“He is not anti-bike, he said.”
That’s NPA Park Commissioner John Coupar in today’s Sun.
Problem is, he’s not pro-bike either. And as a commissioner for the Board of Parks and Recreation, he’s been an effective opponent, now along with the other NPA park commissioner and the NPA board, of any change to the status quo, circa 1990, when the City (under an NPA Council) began to make this a more cycling-friendly city by building separated bikeways. (Best example: the Seaside Bikeway).
For John, perhaps angling for another mayoral run, he’s leading a fight of his own manufacture: “the logical thing to do is to open up (Park Drive) just the way it was. If you are going to make changes in the future take your time, talk to everybody, make it public.” (Emphasis added, if ‘just the way it was’ was Stanley Park circa 1990.)
Consultation and process have served John and the Parks Board well in ensuring that no significant improvement in cycling in any of the parks has occurred since, well, 1990. PT has documented that extensively.
For the NPA as a whole, an anti-bike-lane agenda, whether explicitly stated or dog-whistled, has not actually served them well; they haven’t won a mayoral election since 2008. But even today, as they redrink their bathwater, the NPA board itself, not just the NPA park commissioners, has clearly decided the Park Drive closure to vehicles is the issue they want to brand themselves with.
This letter was circulated to their presumed supporters from the board president:
We know Vancouverites are extremely proud of Stanley Park. However, access to the park for all is under attack! We are emerging from this pandemic and it is time to re-open Stanley Park for everyone.
That’s why the NPA has called for an emergency meeting on Thursday, June 18th at 6:30 pm to re-open the park in time for this Father’s Day weekend and for the first weekend of summer.
This is where we need you to come in. If you believe that Stanley Park must be reopened to vehicle traffic immediately please sign up to speak at the meeting here. The meeting is online via the Zoom video conference. We know that the Greens and COPE will have their vocal activists show up, so please consider joining us in fighting for access and inclusiveness for all in the park.
David Mawhinney, President, Non-Partisan Association
I do have to admire their strategy to use the language of wokiness – ableism, ageism – to frame the fight as one on behalf of the disabled and seniors against the activists and Lycra-clad. (Or people like me, for whom Stanley Park is our front yard. Talk about privileged!)
It’s evident that this a political strategy – and a rather tacky one: proclaim your opponents in favour of something they are not (closure of the park to cars) and then double down on the exaggeration by not correcting the mis-statement when called on it.
Here’s Jeff Leigh, a spokesperson for HUB Cycling:
I have been talking to the media for several weeks now, telling them that I am happy to have a lane allocated for cycling in the park, and for automobiles and delivery vehicles to have a lane, and for people walking to have space to move on the seawall in these times of physical distancing. It is about space for all. Nothing selfish about it.
And their response is typically to post a headline that says something like “cyclists want vehicles banned from Stanley Park permanently” even when the article or interview that follows doesn’t call for that at all. It is tiring.
I’m sure the NPA know their motion won’t pass; it isn’t intended to. It’s positioning, and it allows them, when staff report back with the modified reallocation (likely opening the park to cars in one lane) to proclaim victory, implying that the inevitable occurred only because of their opposition to something that wasn’t going to happen anyway.
They will appear relevant to their base, but only at the price of reaffirming their backward-looking commitment to a status quo that disappeared utterly when Vancouverites found that cycling was a perfect response to the pandemic: outdoors, Read more »