No matter how many times the NPA lose elections when they include anti-cycling dog whistling, they just can’t stop themselves. Here’s the latest from NPA Park Commissioner Tricia Barker:
It’s not hard to figure out the underlying assumptions:
- Seniors don’t cycle.
- Seniors are so effectively disabled, they are reliant on (and can afford) cars.
- Seniors need to have Stanley Park returned to its car-dominant allocation of space – “For ALL TIME!”
The implications follow:
- The interests of cyclists and seniors are opposed.
- NPA Commissioners will justify their anti-cycling strategy as pro-senior.
- Cyclists and walkers who reject a return to the status-quo are anti-senior.
The NPA have been successful at least in one respect: keeping any new cycling infrastructure built to the City standard out of parks. Other than those places (like the South Shore of False Creek) where the City shares jurisdiction and will design and pay for bikeway-standard improvements, there has been no other significant upgrades within parks. As a result, the park experience has been worsening for everyone, particularly in the case of Kits and Jericho.
Here’s a Jericho Video which illustrates the lack of adequate space for walkers, cyclists and runners, squeezed together on an unpleasant surface, without separation or signage.
In the three months into the pandemic, the Park Board has done essentially one thing for cycling: limiting vehicle traffic in Stanley Park. They have done nothing to address crowding in parks elsewhere, leaving it up to the City (thanks to NPA Councillor Lisa Dominato’s Open Streets motion) to do the heavy lifting.
But they have moved fast to open up the parking lots, and now seem determined to get Park Drive in Stanley Park returned to wide-open car use as soon as possible, presumably so that cars and bikes can fight it out for road space. Or even worse, try to squeeze the extraordinary increase in cycling back on to the seawall, making the experience worse for everyone.
But here’s the thing: no cycling advocate that I have heard has suggested that Park Drive not accommodate those with more limited mobility. Indeed, it’s in the remarks from HUB Cycling member Jeff Leigh:
The public response to increasing active transportation routes, for walking and cycling to and through Stanley Park, has been very positive. It would be a shame to simply go back to how it was, with drivers having two wide lanes all around the park, and people walking and cycling squeezed onto a Seawall path that is in places narrow and unsafe.
We can do better, and we at HUB Cycling support the motion before Park Board to start a conversation on transportation within Stanley Park.
This is not a call to ban motor vehicles. Many families with children, seniors, and those with mobility challenges, need safe and comfortable access, whatever mode they choose.
One option to consider is creating a protected cycle lane around the park, with a return route on Pipeline Road, retaining a full lane for vehicle access.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit the NPA strategy. But it does seem to be the intent of the two Green and one COPE commissioners, who have moved a motion to be considered at next week’s Park Board meeting.
Exploring Options to Reduce Motor Vehicle Traffic in Stanley Park
MOVERS: Commissioners Irwin & Mackinnon
SECONDER: Commissioner Giesbrech
A. THAT Vancouver Park Board staff explore the long term feasibility of reducing motor vehicle traffic in Stanley Park, including but not restricted to, reducing roadways to single lanes while maintaining access to the park;
B. FURTHER THAT consultation include the Stanley Park Intergovernmental Working Group, as well as park partners, stakeholders, and the community at large; and
C. THAT Park Board staff explore green transportation options, to and throughout the park, to support equitable access for all park users, including those with mobility challenges.
It’s hard to believe that the NPA Park Commissioners would not support this – after a dog-whistle or two.