Stanley Park's temporary bike lane is a divisive topic for Vancouver locals.
The bike lane along Stanley Park Drive was installed in 2021 to allow social distancing between cyclists and other park-goers.
However, it has become a concern to some for various reasons and even caused a park board meeting to recess early due to a heated altercation.
Vancouverites who support the bike lane have organized protests to keep it in place.
Following a motion brought by ABC parks board commissioners on Jan. 16, to which Green Party Park Board Commissioner Tom Digby consented, it seems like both sides of the bike lane debate will get their way, to some extent.
Stanley Park bike lane to be retained
The motion came without the usual seven-day notice after ABC was taken aback by the cost of removing the bike lane altogether.
“Back in December, my ABC colleagues recklessly launched us on a path to remove the entire bike lane without any cost or bike safety considerations. Now that we have all been shocked by the $400,000 sticker price, we're forced to look for ways to reduce unnecessary costs," says Commissioner Digby.
To dwindle down the price, parts of the existing bike lane will be retained, including (though not confirmed) the new Tea House configuration, the up-hill section leading to Prospect Point, the corner at Brockton Point, and at Ceperley Meadows.
Digby tells V.I.A. that he doesn't know exactly which parts will be retained. "The motion was designed to allow staff to give us the best recommendations consistent with ABC’s overall goal of removing the bike lane," he says.
Though the four mentioned areas are likely to remain, Digby says that there could be other sections retained as well, depending on how well they support cyclists, safety, aesthetics, and if they improve traffic flow around the park.
A report with recommendations from staff on which areas to retain is expected on Feb. 13.
'$400,000 is a shocking amount!'
"There are over 1000 concrete barriers, many poles and signs that need to be removed and installed, detailed painting, which must be done only in dry weather, and most of the work needs to be done at night when park usage is low, so that drives up costs too," says Digby, who says the cost is a shocking amount.
An email outlining the costs shows a preliminary cost estimate for removing the bike lane to fall between $375,000 and $425,000.
'The whole thing is a bit outrageous'
The bike lane received an "impressive display of grassroots support" in December, 2022.
Nearly 600 people wrote emails and signed petitions in favour of the current bike lane. So why remove it at all?
"That is a very good question," answers Digby. "There has been extensive misinformation about lack of access to the park caused by the bike lane. It is true that in the summer of 2020 there were some initial inadequacies. However, these were all substantially repaired by the fall of 2021. There was no evidence of accessibility problems in the park caused by the bike lane."
"Nonetheless, ABC believes it was their campaign promise to remove the bike lane, though, none of us in the race ever heard them say that or read it in their platform," continues Digby. "The whole thing is a bit outrageous."
'Time for Vancouver to get up to date!'
Looking ahead, Digby says that he believes ABC will keep its promise to install a permanent separated bike lane on Stanley Park Drive.
"Hundreds and thousands of intermediate cyclists have adopted the temporary bike lane as their preferred route around the park. The seawall-specific route is quite slow going and really for tourists not for anyone seeking exercise," he explains.
The only real challenge posing Stanley Park's nine-kilometre bike lane is the estimated $10-million cost.
Compared to other major parks in North America, like New York City's Central Park and San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, which all have permanent bike lanes, Digby says it is "time for Vancouver to get up to date!"