Cycling is very popular. A recent BCCC poll found that 70% of adults cycle at least once a year. Bicycle paths along water and through parks are attractive places to cycle with 66% saying such paths would encourage them to cycle more often. Separated paths are even more important for parents with children. A survey of people using the park, found that 42% of people cycle in the park and 93% thought that separated cycling and walking paths would be a good idea. The planned cycling path will only occupy around 3% of the total park space. As so many people cycle and walk in the park, this seems like a good use of this space.
Anyone who has cycled or walked along Kits Beach on a sunny summer day should realize that the current narrow shared path leaves much to be desired. Heading downhill from the Maritime Museum onto a path covered with sand dunes crowded with people more interested in looking at other people than lookout out for bikes can be quite dicy. Judging by the bicycles parked all over the place at Kits, many people already bike to the beach, pool, tennis courts and the basketball courts. The soon to be completed Seaside Greenway improvements west of Kits Beach will likely result in more people cycling on the Kits Beach path increasing conflicts if no action is taken.
With this in mind, the plans for the Seaside Greenway presented to the public earlier this year included bike paths through Kits Beach and Haddon Parks. After the parts of the Greenway on city streets were approved by council back in July, Park Board staff consulted the people using the parks on improvements for people walking and cycling. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority thought that separate paths for cycling and walking would improve safety.
Realizing that the path along the beach is very busy and a lot of people walk across it or stand and chat in it, the bike path was routed way from the beach, the basketball court and the playground to near Arbutus Street.
Some have suggested that people on bikes should use the road instead. While this might be fine for experienced adult cyclists, clearly this is not an good option for children and less experienced adults. In the summer, the roads near the beach are crowded with cars. Drivers are more focused on looking for parking or at the pretty people walking than children on bikes.
Separate bike paths along the water have been very successful in Vancouver at reducing conflicts between people cycling and walking including fifteen years ago along English Bay and Sunset Beach. Fifteen years from now, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.
Some opponents try to paint this bike path as a high-speed highway where speeding cyclists will endanger other park users. The reality is that the path will be mostly used by residents and visitors cycling responsibly with their families enjoying the spectacular scenery. The vast majority of people on bikes are careful not wanting risk injury to themselves or other people. Those who want to ride fast will continue to ride on the road. Yes, like with any form of transportation, a few people on bikes behave recklessly but it really unfair to punish everyone else on bikes for the actions of a few.
There are bike paths in parks around Vancouver and the world that pass by playgrounds and picnic areas without any major safety issues that I am aware of. The path will be further away from the playground than the current path that cycling is allowed on. It is hard to see how this path in anyway will endanger children or anyone else in the park.
The bike path will also take the long route around the hill creating a more gradual downhill slope helping to minimizing the speed of bicycles further improving safety for everyone.
Fortunately, on October 7, Park Board approved the bike path and pedestrian improvement to Kitsilano and Haddon Parks. Commissioners Constance Barnes, Sarah Blyth Aaron Jasper and Trevor Loke voted in favour of the bike path. Commissioners John Coupar and Melissa De Genova voted against the bike path. Commissioner Niki Sharma was not present.
A good idea to send a quick thank you to Park Board, PBcommissioners@vancouver.ca in support of the cycling and walking improvements in Kitsilano and Haddon Parks.
In the Media
Over the Top Anti-Bike Rhetoric Done Well