The Stanley Park Seawall has grown from a rough beginning as a shared pedestrian trail to a bike freeway that now has all the congestion of a car freeway but 90% of the drivers are new to cycling and are on a rental bike. Yesterday it was so congested that while standing by the trail side handing out brochures to those interested I witnessed three bike accidents in two hours as well as a collision between a cyclist and a rollerblade. I then rode the seawall but was so busy trying not to get run over I hardly noticed the view. With thousands of novice riders all focused onto a trail that should handle only hundreds it was quite the zoo so you can just imagine a sunny weekend. “Sure was a good idea, too bad greed go in the way,” Bob Dylan.
After speaking with a few dozen renters, I did not find one who would want to do it again but all wanted to go for another rent and ride and I was glad to be there for them.
The Queensborough Loop is a much better ride and instead of trying to avoid the twenty thousand other riders like you have to on the seawall you might see a dozen other riders and they are so few and far between that it is nice to see someone else. The loop also has far more wildlife, right now the springs are in the river drawing in the seals and eagles. I used to see some raccoons on the seawall or maybe a skunk or two but this time I saw nothing but thousands and thousands of people; on bikes, walking, rollerblading as well as a few skiers (with wheels).
So I will continue to stand by the seawall trail as the thousands crowd by like cattle in a feed lot being herded into the kill zone, handing out brochures to those who may want to rent and ride again but not on such a crowded stressed-out route.
The biggest problem with the seawall is that city hall has issued unlimited business licenses to bike rentals shops with no thought about the total number of bikes available for such a small ten km route. I hope that New Westminster thinks this through for the Queensborough Loop as it gains in popularity. I did not meet one renter who was going to recommend the seawall to a friend but those who have ridden the Queensborough Loop have told me that they can’t wait to get the word out. Bringing the numbers out to the Queensborough Loop will take a city wide marketing strategy and a long term plan to ensure that this great ride does not become a victim of its own success.