Let’s just say it (because the Park Board doesn’t want to have to): Its de facto policy towards cycling is ‘To, Not Through’.  ‘We’ll accommodate bikes going to our facilities, but we don’t want to build cycling routes to enable them to cycle through our parks on the way to somewhere else or to reach key destinations in our parks.”

Hence: no separate cycling paths through Kits or Jericho parks.  Let the City build bikeways around them.

They don’t even want to accommodate cyclists going to their facilities if they can avoid it.

Like this one:

This is Kitsilano Pool.  It has about a half dozen asphalt paths leading to its entrance.  This is what they look like if you’re on a bike:

Or counting the little no-bike logos from space:

The paths all lead here:

Just don’t cycle there.

It would be understandable that cycling might be prohibited on some paths – if there were other designated routes, clearly marked, and safely designed.  But there aren’t.

Here’s the southern path parallel to Cornwall, presumably meant to handle cycling on the Seaside route without sending the eight- to eighty-year-olds on the busy lanes next to tight parking adjacent to the park.

No logos, no signs, no separation.  ‘No, we don’t want you in our park.’

I keep wondering how the Board of Parks and Recreation gets away with this, especially when their VanPlay and capital plans have no priorities for cycling of any significance.

It could get worse.  NPA commissioner John Coupar quickly jumped on the release of a call for interest in revitalizing the stretch of waterfront from Stanley Park to the Burrard Bridge, with what could be another little dog whistle.

From Global:

(Coupar) said revitalizing the entire waterfront stretch has not been considered by the board, which has jurisdiction over the area.

“It’s definitely a shift,” he said. “On a lot of levels, it’s concerning, and I hope my fellow commissioners feel the same way and join me in hitting pause.” …

“We need to make sure projects are reflective of the priorities of the new park board and the new council,” he said.

Like, say, removing Seaside from the park itself and replacing it with grass.  Let the City try to figure out a replacement on Beach and Pacific.  Parks mean grass; they don’t mean bike paths.

A tad paranoid?  Nothing that the inactions and delays of the board itself haven’t demonstrated, a board for whom ‘recreation’ doesn’t really include cycling.



  1. It seems very narrow minded as bikes will find a way through, if park board wants it or not.

    As such, sensible pathways that people will use ought to be built by the park folks. Who funds the parks anyway?

  2. There are people trying to revive Critical Mass. (I miss those heady days.) But I was wondering what for. What is their specific goal? Maybe this would be a good goal.

    Unfortunately the optics of hundreds or thousands of cyclists taking over park paths while little kids and the elderly are forced onto the grass or shrubbery wouldn’t play well.

  3. Banning cycling in parks is simply unenforcible. People want to do it. It makes sense. The whole world associates parks with cycling. If they did it, it would be so unusual in the world that visiting tourists who will not imagine such an absurd thing will rent a bike and cycle in our parks. If the cops are called this won’t look good. If not then busybodies will tsk away at them.
    Without an outlet anything can become a problem but with an outlet anything can be delightful.

    Is the new Park Board willing to do the hard work of making a design that accomodates an activity that isn’t going to go away?
    Past Park Boards seemed to be just too lazy to put some effort into this. This bike rack placed well within the no cycling area is a good example. They should really have twinned or widened the path and allow cycling to the rack or moved the rack closer to the outer path instead of this cheap easy symbol on the pavement. Probably what happened is that someone was walking once (on the substandard narrow shared path) and bothered by someone biking past them. Their response, instead of smart design and having an understanding of human nature is to just ban cycling.
    This is simple laziness and is not how a board member should respond to a situation.

    Does the Park Board need a higher budget? Do they need some engineers on their team? Just what is their problem?

    1. Banning cycling in parks does seem unenforceable to me. I think the current strategy is more one of strangulation. I base that on the fact that the Stanley Park Cycling Plan (SPCP) was approved by the commissioners back in 2012. When nothing happened for several years after that, I attended a Park Board Commissioners meeting (at the invitation of a then-commissioner) and asked why the capital budget (which was the subject that evening) had no funds allocated for that already approved Stanley Park Cycling Plan. Staff responded that they didn’t need to put it in the budget, since they already had the funds, budgeted since 2012 and set aside. So, there wasn’t a lack of consultation on the SPCP (it had gone on for two years), there wasn’t a lack of a plan (it was approved, along with an implementation plan), there wasn’t a lack of funding, which left, in my mind, only a lack of political will and/or prioritization by staff. We also identified a lack of familiarity with current best practice design guidelines for active transportation.

