Kitsilano Bike Path Controversy Continues


Hadden Park signI’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.

Last modified: November 11, 2013

24 Responses to " Kitsilano Bike Path Controversy Continues "

  1. jonathan baker says:

    The Supreme Court has not heard this case and did not hear the injunction application. The Petitioner and the City mutually agreed to file a form of order in the Court Registry. I was advised by a City lawyer that since the City was not ready to start construction an adjournment of the injunction application was mutually convenient. and did not prejudice either side. This agreement does not have anything to do with the merits of the challenge to the bike lane. It saves a day in court.

    This is not at all like the case relating to the Community Associations in which Judge Bruce Cohen recently denied an injunction after hearing both sides.

  2. Greg Bridges says:

    Anthony – we get it, you really, really like bikes. Name calling is unnecessary.
    The problem with this proposal (as was the case with the Pt. Grey Road closure) is that it is objectively a bad idea.
    There is a simple, sensible “solution” to your desire for a separated bicycle lane in the area. Here it is: Ogden – Arbutus – South Park Boundary, adjacent to Cornwall. Probably not as picturesque as jamming it through one of the most heavily used picnic grounds in the City, but could probably be accommodated with very little intrusion on other Kits Park users.

  3. Bill Barilko says:

    For those of you with no dog in this fight, the route as described by Greg is the one many local cyclists have been using since the earth cooled, not the fastest but safe and easy.

  4. GS says:

    From the point the author grandiously announces the he has “purposely ignored the controversy surrounding the Park Board plan to upgrade the bike route” we can guess we’re in for a delusional, self important rant.

    Hear yee, hear yee. Anthony has decided to weight in and straighten out all you lesser thinkers.

    And then we’re treated to pseudo-logic, a layman’s interpretation of legal matters and name calling .

    Sounds like the usual screed from the idiot fringe of cyclists.

    Asphalt really is the new green in the minds of extremist wing of cyclists who purport to speak for all other reasonable cyclists.

  5. Bill Barilko says:

    If you think it’s bad here you should see what the fools in Richmond have done next to Railway Ave.

  6. Seasidecycle says:

    They that this new separated route will complete the seaside bike route. This is not true. What about the missing link between Vanier Park and Granville Island. Shared paths and detours on a road. Just east of Burrard bridge, you are greeted with a fence with no trespassing signs.

  7. Bill Barilko says:

    For all that your handle is Seasidecycle I’m not sure you’ve ever done the seaside route from Vanier Park to Granville Island-I did it Sunday afternoon and it was fine and as always in winter very few cyclists about.

  8. Stinky says:

    I’m mystified by the author’s statement that he avoided commenting on a proposed bicycle facility in Kits when the column is about bicycling in Kits. What’s the rationale?

  9. Mack says:

    Maybe the new name for the Blog should be Why would one choose to ignore this issue or ignore reasons why Hadden Park was created

  10. Seasidecycle says:

    Shut up Bill.. you know nothing. You must like biking on roads. There is a big missing link between Burrard and Granville. City ignores this area.

  11. Bill Barilko says:

    It’s a gorgeous sunny afternoon and I’m just now about to take the usual seaside trail from Vanier Park to Granville Island-will music from Twilight Zone be playing as I pass under the Burrard St. Bridge?

    Wish me luck!

  12. Migawd. “Anthony’s” blog post to has to be one of the most biased, uninformed pieces of commentary ever published on this Kitsilano-oriented website.

    How anyone could find favour with a 12-foot-wide PAVED bike path through the grassy areas of Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks that would remove 54,000 square feet of park, would see the tearing down of maple trees in the grove at the north end of Kitsilano Beach, would endanger park users (creating a very real and present danger for children, in particular), as cyclists scream through the park at 50km an hour, on the Park Board-approved bike freeway (cuz that’s what it would be), simply – for me – beggars belief.

    For those that are interested, I have covered the issue in some depth on my VanRamblings blog, at Save Kits Beach – well worth a read for some accurate, informed background on the issue.

