Park Board to consider extending duration of Stanley Park's temporary bike lane

Nov 10 2021, 7:24 pm

In a public meeting on Monday, Vancouver Park Board commissioners are expected to approve extending the timeframe of the separated protected bike lane on Stanley Park Drive.

A motion by Green Party commissioner Camil Dumont and COPE commissioner John Irwin calls on Park Board staff to keep the temporary bike lane in place for the foreseeable future until the completion of the Stanley Park Mobility Study.

Park Board commissioners approved the return of the bike lane in March 2021. Design improvements would replace some of the temporary traffic barriers with more sturdy concrete barriers and reduce some of the impacts on vehicle parking access following heavy criticism from the initial bike lane design in 2020. The approved direction mandated the retainment of the bike lane until at least the end of October 2021.

The bike lane’s return was phased, with the final portion installed by the end of July 2021.

The Stanley Park Mobility Study refers to the commissioners’ approval in June 2020 of starting a study on the long-term feasibility of reducing vehicle traffic in Stanley Park. Park Board staff are expected to return to commissioners with the study’s findings and recommendations next year, certainly before the October 2022 civic election.

Initially, the rationale was to provide added physical distancing space for cyclists and pedestrians in Stanley Park by banning cyclists from the seawall. However, under the latest approved policies, cyclists can use both the seawall and bike lane on Stanley Park Drive. The rationale for most commissioners has shifted to reducing vehicles in the park for the perceived impacts on global climate change.

Businesses in the park and disability and seniors’ groups have been taking issue with the impacts of the bike lane’s design, including occasions of heavy congestion.

The full cost of the Stanley Park bike lane project is now approaching $1 million. With the bike lane occupying and blocking a significant number of vehicle parking stalls, this has reduced a major revenue source for park maintenance and a state of good repair. Parking revenues from Stanley Park alone raise roughly $4 million annually for the Park Board, with the potential to reach close to this level likely to return in 2022 when tourism sees a strong rebound.

Last month, commissioners approved a plan to double the number of Park Rangers, which have seen their services heavily exceed demand. There has been a 1,153% increase in the number of reported and documented park-related cases to rangers over the last five years — from 1,909 cases in 2015 to over 22,000 cases in 2020.

The plan to add more rangers starting in 2022 would cost $1.8 million annually, but there is now a high degree of uncertainty, following a budget update last week by City of Vancouver staff to Vancouver City Council that painted a dire picture that municipal expenses — including those of the Park Board — are exceeding revenues.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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