Park Board Contractors Begin Dismantling Cyclist Protections in Stanley Park
On the evening of Friday, May 19 and into Saturday Morning, contractors began removing concrete barriers that provided separated protection for cyclists and other vulnerable road users on Stanley Park Drive.
Crews removed the concrete jersey barriers and replaced them with orange cones until the surface can be repaved and repainted as a vehicle lane. The work is being done at night to minimize its impact on park visitors.
Where is the Stanley Park Mobility Study?
A February 8, 2023 Park Board report to Commissioners indicated that staff would be reporting back to the Board with an update on the Stanley Park Mobility Study “with more information on the scope and progress of this study” on 6 March, 2023 but that date has come and gone with no news.
The Mobility Study is intended to look at different approaches for encouraging alternate modes of transportation in Stanley Park and determine the potential benefits and impacts on the environment, economy, park experience, and other considerations, in which a bike lane on Park Drive, is only one option.
Here is an email Love The Lane’s Lucy Maloney sent to Park Board Commissioners on 2 March 2023:
The Stanley Park Mobility Study is not just a matter of bike lane versus cars. This study will have important data and recommendations relating to pedestrian access and broader access issues, particularly for disabled people, that should be prioritized and implemented.
The decades-old design of the paved areas of Stanley Park needs updating for the needs of people moving around the park on foot, and using walkers, wheelchairs and mobility scooters, including those who arrived by car.
Many areas of Stanley Park lack footpaths, and where they do exist they are too narrow and lack curb cuts. You can clearly see “desire lines” worn in by people trying to navigate the Park on foot, especially between parking lots and attractions, for example between the car parking fee station on Stanley Park Drive and the Second Beach Pool & concession.
Every time I cycle in Stanley Park (which I do several times a week) I see people walking in the Stanley Park Drive and sea wall bike paths, especially where the bike paths do not have a foot path adjacent to them.
The foot path next to the parking lot near Lumberman’s arch is extremely narrow and only has one curb cut along the whole stretch. An asphalt ramp has been retrofitted at the top of the ramp up from the Splash Pad in a clear illustration of how thoroughly lacking the original paving and curb design was in accommodations for seniors and disabled people.
Discussion of accessibility in Stanley Park has been primarily focussed on car access, parking lots and access to the Ceperley Meadows/Second Beach toilets.
A non-exhaustive list of additional issues that deserve attention are:
- Lack of paved wheel/foot paths to access significant destinations and associated safe road crossings and curb cuts in all areas;
- The three inaccessible sea wall gates;
- Inaccessible Prospect Point washrooms;
- The horse-drawn carriage is not wheelchair accessible;
- There is no transit around Stanley Park Drive.
- The absence of lift-equipped washrooms;
- The absence of wheelchair-accessible ramps down to Third Beach and up onto the Brockton Point Picnic area;
- Absence of beach mats for wheelchair users;
- Beaver Lake trail issues for wheelchair users.
I hope that no matter what your views are regarding cyclists and bike lanes that you show leadership in addressing the needs of the many people, especially disabled people, for whom the pre-Covid configuration of Stanley Park was never accessible.
Vancouver Park Board Votes to Sweep Away Cyclist Protections on Stanley Park Drive
As major cities around the world invest to expand safe cycling routes, the Park Board will now spend $330,000 of your money to rip one out.
MEDIA RELEASE – February 13, 2023 – The ABC-majority Vancouver Park Board has voted to remove all but a few isolated remnants of the separated bike lane from Stanley Park Drive before the end of May 2023—returning what has become a very popular cycling route to motorists.
“ABC Park Board commissioners have dismissed the interests and concerns of all residents who don’t drive, or can’t drive, and who prefer to access our city’s most beloved park via bicycle or hand cycle,” said Love the Lane’s Lucy Maloney. “By choosing Option C this evening, the commissioners just moved to return us to a 1960s model of vehicle dependence,” Maloney added.
Instead of leaving a version of the current lane in place—as allowed for in Option B—while working on improvements, the Board pulled the plug, leaving residents and visitors who want to walk and cycle in Stanley Park to fight for space on the narrow, crowded sea wall.
A last minute amendment also returned parking spaces to Lumberman’s Arch area. The adopted motion also included a direction that staff should report back to Commissioners no later than November 2023 with a dedicated bike plan proposal for Summer 2024.