  13. Elvira Lount says:

    Anthony, your rant sounds like sour grapes to me. You can’t get your way so you’re throwing a tantrum like the rest of the bike bully boys – the cyclist extremist wing.

    As we’ve said many times — we’re not against bike paths, just this one. And why — the answer is very well summarized in David Fine’s 3 min epic “Kits Bike Path The Movie”.

    Or for a longer explanation – check out my video of the Save Kits Beach bike lane media walk-through on Oct 27… and other videos on my YouTube channel.

  14. Derek Read says:

    Greg Bridges sums it up well.

    There is an existing *official* bike route along Ogden-Maple-McNicoll-Arbutus that works perfectly well.

    It only gets congested and dangerous for pedestrians (including those playing frisbee, football, soccer, badminton, etc) once it goes off the road into the park along Cornwall. I have no concerns cycling on Ogden-Maple-McNicoll-Arbutus and nobody else should either. The only really dangerous road in the area for cyclists is Cornwall but cyclists can bike *slowly* inside the park near Cornwall for 4 blocks and feel safe. For commuters (I don’t need this route but many others use it) put some speed bumps on Cornwall and lower the speed limit to 30kph speed limit for 4 blocks, as is done next to most other parks in Vancouver, and Bob’s Your Uncle. I suggest speed bumps because everyone ignores the 30kph signage and there is no enforcement, so drivers do need “encouragement”.

  15. Tina Oliver says:

    Anthony of no last name, I provide my full name and email here, go at me as you will, at least I am honest in my pursuit to save green space for best, desired-protected and optimal use. Hadden Park was bequeathed to the City of Vancouver, for all citizens, for all time: what part of this do you not understand? Or, I really think, you just want some ink, and you already know your type are like Rob Ford? Bless you, your nirvana – I will certainly sleep.

  16. Anita Romaniuk says:

    I dream of a civilized discussion where bicycle activists sit down and talk to the other people who use the two parks for different purposes. Some of the other people who use the parks are pedestrians who would likely be just as happy to not share a pathway with cyclists, but they also value the green space and the ability to cross from the street to other attractions such as the dog-off-leash beach below the cliff, and the sandy beach further down the hill, picnic tables, playgrounds, etc., without risking a lateral collision with a cyclist. I don’t understand why some cyclists (not all, some cyclists are quite reasonable and approachable) are so adamant that the route as originally proposed by the City/Park Board has to be “the one”? A little give and take would work wonders and be much appreciated.

  17. Anthony says:

    Oh hi people who want to engage in reasonable discourse. Few of the commenters have commented on any of the specifics in the post, and instead have chosen to either attack me (hello, ad hominem!), simply rage against cyclists, cycling, or bike lanes, or otherwise just vent out of context. Good job, team.

    @jonathan baker: Thanks for the clarification. You’ll note that I wrote that the city “agreed to abide by an injunction application”, but your explanation helps people understand exactly what that means.

    @greg bridges: Um. Let me get this straight: I’m cyclist who writes a column on cycling issues on Kitsilano. Bike lanes have been shown to be safer and more appealing for cyclists. OF COURSE I really, really like bike lanes. Why wouldn’t I?

    “it is objectively a bad idea” A fine thing to say, without offering any support to the statement at all. Perhaps you meant subjectively, then.

    As for your “alternative” route, as Bill Barilko notes immediately after you, this is the current route for many current cyclists, including me. In fact, it’s the official “Seaside Bypass” bike route in the area. Despite what Bill says, it’s much faster than dealing with people, dogs, kids, etc., in the park, but not nearly as fast as riding on Cornwall if you’re trying to get places. I’ll note that the route goes through the parking lot, and the heavy-traffic and frequent and dense parking on the north end of Arbutus. Both these things are huge safety risks, and prevent the route from reaching the goals of providing a safe route for “all ages and abilities”.

    Really? Name calling? Uh …. oh, I see, you must be objecting to “puerile”. I make no apologies for that one word in 900.

    @GS: You accuse me of name-calling and then go completely off the rails. Impressive.

    @Bill: Re: Railway Ave. I have no idea where you’re going with that. Sarcasm, I hope. The Railway Ave Greenway is roundly seen as a win for everyone involved.

