By Gord Price
I’ve often criticized the shamefully inadequate bikeway system in our crown jewel (“The Shame of Stanley Park”), but really, the problem with the design of the internal transportation network goes way beyond bikes.
Sometime in the post-war period (I’m guessing in the 1950s), the planners and engineers of the day assumed the default way of moving through the park would be by car – and they designed accordingly.
There is of course the seawall and trail system. But in the heavily used interior parts on the east side of the park, there are only some unhappy asphalt paths where it is assumed that walkers, runners and cyclists will stick to the spaces allocated to them, inadequate as they are, and not try to walk along or run along the parkways designed to be exclusively for cars.
Below is where the city meets the park. The design is clear: there are no complete streets to accommodate multiple users. If you are walking, you go on only the separate paths, regardless of whether they actually go where you want.
And the quality of the ped routes – the minimum amount of asphalt – also makes it clear where you come in the hierarchy.
Regular users know how frustrating it can be to cross the park south of Lost Lagoon:
Cyclists heading for the tennis courts from the north along Lagoon Drive, for instance, are confronted with a one-way road system that makes no accommodation for their intentions. You want to go left, but legally you can’t. It’s assumed that, like drivers, you will go kilometres out of your way to reach your destination – or else use the ped paths to the annoyance of walkers.
Again, another sign that the Park Board (a) is oblivious, (b) doesn’t care or (c) isn’t prepared to make an active transportation system for everyone a priority.
Over four-fifths of likely voters (83 percent) believe that bicycling is good for San Francisco, and that bicycling in the city should be comfortable and attractive to everyone from small children to seniors.
- For the first time, a majority of San Franciscans (51 percent) report biking occasionally, and 31 percent report riding regularly, meaning a few times a month or more.
- A supermajority of San Franciscans (72 percent) support restricting private autos on Market Street.
- Most San Franciscans (56 percent) support dramatically increasing City spending on bike infrastructure from around 0.5 percent to eight percent of the City’s transportation budget.
- Two-thirds of San Franciscans (66 percent) support building a network of cross-town bike lanes connecting every neighborhood in San Francisco, even at the expense of travel lanes and parking spots.
- Twice as many San Francisco voters are are likely to ride a bike on unprotected bike lanes (57 percent) than on streets without bike lanes (28 percent). Likely riders jump up to 65 percent on physically protected bike lanes.
- Most voters (54 percent) would like to bike more frequently than they do presently.
- With so many people reporting that biking is good for our city, and expressing the desire for better infrastructure and incorporating biking more into their lives, it is no surprise that a supermajority (68 percent) believe that City leaders are not doing enough to encourage biking.
The poll was conducted by David Binder Research, surveying 402 likely voters by cell phone and land line between Saturday, Aug. 20 and Tuesday, Aug. 23, and was commissioned by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The margin of error is 4.9 percent. Findings include: …
PT: As a past NPA City Councillor, I continue to be amazed that the party has not tried to reposition itself on cycling issues, still aligning itself with whatever group is currently pissed off and dog-whistling to voters that cycling will not be a priority.
That’s most evident with the Park Board on which the NPA holds a majority. Some of the most controversial projects fall in their jurisdiction – notably Kits Park. But their indifference extends to other parks that are on the cycling network or are major destinations – especially Jericho and Stanley Parks. There has been no upgrading of the cycling infrastructure in years – and no indication that there will be any time soon.
The most egregious example: Second Beach in Stanley Park, a major junction for the thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who are deliberately placed in conflict:
The worst case is the point where the yellow line switches from being a centre line for cyclists to a separation indicator for peds and bikes, without any clear indication of what’s happening. It’s been this way for years – and apparently no one at Parks cares very much.
And then, of course, there’s this at the entrance to Jericho:
The Park Board couldn’t make a stronger statement, could it?
Ask a representative about their approach, and you’ll here about studies and plans and consultations. But it’s also clear that there will be no political leadership, and that there is unlikely to be any action, much less a major commitment of resources, any time soon.
Which is odd. Given the explosive growth in active transportation and the clear benefits, politicians today generally want to align themselves with this movement. But more than, why would the Park Board continue to maintain an unacceptable status quo as the quality of infrastructure is upgraded all around them? Their failure to address deficiencies and outstanding conflicts will only become more apparent – and annoying.
Sure, it won’t be easy to deal with unhappy constituents who see paving parkland as an unacceptable and unnecessary intrusion (regardless of the success of the Seaside route through English Bay and the False Creek parks). But the NPA prides itself on the party that can get things done, and do it in a more balanced way than Vision.