Re-Opening Beach Ave to Cars is BEST for the Environment

The car-haters are fuming!

Last week, Vancouver City Council rejected a 30-year “pie in the sky” proposal by the Vancouver Park Board for redevelopment of the West End waterfront.

Estimated price tag: $300 million (which, of course, would mean $2 Billion or more by the time it was completed … LOL!)

Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung called it a “fairytale plan”, as Council sent it back to the Park Board for a reality check.

Meanwhile, Council did approve bringing back two-way vehicle traffic along Beach Avenue between Stanley Park and Denman Street.

Right on!!

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, those I saw as just extreme left vehicle haters at the Park Board closed ALL Stanley Park roads to cars … severely restricting access to the 1,000-acre (405 hectare) Vancouver gem.

It was the dumbest move I had ever witnessed local politicians make: there was not a scintilla of scientific evidence I saw that ever showed people travelling in vehicles could spread COVID to others. In fact, sure seemed to me that pedestrians mingling on the seawall, speeding runners breathing heavily and panting cyclists represented more of a COVID health danger.

This was, in my view, just a hate-on for cars by extremists in power, come to fruition.

And to hell with the handicapped, seniors, families who needed vehicles to get around and restaurants/businesses in the park, or their hundreds of employees trying to make a living.

The hate-on for cars not only went on for far too long in Stanley Park, in various machinations, the radical lefties in charge at Vancouver City Hall joined their Park Board comrades in trying to punish the motoring public.

Vehicle access to many downtown streets was attacked/restricted/denied; parking areas were slashed; parking fees were multiplied; no left turn here, no right turn there, no turns at all; and no right turns on red became the rule.

Impact on the environment?

Well, almost all my trips downtown started to take five to eight minutes more since all these changes came into effect.

Getting there is sure no longer half the fun! It’s now often confusing, circuitous, even scary. (Check out the traffic lights/pattern northbound at Hornby/Nelson!!)

And think about the damage to air quality and the environment all these EXTRA punishments to motorists have produced: tens of thousands of cars every day travelling greater distances, idling more and taking longer to go anywhere or through the downtown.

Proof that for the car-haters, it’s not really about the environment: it’s targeting vehicles that motivates, just for the sake of targeting vehicles.

Beach Avenue is a perfect example.

For years, the anti-car extremists at the Park Board and City Hall have barred vehicles from exiting Stanley Park through Beach Avenue or Nelson Street or Alberni diverting ALL park traffic back to Georgia Street.

Been there; done that … and so have hundreds of thousands of other motorists bound for the Burrard Bridge, Kitsilano, the East End or Vancouver South.

Too bad, no one has ever calculated the EXTRA fuel, fumes, pollution forced on the citizens, visitors of Vancouver by having to divert back to very, very, busy Georgia Street and then back along Denman, Thurlow, Burrard to get to Kitsilano, False Creek, the East side or Granville or Main to get to Vancouver South!

The “environmentally-motivated” Park Board and Council were just blowing smoke … literally!! (Who advises them? The petro fuel industry?)

But change is coming …at last

“The new plan will see the road reopened to traffic in both ways, with plans to replace the beachside sidewalk with a new bike path and the installation of a new pedestrian path through the park,” Global News reported May 10.

“This was about balance,” said Councilor Kirby-Yung. “So it supports pedestrians, it supports cyclists and it supports traffic flow in the area.”

Exactly! Inclusion, sharing and equality.

But the car-haters don’t want balance and fairness: they want “car-cleansing”: a Stanley Park all but reserved for fit cyclists and really healthy pedestrians, capable of walking several kilometres … free of cars, seniors, handicapped and families.

So I have no doubt the anti-car crowd is not done yet.

Hopefully, the current Council will hold firm … cater to the majority… and do what’s REALLY best for the environment: end the war on drivers.

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow @harveyoberfeld on “X” for FREE First Alerts to new postings on this Blog)

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9 Responses to Re-Opening Beach Ave to Cars is BEST for the Environment

  1. R says:

    Stay vigilant
    Extra exit good for emerg vehicles and alternate route
    Parks board office location on beach ave mentioned- self interest?
    So much for shutting parks board down?

    (Response: I used to believe an independent Park Board was a good idea in a city as blessed as Vancouver is with an abundance of park space, beaches and gems like Stanley Park, Little Mountain, civic golf courses, pools etc … but in recent years, voters have been so busy with their own lives/issues, few actually know much about the “Commissioners” they vote for in elections. So they vote by party, but on the current Park Board, four were elected as ABC ,but then three of them quit the party, sit as “independents” and seem to align mostly with the Green member. And anyone who reads this Blog, knows I see the Greens in BC and federally as unrealistic extremists, not worthy of governing. Maybe time to absorb parks into City Hall …as a committee of Council. h.o.)

