The bike lane vs the park

October 16, 2013

…Or should a bike lane be built at any price…

The Vancouver park board, seems to believe that the public consulation on the Cornwall-Point Grey bike lane, makes a similar public engagement redundant when comes the time to design a seaside bikelane at Kitsilano Beach. Instead, an intercept survey was chosen: the following question was asked to 370 “park users” :

Our goal is to make walking and cycling in and through the parks safer, more convenient, and more comfortable – without compromising the many ways, people use the park. Do you support this goal?

95% naturally supported this laudable goal…but does that give license to the park board to aprove anything, as long as it is called a bike lane, as it has done on October 7th by approving a $2.2 million path bisecting the Kitsilano park?

The need for a bike lane

There is no question that Kitsilano park is very well used: bikes and pedestrians cohabitation on the current seaside path is problematic. In an effort to reduce conflicts, cyclists are asked to dismount on the stretch along the beach itself on busy days… Some cyclists comply….

There is no question either that cyclists are here overwhelmingly on a leisure trip, looking at a seaside experience:

  • the fact that a route thru Kits point is unconvenient to commuter cyclist is a reason why it has not been pursued by the Cornwall-Point Grey team [2]
  • The selected route, York, didn’t remove the need to improve cycling facilities for recreational user looking at a seaside experience.

This was recognized in the Cornwall-Point Grey consultation, deferring improvment to the existing seaside greenway between Balsam and Burrard to further consultation with park users [2]….

Instead of “improvments” to the existing path, the park board is preferring to build a new one, albeit a reasonnable option…but which is proceeding without consultation:

the planned bike route

the planned bike route

…That is the most detailled map provided by the Park board staff [1]….it was considered good enough by the Vancouver park board to approve the project on October 7,2013.

The alignment raises several questions:

  • it doesn’t connect in any meaningful way with the York Avenue bike lane
    • That could be done at Balsam street on the West side, but more importantly at either Yew street or Arbutus street on the East side
  • it seems to multiply the zone of conflicts rather than to reduce them between the foot of Yew street and the Boathouse restaurant (this part of the park is heavily used by sun bathers)
  • Among many safety hazards, cyclists will eventually have to deal with backing trucks.

  • In other part of the park, it “sterilizes” large swath of the park, that is bisecting the park in such way that some part become practically unsuable as illustrated below -where a ~10 meter wide strip is made unavailable for usual park use:

the 3.5meter wide bike lane cut accross the park…Notice the swath of grass on the right becomes practically not useable by park users

The bike lane could have been put on Arbutus street, a neighborood street in Kits point, but apparently the park board has considered the 66feet wide street too narrow for adding a bike lane:

Arbutus street at Kits point: the 66 feet wide neighborood street s apparently too narrow to accomodate a bike lane

Arbutus street at Kits point: the 66 feet wide neighborood street s apparently too narrow to accomodate a bike lane

A similar observation could be done at Hadden park, where cyclist are already separated of the sea by the Maritime musseum, and where a bike path on Ogden avenue could not compromise the seaside experience either:

Ogden avenue along hadden park, offer already  a great cycling experienc which just need to be connected with the rest of the network

Ogden avenue along hadden park, offer already a great cycling experienc which just need to be connected with the rest of the network

In both case, it requests to suppress some parking spots. Something the park board seems wary to do, in fact the report mentions [1]:

    The parking lot at the foot of McNicholl Street will be reduced but leave twenty spots, including ten with waterfront views. Impact on parking revenues is considered to be negligible.

Should we be relieved that no parking spot with water front view has been endangered by the bike lane?

Beyond the park board, here lies the problem of the party ruling Vancouver: As we have noticed before, their bike lanes agenda, is a single and narrow minded one…it is one consisting of laying down bike lanes at the exclusion of any other considerations and for that, it follows the path of least resistance, instead to make clear choice:

  • Reallocating space for cyclits at the expense of the car, and not other vulnerable users

Everything needs to give way to the bike lane.

The connection between Hadden park (Ogdon Avenue) and Kitsilano beach (Arbutus) should have been open to discussion: Does a bend to follow as close as possible the shoreline (like done in the proposal) is really necessary?

  • One should weight the benefits of a brief moment of extra scenery for cyclists against the costs of eliminating prime space for picnickers, and constructing a longer and convoluted route (eventually preventing cyclists to spread out further west

Thought that the usual suspects will be against the kitsilano bike lane for the sake to be against a bike lane, they will feel conforted in their battle by being joined by people coming of a quarter which should haven’t been bothered: the defensors of our parks….