    @SeasideCycle: While the stretch between Granville Island has issues (riding on the road just west of the island, the shared gravel path around Vanier park, instead of separated like in Jericho, Spanish Banks, etc) it’s a complete path. And well-used. And provides a low-stress way of avoiding motor vehicle traffic on Burrard, Pine, Granville Streets if you’re heading east/west.

    @Stinky: The rationale is that I wrote extensively on the Cornwall/Pt Grey Rd/York events and thought perhaps there were other things to write about. And others (including other columnists on this blog) were covering it.

    I guess you want bike lanes all the time, huh? Noted.

    @mack: Yes, you’re right. We’re getting the domain name changed right now.

    @Raymond Tomlin: I like how as of your comment onward, commenters decide that I am fictitious or something. “Anthony”, later “Anthony of no last name”. Hey folks, click the “Anthony” link on the list of contributors on the right side of the page. Not anonymous at all. It’s easier to vilify when you dehumanize your target, isn’t it?

    Then, after that you parrot the same over-the-top statements that I discuss in the post. In particular, when you use fear-mongering rhetoric like “as cyclists scream through the park at 50 km an hour”, you lose all credibility. Well, actually, you lost all credibility well before then, but that completely cemented it.

    @Derek Read: Thanks for your statement that “nobody else should either” have concerns about riding on heavily congested roads, where people are coming in and out of street parking all the time, often without paying much attention to traffic on the road, and riding through the insanely busy parking lot. I’m not sure how to explain to my children, and other novice and recreational cyclists that their concerns and fears about riding in those circumstances are unreasonable because Derek Read said so.

    @Pauline: Hey, awesome! Ad hominem attack AND threats of physical violence!

    @Tina Oliver: I refer you to my response to Raymond. Dehumanizing is easy when you don’t put any effort into finding out who you’re attacking. Here’s my full name (which you could have easily found): Anthony Floyd. And my email: And my Twitter handle: @anthonyfloyd.

    I just want some ink? Perhaps you don’t quite understand the nature of a regular column on cycling issues. In a blog.

    And then … yes! Another ad hominem! My type is like ROB FORD? Are you serious? Writing a column about a bike lane, and expressing some confusion about the issues involved, is EXACTLY like the crack-smoking, drinking-and-driving, lying-to-the-public, physically-threatening, frequents-with-drug-dealers, REMOVES-BIKE-LANES mayor of Toronto. Exactly.

    @anita: I don’t have much to add to your comment which is pretty much the calmest and most reasonable to this post. I agree that the needs of everybody need to be considered. I don’t think this post (or others) are adamant about the route, and the city itself has indicated that there’s no firm route yet. The concerns about interactions between cyclists, pedestrians, dogs, children, volleyballs, etc are what are driving the establishment of a separated path. It’s an approach that works well in other locations (Jericho, Spanish Banks, Stanley Park, Trout Lake) so there’s no indication that a bike path in this location would be any different.

  18. Matthew says:

    I made a mistake today. I read the comments.

    Well, maybe not that big a mistake, as it was certainly interesting.

    It is important to remember that although comments sections can be filled with angry commenters from people worked up about something, the majority of us just continue on our way, happy that the city is working to make cycling safe for everyone.

    I follow the controversy, but sadly just from a bemused entertainment point of view. Mostly, I’m just waiting for the work to be done so I can bike down although the waterfront with my family, as we head out of for a picnic.

  19. Randey Brophy says:

    There are a number of things wrong regarding the specifics of your post.

    1.Hadden Park does not include “the Vancouver Maritime Museum, parking lot and docks and the ferry dock.”

