West Vancouver residents block traffic to protest proposed bus lane
Merchants along Marine Drive say fewer lanes for customers will impact business
West Vancouver residents blocked a lane of traffic Saturday morning to protest a proposed bus lane through their community, which will make way for a new B-Line rapid-service bus.
Dozens of protesters showed up at the corner of Marine Drive and 13th Street to voice their opposition to the bus lane, which TransLink proposed as part of its North Shore Transportation study.
"It was just sprung on us," said business owner and protest organizer Nigel Malkin, referring to the proposal.
"The school board didn't know, the police planning committee didn't know, they haven't discussed with the merchants, they haven't discussed it with the community."
Traffic is a sore spot for many on the North Shore, where congestion on key routes and bridges is a regular occurrence.
TransLink proposed the bus lane on Marine Drive as a way to ease the burden on North Shore roads. The lane will reduce the road from a total of four lanes for passenger vehicles in both directions down to a total of two.
West Van residents have blocked off a lane of traffic on Marine Drive in protest of a proposed bus lane <a href="https://t.co/Af9FiP0OQ0">pic.twitter.com/Af9FiP0OQ0</a>—@jonvhernandez
According to its report, a single B-Line bus can carry the equivalent of 110 single-occupancy cars. It says the B-Line buses will be able to move up to 1,600 people per hour — the equivalent of four BC Ferry loads.
"If you put in a B-Line, and you dedicate traffic lanes for them, that's going to encourage more people to travel less by car, and more by bus," said Peter Scholefield with the HUB cycling network.
The report says TransLink consulted with hundreds of North Shore residents over a two-month period and got strong support for the B-Line buses and traffic changes to make them faster.
But protesters on Saturday said the bus lane will make congestion even worse. They blocked the road to give drivers a sneak peek of what's to come.
Business owner Michel Ibrahim said people like him will bear the brunt of the change.
"We [are] all happy with the way it is now. It's good for the customers, like the mother here with her son, she park her car here and come for a haircut," he said.
With files from Jon Hernandez