Looking back on 2022: transportation a big talker in New West
Bike lanes, pedestrian safety, share programs some of the biggest topics
You could make an argument for the Royal City moniker being a fairly big topic of discussion last year. However, looking back at the stories The Anchor published in 2022, transportation was easily the frontrunner.
I managed to sit through most of the council meetings from late March to the end of 2022, and nearly every single meeting made mention of some kind of transportation issue.
Whether you love them or hate them, many were talking about the bike lanes in Uptown New West—namely the ones along 6th Street. There has been both enthusiasm and disdain for the project: those in favour have said they appreciated how safe they feel with committed bike spaces, while those against it have said the lanes have impacted businesses, with some drivers finding them a challenge to drive around.
The lanes are a part of the All Ages and Abilities transportation plan, or AAA for short. Within the city's master transportation plan (MTP) there have been long-term plans in place to reduce the need to travel by automobile.
During the city's final council meeting of 2022, the topic of transportation came up in at least four of the delegations—presentations by the public to council—with one person asking for a solution to the traffic problems in Queensborough, and another voicing his frustration with the bike lanes allegedly not being used for what they were supposed to be. Two people in favour of the bike lanes also spoke, with one cyclist asking for better bike parking options throughout the city so that he'd be able to visit local businesses. At a previous meeting in April, the Uptown Business Association's Bart Slotman said they were worried about all the parking spaces being eliminated by the new path.
Next speaker: Bart Slotman of the Uptown Biz Association talking about some bike lanes along the 700 blk of Sixth St. They like the idea of bike lanes AND the pedestrian-friendly previously talked about a few years back. However...
— Ria Renouf (@riarenouf)
Apr 12, 2022
Slotman notes they don't want to see ALL the parking eliminated by the separated bike lanes. Slotman is worried that already struggling retailers in the area will struggle even further since they rely on the in-and-out option that comes with a car.
— Ria Renouf (@riarenouf)
Apr 12, 2022
You can expect this topic to continue into 2023, with the first council meeting of the new year set to take place on Monday, Jan. 9.
Bike lanes weren't the only subject top of mind: one of the first stories we covered at The Anchor included one Victoria Hill resident voicing his concerns regarding a stretch of Columbia Street that isn't the friendliest if you're a pedestrian. Phil Kehres walks to work nearly every day; his route involves a stretch between Cumberland and Debeck streets in which trucks and other vehicles will whiz by.
"When you add in some rain, or some tricky weather of some kind, there's always that kind of heart in your throat," he told The Anchor in May.
Car sharing—another popular initiative in New Westminster—became a pain point for one man who ended up having to reschedule a medical appointment after the Evo he hoped to use was spotted behind a gated parking lot at Royal and McBride.
“I was swearing up a storm frantically trying to find the car,” Kevin Wilson told The Anchor back in June. “I probably wandered for a good half an hour, running up and down the street trying to find this thing. By the time I got to it, I realized I wasn’t going to make my appointment."
There's another kind of transportation-related sharing that's come up time and again: where's New Westminster's bike share program?
“At this point, what we’ve been focusing on is really building up the network of greenways and well-designed cycling facilities so that as we see more people cycling, they’ve got the facilities to do so,” Lisa Leblanc, the city’s director of engineering services, told the Anchor over the summer.
Leblanc added the importance of making sure that the program doesn't exclude parts of the population, while trying to figure out which spots in the city would be best served as a bike or ebike pick-up and drop-off point.
“Which parts of the city are of particular interest of access by bike and making sure the program would be structured in a way to provide good, safe, comfortable, and convenient access to the places of highest interest and of highest demand,” added Leblanc at the time.