With the controversial temporary Stanley Park bike lane now removed, a new topic of concern has come to light.
The bike lane was installed along Stanley Park Drive 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.
Despite local outcry, the Park Board voted on Feb. 13 to return most of Stanley Park Drive to pre-pandemic two-lane vehicle traffic, which meant removing the bike lane almost entirely.
Since the completed removal sometime in late May or early June, one local Stanley Park frequenter noticed heightened tension between drivers and cyclists on the road.
'A lot of hostility'
"I've noticed more incidents of drivers honking or yelling at cyclists to get out of their way, and I've seen a few incidents of drivers coming way too close to the cyclists and swerving around [them] like they were angry," cyclist Michael Caditz tells V.I.A.
While a bike-lane-free Stanley Park Drive may signify to some that there will be fewer cyclists on the road, that doesn't appear to be the case, according to Caditz.
Caditz notes that there were "hundreds and hundreds" of cyclists riding throughout the park when he was there Wednesday (June 7) evening. "I must have seen 500 cyclists. There were huge groups," he points out.
In the aftermath of the bike lane removal, Caditz says he has personally observed increased speeds and less caution among drivers in the park.
"Cyclists are still using that lane but now cars are mixed in with them; cars are veering in and out of that right lane to avoid the cyclists and some of them are angry," he says, adding that he has clocked the same behaviour from tour buses driving through the park. "I've seen in the last week probably a dozen incidents of cars getting too close – within a metre of cyclists – either coming up behind them or veering around them."
In that same week, Caditz also took note of about three incidents involving drivers yelling out of their windows at cyclists, using phrases such as "get out of my way" and "there's no more bike lane." Similarly, the day after the bike lane was removed, Caditz was also subjected to such verbal harassment, albeit by a pedestrian. "There seems to be a lot of hostility."
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) was also present over the weekend to monitor drivers' speeds.
While the VPD would not disclose to V.I.A. the time, location, or number of tickets issued during the speed enforcement, Caditz attests he witnessed an officer on a bike standing behind a tree with a radar gun near Stanley Park Drive on Sunday (June 4) morning. The cyclist saw the officer ticket three motorists coming down a hill. The officer was gone when Caditz looped back an hour later.
While it is hard to say if there has been an increase in speeding throughout the park, Caditz believes there is "certainly a lot" of it.
'It's a safety issue, not a privilege issue'
All in all, cyclists are legally entitled to use the road just like other vehicles as per the Motor Vehicle Act, and "whether or not there's a dedicated bike lane, there's going to be cyclists on that road," says Caditz.
The local notes that a particular stretch of Stanley Park Drive is what he considers an accident waiting to happen.
The grade after Prospect Point is a blind corner with no shoulder, and as a result "cars are coming up behind cyclists and are being surprised by the cyclists as the cars come around the corner, and they have to quickly veer into the left lane," he explains.
This section doesn't put just cyclists at risk. Caditz says that he's seen scooters and mothers with strollers climbing up that hill too.
"It's a safety issue, not a privilege issue," he says. "It's very dangerous to allow a mixture of cars and cyclists in the right lane."