Stanley Park Causeway Cycling Improvements Needed Immediately

A horrific start Bike to Work Week. A horrific start to any week. A woman riding a bicycle on the Stanley Park Causeway sidewalk somehow fell in front of a bus and was killed instantly. Reports suggest that she might of brushed or collided with a pedestrians. Our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

While we don’t know exactly what happened, it is pretty clear that this was a preventable tragedy. The problems with the Causeway have been known for years. It is not likely that such a substandard facility would be built today. The sidewalks are too narrow for cyclists and pedestrians to safely share. The traffic noise makes it really difficult for people on bicycles to alert other cyclists or pedestrians from behind by bell or voice. There is no barrier to prevent cyclists from falling in front of traffic. Cyclists also tend pick up a fair amount of speed on the long downhill stretch making southbound sidewalk where the collision occurred particularly problematic.

Cyclists falling off sidewalks is dangerous for people in motor vehicles as well. The bus skidded from the curb lane to the middle lane. It is fortunate that another vehicle was not hit. A few years ago on Burrard Bridge, a pedestrian pushed a cyclist off the sidewalk in front of a car. The driver, who had her child in the backseat, was really worried that she would be hit from behind while braking to avoid hitting the cyclist.

Clearly urgent action must be taken to ensure such tragedies do not happen again. The challenge will be to minimize impact to Stanley Park while ensuring people’s safety. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has little right-of-way to work with along the Causeway. Even if there is enough space for separate bicycle and pedestrian paths or a wider shared path, proceeding immediately could be very problematic as one of the sidewalks would likely have to be closed for several weeks during construction leaving two-way cycling and all the pedestrian traffic on one noisy narrow sidewalk with headlights blinding half the people on the sidewalk. Very scary.

None of the current paths or roads in the Park are good alternatives by themselves. They are longer and hillier than the Causeway making them poor choices for commuters.  The steeper sections with loose gravel can be quite treacherous. The paths can also be rather hard to navigate.

One option would be to use sections of existing trails such as Bridle, Tatlow, South Creek, Wren and Hanson linked with sections of new trails. Sections of existing trails rendered redundant could be decommissioned to compensate for the greenspace lost to the new trails. It is likely that any new paths can be routed around larger trees minimizing impact on the forest. Once such an alternative is in place, work on improvements to the sidewalks can proceed. Especially over the long term, it makes sense to have more options through the Park to spread demand over several routes reducing conflicts between users.

Unfortunately, the Causeway is only one of many roads throughout the province without safe cycling facilities. The Provincial Government and municipalities need to dramatically accelerate their investment in safe cycling paths and lanes to prevent fatalities and injuries. This is one of the main reasons the BCCC and our member organizations are recommending that the Province implement a comprehensive all ages Cycling Strategy.

The BCCC will be working with HUB to encourage Park Board and MoTI to make travelling through Stanley Park safe for everyone.

Take Action

Write the following. Tell them what safe cycling routes through Stanley Park would mean to you, your family and community. Tell them about the problems that you, your family  and friends have experienced on the Causeway.

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