Cook Street retailers want bike lane moved


Cook Street Village businesses want a proposed bike lane on their street to be shuffled one block over to residential Vancouver Street.

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Businesses fear that if the bike route goes along Cook Street, it will mean fewer parking spots and shoppers. But some Vancouver Street residents are against a bike route on their street if it means taking out parking, which is at a premium as well.

Despite resident-only parking signs, motorists frequently park on Vancouver Street and walk to Cook Street or downtown, sometimes leaving their vehicles for hours, residents say.

Victoria Coun. Pamela Madoff, who was shopping in the village Friday afternoon, said a Vancouver Street bike lane would not necessarily mean street parking would be cut back.

It is important to listen to all viewpoints as plans are developed, Madoff said.

What is clear to everyone is that parking is often scarce on Cook and surrounding streets.

Cook Street Village is a lively and popular destination for nearby residents and others in the capital region. There’s a steady stream of pedestrians along the sidewalks, attracted by the selection of locally owned shops, restaurants and services, and by the village’s proximity to Beacon Hill Park and the Dallas Road waterfront.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said this week the city will take additional time to meet and discuss bike- lane plans with community members in areas such as the Cook Street Village.

The number of parking spaces that might be removed on Cook Street has not yet been determined.

“Let’s be realistic, our businesses are going to be damaged,” said Bart Reed, who owns the Beagle Pub and Island Meat and Seafood and the Cook Street building they are in, as well as the Moka House.

He started a petition with 34 signatures from business owners. There are 42 Cook Street businesses and everyone that he was able to reach signed it.

Other petitions are in the works as well, Reed said. Business owners and city officials will meet Tuesday.

“I’m still waiting for one single reason to use Cook Street [for a bike lane].” Many businesses have no parking spaces of their own, Reed said.

A count of traffic found there are 50 cars to each bike, he said.

“I don’t want to gamble on my livelihood for a hope that one or two more people might hop on their bike,” Reed said.

Vancouver Street is a “perfect solution for the bike lanes,” he said. There is no commerce and it is a quieter street, making it safer for cyclists.

Tina Robson, owner of Mercedes Lane Too on Cook Street, calls the parking situation “terrible.”

She has tried without success to find private parking in the village. Every day she hears from customers saying it is difficult to find a parking spot. Her women’s clothing shop is a destination, Robson said, noting 80 per cent of her customers come from elsewhere in the region.

A block away on Vancouver Street, resident Dan Kell described street parking as “brutal.” He does not want to see any parking spots removed from Vancouver Street.

There is not enough parking right now, he said.

“Parking right now is at such a premium in this area,” he said. “This is a very busy street, surprisingly busy.”

Nancy Ruhl, also on Vancouver Street, understands the business sector’s concerns.

A keen cyclist, Ruhl does not want to see parking spaces reduced on Vancouver Street, saying there is already a shortage.

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