    You begin by stating that Hadden Park already includes a number of things which already contravene the basis of Ms Davis injunction against a 12 foot bike path to “keep the property as near as possible in its present state of nature”. You mention that Hadden Park includes “The Vancouver Maritime Museum, Parking lot and docks and the ferry dock.”
    This is not true.
    As mentioned in The Nov 9 article in the Vancouver Province:

    “Back in 1957, when the Vancouver Maritime Museum was proposed on Hadden Park land, an estate agent acting on behalf of Hadden informed commissioners of the covenants included in the title deed. The museum was built on landfill nearby instead”

    So in fact a precedent has already been set in relocating The Maritime Museum outside of Hadden Park, to “keep the property as near as possible in its present state of nature”.
    The largest existing amenities that you cite as being in Hadden Park and already not keeping the property as near as possible in its present state of nature are in fact not in Hadden Park.
    You mention you could not find the clear boundaries between Hadden Park and Vanier Park. The boundaries of blocks 136 and 137, which became Hadden Park can be found in
    it says quite clearly there that under the section “Letter and Spirit of the Covenant that
    “neither the maritime museum, nor the totem pole are on properties donated by Hadden.”
    As for the paved pedestrian path you mentioned at the high water mark as further proof that Hadden Park is not being kept in its natural state, according to Ms Davis speech that pedestrian path overlooking the water, currently also used by cyclists was approved by Mr Hadden

    2. Hadden Park is only 95 feet wide and already has two paved paths used by bikes.

    The paved path at the north end of Hadden Park is used by cyclists. Ogden Street at the south end of Hadden Park is part of the seaside cyclist route and does not allow vehicle parking on the north side of the street.

    Given this, putting a paved 12 foot wide bike path through the middle of Hadden park is unnecessary and would effectively provide cyclists with 3 paved bike paths going in the same direction all within 20 feet of each other. In doing that, this 3rd route would bisect Hadden park, limiting its use as a picnic and playground area. The better alternative is to use the exisitng routes then run a path connecting to both Ogden and the paved path at the north end of Hadden Park and then run is southward and westward along the on the east perimeter of Kits Beach park

    3. You state that the issue is objections to separating cyclists from pedestrians. That is not the issue.

    The issue is the location of the proposed path which would run through the middle of the family picnic area in the park. That is an unreasonable and dangerous location. Having lived in the area for 29 years, raised two children here, taught them how to ride a bike at Kits Beach and cycled and jogged in the area many many times, no person knowing the crowds in the family/childrens picnic area in the summer would propose putting a 12 foot paved bike lane through there. A bike is a mode of transportation, like a car, that is unsafe in the middle of a crowded family picnic area. Like most, I am not in favour of the current proposed location for the paved bike path down the middle of the family/children’s picnic area at Kits Beach. That to me is ridiculous and dangerous to kids. Over twice as many have come out to protest this proposed route as there were people who responded favourably to a nebulous question asked about an unspecified route. Vision Park Board commissioners themselves are on record as saying the consultation process on this proposed bike route was flawed. And those protesting this specific route have said, time and again, they are not against bike lanes, just this particular route. The BC Cycling Association is against this specific route as are the majority of residents in the area.
    Like many, I believe a better option is to put the path down the east side of the park adjacent to and on the park side of the westside Arbutus sidewalk, then continue it westbound via dedication of the southmost meridian of the southeast Kits Beach parking lot to become a bike path. It then would join the existing paved bike path at the south end of the park at Yew, parallel to Cornwall. Problem solved; everyone gets a view of the beach without one user group, cyclists, endangering others with their vehicle of choice in a picnic area.
    Extending the bike path westward at the southmost end of the park would also eliminate the need for cyclists to have to travel thru the parking lot at the southeast of Kits beach, a current flaw in the existing seaside cycle route.

    To sum your article is incorrect in stating that the Maritime Museum, Parking lot and docks and the ferry dock are part of Hadden Park.. It also fails to point out the existence of alternative paved routes used by cyclists both to the north and south of Hadden Park. Fundamentally though your article is incorrect in stating that the main issue is objections to separating cyclists from pedestrians. The issue, clearly, is the specific location of the proposed route; a proposed route which is unnecessary at Hadden Park and dangerous in the family/children’s picnic area of Kits beach. There are other safer routes which have been proposed and whcih will better meet the needs of all users of the park

