What’s this about?

You can find out here at Price Points on SpacingVancouver’s blog.

Hint: it’s on the Stanley Park seawall, where eventually the skateboarders will be given a choice: (1) continue all the way around the seawall to get back to where they started – a distance of about eight kilometres; (2) go back the way they came on the seawall, against the traffic and against the one-way rule; or (3) try to find an unmarked and confusing bike route.

This is just the most apparent indication of how low a priority a proper bike-and-blade network is in Vancouver’s most cherished public space – a problem which has been festering ever since the seawall was finished in the 1970s and only exacerbated by extensions and connections, which continue to deliver self-propelled citizens by the thousands.

Last weekend it became apparent how challenging the problem is becoming when searching for a space to park a bike at Third Beach.

It’s beginning to look a bit like Amsterdam on the Pacific:

Okay, so this is a sunny summer weekend (not an oxymoron) with peak bike traffic.  And though the peaks are getting peakier, it’s not possible to accommodate all the demand at once.

The real problem is not just that Stanley Park has been scaled and designed for car traffic (there’s not even an allowance for road bikes on newly paved parts of Park Drive) – but the absence of an integrated bike network, properly signed, for casual recreational users who may be using the park for the first time.

For example, on which side of the yellow line should the bladers be?

The blader on the right doesn’t realize he should be on the left side of the line in order to avoid conflict with pedestrians.  And there’s a reason he’s confused.  Just seconds before, he was skating on the path through Second Beach where the yellow line was the centre divider – and he should be skating on the right.

The sudden change, not unusual in the park since there’s no consistent standard, is essentially unmarked, save for the tiny (and now faded) symbol in the lower left:

The gap between the stated priority of the Park Board and the on-the-ground reality can be found in the eroded, confusing, make-shift result:

Word has it that there’s a request for proposals out for a proper bike plan.  But really, wouldn’t a little paint and asphalt, with some proper signage, do in the interim?  If it was a priority.

[Here’s a complete analysis of deficiences along the Seaside Bike Route, from Coal Harbour to Vanier Point.  Produced by the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee as a submission for the Parks Board capital plan, it has to be downloaded from Drop Box.  Takes a few minutes.  Worth the time.]



  1. We had the same problem riding with our small kids last week — they can’t make it all the way around, and they’re not quite ready for road biking. We ended up walking the bikes against traffic for part way, and finding some sort of quiet short-cut road part way.

  2. the whole seawall, from beginning to end, absolutely must be properly painted, with closely spaced culturally universal icons indicating who is supposed to be where and in what direction. the bike lane should be painted green, and i think a green bike lane on the road for faster bike traffic is absolutely warranted. we also sure could use a bike mounted traffic cop to keep local idiots and uninformed tourists from creating constant serious public safety hazards on our most cherished public spaces.

  3. Even the separated paths through the Concord Lands are not marked on the pavement – to keep it looking “pretty”.
    There are signs on posts, but they do not clearly allocate the asphalt path to 2-way bike traffic and paving stone paths to two-way pedestrian traffic. You commonly see people using them as two shared one-way paths with a median.

    The City has, however, applied painted suymbols to the pathways around the Olympic Village.

  4. It is a real mess. For Summer Live in the Park, they invited people to come down by bike and even provided valet parking. Problem is that they didn’t bother figuring out a good way for these thousands of people to get out of the park so everyone rode counterflow on the Seawall until they directed cyclists onto a dark unlit narrow path shared with pedestrians. Yikes.

    The Park Board is finally going to be working on a bike plan for Stanley Park after all these years. However, they need to allocate more money in the coming Capital Plan for this and other bike and ped improvements.

  5. The entire pathway, from Coal Harbour to Kitsilano Point, needs widening and to be made safer for all who use it, signage and painted lines need to be added. People who are in charge of the upgrades should be made to bike the entire distance on 3 seperate occassions, on sunny days when bike, boarder, and pedestrian traffic is high. The current situation is chaos.

    1. I think this may be part of the problem. It seems like the designers of the system do not use it, so they don’t see the problems that come up.

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