Community Consultation: Stanley Park Causeway
by Simon Jay
Following the death of a cyclist on Stanley Park Causeway in May 2013, the Ministry of Transportation held a public consultation about the causeway. At the consultation was a proposal for safer cycling on the 2.2km causeway, for the current 2400 daily cyclists.
What’s in the proposal?
- 14 Stanley Park trees will be cut down to make way for wider protected sidewalks. Efforts have been made to minimize the number of trees lost, but an additional 5 trees could also be cut down to provide more cycling passing places on the east sidewalk.
- The current east sidewalk will be widened by 0.4m – 1.0m, and a barrier will be added to protect the path from the road. The east sidewalk will only be for cyclists heading downhill from Lions Gate Bridge to Downtown Vancouver. Pedestrians will be restricted from using the east sidewalk.
- Pedestrians will only have access to the west sidewalk. There are currently 10 times the number of cyclists using the causeway as pedestrians.
- The current west sidewalk will be widened approximately 1.9m, with a barrier added between the path and the road. The west sidewalk will be for pedestrians and slower cyclists going uphill on the causeway towards the north shore.
- The causeway’s three lanes of traffic, all of the vehicle emergency stop points, and the 60 km/hour speed limit will all be maintained. Reducing any of these was not seriously considered, nor was reducing vehicle lanes back to the original width.
- No additional pedestrian or cycling crossings will be added on the causeway.
What was missing in the proposal information boards?
Overall, the proposal was detailed, well thought through, and well-aligned with the VPSN mandate. However, some oversights remain:
- There was no acknowledgement or discussion about the 2030 agreement between the Ministry of Transportation, Translink and the City of Vancouver. The agreement discussed in Transportation 2040 says that by 2030 the Lions Gate Bridge and the Stanley Park Causeway will be for transit, cycling and walking only.
- There was no acknowledgement that the Ministry of Transportation’s figures show private vehicles volumes have been declining since 2004.
- Plans for how the improved cycling conditions on the causeway will link to the City of Vancouver were not included. Will cyclists be able to connect to separated bike lane facilities when they enter the City of Vancouver, or will they have to continue cycling with traffic?
- Plans were not included for how to improve connections between Stanley Park and the causeway, for both walking and cycling.
- Plans for how the improved cycling conditions on the causeway will link to the Lions Gate Bridge were not included. On the causeway faster cyclists going downhill have sensibly been separated from pedestrians. But what will the outcome of the new causeway design be on Lions Gate Bridge’s west sidewalk? After the half way point on the bridge cyclists will go downhill, not uphill. The increased number of cyclists going fast downhill towards the north shore, will likely increase the conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists. Therefore if volumes of cyclists and pedestrians continue to increase, additional space on the bridge will then be needed to separate cyclists from pedestrians.
- Signs will tell people they are restricted from walking on the east sidewalk. But as there are only 3 crossing points on the 2.2km causeway, a pedestrian not seeing (or ignoring) the no access signs will not easily be able to correct their mistake.
- Fewer trees could be lost if some vehicle emergency stop points were removed.