  20. Anita Romaniuk says:

    The reason the proposal to route a separated bike path through Hadden & Kits Beach parks is problematic is because of the physical layout of the parks & access points, or crossings, and the relatively small amount of land in those parks relative to the attractions within them. Much of the seawall between Burrard Bridge on the north shore and around North False Creek, SE and South False Creek, as far as Fisherman’s wharf, has pathways which essentially follow alongside the water, which is somewhat below the seawall and not something that most people “go down to”. This minimizes the need to cross the pathways. Even in Stanley Park, much of the seawall runs along the water. However, where there are crossings, there is more potential for conflict. At 3rd Beach people are asked to dismount where the beach-goers have to cross the pathway, cyclists are asked to dismount. Where cyclists cross from one bike lane at the end of Stanley Park to access another along English Bay, I have seen at least two collisions between cyclists and pedestrians. Further along in the other direction from Kits, the east side of Jericho works because there is a fairly wide sweep of land up the hill which gives lots of room for everyone. Then the pathways have to go behind the building for the boaters & windsurfers. At Spanish Banks, the land between the beach and the parking lots and/or road is narrower, but there are fewer buildings other than a couple of small concession stands to access, so only the beach itself. The land between the roads and beach at Hadden & Kits Beach parks is not as wide as Jericho, and, unlike Spanish Banks, is packed with a lot – the dog-off-leash beach, picnic sites, playgrounds, basketball courts, a full-size restaurant, basketball courts, beach volleyball, a large swimming pool, and the beach itself. That means a lot of people milling around in a fairly small space, and potentially crossing over a separated bike path to get from point A to point B. The cyclists who go along the beach now are inhibited from riding fast because the congestion mitigates against it. Put a separated bike path through it and there is more incentive to speed up. That is what I meant by the potential for lateral collisions.

  21. L Leeman says:

    When I was a kid growing up in Vancouver, my mum sometimes took us to Kits Beach. We used Hadden to lay out our blankets, we used the Parks Board provided public stove with free wood to boil our hot dogs, corn and potatoes, and generally had a great time running down the grass to the sand while waiting for her and my aunt to reel us in for dinner. We weren’t alone. Things have changed down there as the city has grown. Back then, bikes were not a climate zealot’s ‘in your face’ smug declaration but were mostly for kids to run free. Bikes were awkward to take on the bus or put in the car, so you didn’t see them much at the beach. If you did, the riders weren’t particularly going anywhere, they were just meandering along because it was fun recreation. The law at the time was that if you used your bike on a pedestrian path or sidewalk, you were to dismount and walk too. Not everyone did, but nobody was going anywhere fast so it wasn’t a problem.

    Now, there are people who bike and BELIEVE. They BELIEVE the whole planet must turn to bikes and they are the shock troops that will make it happen. They BELIEVE that bike paths must be priority one in every situation where bikes are be it for recreation or commuting.
    That’s what we are dealing with here. This situation turns bikes from toys into TRAFFIC.
    It has to be admitted now that BIKES ARE TRAFFIC.

    Once you get that far it is easy to see why people object to TRAFFIC through the middle of their quiet picnic ground, why they object to TRAFFIC being routed between the viewpoint ( the park ) and the view ( the beach and ocean). TRAFFIC doesn’t belong there either in Stanley Park, Kits Beach, Point Grey or Spanish Banks. It is traffic and belongs as far away from our places of escape as possible. After all, routing the TRAFFIC around the park, isn’t the end of the world, is it?

  22. Kent C says:

    Probably worth noting that if you dig into the story of Hadden park, it was originally purchased from the CPR so that they could connect the roadway between the two disconnected areas of Vancouver owned land. 90 years later, we’re bitching about adding a second bike lane.

    Good job Vancouver.

  23. Kent C says:

    Also, L Leeman, yes, bikes are traffic. So are pedestrians. Haden park is FILLED with traffic.

  24. Wintercyclist says:

    @Kent C
    “Haden park is FILLED with traffic.” Not really true. It is rarely busy. Only time it gets close to busy is a few days during summer. The rest of year, Kitsilano, Hadden, and Vanier parks are quiet. If you cycle through these parks, you should be careful around people. Stanley park seawall is busier.

    Wouldn’t it be better to build a seawall in Kitsilano like around Stanley’s Park?