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Cyclists want new park board to reconsider removing bike lane in Vancouver's Stanley Park


Dozens of cyclists gathered in Stanley Park Sunday, pedalling through rain and sleet to show their support for a controversial bike lane.

Dubbed "Love the Lane" the communal ride was organized in an attempt to get the attention of the city's newly elected park board and to persuade them to leave the lane in place, according to organizer Lucy Maloney.

"There are a lot of people that drive in the park and a lot of people that cycle in the park over winter. It's very light rain today, but it's not always raining in Vancouver. It's amazing how few rainy days there are. So what we want to do is keep the vulnerable road users safe over winter," she told CTV News.

"During winter, cyclists need more protection because it gets dark early and the roads are wet."

A separated bike lane on Stanley Park Drive has been in place since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, initially to move cyclists off the seawall and allow for greater physical distancing. The configuration of the lane through Stanley Park involves one-way traffic along Beach Avenue, meaning cars can only exit onto Georgia Street, creating bottlenecks at the exit when vehicles are leaving during peak hours, and on some weekends.

Opposition to the bike lane has not only come from frustrated drivers but from business owners who say it is having an impact on their bottom line and advocates who say limiting access for cars has a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities and mobility issues.

Mayor-elect Ken Sim's ABC party won a majority on the park board in last month's municipal election, securing six of the seven available. The new commissioners are set to be sworn in at an inaugural meeting on Monday.

Five days after the vote, the party's campaign manager Kareem Allam said getting rid of the lane was a promise.

"ABC has committed that immediately after the election, we'll direct staff to take down the temporary bike lane, reopen the traffic back up to motor vehicle traffic, as it was in the old plan," he told CTV News.

In the lead-up to the election, one of the party's candidates' responses to a survey conducted by advocacy group HUB Cycling suggested the plan is to temporarily remove it.

"The ABC plan for Stanley Park is to restore the previous access at the end of this fall and then work to build a new, dedicated cycling path in time for next summer," wrote then-candidate Brennan Bastyovanszky.

While that same survey found that five of the six candidates supported a protected bike lane on Stanley Park Drive, Maloney and the organizers of Sunday's ride are still concerned about what even a seasonal removal might mean.

"We want the new commissioners to leave the lane in place until the new design is ready to implement. A lot of us are concerned that if the lane is removed, we will never get it back," the Love the Lane campaign website says.

While critics of the bike lane say the seawall offers ample passage for cyclists, Maloney points to issues that arise on that bike path specifically over the winter months – such as storm-related closures and an annual three-week maintenance period.

Maloney told CTV News she thinks the turnout at the gathering – which happened as the city got its first real blast of wintry weather – signals that it was a success and demonstrates that there's an appetite for cycling in the park even during the colder, wetter months. Top Stories

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