Vancouver Park Board hopes survey will help decide future of Stanley Park's bike lanes and roads

·3 min read
Cyclists and cars share the road through Stanley Park in June 2020.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Cyclists and cars share the road through Stanley Park in June 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Following a record-breaking Victoria Day weekend in Vancouver's largest park, city planners are looking for feedback from visitors about how they get to and move around Stanley Park.

The mobility survey asks people how they currently get to the four-square-kilometre park, along with questions such as whether they visit businesses or go to the park to enjoy nature. The survey, running until June 9, also asks what challenges people face in getting to the park.

"A focus of the study is to consider 'green' transportation modes and determine the potential opportunities and challenges of different approaches to reducing private vehicle traffic," said a preamble to the survey on the city's website.

The survey is the latest to be conducted by the Vancouver Park Board since it changed how bikes and vehicles can move through the park.

In 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the park was closed to vehicles to allow more room for bicycles, while the seawall was dedicated to pedestrians. Currently, one lane of Stanley Park Drive is open to vehicle traffic and one lane is dedicated to cycling traffic. Planners are working to determine if this change, or others, are worth making permanent.

"We need to carefully understand what all these implications are from a safety or accessibility, cost, environmental, overall user enjoyment perspective," said Emily Dunlop, a senior planner with the park board.

In September 2020, the park board ran a survey about how the park was being managed during the pandemic, and another in October of 2021 was specifically about about the utility of a bike lane sharing Stanley Park Drive.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Closing the seawall to bicycles — along with splitting the lanes on Stanley Park Drive and restricting some vehicle access in the park — has resulted in debate and criticism that the park is being made more accessible to cyclists and those on foot, while less so for people visiting businesses, seniors, those with disabilities and large groups going to the park for picnics or barbecues.

Vancouver resident David Fine started a petition calling for the park board to maintain vehicle access to the park.

"We want safe cycling in the park. We want the park to be accessible to all. We don't want it to be at the expense of people who need to arrive by car," he told CBC News' Gloria Macarenko following the Victoria Day weekend. "Of course that's mobility-challenged people. It's also people coming from afar, coming with equipment for a barbecue."

That weekend highlighted a sense of urgency to get it right as the warm and sunny weather resulted in significant vehicle congestion along the park's roads.

Maggie MacPherson/CBC
Maggie MacPherson/CBC

Dunlop said parking data from the Victoria Day long weekend showed there were more vehicles in the park than any other weekend over the past five years.

Meanwhile she said 19,000 cyclists entered the park from Coal Harbour compared to 13,000 cyclists from the same weekend in 2019.

"I think what we're seeing is this increase in park visitation, both local and tourist traffic, which we know is ramping up and that access for all modes is important for us to think about in the mobility study," she said.

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