In a 5-2 vote, Mission council approved a plan to create separated bike lanes on the north and south side of Seventh Avenue between Stave Lake Street and Taulbut Street.
In order to do this, parking on the north side of the street will be eliminated.
Just west of Taulbut Street, the north bike lane will transition to behind the sidewalk. The existing parking on the north and south side of Seventh Avenue will remain in this location.
Although council voted to move the project forward, the decision was not unanimous. Both Mayor Randy Hawes and Coun. Jim Hinds voted against the proposal.
Hawes said he wasn’t “overly thrilled” with the concept and would not support it because he feels there is a safety issue.
The proposal would see a 1.5 metre bike lane on either side of the road and a 2.4 metre space (on the south side) for street parking. That would leave room for two 3.3 metre travel lanes, one in each direction, for vehicles.
The 3.3 metre lane width is the Transportation Association of Canada’s minimum size permitted for a truck route.
Hawes said he doesn’t feel confident in the minimum lane size proposed.
He said when someone in a parked car opens their door, it will swing out into the travel lanes. He questioned what would happen if two trucks passed each other while someone was trying to leave their car or take their child out of the car.
“You are going to scare the pants off a lot of people,” he said. “I think we are compromising safety.”
Hawes added that council should take a closer look at the road.
“I would like to see us go down there with tape measures and let’s have a demonstration … If you are the one parking there or your family is parking there with the 3.3 metre travel lanes, I think you’d be concerned – very concerned,” Hawes said.
Coun. Pam Alexis appeared to take exception to Hawes’ comment.
“You, your Worship, constantly tell us that we’re not the experts, that we are not the technical people who bring information to council. So, when you said something about bringing a tape measure, that’s not our role. Our role is to hear from our experts, our professionals.”
Alexis said the new bike lanes are “an opportunity for Mission, finally, to get into the next century.”
As far as safety goes, Alexis said it is first and foremost for her.
Other councillors agreed that it was time to move forward on the project.
But Hawes suggested a different plan.
He asked if it would be possible to try widening the sidewalk by 1.5 metres on the south side and calling that the bike lane. That would allow wider travel lanes.
However, council decided not to pursue that idea and moved the bike lane plan forward.
Coun. Jim Hinds, who also voted against the idea, asked staff where homeowners on the north side of the street were supposed to park, noting they can’t park in front of the fire hall.
Staff said there will be enough parking on the one side to accommodate the number of vehicles normally parked in the area.