Planning required to avoid GranFondo traffic delays 

Restricted vehicle movements required for Vancouver to Whistler bike event

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For the fourth time in as many years the RBC GranFondo Whistler will take over much of Highway 99 for a day. The event is scheduled for Saturday and, as in past years, significant traffic delays are expected throughout the day.

The ride is scheduled to start in Vancouver at 6:45 a.m. The massive group of riders participating in the event will swallow up two traffic lanes through the Stanley Park Causeway then ride up Taylor Way and make their way to Highway 1 and then the Sea to Sky Highway.

Along the way, organizers have arranged one lane and in some place two lanes for the exclusive use of the ride participants.

Traffic on Highway 99 will flow but volume delays are predicted. Turning restrictions will be in place for Britannia Beach, Squamish and Whistler.

Squamish residents should expect traffic disruptions from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Traffic disruptions in Whistler will begin later in the morning and continue until about 4:30 p.m.

Lindsay Carswell, the event's director of revenue, marketing and communications, has provided residents of Squamish and Whistler with information on specific highway impacts along the ride route through the event website,

"Definitely plan ahead and find a way to get involved either as a spectator or as a volunteer," Carswell said.

He noted that online registration closed with just over 4,000 riders. There's one last opportunity to register for the ride on Friday, Sept. 4 at the convention centre in Vancouver. That's down from the over 7,000 riders in the early years. Last year saw 6,000 registrants, with 4,500 finishing.

According to economic impact information compiled by the event organizers, the impact of the 2011 GranFondo on Squamish was $650,000 while the provincial impact was valued at $8.2 million.

A participant survey was conducted after the 2011 event and it captured detailed information on where participants were from, how many spectators travelled with them and how much they spent in Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler.

Leading up to the event, 3,004 participants reported that they made 4,633 training rides through Squamish and spent $134,268 in the community during those training rides.

Spectators in Squamish have the option of cheering for the cyclists at the Fan Zone in Garibaldi Village from 8 a.m. to noon. The Fan Zone will include 25 different vendors along with activities for kids.

According to Carswell, the economic impact for Whistler in 2011 amounted to $2.7 million in direct and indirect expenditures. A total of 22 jobs were supported in Whistler and the study found that the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) received $92,000 in tax revenues in 2011. GranFondo received $75,000 in Resort Municipality Initiative funds for 2013.

The first finishers are expected to arrive in Whistler just before 10 a.m. There will be entertainment in Whistler Olympic Plaza from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. with an awards ceremony slated for 1:30 p.m.

Alcohol will be served at the event after-party in a totally new way. Alcohol will be served within a double-fenced area and kids will be allowed inside the fences so ride participants can enjoy a drink with their families between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Riders 19 and over will be identified with a non-transferable coloured wristband. Those who don't ride in the Fondo can get a wristband on site with proof of age.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation will receive a $30,000 donation from the RBC Blue Water Project after the event. The foundation has a number of initiatives underway in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Kevin Thomson, the GranFondo Canada President, said GranFondo fans would determine how the money would be spent by voting for one of four options listed at the GranFondo Facebook page.

With files from Alison Taylor

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