Gerry O’Neil is the well regarded horseman that has been offering horse drawn tours of Stanley Park for several decades. For $50.00 for an adult or $20.00 for a child you can take a one hour  tour around the park in a horse powered tram that can accommodate 26 people.

Of course Mr. O’Neil is also dealing with the current Covid Stanley Park provisions that have meant that only one lane of Park Drive is open for vehicular traffic, with the other lane dedicated for cyclists, separated by the traditional orange traffic cones.

While vehicular traffic in Stanley Park is supposed to go along Park Drive at  30 km/h per hour, it rarely is that slow as any park visitor can attest. And Mr. O’Neil’s carriage rides were for some reason dedicated to the vehicular lane as opposed to the  temporary cycling lane.  The average horse moves about 6 kilometers an hour at a walk, meaning that vehicular traffic stacked up behind Mr. O’Neil’s horse drawn trolley.

As Ben Miljure with CTV news reported Mr. ONeil is frustrated. ” As you can imagine, when you’ve got 30 0r 40 cars behind you waiting, there’s a level of stress that you’re hoping to get out of their way,”

While the one lane closure for cycling on Park Drive is temporary to alleviate overcrowding on the seawall during the pandemic, it is a surprise that the horse drawn trolleys were classified as vehicles as they have no motors. That is often the litmus test for whether a use belongs in the bike lane or not in many municipalities.


Take a look at Hyde Park in London where there is a generous walking lane beside a surprisingly wide bicycle lane. There the bike lane is shared with the Queen’s horses on their way to and from Buckingham Palace. Perhaps moving the horse drawn tram to the cycling lane  might be a temporary consideration during this unusual summer of short-term pandemic park modifications.




  1. Using the dedicated bike lane for horse powered vehicles is a good idea, but please give a thought to O’Neill’s equines. Two horses pulling a large wagon with twenty-six people in it is cruel and unusual punishment. And there are hills to climb. Take a look at O’Neill’s stables. Standing stalls only for huge draft horses. Someone always pays when animals are used as commodities, and it’s not the human.

  2. The last thing cyclists need is slow moving horses in their way. 6 km/hr? Cyclists routinely travel about 15 and many cruise at 20+. Even children are going to ride faster than 6. Park Drive remains busy with cyclists and one needs to be a bit patient to pass already and often have to cross over to the car lane. Most of the cycling lane is too narrow to pass these carriages within the bike lane. Children should not have to do that.

    There still appears to be more bikes than cars so why should the majority have the slow moving horses imposed on them? (Let’s get some accurate counts.)

    This idea just reinforces that some people consider cyclists to be inferior. It certainly reinforces that horses are inferior – slaves to our whims and entirely unnecessary.

    1. It is funny that you say “The last thing cyclists need is slow moving horses in their way”, but have no consideration for the same for another mode.

      What you fail to appreciate is that it is not a matter of whomever is the majority wins. It’s about access and usability for all, which means that even if there are less or more of one mode, it doesn’t mean they should be treated as second class. I would never suggest that for bikes or anyone else, so why do you use that line for cars? Cyclists are not inferior, but you sure do seem to think that cars are, don’t you?

      1. Yes.

        Cars are sometimes necessary, but they are noisy, pollute, stink, maim and kill. They lead to obesity and a whole range of health issues. They take up enormous amounts of space both to use and park. They put a lot of wear and tear on our infrastructure.

        So, again, yes. They are inferior.

        If there must be a trade-off about who gets inconvenienced by the horse-drawn carriages then the default should be the least amount of people. I was was just calling out the absurdity of assuming the horses should go in the bike lane because they don’t have motors and the underlying assumption that they are more closely related to bikes than cars. Their scale says otherwise.

  3. When I rode in the park late last week, there was undeniable evidence (horse poop) that the carriage had been in the bike lane.

    1. The horse droppings may have been the VPD’s animals. They have their horses in the same area.

  4. The cones seem to be placed on the ‘bike’ side of the middle line, which means there isn’t room for bikes to share … if the cones were to narrow the car lane, then this might work.

  5. Credit to PriceTags for sharing another POV here which will no doubt be very unpopular amongst most regular visitors to this blog. Of course, the other fabulous solution would be, wait for it, to return the park to the way it was and open the seawall for cyclists because, in reality, there is absolutely no health safety issue with doing so and if there was, then why are all other bike routes fully open and all other parks as well, including Kits, which is very busy. And don’t say that other bike routes don’t count because they are not so busy because, well, really? Dedicated bike routes like Hornby and False Creek and Burrard go right beside pedestrians.

    Editor’s Note: Dr. Bonnie Henry explicitly said she hoped that Stanley Park would remain closed to vehicular traffic to support physical distancing and active transportation. There is crowding on the Stanley Park sea wall with cyclists & pedestrians.

    1. In the photo accompanying the article I see a walking path alongside an extra wide bike path that accommodates carriages. Depending on cycling volumes this could work. But that’s not nearly enough cycling space for Park Drive.

      But, importantly, I see no road space for cars. I’m sure that’s unpopular with you. So, okay, let’s have a cycling lane that is wide enough for carriages and a walking path. No cars. I’m good with that.