During the October 2022 election, ABC candidates promised to replace the current temporary separated and mostly protected bike lane with a new and improved design by this coming summer. Park board staff have since priced out the party’s vision of a Park Drive with two vehicle travel lanes, plus a separated bike lane, at between $20 and $50 million. Such a configuration would take a decade to design and build, with extensive needed consultations, archeological surveys, and tree removals.
“Tonight’s decision will not reduce vehicle congestion in Stanley Park on busy weekends,” said Maloney. “Instead, it could actually increase traffic—because less-confident cyclists will not want to share road space with motorists and, facing a jammed seawall, many of them will end up defaulting to a car.”
Park Board staff reported on emails received from the public in the lead-up to this evening’s meeting. Of the 594 emails received between February 7 and noon today, 411 stated support for Option B, which would have preserved an interim separated lane all the way around Park Drive. Meanwhile, 20 emails expressed support for Option C, the option that commissioners chose this evening. A further 88 emails expressed general support for the outright removal of the bike lane.
Latest Media Coverage
- Bruce Claggett Interview on Mike Smith Show, CKNW (Segment starts at 9:07 am), February 14, 2023.
- “Vancouver Park Board moves ahead with removing temporary bike lanes in Stanley Park,” CTV News, February 14, 2023.
- “End of the road for Stanley Park Bike Lane,” Global News, February 14, 2023.
Our Previous Media Advisories, Releases, and Statements
- “Advisory: Park Board Report Offers a Clear Lane for Safer Cycling on Stanley Park Drive,” February 10, 2023.
- “Statement: Park Board Explores Hanging On to Fragments of Stanley Park Drive Protected Bike Lane,” January 17, 2023.
- “Media Release: Vancouver Park Board Votes to Place Stanley Park Cyclists in Harm’s Way,” December 5, 2022.
- “Media Advisory: Vancouver Park Board Commissioners Poised to Dismantle Protected Bike Lane,” December 1, 2022.
- “Media Advisory: Cyclists Will Converge in Stanley Park to Show Their Love for the Lane,” November 2, 2022.
Media Coverage of “Love The Lane” Celebration Ride
On November 6, about 100 riders turned up in the cold and rain for a group ride to show their support for the Stanley Park Drive separated bike lane. Here’s a roundup of the media coverage of the ride:
- “Vancouver’s Stanley Park bike lanes may be removed,” CityNews, November 29, 2022.
- “Why the Stanley Park Bike Lane Needs to Stay,” The Tyee, Auston Chhor, November 15, 2022.
- “CBC Vancouver News at 11,” November 6, 2022. (Segment begins at 20:21.)
- “Cyclists want new park board to reconsider removing bike lane in Vancouver’s Stanley Park,” CTV News, November 6, 2022.
- “Jill Bennet Show,” CKNW, November 4, 2022. (Segment begins at 22 mins.)
- “Mass celebration ride in support of Stanley Park bike lane takes place this weekend,” Vancouver is Awesome, November 2, 2022.
- “Cyclists organize group ride in Stanley Park in response to possible removal of protected bike lane,” BCIT News, October 25, 2022.
- “Stanley Park Notebook: New Park Board Promises Swift Change,” West End Journal, November 1, 2022.
And plenty of support on social media, too!
Amazing turnout for today’s ride in support of the bike lane in #StanleyPark. Supporters are asking the @ParkBoard to keep the temporary lane in place over the winter and to wait for completion of the mobility study before redesigning a new configuration. #LoveTheLane pic.twitter.com/HF0Q4Q8JaJ— Martyn Schmoll (@martynschmoll) November 6, 2022
@ScottoardScott @BrennanBastyo @l_christe @ThomasDigby1 @MCHVancouver as you can see, even with a big group ride like ours heading safely around Stanley Park Drive, drivers were able to access every part of #StanleyPark. Look at how many of us #LoveTheLane. pic.twitter.com/2Pvmf7K2gD— Lucy Maloney (@Lucyincanada) November 6, 2022
A few photos from todays #LoveTheLane ride around #StanleyPark. Lots of people participated, even though conditions were a bit cold and wet (last photo is only the tail end of the group). Hopefully the @ParkBoard keeps the Stanley Park bike lane over the winter. pic.twitter.com/53tShyZUAr— HUB North Shore (@HUBnorthshore) November 7, 2022
Huge thanks to all who showed up for this event, and for those who were cheering us on from afar!
Why should the new Park Board Commissioners leave the protected bike lane in place?
Great question! Here are six reasons:
- Vehicle visitation drops during the winter so congestion is a non-issue.
