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City ends pedestrian-friendly street pilot project after only five weeks

Feedback from businesses reveals the Yew Street pilot was disrupting their operations, says the City.
The Yew Street pedestrian-friendly pilot, which caused problems for cyclists, motorists, and residents, will be brought to a close by the City of Vancouver next week.

The City of Vancouver is set to dismantle the Yew Open Street Pilot next week (Aug. 7) after only five weeks in operation.

The project closed two blocks of Yew Street between West 1st and Cornwall avenues to cars during certain hours of the day, which caused a great deal of confusion and chaos for motorists and pedestrians.

In response to criticism and suggestions from the public, the City initially made a few changes to the street's set up, which included removing the concrete island on York, adjusting the coloured blocks blocking the road, and adding furniture, but ultimately they have decided that the project doesn't meet the needs of surrounding businesses or expectations of pedestrians.

"The City initially introduced the pilot in response to a request from local businesses," the City tells V.I.A. in an emailed statement. "Our goal was to improve the public life, pedestrian comfort, and vibrancy of this commercial area."

However, feedback from the pilot highlighted community and business interest in transforming the area into more of a plaza, rather than just reallocating space for walking during some hours.

According to the statement, pre-pilot discussions with businesses were primarily focused on maintaining delivery and loading access which was incorporated into the pilot and the reason for leaving the street open to certain traffic patterns at select times.

The permitted access times were also what caused the bulk of issues for pedestrians and confused drivers. There was lots of signage and new road markings that some people indicated were hard to decipher.

Additionally, the City has revealed that some businesses on Yew felt that the pilot was too disruptive to their operations and they were not benefiting from its current form.

"The City determined that the issues being raised by some businesses cannot be properly mitigated by small tweaks and a larger re-think is required," says the statement. "The City learned many important lessons with the Yew Open Street pilot and look forward to exploring a more inclusive and functional pedestrianized space to Yew Street in the future in collaboration with businesses and the community."

The decision to end the pilot has also received mixed reviews with locals taking to social media to express their disappointment.