      Or better yet, a cycling lane and a transit/carriage lane. Still no cars. Since even five minute transit frequency would limit the amount of times transit was stuck behind a carriage there would be little problem. Former road-side parking spaces would give ample places to pass. The carriages are only a problem when there are too many vehicles.

      Or if you’re a horse.

  6. As @David reflects to @Rob’s remark “It is funny that you say “The last thing cyclists need is slow moving horses in their way”, there is no win-win scenario here.

    If one lane is for cars and one for bikes, the horse is in no-man’s land either way. It is a prime exmaple of how the talk about “shared roads” really means favour cyclists over cars. Even the cones are biased!

    Some cyslists might hit 30kph, but almost all cars will be 30 kph+. Some cyclists might even travel at the same horseb6kph. The speed differential creates conflicts just among cyclists themselves!

    Can a cyclist safely pass the carriage in a lane width? Is it safer to have a car serve into the bike lane around the carriage or have a cyclist go around the carriage, maybe into the car lane? Will an accelerating car passing spook the horses? Will a cyclist? Does “the law” actually ban bikes from the car lane? Vice versa? Either way, it’s gonna happen, regardless of “the law”. Traffic Engineers should choose the safer option on balance whuch provides the best, equitable outcome.

    Poop in the bike lane? Mr. O’Neill could hire a cyclist to trail tje carriage witha pooper scooper. Small price to pay for less conflict.

    1. The thing about a car lane is it is a one car lane. They are so inefficient and space hungry that 3m or so is good for one car and one car only. That same lane width can move so many more bikes. It isn’t a really big conflict if bike speeds range from 6 to 30 km/h because they can pass each other. And even still, there are so many bikes that it does occasionally require a wait or a wiggle over to the car lanes to get by.

      I’d like to see some accurate counts but my observations have been at least 5 to 10 bikes per car – handled in about the same amount of road space for each. In fact cars still get far more space with passing, parking and passenger zones that cyclists just don’t get.

      So what should be favoured? The cars that use space so inefficiently or the bikes that use it very efficiently? Can you really come up with a logical argument for the former?

      If it is to be argued that there are those who really have no choice but to travel in a car because of personal mobility issues, should that give them preference in terms of their expectation of speed? Why? And is it fair to cyclists that all of those who don’t need a car due to personal mobility issues get to ride the coattails of those who do?

    2. From the risk analysis perspective the most at risk are pedestrians so we elevate them and give them their own specialized lane, next would be the cyclist as they have no shell, next we have the horse and carriage riders, and then the car driver. Safest option is to remove the biggest danger(cars, then Horses, then bikes, then peds to achieve zero incidents. If you don’t want to remove cars and you want to make it safe you slow them down to the; bike speed, horse speed, ped speed. So make two lanes for cars and bikes, but they’re not changeable lanes at most pints and make it narrow enough that a car cannot pass a cyclist. They can change lanes at certain limited points but they can’t pass. And bikes can’t pass the carriage. They have to wait for the change spot just like a car. Equity and safety for all beings slowed down to the fastest safe speed

      1. Not all people on bikes are travelling at the same speed. Some may be going almost as slow as the horse tram, 6 km/hr or so. Others are maintaining a steady 20-25 km/hr. Others are holding 30 km/hr.

        It should be obvious, but it isn’t safe to use vulnerable road users as traffic pylons and speed limiting devices. They will be run over. Just look at the cones that the drivers can’t avoid hitting.

        Some drivers in cars will run over a person on a bike to get by. Been there.

    3. “Can a cyclist safely pass the carriage in a lane width? ”

      No, especially since the right hand lane is narrower than a standard lane.

      “Is it safer to have a car swerve into the bike lane around the carriage or have a cyclist go around the carriage, maybe into the car lane?”

      The former is not is safe, nor legal. The latter could be done by a faster rider, but would not be safe if the person riding a bike is not going as quickly as overtaking vehicles.

      ” Will an accelerating car passing spook the horses? Will a cyclist?”


      “Does “the law” actually ban bikes from the car lane? Vice versa? ”

      While it is illegal to drive a vehicle in a lane designated for bicycles, there is nothing in law preventing a person on a bike from using the left lane to overtake slower riders. It is far safer than squeezing by in a narrow cone lane. The problem is calling the left hand lane a car lane. It is a general purpose lane. The spaces between the cones are wide enough that it is easy to change lanes on a bike. Shoulder check, signal, overtake, return to the right hand lane. It would calm everybody down if the temporary signs clearly stated that, something along the lines of a bicycle sign on the right lane, and a sign on the left lane that says cars, and overtaking cyclists.

  7. They just need periodic courtesy pull-outs for the carriages. Any driver familiar with older 2 lane highways will be familiar with being stuck behind a slow moving RV and waiting for a pull-out (these are cheaper than and pre-date passing lanes). The Sea to Sky Highway even had them.

    Pull-outs could also be placed at locations where the carriage occupants can enjoy a view or historical landmark on their journey.

    1. There are periodic pullouts now, and Park Board staff are working on implementing more of them. Drivers are not demonstrating patience at the moment. Perhaps signs saying passing zone ahead would help.

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