By Gord Price
I’ve often criticized the shamefully inadequate bikeway system in our crown jewel (“The Shame of Stanley Park”), but really, the problem with the design of the internal transportation network goes way beyond bikes.
Sometime in the post-war period (I’m guessing in the 1950s), the planners and engineers of the day assumed the default way of moving through the park would be by car – and they designed accordingly.
There is of course the seawall and trail system. But in the heavily used interior parts on the east side of the park, there are only some unhappy asphalt paths where it is assumed that walkers, runners and cyclists will stick to the spaces allocated to them, inadequate as they are, and not try to walk along or run along the parkways designed to be exclusively for cars.
Below is where the city meets the park. The design is clear: there are no complete streets to accommodate multiple users. If you are walking, you go on only the separate paths, regardless of whether they actually go where you want.
And the quality of the ped routes – the minimum amount of asphalt – also makes it clear where you come in the hierarchy.
Regular users know how frustrating it can be to cross the park south of Lost Lagoon:
Cyclists heading for the tennis courts from the north along Lagoon Drive, for instance, are confronted with a one-way road system that makes no accommodation for their intentions. You want to go left, but legally you can’t. It’s assumed that, like drivers, you will go kilometres out of your way to reach your destination – or else use the ped paths to the annoyance of walkers.
Again, another sign that the Park Board (a) is oblivious, (b) doesn’t care or (c) isn’t prepared to make an active transportation system for everyone a priority.