British Columbia

Vancouver bike lanes to stay, city council decides

City council has voted unanimously to make the two separated bike lanes that run through downtown Vancouver a permanent fixture.

City council has voted unanimously to make the two separated bike lanes that run through downtown Vancouver a permanent fixture.

City staff reported Wednesday the trial bike lanes on Hornby and Dunsmuir streets have been a success — more people are cycling, there have been fewer collisions and more women are cycling.

City council voted unanimously to keep the experimental Vancouver bike lanes. (CBC)

Cyclist Erin O'Melinn, with a cycling coalition called HUB, says the news is a relief.

"There are more people cycling than there were before and that's really important because women are an indicator species in cycling — if they are riding their bikes it means there is a high level of safety and a feeling of comfort," she said.

"So that means people that are really young — kids — and people that are really old — seniors — will also feel really comfortable."

'How many tickets?'

But many downtown businesses are opposed to the bike lanes, saying the loss of street parking hurts business.

Najat Younan, who works at the Pita Wrap Cafe, says the lanes make front door deliveries complicated.

"Like we used to park three hours, just to drop stuff temporary ... now we can't drop stuff, and in the alley there's no parking there — how many tickets have we got there?"

A study released by the city last year estimated the total loss of sales at nearby businesses at $2.4 million, which translates into about $480,000 in lost profits over one year. The city, however, calls those losses moderate, saying business vacancies have actually gone down from 10 per cent to two per cent since the bike lanes were put in.

The $3.2-million experimental project was launched 2010. The city calculates there were more than 25,000 bike trips on Hornby and Dunsmuir streets in March 2012.

With files from the CBC's Emily Elias