  2. Rainclouds says:

    Watched the construction of the Pacific Ave bike lane and it was substantive. Concrete 2 ft below road level. Took months. Similar to Richards St (over a year). Clearly the gang in office prior to Sim envisioned (pardon the pun) this to be permanent, The cost to construct and now demolish should be provided to the public as it wont be as simple as removing pylons. Yet another waste of tax $ for ideology.

    (Response: I saw that too. I thought it was supposed to be a “trial”, but the way the concrete dividers went in …literally anchored well below ground …told me the City was building it to stay forever. I actually have no objection to bike lanes: they’re good to encourage people to cycle; reduces vehicle traffic; and great for health for those who can do it. BUT, the former radically left Council went too far in also bringing in too many turning and traffic blockages/restrictions and pollution-producing circuitous route requirements. Re-opening Beach Ave is a good move for motorists … and to reduce air pollution and the environment. h.o.)

  3. Where to start?

    I have been advocating for “user-friendly” transit for almost 40 years and one of the greatest impediments for better transit is the anti car lobby, spearheaded by the bicycle lobby. The play an all or nothing game, of converting road space for bicycles or better yet, banning cars altogether.

    The cycle lobby is very strong and they have their own politicians in various levels of government, and many other politcans are afraid of this lobby.

    I have been banned by the Tyee, the so called “feisty one”, for commenting that the “bicycle lobby has done more long term damage to transit planning than good.”

    I have been given a life time ban for that comment!

    When the Parks Board restricted cars during Covid, was a daft move by daft politcans and not based on any science. It was the bicycle lobby flexing its muscles. All or nothing!

    If one looks at the studies, despite a massive investment in cycle lanes, usage of bicycles in the city has only increased a little and there are many reasons for this, with the first being the distance one has to travel.

    If one wants people out of their cars and on to transit, the transit must be user-friendly and our massively expensive transit system is not; not even close, thus the car remains the major transportation mode in the region and will continue to do so.

    We had better start including the car in our transit planning because the current transit product is poor as evidenced by trends showing transit usage increases is due to population growth in the region, with the percentage of population using transit dropping. Not good!

    There are many reasons for this but not in the scope of this post.

    The problem we now have is that we must increase road space for cars because our public transit product is so bad, people would rather idle in gridlock than take transit!

    Opening Beach Avenue traffic probably has more to do with taking the pressure off of Georgia St., by allowing egress from Stanley Park via Beach Avenue.

    As I try to avoid downtown Vancouver like the plague, do to traffic and “there for the grace of god go I” pedestrians who seem not to recognize traffic lights, the bike lane issue is not one of great importance to me. But if i do venture into the downtown no-mans land, using Beach Avenue would be one of my escape routes and one is glad that common sense does exist at city hall.

    (Response: Your second to last paragraph sums up the real benefits of City Council’s decision to re-open Beach Ave to two way vehicle traffic, despite the objections of the car-hating crowd. Forcing the thousands of motorists exiting the park over to the already plugged Georgia Street, even though they were heading for the Burrard or Granville Bridges and points south (or east) added TONNES of extra pollution into our skies…and lungs. I believe that policy was more about car-hating bigots practicing “car-cleansing” than really caring or doing best for the environment. h.o)

  4. RIsaak says:

    Great topic, I’ll add another case of bike lobbies messing with some of the region’s most compromised citizens.
    The bike lanes on 10th ave between Ash & Heather past the BC Cancer agency. Remove parking (some of it was handicapped only) on 10th, so now folks attending treatment can run the gauntlet of speeding bikes while navigating heaved sidewalks while using wheelchairs, walkers & canes. 9th ave through the VGH zone would have been considerate, 10th is absolutely disrespectful to our cancer afflicted and all mobility challenged. Thanks Gregor, Meggs & co. for this issue which like many seems to evade any common sense and is in fact further marginalizing some of our most marginalized. Those parking meter handicapped spots which were removed cause folks to pay far more in the attached parkade, if it’s not 100% full. Then blocks of walking become the solution for folks seeking treatment???

    (Response: I’m familiar with that area. There was already a dedicated bike route all along 7th, complete with a no-go car blockade at Oak Street. Did they really need a multi-million-dollar separated bike route on 10th, only three blocks away??? (And yet, lots of cyclists still prefer Broadway!!) But now, it is very difficult for the elderly and handicapped trying to access the VGH and Cancer clinics along 10th Ave. Not only is there no parking on 10th anymore, there is precious little parking on the side streets, private lots are fairly expensive, all Broadway parking has been removed and, the VGH parkades are blocks away and when they are are full, the walk up the steep hill from 8th or 7th would be impossible for many. Think of all the extra driving around motorists do, just to find a parking space close to the cancer treatment centres on 10th … terrible for the air quality right by a major hospital. It was another example of bike lobby cave-in or ideological blindness by the previous extreme left radical Vancouver Council …and the elderly, handicapped and even sick be damned! h.o)

    • D. M. johnston says:

      You are so right about that, it is a bloody disgrace what happened on to 10th.

      Absolutely no consideration for ill, the elderly and the infirm.

      You would not print what I really wanted to say as it would be in a forestry vernacular made up of rather unpleasant words, normally used in the woods.

