“The truth about a city’s aspirations isn’t found in its vision,” says Brent Toderian. “It’s found in its budget.”

“Budgets,” confirms Sam Sullivan, “are the sincerest form of rhetoric.”

So when it comes to the priority that the Parks Board places on cycling, don’t bother with its plans or the commissioners’ affirmations.  Look to its capital plan, where you will find … almost nothing.

Here’s the 2019-22 capital plan.  Check page 36 for the Parks Board, where you will find in the chart $2.4 million for “skate &bike facilities/tracks” – a pittance in the scheme of things.  By comparison, the City will spend $3 million just for the Bute greenway and Helmcken-Comox greenway extension.

The highest priority, of course, should be the upgrading of congested and unsafe routes, and the need to connect with the City’s bike network that funnels tens of thousands of cyclists into the conflicted spaces of existing parks, especially Kitsilano and Jericho.  Instead, on the priority list for improved routes, the Parks Board has only Park Lane (1 on the map below).  It isn’t even within Stanley Park, just on the eastern boundary under PB jurisdiction. It is a route designed to skirt the park, rather than enter it.

When Park Board staff are asked why there isn’t any money specified in the new capital plan for Stanley Park, they respond that funds have already been approved.  It just needs political will and clear directions from the board – and that hasn’t happened.

On the map above, you can see the results: ambitious plans and projects – everywhere but in the green parts, the parks. The bike network, the separated routes, the system safe for 8 to 80-year-olds, it basically ends where we want to encourage people to get to and through without driving.

How does the Parks Board get away with this?

City/Park Board interface at Jericho Park

 

So what should be the priority commitments?  Here’s a list:

1) Kits Beach park from the north end of Arbutus to Balsam – a civic embarrassment and a gap in the Seaside Greenway

2) Stanley Park, with a prioritized list from the items identified in the approved and budgeted plan

3) Jericho  Park from Point Grey Road west, along or near the beach

 

Within Stanley Park:

1) The Coal Harbor entrance hub, with signage and marked paths  (which are already paved but do not permit bikes) to Park Drive and the Causeway protected paths

2) The path above the seawall, from Beach Ave to Ceperley Park, with sufficient space, and separation for people walking and people on bikes

3) A protected bi-directional path on Pipeline Road from Burrard Inlet to the Coal Harbour entrance hub, providing a return route from the eastern section of the Seawall path, and relieving congestion on the Seawall path to the west

 

Comments

  1. These priorities are well articulated.

    Yet I have to ask, from an educational point of view, where is the delineation between cities and Park Board? Which bike lanes are built or maintained by cities, and which by the Parks Board ? Arbutus Greenway, for example, is this a park or a City of V responsibility ?

    1. Sometimes it’s not easy knowing what areas are run by Park Board (generally parks) and which are run by Engineering Services. Some are owned by CoV Engineering Services but managed by Park Board.
      The Arbutus Greenway is under the authority of CoV Engineering Services. Because it has a priority of remaining a transportation corridor, that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

  2. The gravel path part of the seawall/Seaside Greenway through Vanier Park works for experienced people on bicycles but not for novices, skateboarders, inline skaters, or people with an unsteady gait walking with a cane, a walker, or wheeling in a wheelchair.

  3. The previous Park Board (and the current Park Board unless they override current staff on this) has a philosophy of “bikes to parks, not through parks” which does not encourage or support (healthy, affordable, and cleaner air) active transportation ( including push scooters, inline skates, skateboards).
    This seems silly when Canada’s best public space (according to spacing.ca magazine) is Vancouver’s seawall which has for decades been welcoming active transportation in our parks – especially Stanley Park.
    Also, it rains a lot in Vancouver so the grass areas are often too muddy for recreating and the basketball and tennis courts are too wet for safe play. However, one can walk or bike on paths through parks in most inclement weather all year-round.
    The safest places to learn how to ride a bike or use a push scooter, skateboard, or inline skates is not in a bike lane on the road but on a path in the park – whether it’s a toddler, child, new Canadian, or other adult.
    The City’s Active Transportation Policy Council tried to get Park Board to support improving the Seaside Greenway by changing the path in the park out of the Kits Beach parking lot, and other projects through parks many times last term to no avail.

  4. Thanks for the post, Gordon. Very timely, with our new group of elected officials.

    I would be interested in hearing from other cyclists about what the priorities should be for cycling improvements within our parks. Also, cycling improvements aren’t just for people on bikes, they can also provide significant benefits for people walking. The narrow path above the Seawall from Beach Ave to Ceperley Park, and the bike tunnel which doesn’t currently permit pedestrians there, are both examples of that, as is Vanier Park, which Tanya raises above. There is also the narrow stretch of Seawall path from the Coal Harbour entrance hub, east to Denman St.

    What else should be on the list?

    1. I agree about this point. Taking a mixed use path and making a second separating modes is mostly an amenity for people when they’re walking. I hate how politics twists reality and pits people against each other.

      Priorities? Well, there’s the park at Trout Lake (John Hendry). It needs new paths, especially where you access the community centre there by bike. Thornton Park (Main and Terminal) could use a way to bike to the Skytrain station. Clinton Park (Gravely and Penticton) needs two paths through it instead of just the one. Adanac Park. (Adanac and Boundary) You need to be able to bike to Douglas Road in Burnaby from Adanac and Kootenay.

  5. Swangard Stadium has lights illuminating an empty field while the shared path in Central Park is pitch black. The 7-11 trail petering out under the Skytrain line at Kingsway at Central Park is a thumb in the eye of safety considerations. The region’s much vaunted bike improvements get real scarce the further away you get from C of V city hall.

  6. Could not agree more that Parks Board is failing at providing safe paths for both for people walking and people on bikes.

  7. Cycling to UBC after Camosun or Blanca (depending on how far north you are) is pretty scary no matter what route you do because of all the buses and speeding cars. I wish there was a nicer route through Pacific Spirit for bikes! I used to ride Imperial-Powerline but it’s pretty bumpy, often very muddy and slick, and not well connected to cycling networks at the ends. There’s a paved path along Chancellor that I usually take, but it’s really suffering from tree roots.

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