One doesn’t need to be against bike lanes, to recognize, once again, tha lack of judgement from the Vancouver park board: Eventually due to lack of proper consultation, this bike lane suffering of lack of though is ill conceived (*).

We already hear the unconditional supporters of bike lanes pointing at the successfully used bike lane to prove us wrong…Exactly same logic could apply whether the park board had elected to build a parking lot instead of a bike lane.

(*) To be sure it is a done deal suffering no discussion [3]

[1] Seaside Greenway Improvements,Vancouver Park Board, Oct 1st, 2013

[2] Seaside Greenway Completion and York Bikeway (Phase 1 of Point Grey-Cornwall Active Transportation Corridor),General Manager of Engineering Services, City of Vancouver, July 16, 2013

[3] Kits Beach bike path a done deal, Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier – October 15, 2013


17 Responses to “The bike lane vs the park”

  1. […] the original story here, with maps, documents, images, and key facts.  The Voony blog ”The bike lane vs the park” has an excellent analysis, including detailed review of the City’s public survey used […]

  2. J.Barr Says:

    It seems ridiculous to use 10 feet for a bike lane where ever it is put. Local side walks are only 6 ft. Jinks

  3. Honestly, the bike path as proposed is absolutely unnecessary.

    Burrard Street bridge / Chestnut / Creelman (or Ogden, if I’m feeling leisurely) / Arbutus, and then through the park to Balsam, and in behind through Point Grey Road, before emerging onto Point Grey Road proper (the City should move to put in the bike lane from Trafalgar to Macdonald NOW), is a simple, easy route that dozens of commuters, including me, take each day. We don’t need, nor want, a separated – paved – bike path through Hadden / Kits Beach parks, which is not only destructive to the environment (as it takes away precious, diminishing park space), but dangerous to the children and families who use the proposed bike route as picnic areas. If there was ever an idea that needed a re-think, this one is it, regardless of Park Board Commissioner Aaron Jasper (aka “The Bully”) has to say on the matter, in Sandra Thomas’ piece in The Courier.

  4. jenables Says:

    Thanks for your take booby, I agree the swath on the right will become practically useless…. And no one is made after when do much animosity is part of the process.

  5. Bill Says:

    The bike-“enthusiasts” are being shouted down at :

  6. Megan Carvell Davis Says:

    I provided information at City public meetings on the Cornwall-Point Grey bike lane proposal, about the bike lane going THROUGH Hadden Park, when Hadden Park’s Deed contains a legal covenant both the City and Park Board agreed to in motions passed at their meetings in the 1920s, accepting the two blocks of waterfront land, “in accordance with the terms and conditions more particularly set out in the Deed from the said Harvey Haddon.” One of the four legal covenants in Hadden Park’s Deed is:

    “(3) The said property shall be improved and put in shape as a public park or recreation ground, but in carrying out such improvements the Board of Park Commissioners shall keep the property as near as possible in its present state of nature subject to such alterations or changes as may be reasonably necessary for its preservation and for the safety and enjoyment of the public, it being the desire of the Grantor that those using the Park shall, as far as reasonably may be, enjoy the same in its natural state and condition.”

    At the City meetings I was told that the Park Board would hold public consultations about the the bike path going though Hadden and Kits Beach Parks and I would have an opportunity to provide that information to them at that point. When I again brought up this concern at the City Council meeting on this project, I was assured by one of the City Councillors that my concern would be considered by the Park Board.

    BUt there were no public notices, meetings or otherwise advertised opportunities for me to address this issue of the legal covenant on the use of Hadden Park with the Park Board. Instead Park Board staff stood on pedestrian paths in both parks for a few days asking the motherhood and apple pie question:

    “Our goal is to make walking and cycling in and through the parks safer, more convenient, and more comfortable – without compromising the many ways, people use the park. Do you support this goal?”

    Who would say no to that question?

    I read, too late, in the Courier, that bike paths through Hadden and Kits Beach Parks was to be on the Park Board’s agenda. I had family committments and couldn’t attend the meeting. I rushed off an email to Malcolm Bromley et al about my concern, which they probably didn’t read until after the meeting. Nevertheless, I never heard back from anyone.

    What can be done now? I don’t know, but I feel sick inside that the Park Board will once again contravene Hadden Park’s Deed’s covenants. Tilo Driessen, who is the Park Board staff member in charge of this project knows I am concerned about what happens in Hadden Park – he once met me at the park to talk about them. Yet never once did he contact me for feedback on his plan for the bike path through Hadden Park. Why? Because he knew I’d bring up the covenants in the Deed, and he wanted to ignore them.

