Bike B.C. the provinces funding program for new cycling infrastructure is providing the sizeable sum of $905,424 to help fund the creation of greenways and separated bike paths in Hastings Park.
This is the third largest amount allocated to any municipality this year and represents a significant investment in cycling improvements in Vancouver.
Perhaps best-known as the location of Playland, the PNE and the Pacific Coliseum, at 154 acres Hastings Park is the second largest park in Vancouver after Stanley Park. The Park Board has an ambitious plan for the East Hastings playground and is promising to renew and improve the vast grounds as well as their network of pathways within the park and to the surrounding neighbourhoods and bike lanes.
According to the Park Board, they aim to create a greener, more active year-round destination that is also economically viable and sustainable. However, they also make the important caveat that funding partnerships will be required in order to achieve this vision, and it could take two decades to make it a reality.
So what does this mean for the park in the near term, and how does the Bike B.C. funding fit in? The Hastings Park master plan describes better bicycle access as an essential objective, which will eventually include the addition of 5.4 kilometres of new pedestrian and bike trails. These will connect the park to New Brighton Park on the north side of Hastings Street, create a perimeter greenway that circles the entire park, and run both north-south and east-west across the park.
The eventual bike routes are intended to improve recreational access for cyclists and also to increase the options for two-wheeled commuters. The proposed East-West Greenway will link directly to the Cassiar Bikeway, which connects to the Second Narrows Crossing. (With its narrow, shared sidewalks, the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge remains a horrible crossing for cyclists and pedestrians alike, but thats a whole separate issue.)
This proposed East-West Greenway will also link to the Sunrise Bikeway, while the North-South Greenway will connect to the existing Portside bike route and TransCanada Trail.
Downhill bikers havent been forgotten, either. A dirt jump and trials area is planned for Hastings Park east of the wooden rollercoaster.
The Bike B.C. funding is exciting news for cyclists because it suggests that at least some of the greenway options may become a reality sooner rather than later. While the Park Boards master plan establishes realistic limits about the length of time needed for the more significant upgrades like new buildings it does establish the greenways as a high priority. Interim measures have been identified that would enable greenways to be established in temporary locations where necessary, so this work could begin even when the permanent greenway is dependent on other aspects being completed first.
Based on community feedback, the Park Board realized it was a priority to connect Hastings Park with New Brighton Park and also improve access to both.
With the Bike B.C. funding in place, we may just see Hastings Park become a more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians sooner rather than later.
Kay Cahill is a cyclist and librarian who believes bikes are for life, not just for commuting. You can contact or send a comment to email@example.com.