Park Board survey on Stanley Park shows support for permanent bike lane, car-free days

Nov 24 2020, 11:53 pm

The Vancouver Park Board has released the findings of a survey that gauged the public on the controversial temporary summertime bike lane on Stanley Park Drive.

According to a report on the survey, 68% of the 8,000 respondents that visited the park said Stanley Park with the temporary bike lane was “better” than the pre-COVID-19 road system, with¬†“more bike friendly” and “quiet and peaceful” being the top reasons.

Nearly 3,000 respondents, about 28%, said they did not visit the park after the onset of COVID-19, largely because they could not drive through the park.

Stanley Park Drive was closed to all vehicles between early April and late June. When it reopened to vehicles in time for the start of summer, the roadway saw split uses, with traffic cones separating one lane for cyclists and another lane for vehicles. However, several parking lots in far-flung perimeter areas of the park were closed, which was a particular concern for the park’s restaurants and attractions.

This configuration lasted until the end of September, when the cones were removed, and the park reverted to its pre-COVID-19 configuration. Cyclists were also allowed to return to the seawall after being banned since April.

The survey found that more people visited the park when it reopened to vehicles in June, compared to when it was fully closed to vehicles.

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Temporary road system for Stanley Park from June 22 to September 26, 2020 with one lane for cyclists and one lane for vehicles. (Vancouver Park Board)

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Temporary road system for Stanley Park from June 22 to September 26, 2020 with one lane for cyclists and one lane for vehicles. (Vancouver Park Board)

Nearly half (47%) said it was “better” with the separated lanes for vehicles and cyclists compared to before COVID-19, with respondents indicating reasons that include reduced vehicle volumes, slower vehicle traffic, more room to cycle than on the seawall, and more room for walkers and runners on the seawall.

About a third (31%) said the separated lanes made it “worse” for reasons that include not being able to cycle on the seawall, not being able to access all locations by driving, inability to find parking, and being stuck behind the carriage when¬†Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours resumed operations on the single lane for vehicles.

A quarter of all respondents indicated they depend on a vehicle in order to experience the 1,000-acre park.

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Stanley Park Drive’s steep slope north of Pipeline Road. Most cyclists were observed walking their bike up this hill. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

In June, commissioners approved a motion calling on staff to explore longer term options to reduce vehicle traffic in the park. The survey, a direct result of the motion, also sought input on the development of future proposed changes to the park’s transportation system, which will be presented to commissioners for further decision in 2021 and 2022.

Two thirds of respondents said they would like to see some sections of the road space dedicated to cyclists in the future with more planning and consultation on a more permanent, safe, and attractive design, while 58% said they would like to see car-free days implemented in the future.

Over a third (36%) said they would like no changes, with the park fully reverting to its pre-COVID-19 state.

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Stanley Park Drive entrance into the Second Beach Swimming Pool parking lot. (Kenneth Chan/ Daily Hive)

The survey was conducted in the final weeks of summer and received a total of nearly 10,900 respondents, with 29% residing within the West End and other areas of the downtown Vancouver peninsula, 45% within Vancouver but outside of the downtown peninsula, and 26% from outside Vancouver.

Those aged 30 to 39 and 40 to 49 were the largest age groups of respondents.

The survey process received some criticism, as it initially allowed multiple submissions from individuals, and after a survey tent was spotted set up next to the bike lane in the park, with critics saying it could heavily skew the survey towards cyclists.

However, the Park Board states it contracted Qualitas Research to independently verify and analyze the data. Through the verification process, a total of 187 responses were removed from consideration, which were thrown out for reasons that include duplicate IP addresses, identical responses, quickly completed surveys, respondents who always answer the same response, nonsensical open-ended responses, and survey responses that contradict each other.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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