      The CoV, collectively should be ashamed.

  5. daniel says:

    I haven’t owned a vehicle for about 15 years because I live downtown. I used to be an avid cyclist. It started getting very busy on the Stanley park seawall 6 or 7 years ago and remains so today and is even worse.
    One day I was riding on the bike path over in False Creek and slowed down for an oncoming person in a motorized wheelchair. I was rear ended from behind by a fellow cyclist who was going full speed and wasn’t paying attention. Luckily I wasn’t injured and there was no major damage to my bike. I was a bit shocked, however.
    It took a couple of years and I started enjoying cycling less and less, mostly because of the crowds. You also now have to compete with e-bikes, scooters, and various motorized vehicles. It’s just not fun anymore. Now I just walk instead, rarely using my bicycle while it collects dust.
    You are absolutely right Harvey saying this is a hate-on for cars by extremists in power. You notice that no one ever mentions there will still be a bike path in the park along with the various bike routes throughout the city. Still that’s not good enough for them. It’s always all or nothing with the extremists, regardless of the cause. No happy medium or compromise for them.
    I made this comment in an earlier post here on this subject a while back. Cyclists now treat pedestrians the way vehicles treat the cyclists. Out of my way. Civility no longer seems to exist in Vancouver. After me you come first.

    (Response: You are correct: the Beach Ave changes will include a new separated bike path and you are also correct: “It’s always all or nothing with the extremists”. I see no problem in sharing the road, including separated safe bike lanes, because it can help reduce road demand for vehicles driven by those who must or want to drive, it’s good for the environment and also health. However. the extremists …some of who occupied public office at City Hall and the Park board … went too far: good riddance to them … and just like the Berlin Wall came down, so should their legacy of concrete barriers barring two-way vehicle traffic on Beach, west of Denman. h.o)

  6. R says:

    The fire near lost lagoon is prime example of reopening beach Ave for better access to the now trimmed tree Stanley park
    What 166 k trees?

    Response: Exactly. Because if I recall correctly, they didn’t just make it illegal to pass through in both directions, they put up physical blockades as well. h.o)

  7. Ijustdontknowanymore says:

    The extremist loonies do seem to act blindly before they think when constructing some bike lanes and doing what they did in Stanley Park and Beach Ave. Those overzealous unaccountable over reaching activist thugs causec that siuation, need to be kept out of office from City Hall and the Parks Board. These nuts actually do make the pollution counts rise because of traffic tie ups. And to not consider access for the elderly handicapped and working people at that time when Beach Ave was closed to traffic was shameful. But those extremist wouldn’t know about a real job except for causing trouble when they have a little power.
    You know it kind of reminds me of the loonie extreme left mindset we have now in the provincial NDP. It’s no wonder the polls are showing the way they are. And Federally I won’t won’t even try to fathom the madness . To many activist loonies of extremist thinking are getting in the back door and getting appointed to power. One wacko appointing more wackos. It is sometimes hard to read the room in the frenzy of campaigning at election time because politicians are making grand promises and people buy in and that’s the way it is, but reading the room in this country as a whole is pretty easy now, I see what has to be done when the BC election comes and the Federal election comes. That I can’t wait for.

    (Response: I’m not sure what happened, but somehow the federal government, the BC government and municipal governments in Vancouver and Victoria seemed to go “rogue”: catering to, responding to and governing for the loud, outspoken, activist minorities …forgetting or minimizing the needs/concerns/struggles of the majority (maybe the too silent majority?). Maybe not enough of the quiet/silent middle bothered to turn out to vote, while the activists did? But now there seems to be backlash: people are “mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore.” So we’ve seen the most radical far left extremists tossed from Vancouver City Hall (Victoria too?), the Conservatives making great inroads at the federal level (although few really seem to love Poilievre) and now, in BC, the Conservatives showing such momentum, although most don’t seem to really know much about Rustad or Conservative policies … other than axe the carbon tax. Voters are clearly not happy! h.o)

  8. e.a.f. says:

    Most likely the politicians thought they were so advanced with their actions and so European. Well this isn’t Europe. Europe has a tradition in some countries of using bikes as the main source of transportation and have for along time. they have accepted rules. If you are at a stop light in Rotterdam, all the bikes stop and then go again but they are all going about the same speed. No one crashes into others. Also countries like Denmark have a lot of bikes but with a population of 5 million and narrow streets it makes sense. Rotterdam, ditto, Things are much closer in Europe so its easier to use a bike.
    It will be nice to have that street open again. Emergency vechiles need to be able to move around quickly. Don’t forget Vancouver has a very large urban forest. If it ever catches fire bikes won’t do, it big fire trucks.
    The proposal of how many million did not make sense. It changed the whole appearance of English Bay. It would have ruined it. Some one would have made a fortune building it.
    We don’t need that type of money spent on the beach. The money could be used for other things you know, like child care, seniors housing, better services for handicapped people, more clinics for people without doctors, etc.

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