Let’s be smart about the Stanley Park Temporary Bike Lane
UPDATE (November 1): Local cycling advocates and supporters of the Stanley Park temporary bike lane are organizing a ride for “anyone who loves cycling in Stanley Park.” People are invited to join the #LoveTheLane celebration ride around Stanley Park Drive. Originally scheduled for October 30, and postponed because of heavy winds and rain, the event will now take place Sunday, November 6, at 10:30am, and starts at Ceperley Field. More info can be found at lovethelane.ca.
Newly elected ABC Vancouver candidates have indicated that they plan to remove the temporary bike lane in Stanley Park. Does hearing this make us uneasy? In a word, yes.
Both commissioners-elect and candidates-elect revealed this news while the party has been actively working with a transition team where they are organizing to “fully get going with their 94-point platform plan.”
However, the removal of the Stanley Park temporary bike lane was not specifically identified as a priority in ABC’s platform. (Presumably it is being advanced under the idea of making parks more “accessible and inclusive” – though if that’s the case, there’s lots that could be unpacked in that framing of things).
To be fair, two ABC candidates did discuss it in the candidate survey undertaken by HUB. (No ABC candidates responded to the VPSN survey, which specifically asked about biking and cycling infrastructure in parks).
At any rate, media comments by commissioners-elect indicate a desire to explore new “engineered solutions” that allow for two lanes of car traffic and a bike lane. This, coupled with a stated policy direction to “immediately restore car traffic right away.”
The current approach, which uses the existing right-of-way along Stanley Park Drive, allocates one paved lane for bikes and one for cars.
This method, introduced during COVID, has helped to alleviate the increasing number of conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists along the formerly-shared seawall route.
There is no doubt that the approach – like many bike lane discussions in the city – has been controversial. This one particularly so. Unfortunately, in the ensuing public discourse, facts (on all sides of the discussion) were often buried underneath anecdote and hyperbole. Several candidates and parties – though not ABC – campaigned on a platform to “save” Stanley Park. Public opposition often characterized the park as being ‘completely inaccessible’ to drivers. This was not the case.
So… in the spirit of being open-minded, are there other approaches? Perhaps. We are curious to see what an “engineered solution” might mean. (For context: the current approach was developed by engineers as well).
One thing we do NOT want to see: painted lanes and/or sharrows that are not physically separated from car traffic. These provide no measurable benefit to safety. We also hope that past antipathy to *protected* bike lanes voiced by some ABC candidates, is just that: a thing of the past.
Further, while some widening at selected locations could improve operations, a complete new lane at the expense of large tree removal or sidewalk reallocation is not the way to go either. The installation of an expanded, protected bike lane network, suitable for all-ages and abilities, is critical in Stanley Park – particularly as the park has seen a significant increase in the number of people walking, rolling and biking.
Further consideration should also be given to other ideas floated during and before the election – such as a free, electrified trolley to service key sites, beaches and commercial areas. (Maybe something like this?)
And yes, proper attention to ensuring that the park remains accessible to seniors and those with mobility needs should absolutely be a priority. However, this is not, despite some of the rhetoric, an either/or choice.
To that end, current studies of how the park is – and isn’t – being accessed are key. We encourage the newly elected Park Board to make an evidence-based assessment, and deliver a solution that prioritizes healthy, active, and equitable access to the park. In our opinion, this approach include having the newly elected Park Board Commissioners wait for the completion of the current study into long term mobility options in Stanley Park. They could then review this important work before any decisions are made.
This article was originally published October 19, 2022. Updated October 23, 2022.
Photos and Maps: City of Vancouver website. ABC Platform – ABC webpage (sourced October 19, 2022).