      The good news is that after years of pushing on this, staff have responded recently with a summary of what they intend to implement in 2019 from the SPCP. Meetings are underway.

      Even better news is that recent meetings have included not just Park Board staff, but also City transportation design staff. PB staff aren’t trained in how to improve cycling facilities. City staff can’t get involved unless asked in, it is PB jurisdiction. But now we see signs of the two groups working together. This can only help.

      Finally, the VanPlay strategic plan, a vision for the coming decades of what PB should focus on, was totally lacking any mention of improvements in active transportation. Input to that process is ongoing, supported by a public campaign, to get the VanPlay final report due out in the coming months to set targets for active transportation. I am optimistic. We still need to see the final report, and then we need to see if elected PB commissioners support it with their votes.

      1. Great update Jeff.

        For those newly following the current developments, or those not following the multi-year, painfully frustrated progress on this issue, it’s worth noting that PB commissioners have already done this dance, with PB staff having collaborated with City staff on months of consultation and design work, which resulted in a joint staff delegation to the March 12, 2018 Park Board meeting to present a ‘Proposed Concept’ for decision:

        With Lon LaClaire, Director of Transportation, and Paul Storer, Manager of Transportation Design, in attendance to support the work of staff authors Joe McLeod, Justin Dykstra & Tiina Mack, the NPA majority Park Board voted to refer the project back to staff for more detailed information, despite having been subject to extensive discussion with community stakeholders and amongst staff, for many years. On the motion to refer, a point of order ruled no further discussion on the original motion – the “stall, delay, repeat” move was led most notably by erstwhile NPA mayoral nominee John Coupar, and successful NPA council candidate Sarah Kirby-Yung.

        So, it’s already been proven the two groups of staff can work together to come up with designs that satisfy Park and Transportation mandates. Now it’s a question as to whether PB commissioners can set aside political ambition to advance work to approve one of the many viable concepts for safe cycling to and through an all ages recreational facility, which happens to fall across a vital active transportation corridor.

  4. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say it’s easier to drive a car in a Vancouver park than it is to ride a bike.

  5. Park Board staff were part of developing the RFEOI related to West End Waterfront transportation and access, together with City engineering staff. Park Board Commissioners (especially those who were on the last park board like Coupar) were informed about it last July, according to Park Board staff. They just forgot to tell the elected commissioners that they were issuing the RFEOI. The Park Board GM explained, here:


  6. Thomas correctly identifies that desire lines indicate what people will do anyway. A rut worn in a lawn, or a path defined by many people walking it, does not indicate a society of rule breakers. It indicates that the planners and maintainers of the space are not understanding how their visitors (and voters) want to use that space. Meaningful consultation could help.

    Thomas, Vancouver parks are funded by municipal taxes. That means that those who live outside the City are not paying.

      1. Some commissioners have expressed that they don’t see bikes as being appropriate within parks, and in particular in Kits Beach Park. Others have taken the opposite view.

        All candidates were asked in the last election cycle whether they supported such use; some declined to respond, others provided conditional responses (it depends….) and others came out in support. All responses were published to help voters make up their minds.

        At Kits Beach Park in particular, add in to the mix the organized groups that are current park users (consisting of local resident associations, various sports groups such as basketball and tennis groups) as well as commercial interests (such as the restaurant that leases space in Kits Beach Park) and there are lots of cooks in the kitchen. All of the groups referenced above weighed in with positions on whether the current bike paths in Kits Beach Park should be improved, or moved out of the park in the last go round. At the same time, they didn’t ask people interested in cycling in parks to weigh in on whether we should pave tennis courts and basketball courts, or preserve private parking next to the restaurant.

        Hopefully we are making progress now.

    1. I agree that section along Cornwall is marked at each end. It is marked with a sign on a post; it would be better if it was marked with a stencil, as that would be placed where most people are looking.

      What is not marked is the length of the path. Nothing to indicate that people may be walking and cycling here. Nothing to indicate keep right or that it is bi-directional, or alternatively, to paint a line to show one side for people walking, and one side for people cycling. There is also an access point at Vine where people join the path from Cornwall, and there is nothing to indicate to them that they are crossing a bike path as they walk into the park.

