The future of the temporary bike path in Stanley Park is due to be decided on Monday
Could an end to the controversy surrounding the makeshift bike path in Stanley Park be near? Unlikely.
But on Monday, the Vancouver Park Board will chart a way forward and perhaps bring some measure of peace to the years-long controversy by choosing one of three proposals put forward by city officials.
According to Parks Commissioner Brennan Bastyovanszky, all three are dealing with “areas of friction” that have arisen since a bike-only lane on Stanley Park Drive was designated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Traffic flows will be back to normal and fully accessible, the park will be open and business will be supported,” he said.
“There’s room for coaches and the flow of tourists returning, and it’s a safe environment for cyclists and other modes of transport.”
Bastyovanszky is a member of the ABC party, which won six out of seven park board seats in the recent state elections. In December, the ABC slate voted for the immediate removal of the six-mile temporary bike lane to restore Stanley Park Drive to two lanes for vehicular traffic.
But after learning the cost of removal could cost up to $425,000there was a reversal when the park board voted unanimously in January to keep parts of the route.
It was just another twist in the history of Stanley Park’s temporary bike path, which has become a hotbed of controversy, pitting cycling enthusiasts and environmentalists against riders, park entrepreneurs and people concerned with accessibility.
options on the table
On Monday, the park board will vote on one of three staffing proposals, all with the stated goal of “restoring traffic flow at Stanley Park prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and improving the 2021 temporary bike path.”
Possibility A is calling for the removal of the temporary bike lane between Vancouver Rowing Club and Lumberman’s Arch on the park’s busier east side, while concrete barriers are moved and added to form a temporary bike lane on the west side. Estimated cost is $550,000. The report notes that Option A will make it easier for horse and carriage operators, presumably because cars won’t get stuck behind the slow-moving wagons, which some found frustrating in the early days of the cycle path’s existence.
option B seems to be the favorite of cycling advocates and Green Party park commissioners Tom Digby. It comes at the same price of $550,000 as Option A and calls for raised “mountable curbs” to replace several segments of the bike path currently demarcated by traffic cones.
LovetheLanes.ca blogger Lucy Maloney says while none of the three options are ideal, Option B offers cyclists physical separation from vehicles and dedicated road space, “which is our primary concern”.
Possibility C is the most car-friendly and least expensive of the three, with an estimated cost of $330,000. It calls for the removal of most of the temporary bike path, with the exception of a few locations such as Brockton Point, Lumberman’s Arch and Ceperley Meadow, and includes expanded coach parking at Prospect Point.
Bastyovanszky said all options will eliminate the hundreds of orange traffic cones currently in use.
“So this ugly eyesore that has persisted for the last few years and has tarnished Stanley Park’s reputation as a beautiful destination will be removed,” he said.
A Brief History of the Temporary Bike Lane in Stanley Park
April 2020: Stanley Park is closed to vehicular traffic to allow for better physical distancing in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bike routes will be moved from the seawall to now traffic-free Stanley Park Drive. Cyclists flock to the park.
June 2020: At an emergency Park Board meeting, commissioners vote to reopen one lane of Stanley Park Drive to motorists while maintaining the other as a temporary bike lane.
September 2020: Temporary bike lane is removed and full car access is restored along Stanley Park Drive. Parking operators, drivers and accessibility advocates welcome the decision. cyclists do not.
March 2021: The Parks Authority votes to reintroduce the temporary bike lane, citing data showing a sharp increase in cyclists using the park.
April 2021: Citing devastating losses, the Stanley Park Tea House and Prospect Point Bar and Grill join forces in a lawsuit against the Parks Authority and its decision to restrict vehicles in the park. A BC Supreme Court judge dismissed the lawsuit five months later.
May 2021: The city announces a three-phase plan to erect concrete barriers between the vehicle lane and the temporary bike lane to improve safety.
July 2022: Shouting erupts at a park board meeting during discussion of the temporary bike lane and a study to reduce vehicular traffic in Stanley Park. Security personnel will be called in if the meeting continues the next day.
December 2022: The newly elected park board votes 6-1 to remove the temporary bike path.
January 2023: The Parks Authority votes unanimously to reverse the decision to remove the temporary bike lane.