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A park for all seasons, and all users

Jody Vance: There’s a big difference between pro-cycling and kneejerk hostility to cars. The decision to shut off vehicle access to Stanley Park is the latter.
…and stay out! (haseg77 /

Open Stanley Park to all, now.

Seriously, open the damn park.

After covering the Vancouver Park Board meeting of June 8th, and talking about it on radio with a flabbergasted Tricia Barker, my email inbox blew up with angry reaction.

The motion was framed as “first steps,” but was in fact anything but. It put forward immediate and permanent changes to Park Drive, reducing it to one lane for cars and one for bikes. The real kicker was/is that the park will remain entirely closed to cars as the separated bike lane is built — starting ASAP.

The Green/COPE Alliance used their majority to push it through. Arbitrarily deciding to build a bike lane before even reopening the temporary road closure comes across as shady agenda politics.

Mid-pandemic is not the time to make permanent and sweeping changes to our crown jewel.

Why no public consultation? Likely because the majority of Vancouverites would be opposed.

The motion doesn’t appear to have been well thought out. It’s not just a question of bikes. How would seniors enjoy the park? Or those with physical or cognitive disabilities? Or people coming from further away than cycling distance. The dismissive response I saw over and over again was “take a bus from a hub.”

It doesn’t stop there. How will emergency vehicles navigate a single lane? Imagine a fire in the park and a blocked roadway. What happens with a medical emergency? How will those with limited mobility enjoy the park? Where is the concern for the viability of longtime businesses there? Prospect Point and The Teahouse both seem like unlikely destinations for the head-to-toe Lycra set.

The motion doesn’t appear to have been well thought out.

Like so many Vancouverites, we love to cycle, and are happy to share roadways. This isn’t anti-cycling, it’s anti-bully-bike-lobby. Yes, there’s a difference.

Why does much of Vancouver’s online bike lobby need to be so hostile and militant? Everyday people expressing concern, city councillors, and outvoted and frustrated park board commissioners were all met with scorn from organized online bullies. Too often, the tone wasn’t simple disagreement, but how dare this be challenged?

Over the last few weeks, the social media vitriol has been off the hook on this topic. Twitter mob nastiness was hurled, specifically, at one of the kindest of elected officials in Tricia Barker, a Buddhist whose day job is helping elders stay strong with physical training, while also supporting those in palliative care.

Why does much of Vancouver’s online bike lobby need to be so hostile and militant?

Our extraordinarily expensive city should not be saved for one slice of the population. The wedge of bike lanes was a big reason Vision Vancouver is now (more or less) history as a party. Those who have picked up the gauntlet would do well to note that voters will remember being strongarmed.

Closing Stanley Park to cars during a pandemic, when everyone needed two meters of distance and a shoreline to stroll — fine. Keeping it closed to vehicles when surely there is much middle to be found with just a whisper of common sense is a travesty.

Common sense is a shared road through a beautiful park that everyone can access and enjoy. Make both cyclists and drivers responsible for keeping the two lanes shared. We need access to beaches, pools, restaurants and scenic drives. We want emergency vehicles to be able to easily navigate the park drive if need be.

Fighting over our city’s crown jewel is a bad look for everyone concerned. There’s enough going on in our city, province, country and indeed the world without us fighting amongst ourselves over Stanley Damn Park. “In this together” means actually working with everyone, not just those who fit your agenda.

Hijacking Stanley Park with no consultation, during a pandemic, is the absolute epitome of what’s wrong with backroom agenda politics. It’s wrong for many reasons, but the biggest is that once again, it’s the loudest that win.