The organizers of North America’s largest cycling race are re-routing the race’s course through Squamish in the hopes of keeping drivers happy.
The RBC GranFondo is proposing to keep its 7,000 riders on Highway 99, rather than using last year’s route along Loggers Lane and Centennial Way, for the Sept. 8 event. The move follows two years of criticism surrounding east-west road closures during the race.
The new course doesn’t restrict traffic to Brennan Park Recreation Centre, the District of Squamish’s economic sustainability coordinator told council at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday (June 26).
“It provides an uninhibited east-west connector to Brennan Park,” Dan McRae said.
Unlike last year, residents living on Finch, Robin and Raven drives would not be affected by the race, he added. Moreover, cyclists would pass through Squamish faster, making the closures at Garibaldi Way and Mamquam Road shorter, McRae said.
The change would close an eastbound lane on Cleveland Avenue onto the highway and a single northbound turn lane on Highway 99. It would also bar westbound traffic from going onto Loggers Lane.
Commercial Way would be closed, and east-west Highway 99 crossing closures would fall between 8 and 10:45 a.m.
GranFondo officials are working with organizers of Brackendale Fall Fair, which happens on the same day, McRae said. In 2010, the fair faced significant problems because of road blocks, the Brackendale Farmers’ Institute president Thor Froslev wrote in a 2011 letter to council.
This year, at noon, the GranFondo is proposing to lead a bike ride from the spectator site at the Garibaldi Village Shopping Centre to the fall fair grounds. It’s also lending bike racks to fair organizers to help alleviate parking issues at the fair site.
Mayor Rob Kirkham said he wanted to ensure the organizations were not just paying lip service to overcoming previous challenges.
“I hope the parties are learning from past mistakes and are more collaborative,” he said.
The spectator site at Garibaldi Village will be beefed up, McRae said. Working with local organizations, the district is attempting create a festival feel, complete with pancake breakfast and storefront tent sales. The location will serve as the start for the Medio 55-kilometre event, McRae noted.
“[Race] organizers have been great in organizing the outreach,” he said.
The GranFondo is publishing newsletters highlighting training rides available in Squamish. Approximately 3,004 cyclists made 4,633 training rides through Squamish leading up to the event in 2011 and spent approximately $134,268, noted the report to council. Overall, the race brings $650,000 in outside cash to the community and represents $8,172 in tax revenues to the district, according to a staff report.