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Stanley Park restoring vehicle, cycling access to pre-pandemic level

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Sep 18, 2020 at 7:47 pm PDT

Summary

The Vancouver Park Board announced Friday that traffic restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic will be reversed

That includes opening Park Drive to two lanes of vehicle traffic and restoring cyclists' access to the Seawall

The park was closed to all vehicle traffic on April 8

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Stanley Park will restore vehicle and cycling access to pre-pandemic levels next week.

The Vancouver Park Board announced Friday that traffic restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic will be reversed Sept. 26. That includes opening Park Drive to two lanes of vehicle traffic and restoring cyclists’ access to the Seawall.

A rally was held Saturday to restore traffic in the park to the way it was.

In a move meant to reduce crowds and encourage physical distancing, the park was closed to all vehicle traffic in April. In June, the Park Board voted to allow traffic once again at reduced capacity by closing one lane, turning it into a bike lane, and limiting available parking spots.

 

The park was closed to all vehicle traffic on April 8, other than first responders and essential business partners. The decision was made to create physical distancing in busy areas, such as the Seawall, and after public requests for more access to recreational space for cycling and walking, says the board.

“The temporary traffic management plan in Stanley Park was always just that — temporary,” Dave Hutch, director of planning and park development, says in a release.

“We knew the summer was a critical time for Vancouverites to access recreation, nature, and green space, and the shared use of Park Drive allowed more than 720,000 cyclists to access a safe route, as well as providing increased space for pedestrians on the seawall. Previous years’ data shows a consistent decline in visitation to Stanley Park as fall season approaches. With children back in school, and with COVID protocols and behaviours in place, the data tells us we can return the park to its conventional traffic patterns and we are grateful to everyone who has given us feedback on their experience in the park this summer.”

Park Drive reopened to one lane of vehicle traffic on June 22, after the province eased health and safety restrictions and businesses in the park started reopening.

The Seawall, though, remained closed to cyclists.

Pedestrian and cycling traffic reached an all-time high in Stanely Park during the summer, says the park board.

Work to remove traffic barriers will start next Friday, when the park will be temporarily closed.

 

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Two lanes will be open to traffic the following morning, except for 700 metres of Park Drive, between Beach Avenue and Lagoon Drive, which will remain just for cyclists.

Full vehicle access to Stanley Park will be available at the causeway entrances and all parking will be fully reopened with the exception of the parking near Ceperley Meadows, says the park board.

The park board reminds people to continue to respect physical distancing recommendations, and it will continue to monitor and collect data within Stanley Park.

“A lot has changed since the early days of the pandemic,” said Hutch. “While we are seeing an uptick in cases throughout the province, we also know a lot more now about how people can use outdoor spaces with lower risk and we are confident the public has developed a new understanding and appreciation for keeping distances outdoors. We will continue to take direction from the Public Health Officer and Vancouver Coastal Health and will monitor usage and risk.”

The Park Board is currently conducting a comprehensive public engagement survey to understand how Vancouverites want to access the park in the future. The survey, which
is accessible to everyone, closes on Sunday, and has had more than 10,500 respondents so far.