Parents worried Drake Street bike lane will impact access to school

A proposed bike route along Drake Street has triggered concerns from some parents that the project could make it harder to access a nearby elementary school.

The City of Vancouver is hoping to install a protected bike lane on Drake between Burrard Street and Pacific Boulevard, filling a gap in east-west cycling routes through the downtown core.

Only one other protected bike lane currently crosses Granville Street, and it’s seven blocks north along Dunsmuir.

Proposed bike route

But parents at Yaletown’s Elsie Roy Elementary School worry it could make an already busy drop-off, pick-up area even more hectic, particularly for the families of students with disabilities.

“There are some kids that really need to be picked up right here, right in front, because they can’t walk or they have some issues,” said Colette Tan, whose daughter goes to Elsie Roy. “We have to spare a thought for those kids and their parents as well.”

The bike lane proposal has already prompted a petition that’s been signed by about 160 people so far.

Officials note the route ends on the other side of Pacific Boulevard from Elsie Roy, and won’t impact the block directly in front of the school. But the two options put forward for the project would remove anywhere from 50 per cent to 88 per cent of parking spaces west of Pacific on Drake.

Parents say that could result in more drivers trying to snag the sought-after parking spots across the street from Elsie Roy, clogging up the road even more.

Some also questioned the need for a protected bike lane so close to the Seawall.

“Most of the people go to the Seawall. It’s better to cycle there than here,” said Tan, who sometimes bikes with her daughter to school.

Paul Storer, manager of transportation design for the city, said Vancouver has been eyeing a bike lane on Drake Street since 2012. It’s already a popular route for cyclists, despite a lack of protection that makes them vulnerable to accidents like “dooring,” when cyclists are struck as motorists are stepping out of their vehicles.

According to the city’s bike lane proposal, dooring accidents account for 40 per cent of crashes between cyclists and drivers on Drake, compared to 15 per cent across the city as a whole.

“Drake Street has been on the map as a street to improve that’s important for cycling,” Storer said.

Officials also said they can make additional parking changes on Drake if the bike lane ends up causing chaos outside Elsie Roy.

“If there is an issue in terms of parking in that area, we would have tools to be able to manage the parking to ensure it’s really used for what really needed for – pick-up and drop-off for the school is one of the key things,” Storer said.

More information on the city’s Drake Street bike route plans are available online.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Regan Hasegawa

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