British Columbia

'It's a real embarrassment': Cyclists frustrated by Kits Beach snow fencing

Warped snow fencing still stands after it was put up 2 years ago by the City of Vancouver to keep cyclists off the grass.

Warped snow fencing still stands after it was put up 2 years ago to keep cyclists off the grass

Lisa Slakov says the fenced off area at Kitsilano Beach Park is symptomatic of a larger area of the seaside greenway in Kitslano, where many bike paths are disjointed and cut off. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Lisa Slakov cycles past a labyrinth of orange snow fencing at Kitsilano Beach Park.

The contorted fence was built by the City of Vancouver to keep cyclists off the grass. Parts of it lean low to the ground, and the whole thing is held together by Zap Straps.

"It's extremely unattractive and I actually think its a real embarrassment," said the cyclist. "In the darkness, I've seen people [trip over it] ... its a hazard in itself."

The fence surrounds an informal dirt path that's been carved through the grass, connecting the Cornwall Avenue bike lane to Balsam Street. For years, the route was taken by cyclists to avoid pedaling onto the busy road, but in 2015 the Park Board set up the snow fencing to cut off the short cut.

It was supposed to be a short-term solution. Two years later, it's still — barely — standing.

A bench is surrounded by orange snow fencing in order to deter cyclists passing through the grass. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

An informal path

Slakov is the chair of HUB Cycling's Seaside South subcommittee. She says the Park Board's decision to build the fence was a 'strange' knee-jerk reaction to the muddy path that was starting to emerge.

But she says cyclists aren't the only ones to blame.

"If you look at the signs that tell people to not use this path, they're directed exclusively at people on bikes," she said. "But what I know from living in this neighbourhood is that it's people both walking and biking who are using this path."

The City has since made plans to consult with Vancouverites on a potential paved pathway through the grass.

In this bike lane proposal presented to local residents, a paved bike path cuts through the Kitsilano Beach Park, and eliminates several parking spots. (City of Vancouver)

An open house was launched in November 2016, where the public issued feedback on two proposed plans pathways. A public survey was also sent out and closed in January 2017.

According to the results, over 75 per cent of respondents were in favour of a paved pathway through the grass.

Residents divided

But city officials say the issue has not been resolved.

In an e-mailed statement to CBC News, Vancouver Park Board's Manager of Park Development Tiina Mack said dialogue between cycling advocates and local residents "has not yet concluded."

A cyclist rides past the former shortcut, which is now barricaded by orange snow fencing. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Slakov says the delay has been frustrating, and that the fencing is forcing cyclists into dangerous interactions with cars and pedestrians.

She says the bike path now funnels cyclists into a a busy intersection. Some even choose to ride onto the sidewalk to avoid traffic.

There's currently no timeline as to when the fencing will come down, but Slakov says she's working with the city in hopes of getting it done sooner rather than later.

"We think it should come down tomorrow so that people can safely navigate this corner."

A muddy path leads to the orange snow fencing, an informal trail that Slakov says was carved both by cyclists and pedestrians. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Follow Jon Hernandez on Twitter: @jonvhernandez