      Note that Park bylaws state that no cycling is allowed on park paths unless so indicated, so it is often unclear where people may ride. If we can have no cycling signs in places, as shown in the photos above, we also need signs where riding is permitted. That indicates to people walking that they are on a multi use path and should be aware of other users who may be cycling. Without the cycling signs, conflicts arise as some people think it is a sidewalk.

      1. The sign instead of stencil is the same policy(?) used on the Concord seawall – quite annoying as those signs @ 6ft up?) are higher than the Kitsilano park signs.

      2. Both are used. Signs on posts are the traditional approach.

        Studies show they are often missed by users as they are too high up. Stencils resolve that issue, but require path maintenance (snow clearing, leaf clearing, repainting when faded) to have ongoing effectiveness.

        Along the seawall, there are multiple jurisdictions. City Engineering, Park Board for parks, private owners for areas such as the Plaza of Nations which haven’t been developed yet. From Creekside Park to the west side of the Plaza of Nations wasn’t going to get anything, it was going to be years until it was rebuilt, concurrent with development. Private owners and the City cooperated to get some interim fixes in due to the length of time expected until the permanent solution was deployed. Not sure if that is the section you are referring to.

  7. And here’s the sign at the eastern end (the plaza / juncture of paths).
    The bike path goes from this sign to the area next to the crosswalk (at Yew) then heads west along the parallel path).


    Reposting the western sign to try different coding to see if it will appear:


    1. The reference to needing to walk your bike prompts some me to provide some background.

      The narrow path along the beach and in front of the restaurant at Kits Beach Park has been a formal path for cycling since at least 1998. We researched past minutes of Park Board meetings to determine how long it has existed as a cycling route, and it was referenced in both Park Board meeting minutes, and a Park Board staff report, in 1998. The reason was that the helmet bylaw was being implemented, and the City doesn’t have jurisdiction over parks, so it required that Park Board prepare a report and endorse the direction the City was headed, for those bike paths that were in parks. After the Park Board voted on and passed the motion, the City updated their bylaws (which include the helmet bylaw) and showed the map of all the routes in the City where helmets would be legally required. That map is in the Traffic Bylaw even today. It clearly shows the path along the beach. Some commissioners have commented that they see the bike route as being imposed on them by the City, not a decision of the Park Board commissioners, and therefore invalid. I disagree.

      It would be very reasonable to provide a new bike path in the park, in a less congested area than in front of the restaurant, for the comfort and safety of all users. But that hasn’t been done despite multiple attempts. In the meantime, the path along the beach remains.

      Due to conflicts with congestion in front of the restaurant, several years back sandwich boards were erected by staff at busy times, instructing people on bikes to walk their bikes just for the stretch in front of the restaurant. That seemed reasonable. There was no need for the signs in the off season, but in the summer months it got very busy there.

      In 2017, park staff painted stencils indicating no cycling, and signs on posts, along that route. After it was pointed out that this was in fact the official bike route, Park Board staff agreed to immediately remove the no cycling signs. They took all the signs on posts down in the following days, but never erased the stenciled signs. Some of them make sense; the many paths to the pools were never official cycling routes, so no cycling signs had a basis for being applied there, though a single route should still have been provided to the bike racks shown in the photos above.

      For the stretch from the restaurant to the crosswalk at Yew, the stencils are confusing as all published bike maps, the official City bylaw with map, and the Park Board staff decision to remove the guerilla No Cycling signs here, are at odds with the now fading 2017 stencils. Many people cycling choose to avoid the busy section along the beach and in front of the restaurant, and access the park via the lane to the restaurant, and then the paths to the Yew intersection, as they consider it safer than the official bypass route through the parking lot.

      The sign confusion is as issue. It creates conflicts between users of different modes, when that conflict doesn’t need to happen. I ride regularly down the lane from Arbutus to the restaurant, and along the paths to the Yew corner. I travel at walking speed if it is congested. I never walk my bike there. Conflicts in busy areas aren’t a result of a specific speed, or whether one is walking or cycling. They are due to a speed differential between users of different modes. Going at the same speed as people walking if it is congested just makes sense to me.

      What would make even more sense is designing and building proper paths that provide separate space for people walking, and people cycling.

  8. It’s unfortunate the Parks Board’s only means of asserting its independence is through contrariness. Churlish.

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