After what seems like one of the longest waits in the planet in a world that is still slowly stepping out of pandemic mode, the Park Drive temporary bicycle lane is just about to be implemented. This is an “interim plan” to assess the viability of road sharing with vehicle drivers and cyclists and builds on information gathered from the trial during last year’s pandemic restrictions.
That means there will be one lane for bicycles on Park Drive. That does not mean that ALL bicycles will be on Park Drive, with access for cyclists still available on the bike portion of the seawall.
The hope was that this bike lane would be in place by the Spring, but happily it will be done by August, with the park being closed from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m now until July 30th for barricade placement and sidewalk improvements.
There’s a long history of rancour and disagreement about the use of Park Drive exclusively by different modes of transportation that goes back over a century. I have written here about how the authority of the Park Board was first tested in court in 1905 over the Board’s right to tell automobiles where they can drive, and where they cannot. History is sure to repeat itself with various challenges on the shared use of Park Drive. What everyone can agree on is how loved this park is, and how everyone wants to be able to use it. That goal should be achievable.
There has been time to do some prudent planning instead of the hastily opened bike lane of pandemic 2020, and this time all parking lots in the park will remain open. There will be better access to Prospect Point, Third Beach and Ferguson Point. Traffic management materials being used will include concrete barriers, the ubiquitous orange cones, and other materials as needed.
While costs have not yet been made public, Jordan Armstrong of Global News noted that the orange cones used in 2020 were $75,000 in cost, and reader signs and arrow boards were leased at $10,000 a month.
You can take a look here at some of the improvements listed by the Park Board in their March 2021 motion to get Park Drive into this new temporary shared use.
As one that totally supports enlarging and increasing bike access to Stanley Park, I totally endorse what’s occurring. However, I’m wondering about the assumption that Hwy 99 through the park is permanent. I recall that when the existing parkway of 3 lanes was improved in 1999, there was an agreement that the parties would return to the issue in 30 yrs (2029). Was that still the case or does it remain the case? I recall there was talk of putting it in a runnel on the same or a different alignment, and 30 yrs would provide an opportunity to consider alternatives.
When the bridge was being widened some years back, there was push back from the Park Board commissioners. As part of the agreement to allow widening of the causeway, it was agreed (and documented) that if a third crossing was implemented, then decommissioning of the current bridge would be carried out. That would remove the road along the causeway as it exists today.
There was no plan made for a third vehicle crossing, and so the agreement expired. There are regular references made to that past agreement, but not to the full agreement referencing the third crossing.
Here is one article on the subject: https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/lions-gate-bridge-close-vehicle-traffic-2030-government-agreement
It is interesting to review the Term Sheet that was prepared by the Park Board staff for commissioners, the CoV, and MoTI, 21 years ago, regarding vehicle traffic in Stanley Park. The plan then was to remove vehicle traffic from the Causeway along with construction of a new crossing that did not bring vehicles (other than transit vehicles) through the park. The reasons were clearly stated:
the causeway traffic has a negative impact upon the enjoyment of the Stanley
Park forest because of noise, pollution and restricting access;
public transit within and through the park is being encouraged through a
series of initiatives to use more environmentally friendly means of
Full document from the Park Board website:
There are lots of insights contained here that can inform the discussion about whether we should also take steps to reduce vehicle traffic within the park, and not just on the causeway. Short term actions that were listed include improving walking and cycling access, promoting transit, and even installing permanent vehicle speed monitoring. They went so far as to list the installation of washrooms at the relocated bus loop. So here we are 21 years later, talking about whether we should do some of the things that were listed as short term improvements by the Park Board commissioners of the time.
Last summer, we drove out to a certain restaurant while the lane was in place, there was no issues with congestion or parking.
I wish the businesses would embrace the changes and market to their new potential customers, instead of fighting it and basically telling their customers “Don’t come here, driving is a nightmare and there is no parking”.