The 29th Street bike route in the District of North Vancouver is staying as-is, at least for now.
But one of the eastern-most blocks of it may be going back to the drawing board.
The bike lane, which is mostly marked by paint, with plastic deliniators installed in strategic spots, was approved by council in 2019 as part of a repaving project, with the intention of providing an active transportation route between Lynn Valley and Upper Lonsdale.
Council debated a motion from Coun. Lisa Muri Monday night to remove the traffic delineators along the south side of 29th between William Avenue and Fromme Road and restore street parking.
Muri brought the motion, arguing the bike lane wasn’t getting enough use to justify residents on the south side of the block losing access to street parking. The district should have implemented a different “compromise” option that neighbours would have been more supportive of, specifically a two-way bike lane on one side of the street with parking remaining on the other, Muri said.
“There’s not many issues that get a local community riled up. This was one of them. They have not let up on this issue for nearly four years. They have come back multiple times to council to plead with council to say: ‘Is there a way for us to deal with this?’” she said. “I don’t see why we can’t find a middle ground here.”
Coun. Betty Forbes and Mayor Mike Little joined Muri in agreeing that portion of the bike lane should come out.
Forbes said it wasn’t fair to residents on that block to lose access to curbside deliveries or pick-up/drop off by taxis, while Little said there was less need for a separated bike lane on the south side of the street because momentum picked up by cyclists on the downhill would allow them to keep pace with vehicle traffic.
The majority of council members, though, weren't ready to rip out the infrastructure, or at least not until they’d come up with an acceptable alternative – either another route, layout, or measures to mitigate hardship for 29th residents who now have accessibility issues.
Jordan Back, who rides the lane every week, said if the bike lane lacks ridership, it’s because the district hasn’t delivered enough safe routes for cyclists to connect with it.
“We don’t have a complete cycling network, by any means, in the District of North Vancouver, which in my mind is all the more reason to continue to invest in our active transportation projects,” he said. “It’s a safe route for many parents who send their kids to get to school, and to take away that safe route from those families makes no sense in my mind.”
With no consensus forming, Coun. Herman Mah said he wasn’t prepared to see the bike lane removed right away, but he also wasn’t satisfied with the status quo, suggesting it would need a deeper discussion at a future council workshop meeting.
District CAO Dave Stuart agreed a workshop taking a closer look at options for 29th, as well as the issue much more broadly, would be appropriate.
“This was a very complex project with a lot of moving pieces and a lot of competing objectives that council and staff was struggling to deal with,” he said. “We need a discussion on the philosophy of active transportation, because I have seen us go back and forth like a ping-pong ball on this over the last eight years, and we really do need to settle on something and then do it well.”