Kitsilano Bike Path Controversy Continues
I’ve purposely ignored the controversy surrounding the Park Board plan to upgrade the bike route from Vanier Park to the new on-road portions of the Seaside Greenway on Pt. Grey Road beside Kitsilano Beach Park. Earlier this week, however, the Vancouver Park Board agreed to abide by an injunction application put before the BC Supreme Court against construction in the park pending a challenge brought by Kits Point resident and historian Megan Carvell Davis.
Davis’ challenge is based on the deed of the land by park-namesake Harvey Hadden in 1928. The deed states, in part, “… my motive in making a gift to the City of Vancouver of Blocks 136 and 137 Kitsilano, is chiefly to afford recreation and pleasure to the public generally, but especially for women and children, and for the enjoyment by them of the beach for bathing purposes …” [link] There is also the condition that “… shall keep the property as near as possible in its present state of nature…”
In response, the Park Board has suspended all activities related to this section of the Seaside Greenway until the matter has been brought in front of the court. This includes the newly-formed advisory committee that was formed in response to the backlash over the proposed modifications.
Hadden Park currently includes the following things, which would seem to fall under the same objections based on the deed:
- The Hadden Park off-leash dog park (also subject to objections by Ms. Davis)
- The Vancouver Maritime Museum: building, parking lot, and docks
- The ferry dock
- The current paved mixed-use (ie pedestrians, bikes, roller-bladers, people on scooters, etc) path running through the park
- The gravel paths and breakwater
The recent Seaside Greenway proposal plans to separate out pedestrian traffic and bike traffic. In Hadden Park, this occurs in an area away from the beach. Far away. It would seem to, instead of violate, agree with the deed’s goal of “… afford(ing) recreation and public to the public generally, but especially for women and children” and in no way run contrary to “… for the enjoyment by them of the beach for bathing purposes.” I’ll grant that it doesn’t “keep with its present state of nature” but neither do any of the other amenities in the park.
Keep in mind, this court challenge relates only to Hadden Park. Hadden Park, as far as I can tell (I couldn’t find clear boundaries on the city’s website) runs between Vanier Park (i.e. west of Chestnut St) and Kits Beach Park (i.e. east of Maple St). That’s a whole two blocks.
Why a dispute over two blocks brings the whole exercise to a halt is beyond my understanding.
The OTHER objections relate to the bike route through Kits Beach Park. Kits Beach Park is owned by the city. In addition to the beautiful beach, it also includes:
- A mixed use path and several pedestrian only paths
- Basketball courts
- Picnic tables
- A large playground
- A restaurant
- Tennis courts
- A public swimming pool
- The Kits Showboat
- A large parking lot (through which the current bike route bypass runs. A bike route. Through a parking lot. I can’t imagine how anyone ever thought that was a good idea.)
It seems preposterous that separating cyclists from pedestrians will be the thing that ruins this park. The puerile vitriol, posturing, and over-the-top fear mongering has been … well, it’s been exhausting. As interested as I am in cycling issues in this city, the fact that every single attempt to make cycling more accessible and safer for everyone is met with OUTRAGE is stupefying.
Others have calmly pointed out how the proposed improvements will not end the world, how they won’t cause rivers of blood to run through the streets, how they will improve the safety for all park users, and how they won’t prevent people from enjoying the park.
TL;DR: Separating bikes from pedestrians will reduce conflicts, encourage more park users to cycle to the park, and encourage cycling in Vancouver in general. Especially for the targets for the Seaside Greenway: recreational cyclists, particularly women, kids, and older cyclists.
On this last note, I want to elaborate. One of the objections is that this separation of pedestrians and cyclists will create a bicycle freeway through the park. This an utterly specious complaint for several reasons:
- Commuter cyclists and sport cyclists don’t use the seawall (which these paths are intended to extend) and expect to ride at any speed other than “slow”.
- The York Bike Route (and, frankly Cornwall Ave) are the direct routes on which commuter and sport cyclists will ride.
- “Faster” cyclists who want to ride the scenic route will continue to ride on Ogden Road and Arbutus Street as they currently do. I will point out that this route also *officially* includes cutting through the Kits Beach parking lot and riding the mixed-use path north of the sidewalk along Cornwall. Conflicts abound along that path as many cyclists think have no other safe place to ride, and pedestrians (rightfully so) meander along the path.
It’s my sincere hope that these Park Board matters get resolved before the completion of the City bits of the Seaside Greenway. The Greenway is not something that works piecemeal. Piecemeal is the current problem that is trying to be solved.
And to all the bike haters, I pass on the sage advice of Peter Ladner: Don’t cycle.