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Bike lane detour sparks concern for Chinatown businesses

Last Updated Aug 24, 2020 at 8:32 am MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – A detour imposed by flood mitigation work could see 3 Ave. and 1 St. Street SE turned into a one-way street, but Chinatown advocates are concerned it will hinder access to businesses.

A proposal by the city to allow for flood mitigation work on the river would see some bike lanes taken away, leading to fewer parking spaces in the area.

One option would see them share the road on 3 Ave. and 1 St. SE. The other would turn one of those lanes into a dedicated bike and scooter lane with traffic only travelling eastbound.

“The one-way traffic would be detrimental to the community because there’s no back lanes for loading zones so all the commercial vehicles will be having to compete with cars bikes and pedestrians on this one roadway,” said Terry Wong, Executive Director, Chinatown Business Improvement Area.

“On top of that, the customers are struggling to find parking as it is.”

The work being done is part of a plan by the city to do flood mitigation work and would take two years to complete. The city said the detour will create more active transportation connections to those businesses.

“The city needs to work with the community to find the appropriate solution,” said Wong. “Chinatown is willing to work with them rather than just take two options that are predisposed on us.”

Ward 4 Councillor Sean Chu is not happy about the project, releasing a statement saying the plans would force 3 Ave. businesses to close. He wrote “there is no back alley on either avenue. The plans presented to Chinatown have a lane of traffic being removed. How is this helping small business, when their delivery truck cannot park?”

“Chinatown has been struggling with a parking issue for decades,” added Wong. “It’s not affordable during the day or the weekend. As a result, people who come down here choose not to come to Chinatown anymore and we’re seeing a steady decline of people.”

The Chinatown Business Improvement Area put forward a third proposal that would have bikes avoid this street altogether, but according to Wong, the city said their two options are the most efficient and cost-effective.

“It will put the nail in the coffin here. We have been suffering for two to three years, we don’t need to suffer anymore.”