COVID Place making
April 19, 2020

Dianna’s Covidiary – The Park Drive Chicane

This week the Park Board placed big red jersey barriers to create S-curves on Park Drive on the steep downhill portion from Prospect Point.  No notice, no explanation, but presumably to slow down cyclists, particularly where the Tatlow Trail crosses the road.

Download video here: IMG_5198 (1) – Stanley Park Chicane


Dianna has some thoughts:

Well, bless their hearts, after a couple of days observing that the bike slalom course they’d created on the Stanley Park downhill was dangerous, the Park Department has made the chicanes much more rideable. On Wednesday, each of the five chicanes forced cyclists descending Stanley Park Road into a tight S curve to squeeze between a pair of offset plastic barriers. Today, Saturday, the barriers were more widely spaced, so the curve to slide between them was much more gentle. No more squealing brakes or casual riders on the edge of control.

But if the point is to slow riders on the descent, forcing a mix of riders aged eight to eighty, casuals to road warriors into narrow gaps, makes little sense.. The descending road is a wide two lanes. Signs at the top warning of the descent, and advising slow riders to keep to the right, are all that’s needed to reduce or avoid conflicts.

The more urgent need is for signs that keep riders from riding the wrong way on the parks one-way roads. At the bottom of the hill, I met a dozen tourists wandering the wrong way, unsure where to go, and grateful when I got them turned around. There were others, worriedly descending the climb to Prospect Point like salmon swimming upstream. How had they gotten that far without figuring out their mistake? Lack of signs, could it be?

Closing Stanley Park roads to cars, so that walkers, runners and cyclists can exercise and enjoy nature at social distance, is wonderful. Very early last Wednesday, we came upon crews putting up the first barriers. I pointed out that one barrier blocked cyclists from exitIng the park to Beach Drive. As they moved it, they said that the changes were a work in process, and that they expected to make other changes.

But why do this by trial and error? Why not start with experienced consultants to design the best signage and traffic controls? Cyclists and city planners have complained for decades that the Park Board wants cyclists to ride to parks, but not through them. There are examples throughout Vancouver.

The coronavirus has changed that.

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Good morning, world!  Here we are at Prospect Point shortly after dawn this morning, and you just have to trust that we came up the OTHER direction.

I was riding at the front of our little gang of three, and was so alert for oncoming cyclists, and one car, that I didn’t do much looking around.

We got a few dirty glances from the dozen other riders we encountered (at a safe distance) but only one comment. Just before we peaked, a man called, “Heads up for a coyote at the bottom of the hill. Or maybe a wild dog. I’m not sure.”

I did notice that the damage done to the park during the ’06 windstorm is much more evident from that direction.

And the climb is totally different—steadier and quite gentle rather than the stair steps of the usual route. And woodpeckers! So many. But maybe that was due to the early hour.


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Dianna’s covidiary from Stanley Park:

Day three in the park: lots Lycra-clad roadies are mixed with the families, couples and casual riders who would normally be on the seawall. But nothing is normal these days, is it? Makes for an interesting and at times challenging mix, especially on the hill to Prospect Point where some folks wobble out of breath and others are laser-focused on speed.

I wondered how the combination of different abilities and goals (have a nice time with the kids versus ride six loops with heart at maximum) would affect the atmosphere. Some racers complained on websites about slow riders wandering all over the road and swore to avoid the park, and others pointed out that if you can’t work your way safely and quickly around a family group on a wide two-lane road, how are you enough ever going to navigate through a peloton?

In reality, today a few cyclists were clearly irritated at having to share the road with casual riders but most actually seemed a bit friendlier than usual. The seawall effect? People normally on the seawall are spreading their glad-to-be-alive-and-playing-outside attitude with the ‘serious’ riders. Could be a win/win.

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From a guide sent to members from the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club:

The Vancouver Parks Board is permitting visitors to Stanley Park only on foot or on bicycles, with some limited access for its stakeholders to maintain their facilities. RVYC members and tradesmen will have vehicle access, provided their vehicles display the appropriate parking decal and are entering the facilities for essential purposes only.  …

If you do not have a decal, you may walk or cycle into the park to receive one.


Umm, essential purposes?

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Dianna reports in:

The first hour of the first day of the first (?) closing of Stanley Park to cars.

It turns out that riding in Stanley Park when cars are banned is very much like riding in Stanley Park on any sunny weekday afternoon – lots of cyclists, almost all lycra-wearing roadies. It’s important to shoulder check before switching lanes because of lots of other cyclists, not cars.

I saw exactly one casual rider on the seawall, and I cut her some slack because she was wearing headphones and maybe hadn’t heard the news.

Ever been tempted to pause in the middle of Stanley Park Road to take a photograph? This is your moment.

I’ve always wanted to ride the wrong way around the park, and this could be the time to do that, but with a BIG warning to be aware of cyclists flying along the roads.

Oh, and if anyone has lost a red bandana it’s in the middle of the right lane just past Prospect Point.


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A new brewpub in the old Fish House has opened in Stanley Park, next to the main tennis courts:

Isn’t the bike on the logo, front and centre, a nice touch?  It’s what you’d expect for a destination away from any major road, in a park, for an active, outdoorsy culture.

So how do you cycle to Stanley Park Brewing?

Officially, you don’t.  Go to the website for the brewpub, and here’s what you find:

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Legendary is not a term to be taken lightly, but neither are the accomplishments of TEAM (The Electors’ Action Movement), the municipal political party formed in 1968 in Vancouver by Art Phillips. TEAM steamrolled into City Hall with an 8-seat majority in 1972, and is credited with steering the city into a direction which is often recognized as upholding a world-class standard for quality of life.

Similarly, living legends are rare. But, in the case of V. Setty Pendakur — as with Vancouver council in the TEAM era — the ‘legend’ label just isn’t up for debate.

Transportation engineer, professor at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning, self-described agitator, family man, and the city’s first (and still only) member of council of South Asian descent, Pendakur is one of the central figures from that TEAM blowout. His opposition to the city’s long-planned downtown freeway brought him into the political fold, and the ’72 election result dealt with that issue decisively.

And that was just the start.

In just a single term of elected office — which, at the time, was just two years — Pendakur either directly led or influenced some of the most important changes this city has ever experienced, feats of urban planning and engineering whose reverberations are still felt today. The Stanley Park Seawall (and its curious connection to housing development); the waterfront plan, which led to the connected public paths from False Creek to the west side beaches; the Development Permit Board; the Property Endowment Fund; the social planning department; CD1 zoning; and the institutionalization of community consultation.

Pendakur dishes on these backstories, plus his impression of public life as a member of a visible minority over a generation ago. He speaks to what it means to be Canadian today. And he tells us which category of civil servant he considers to be most like a buffalo.

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