- The Parks Board Preliminary Mobility Context report offers no indication that the bike lane is causing access concerns to parking lots. In fact, it shows parking capacity was never exceeded in 2019 and that parking constrains are more tied to peak periods of the year in select locations.
- 70% of respondents to the Stanley Park Mobility Study expressed support for actions that would reduce vehicles in the park.
- The Park Drive bike lane offers an alternative route when the seawall is closed. The Stanley Park seawall path is closed for three weeks of routine cliff stabilization maintenance every year, and over the most recent two winters, the Park Board has closed the seawall for weeks/months at a time due to severe storm damage and fallen trees. It is currently closed, as of December 5, 2022, for two weeks.
- The businesses are closed. Prospect Point was boarded up before the end of September.
- Two car lanes will mean higher vehicle speeds, and increased risk to vulnerable road users.
- A lot of cyclists DO ride through winter and need the separation even more when it’s dark earlier and the roads are wet.
- A redesign of the separated lane will be difficult to finalize and implement before next summer.
How has the separated bike lane impacted access for elders and others with mobility challenges?
There are significant accessibility issues in Stanley Park, but two dedicated vehicle lanes instead of one is not going to solve them. The Stanley Park Mobility Study is the right forum to address the diverse needs of disabled people.
What about businesses operating in the park?
Since March 2021, when the Vancouver Park Board first installed it, some have alleged that the current cycling lane severed vehicle access to park businesses and attractions. These claims were false. The current configuration, a modification of a previous design, afforded motorists access to parking lots at all park attractions, including restaurants, and a greater number of accessible parking spaces than existed before the start of the pandemic.
Why isn’t the Stanley Park Seawall enough for cyclists?
Apart from the fact that it is frequently closed over winter, the Stanley Park Seawall:
- Is very narrow between the Splash Park at Lumberman’s Arch and Second Beach, and gets really crowded at peak times.
- Has three gates that are inaccessible to adaptive cycles such as hand-cycles or many non-standard or oversized bikes, such as long-tail cargo bikes, and those with bike trailers.
- Has dangerous vertical separation on long stretches, where there is a 15-20 cm drop from the bike path down to the walking path, a crash hazard.
- Has low overhanging trees and rocks in several places.
- Is stressful for slower cyclists getting passed and frustrating for faster cyclists trying to pass them.
- Is flat and unsuitable for those who want get a workout.
- Is difficult to leave with a bike, to access the forest trails and destinations inside the park.
- Is a one-way trail, 10 kms in circumference, with no simple return path trail.
- It is easy to catch handlebars on the rails at Slhxí7lsh rock.
- Isn’t in the forest, where some people just prefer to ride.
Was this an ABC election promise to voters?
During the election campaign, HUB Cycling invited all election candidates to complete surveys to share their intentions on cycling infrastructure with prospective voters. Cyclists and those who support safe active transportation infrastructure used the responses to inform their choices on election day.
You can review the ABC candidate responses here. Eight ABC candidates responded, including Mayor Ken Sim, two councillors and five Park Board Commissioners.
In the survey’s long-form narrative responses, only one, Park Board Commissioner Brennan Bastyovanszky, briefly and ambiguously mentioned the removal of the Stanley Park Drive separated bike lane over winter, stating that:
The ABC plan for Stanley park is to restore the previous access at the end of this fall and then work to build a new, dedicated cycling path in time for next summer. All users will have proper access, with vastly improved cycling infrastructure alongside in the park on top of it all.
Part of the HUB Cycling election survey directly asked the ABC candidates for Parks Board if they support the Protected bike lane on Stanley Park Drive.
Here are the results, with our annotation/highlights for clarity in red:
To be clear, five of the six ABC Park Board candidates stated their support for the protected bike lane on Stanley Park Drive; the sixth one did not reply.
In their narrative-style long-form responses, only Scott Jensen and Laura Christensen even mentioned Stanley Park, and neither stated that the bike lane would be removed over winter.
They only said that the lane would be improved or adjusted. Even Bastyovanszky said “restore the previous access” rather than “remove the lane.”
Can I join your mailing list?
We are a tiny group organizing off the side of our desks, and we don’t actually have the capacity to manage a mailing list. To learn about future cycling events and advocacy opportunities, follow the #LoveTheLane hashtag on social media, and consider signing up for the HUB Cycling mailing list. Love the Lane is NOT affiliated with HUB Cycling, but we have shared goals. If you support infrastructure to protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users, HUB Cycling is a good group to stay connected with!