Vancouver backs off Mobi bike station after complaints from West End residents
Residents feel 'walked over' by city plans to build a bike station outside their West End co-op
The City of Vancouver has temporarily put the brakes on the installation of one of its bike share stations after residents in a West End building complained it would eliminate badly needed parking spots.
The residents of a co-op building on Cardero Street said they were told last Thursday afternoon — two days before a long weekend — that construction of a bike share station for 25 Mobi rentals was to begin Tuesday outside their building.
That station would eliminate several two-hour, free parking spaces in front of the co-op.
The move upset residents because many are elderly. Some use walkers and canes, as do their visitors, and they say they rely on the parking spots located close by.
Following Thursday's surprise visit from the Mobi representative, residents sent a flurry of emails to the city and the bike share program complaining they weren't adequately consulted about the new station and loss of parking.
On Tuesday, the city said it would hold off on the installation.
"In this case, we've been informed that there has been a miscommunication," said Jerry Dobrovolny, the city's general manager of engineering services.
Last month, the city unveiled its long-awaited bike share program, Mobi, launching 23 stations across the city.
In time, the rental network will include up to 1,500 bikes at 150 city-wide stations.
Dobrovolny, who noted that competition for parking spots is tight in Vancouver, said the city is making a point of contacting residents and building owners affected by the new planned bike rental stations.
But residents of the Cardero Street co-op said they heard nothing of the station installation until last Thursday when a representative from Mobi appeared at the co-op with a notice saying the installation would begin Tuesday, Aug. 2.
The notice was handed to the co-op's board president, Mark Galsworthy, who was surprised.
"We weren't consulted," Galsworthy said. "To turn up a day before a long weekend is not fair.
"We're being walked over."
In an interview, Dobrovolny insisted that Mobi had previously contacted the building's property management firm to warn about the bike station installation, but residents say this explanation doesn't fly.
They say the building is a self-run co-op. It hires an outside firm, FirstService Residential, to help with finances and its annual general meeting.
An employee of that company told the residents he hadn't heard from Mobi or the city about the bike rental station, residents say.
Dobrovolny said the city decided Tuesday to put the Cardero Street bike rental installation on hold "as soon as we were made aware there were concerns."
Mobi or city staff are to meet with residents this week, Dobrovolny said, and perhaps reset outreach efforts.
"We're fine to step back for a moment and go meet with the residents and have that dialogue."
With files by Tina Lovgreen