    The one thing I was pleased to learn when attending City public meetings on the Cornwall-Point Grey bike lane proposal was that the City had set out priorities when developing the project:
    pedestrians’ needs were the first priority to be met;
    cyclists’ needs were the second priority to be met; and
    vehicle drivers’ needs were the third priority to be met.

    How does the bike path as currently laid out by the Park Board consider that principle – going right through current pedestrian uses of both parks, creating series safety concerns for pedestrians, especially children.

    Megan Carvell Davis

  7. Chris Says:

    Although this certainly doesn’t excuse the shady way the Park Board (and City) seem to have gone about planning the route, I can understand their reluctance to touch Arbutus street. There was widespread pushback about parking loss on York during the whole Cornwall-Point Grey ordeal, which threatened to turn the balance of support. Maybe a political calculation was made that running it though lawn would stoke fewer fires than removing parking/road space. Or perhaps there are technical issues with Park Board authority that preclude an alignment on the actual roadway.

    Whatever the ill-conceived reason, there is clearly capacity along the roadway for a separated lane, on the stretch parallel to Arbutus in particular. East of Maple and west of Arbutus, the alignment doesn’t strike me as troublesome. It is really the green space immediately east and north of the beach which is the issue.

  8. Voony Says:

    Chris, to be sure, the York-Point-Grey project was a massive undertake (for a cycling facility)…where many issues get agglomarated…

    *parking lost (or fear of) in the retail area of Cornwall
    *Need to reroute the bike lane from Corwall to York (what was not necessarily the original plan) due to many traffic consideration (e.g. keep transit moving on Cornwall).
    and obviously the big one:
    *closure of point grey to through traffic…
    (and at this time, the bike lane was framed as a plot of the rich to protect their enclave…today Pete Mc Martin frame it the totally opposite way in the Sun: go figure!)

    The city council has been elected on a “greenest city agenda” and so for, and moved on on that: I personally supported that

    here, we have the option
    *either to lost park space + parking space in the park
    *only lost street parking space (in area where there is no retail activities)

    For the second, option, it needs to be done by the City of Vancouver (not he park board), but we are all in the same boat…
    At english bay, the seaside bikeway is on the beach avenue ROW (not in the park).

    People has not been presented with the different trade-off:

    Bottom line

    The city council and park board have been elected on a “greenest city” agenda, but prefer to pave a park rather than suppress a couple of on street parking,

    • Chris Says:

      Surely the bikeway along Sunset Beach is under jurisdiction of the Park Board?

      Agree on most points. In my mind, this is a typical Vision Vancouver situation where the right objective (improved cycling infrastructure along Kitsilano Beach) has been subverted by strong-arm tactics and process (using Park Board authority to circumvent ‘troublesome’ community consultation and route the bikeway over grass). It pains me to see this pattern happen again, when most agree on the same goals.

    • Voony Says:

      yes, at sunset beach, but not at english bay (at least between Stanley park and denman).

      very good analysis of the Vision Vancouver strategy

  9. Voony Says:

    Information from:





  10. […] we have seen before: Why insisting to bisect a narrow and crowded park, when perfect alternatives, still offering a […]

  11. […] On october 7th, the Park board approves a bike lane bisecting Kistilano beach and Hadden parks, the approved report [1] mentions that benchs need to be relocated, and fences erected around the playground area (see how that has been done here) […]

  12. […] of the below come from Megan Carvell Davis affidavit in[1]. She had already stated the issue in a comment on the bike lane vs the park post, but then unaware the covenant exact term, I have no commented on […]

  13. […] Trafalgar is straightforward enough, but the need for a clear continuation through Kitsilano Beach becomes all the more apparent. Sadly a political misstep by the City, which sought to hurry a plan through the Park Board without […]

  14. susan smith Says:

    Phrasing such as “Save Kits Beach,” “Kitsilano bike freeway” and “bike lane vs the park” are firstly inaccurate, secondly sensationalized and thirdly contrived specifically to manufacture controversy and construct moral panic. I insist that you prove in detail how a bike lane in Hadden and/or Kits park would destroy Kits Beach such that it needs “saving,” how a bike lane ever constitutes by definition “a freeway” and in what way a bike lane is an opponent, enemy or adversary of a park (the meaning of “VS”). Further, your so-called “survey” of 370 people is statistically insignificant as the respondents were not randomly sampled, comprised too small a sample of the citizenry of Vancouver and were not recorded by name and contact information to confirm your claims of their responses. Misleading people on purpose with false information that you know to be false is reprehensible. How are you prepared to defend yourself?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: