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Cafés look to profit from Kits bike lane construction

With work starting on the Kitsilano bike lane, cafés on West 4th are hopeful that, for once, construction will be…

By Jericho Knopp , in Business , on October 16, 2013 Tags: , ,

The West 4th Avenue coffee shop is as busy as usual.
49th Parallel Coffee Roasters hasn’t seen a loss in business because of bike-lane traffic; it is as busy as ever.

With work starting on the Kitsilano bike lane, cafés on West 4th are hopeful that, for once, construction will be good for business.

On Oct. 7, work started on creating a new pedestrian and cyclist signal at West Third Avenue and MacDonald Street.

Later on in the month, crews will continue construction at West Third and Bayswater Street. Roadwork is expected to continue in different areas of the neighbourhood until 2017.

Local businesses have not seen much of a change yet, but they hope that more traffic on West 4th Avenue will lead to more business.

“Hopefully the change will be positive if traffic is diverted down West Fourth Avenue,” said Adrienne McGuire, owner of Blaq Sheep Coffee.

To date, she said, she has seen no changes, “but the construction is just starting.”

Evan Fehr, assistant manager at 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, feels the same way. He says that the shop has pretty steady high business normally, but “the bike lane will bring more bike people in.”

“I don’t think there will be any negative effects,” he said in a phone interview, barely audible over the morning rush in the background.

Others are more indifferent to the construction. Nan Li, owner of The Wired Monk east of MacDonald, states that he has not seen much of a difference in business, nor does he expect to.

Traffic on the rise

Construction workers install new pedestrian and cyclist signals.
Construction at MacDonald Street and West Third Avenue: The beginning of work for the Kitsilano bike lane.

Vancouver’s engineering department traffic counts show that 20,000 vehicles a day use West Fourth Avenue east of MacDonald. West of MacDonald, there are 15,000 vehicles per day.

With the closure of Point Grey Road to most traffic, the city predicts that an extra 5,000 cars per day will use West Fourth Avenue west of MacDonald, a 25-per-cent increase.

Russ Davies, the CEO of the Kitsilano 4th Avenue Business Association, believes that cars will start switching to West Fourth to avoid the roadwork when construction on Point Grey Road begins.

“It’s human nature, particularly in this town, to try not to drive through construction zones,” he said.

“The road does seem to be experiencing slightly more traffic on West Fourth as of recently,” he added, “but this could also be because it is a feeder route to UBC and school is back in session.”

Construction to last until 2017

The bike lane’s plans are detailed in a report to council from the general manager of engineering services. The construction will be completed in two phases.

The first consists of walking and cycling improvements from Burrard Bridge to Jericho Beach and will be completed in 2013 and 2014.

The second includes sidewalk widening and lighting upgrades, which will be completed between 2015 and 2017.

“To minimize disruption to residents and businesses and to optimize cost-effectiveness,” says the city’s report, “both phases will be coordinated and aligned with other planned public works construction, including sewer and water main replacement and street paving.”

The city provides details on its website about current and upcoming construction in Vancouver.