Every summer I look forward to picnics at the beach. I have my own picnic basket. I love eating outdoors by the water’s edge. This summer I joined friends at the Spanish Banks extension beach; it’s the furthest beach before you head up the hill to UBC. It’s also known as the dog beach. I love dogs, but it is not the best choice for a picnic. The friend who chose this location is not from here and didn’t realize that dogs rule this beach. They run across your blanket, grab your food off the table or even out of your hand, interrupt your bocce game, and on occasion, knock you off your bike.
The next time I met this gang, the same organizer asked my advice on location. He said, we need some wide open space so we can spread out a little, throw a ball, set the BBQ up on a picnic table. I thought the open space above Kits pool might work, but my friend wanted to be close to the water, so we chose Kits Beach/Hadden Park.
This narrow strip of park along Kits Beach has some large trees, picnic tables and a bit of open area for tossing the football. This is also the park that now has white chalk lines cutting right through the grassy treed area, marking the new concrete bike path that the City is putting in starting early 2014, part of the controversial Point Grey-Cornwall Active Transportation Corridors. There is already a concrete pathway that runs along the beach. It’s jam packed with pedestrians and joggers in the summer. Cyclists are not supposed to ride along it, but they do, slowly as they have to weave in and out of the pedestrians and their dogs and baby strollers. There is a perfectly good and safe road route if you cut up past the Boathouse Restaurant at the tennis courts, ride along Arbutus, swing up McNicoll and then on to Ogden before joining the path again at Vanier Park. There are also many back streets to cut through if you’re going the other direction, heading home from Granville Island you can ride behind the Vancouver Observatory and come through quiet Kits Point streets to get back to Arbutus. Sure it’s a little busier in the summer, but I’ve never had a problem and I ride that route regularly.
The shared bike path from Jericho through the Spanish Banks extension is dangerous. The Kits Beach route is not, but it will inherit the same problems if you run a cycling path through the park. I can just see the toddlers wandering onto the bikeway now. If cyclists want to meander along Kits Beach, they should get off their bikes and walk. If they are commuting or feel the need to speed, then there are perfectly good road routes. In the cycling course I took with the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition I learned that bikes are considered vehicles. According to the City’s website, “The BC Motor Vehicle Act and City Street and Traffic Bylaw apply to bicycles too, so know and obey the rules of the road.” In this instance, it seems like the City is trying to play it both ways.
I’m all for bike lanes, but it seems like the decisions that are being made by the City lately have only one viewpoint (Have I mentioned lately that my bus stop still hasn’t been replaced on Burrard yet?). I encourage city councillors to go and have a picnic in Hadden or Kits Park this coming weekend while the sun is shining and really take in how this park and its pathways are used by the people who live in the neighbourhood. In fact, go and sit in the park in all seasons, so that you understand its rhythms before you pave more of picnic paradise.
The Kits Point Residents Association will have a meeting about the proposed pathway at noon this Sunday at the Boathouse.
Public Forum on City’s Proposed Bike Path through Kits Park and Hadden Park
Boathouse (Kitsilano) – beside the Tennis Courts
12 noon, Sunday, October 20, 2013