Although it's been a point of contention during the pandemic, a survey of visitors has revealed that the majority are in favour of reducing vehicle access to one of Vancouver’s crown jewels.
On November 24, the Vancouver Park Board revealed the results of its public survey (conducted from August 25 to September 20) about the temporary traffic management plan in Stanley Park during the pandemic.
Over 11,000 people responded, which is the largest number of respondents to a park board engagement initiative.
The park board closed vehicle access to Stanley Park on April 8 to allow for physical distancing while offering more space for cyclists and pedestrians.
The closures remained in place until June 22, after which one lane was reopened to vehicles while the other lane remained devoted to cyclists (bicycles weren’t permitted on the seawall).
On September 26, the park board reopened all lanes to full vehicle access.
Before the pandemic, the most common forms of transportation that survey respondents used for visiting the park were:
- cycling (60 percent);
- walking or running (49 percent);
- vehicle (47 percent);
- public transit (13 percent).
One-quarter of the survey respondents said that they rely upon a vehicle to visit the park.
The majority of respondents don’t live near the park.
Approximately one-third of the survey respondents live in the West End and Downtown Vancouver, and were the most frequent visitors to Stanley Park prior to the pandemic (68 percent visited the park once a week or more).
While 45 percent of the respondents live in Vancouver but outside of Downtown Vancouver, an additional 26 percent live outside Vancouver altogether.
Almost 70 percent of the respondents, who live outside Downtown Vancouver, visit the park less than once or twice a month.
However, park visits increased for 60 percent of the respondents after vehicle access was cut off during the pandemic.
The majority indicated that they enjoyed the changes and would like to see road space dedicated to cyclists and car-free days in Stanley Park in the future.
Regarding future changes, 70 percent of respondents would like to see road space dedicated to cyclists and 62 percent want to see car-free days while, in contrast, 33 percent don’t want to see any changes.
The top five reasons that respondents visited the park were:
- passive recreation (walking, rollerblading, cycling): 73 percent;
- access to nature within the city: 59 percent;
- beaches and picnic areas: 47 percent;
- showing visitors (ie. from out of town) the park: 30 percent;
- driving through the park: 19 percent.
The top five features that respondents most valued about the park:
- natural environment: 83 percent;
- open space for recreation, walking, running, or cycling: 79 percent;
- convenient location and proximity to the city: 67 percent;
- park features and attractions: 25 percent;
- dining in the park: 12 percent.
A survey summary was presented to the park board on November 23, and staff will report any recommendations for any future traffic changes.
The complete survey data will be available for review in the near future.