Vernon city hall has been told that not everyone opposes proposed changes to a major road.
About 175 people attended a rally at Wesbild Centre Saturday to support bicycle paths and specifically paths along 43rd Avenue, from 27th to 32nd streets.
“There are quite a few people who feel strongly about cycling options,” said Gerry Naito, a resident who organized the rally.
The city has proposed going from four to three lanes of motorized traffic (one each way for traffic and a centre two-way, left-turn lane) on 43rd Avenue while the rest of the space would be designated for cyclists.
Many merchants have criticized the so-called road diet concept and petitioned city hall. But Naito says other views exist in the community.
“People are opposed to it for a variety of reasons but often they don’t understand what’s involved in these projects,” he said.
One of the goals of the initiative is to link existing bicycle paths on the western and eastern sides of Vernon.
Those at the rally also believe the proposal will improve safety and flow for motorists.
“When there are four lanes and no left-turn lanes, anyone who stops to make a left-turn or makes a right-turn slows traffic down,” said Kim Young, with the Greater Vernon Cycling Advisory Committee.
“As it is, 43rd Avenue doesn’t work well for people wanting to go to the businesses there.”
Young says realignment of the road will also provide a larger turning radius for vehicles making right-turns.
City council recently delayed a decision on reducing 43rd Avenue from four to three lanes so staff can present more information.
“Council wants to make the correct decision for the community,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert, adding that some 43rd Avenue merchants support the changes.
The project has been dependent on a federal grant, and Lippert expects it will be part of 2012 budget discussions.
“If the gas tax (grant) funds don’t come through, it probably won’t happen right away,” he said.
Lippert isn’t surprised that cyclists have made their views known to city hall.
“Cyclists are getting together more and more and they have been vocal about where routes should be,” he said.