Although polling — and election results — consistently show most Vancouverites generally support spending on biking and walking infrastructure, many fiscal conservatives are quick to point to those areas when it’s time for financial belt-tightening.
This week’s staff presentation proposes continuing with the planned rehabilitation work on the Granville Street Bridge, including seismic upgrading, at a cost of $24 million, but reducing infrastructure spending on the Granville Street Bridge, Drake Street and Gastown.
And it’s not just Council that will be enticed to cut cycling infrastructure out of current plans. Park Board too.
It’s been the NPA Park Commissioners’ strategy (John Coupar’s in particular) to prevent any serious bikeways through parks (Kits especially) through delay and deferment. This fits their agenda perfectly. Now the question is whether Council will adopt the strategy for the city as a whole.
We are at this remarkable moment when cycling use has increased dramatically as a consequence of the pandemic. Trips are measured in the tens of thousands, even the hundreds of thousands. Users are more diverse – in age, ethnicity, style and location – beyond hope and expectation.
But even at a time of a declared climate emergency, the same ol’ stereotypes and politics seem to prevail. When even the disabled advocates insist that two lanes of Stanley Park are needed for cars, and parking spaces are the highest priority, when golf-course improvements get green checkmarks over greenways, it’s apparent that the need for advocacy, for political champions on elected boards, and for community support are as important as ever.
Actually, more important than ever.