it is the AAA bike lanes, and the network of them, which will get more people travelling to the Drive.
(*) All Ages and Abilities bike network defined.