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Two views today on the debate concerning the temporary surface to be used during a pre-consultation period as an old railroad corridor lurches into becoming a Greenway.

Mike Klassen in the Courier reviews the arguements in progress and the planning history around the Greenway and says: “Welcome to pavement politics in Vancouver”. It’s a useful broad-brush, high-level review and a primer on planning processes, based in part on a careful re-reading of a 25-year-old planning document, and subsequent versions of similar material.

I was convinced (and remain so) that City of Vancouver staff had made a smart decision to hasten access to the Arbutus Greenway for all pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users, even with a planned public consultation on the pathway barely underway. . .

. . . The Task Group’s final report — titled Greenways-Public Ways (1992) . . .  It was in the “Greenways” report that the idea of an Arbutus right-of-way that “includes bicycle and pedestrian paths” was forged.

A while back I received a bound copy of the report as a keepsake — along with the Vancouver Greenways Plan (1995) — from retired city planner Sandra James, who was, and is, the city’s most energetic proponent of walkability.

On page 46 of the greenways report, a section titled “Vancouver Vision: Year 2010” . . .  sounds a lot like Vancouver today, with improved walking and cycling routes, reduced car trips in the downtown core thanks to better alternatives, and a network of greenways across the city. . . .

. . . But legacies are for another day, and Vancouver’s pedestrians, cyclists, runners, scooter and wheelchair riders deserve access to the greenway now.

Following a public letter released by this wheelchair user, some truly disturbing attack-oriented correspondence ensued, and this vigorous and well-voiced response. The story is long and it ‘s alternately saddening, maddening and heartening.  Referring to just one arguement of the “we love gravel, let’s not do anything to the Arbutus Greenway” crowd:

Nonetheless the image of people being knocked down like bowling pins had been planted in my mind.

So I asked a friend who is blind what he thought.

“What do you mean?” he said

“Would it worry you if part of the space is used by bicyclists and skateboarders?” I asked.

“I don’t understand” he said sounding genuinely baffled.

“I think some people think you will (I hesitated, now regretting starting the sentence because I knew how ridiculous I was about to sound)…they think you will be in danger.  (Silence) Would you be worried about being run over?”

Laughter

“You’re not serious. The goal is inclusion.” he said.

To be sure, shared spaces require a consciousness of different needs.

In my own experience whenever there is a collision of users it is a reflection of poor design.

[Ed:  would commenters please limit their comments on this post to 3 per day]