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Gordzilla in the City: Putting green ideology before common sense - The Province

Gordon Clark, May 12, 2016, The Province Opinion Section

For the large portion of Metro Vancouver residents who think Vision Vancouver’s obsession with bike lanes is nuts, the news over the past little while will not have improved their mood.

In no particular order, Vancouver City Hall has announced that it is spending millions for bike-lane “improvements” on the Burrard Bridge, Point Grey Road and on 10th Avenue near Vancouver General Hospital.

That’s on top of the constant campaign to block off streets to vehicle traffic, such as the recent mess that’s been created on Cypress Street, the silly and hardly used bike lane on West King Edward Avenue and doesn’t even address the increased traffic congestion Vision will create through the removal of the viaducts and the inevitable plan to take over traffic lanes on Granville Bridge for a bike path.

Knowing the kind of public outcry they get every time they close streets to vehicle traffic, increasing congestion, Vision now appears to be governing by stealth — slowly and unnecessarily closing down streets and intersections, and handing over road surface to cyclists with little public input or fanfare.

I understand that they don’t want to expose themselves to public anger and it’s clear that they also don’t care one bit what the majority wish — to be able to get around the city efficiently — but perhaps our civic overlords could answer a question a lot of taxpaying citizens are asking:

When is enough, enough?

Or will Mayor Gregor Robertson and his gang only be happy when there’s a bike lane on every street and the city’s motor-vehicle traffic comes to a standstill? It sure seems that way, given how city hall delights in putting zero effort into improving traffic flow. In fact, they are doing the opposite, especially when they block intersections that force drivers — including emergency vehicles — to take longer, meandering routes around the city, burning up more gas. How green is that?

The plan to turn 10th Avenue in the hospital district primarily into a route for cyclists and pedestrians shows the absurd lengths that Vision will go to in putting their green ideology ahead of good sense.

How fruit loop do you have to be to think that the sick, the injured, the disabled or the city’s increasing population of seniors visiting Vancouver General Hospital or nearby doctors’ offices and clinics will mostly arrive on foot or bike? Will weakened cancer patients head to VGH for chemotherapy on bicycles?

The city claims “improving” 10th Avenue between Main and Oak streets is about making life better for cyclists and pedestrians, but that’s always just their code for messing up the lives of motorists. They say that motor-vehicle access to the hospital and nearby clinics will be preserved, but you just know it will be less convenient for drivers, including reduced parking.

As is usually the case, Vision is “fixing” a problem that doesn’t exist — no cyclist has difficulty now riding down 10th Avenue, just like no cyclist ever had a problem getting around the city before Vision took power. I know because I was one.

Vision and city hall engineers also deserve criticism for some of their cycling projects that, while not only impeding car, truck and bus traffic, haven’t been good for cyclists.

Take the Burrard Bridge bikes lanes. That brilliant design actually turned the intersection of Burrard and Pacific into the intersection with the greatest number of cycling accidents in B.C., according to ICBC.

Now the same engineers behind the mess are redoing their work six years later with a $10-million repair to the intersection in addition to the $20 million they are spending on bridge upgrades that, you guessed it, also involves taking away yet another lane from motor vehicles.

The city is also spending $6.4 million to “improve” the two-year-old Point Grey Road bike lane/rich-people enclave that transferred 10,000 cars a day from the former arterial route to nearby streets. City engineer Jerry Dobrovolony recently told CBC that closing Point Grey Road produced “a tremendous livability benefit.” Hah! He’s clearly not talked to folks who live on the new 4th, 10th and 16th autobahns or the many Point Grey Road residents upset with how hard it is to get to their homes.

Few Vancouverites, myself included, oppose bike lanes. We’re just tired of Vision using them as part of their failed social-engineering experiment to degrade arterial routes, increasing Vancouver’s ridiculous and not-at-all-green traffic congestion, through unnecessary intersection closures.

Those do little to improve cycling for the tiny portion of Vancouverites who choose that method of transportation and only impede motor-vehicle traffic — the way the vast majority of citizens and taxpayers get around.

Enough, in fact, is enough.

The Gordzilla in the City column is written by Gordon Clark, the editorial pages editor. He can be reached at gclark@postmedia.com. Letters to the editor can be sent to provletters@theprovince.com.

(Read the article here)

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