Cyclists concerned about proposed West End waterfront revitalization plan
Posted November 1, 2023 10:11 pm.
The City of Vancouver has unveiled the proposed waterfront revitalization plan for the West End that would see terrain changed, amphitheatres built, and a road change that has some local cyclists concerned.
A draft concept showing the city’s 30-year vision for the area from Stanley Park to the Burrard Street Bridge includes the raising of the overall ground level along the waterfront by a metre to “address the impact of climate change,” specifically rising sea levels.
The plan also suggests making Beach Avenue west of Denman Street into a two-way street. It’s been one way since the pandemic when one of the lanes became a bike lane. This part of the proposal is what has cyclists concerned.
HUB Cycling President Jeff Leigh says that, while he’s happy the proposed plan maintains a bike lane along Beach Avenue, he believes adding a vehicle lane to the area will mean more traffic and congestion.
“If that becomes one of their priorities in terms of what to implement first out of this plan, I think they’re going to receive some pushback over that,” he said.
“We’re talking about changing the landscape, we’re talking about recognizing climate change and all of those things I think are very positive for the city, it seems strange to say, ‘and let’s increase vehicle lanes at the same time’ because it’s one of the contributing factors to climate change.”
Vancouver Park Board Director of Planning and Park Development Tiina Mack says it is necessary to start planning for the future now, otherwise, the waterfront could already be affected by rising sea levels by the time the city goes to do something about it.
“We’re looking to achieve a more resilient shoreline, with natural places, with wetlands, habitat islands, especially here in this portion of the park that is close to Stanley Park and then community gathering areas, renewed washrooms, renewed facilities, playgrounds, places to play,” she said.
“This bike lane, at peak days in the summer, is carrying at least 14,000 cyclists, per day, in the summer season and it’s a busy place for cars and congestion has been an issue. The Park Board has made some changes in Stanley Park for the bike lanes and there will be some changes and improvements to come along Beach Avenue.”
Leigh says there are some features in the proposed plan that he is in favour of, including the addition of marked and signalized crossings along Beach Avenue. The city says it’s now taking feedback on the proposal in order to prepare for the final plan before it is sent to the park board and city council for approval.
Mack notes that the city hopes to “see some action on the ground” as early as 2025.