Discovering the new Arbutus asphalt path – almost road-width – is like revisiting the 1990s in Vancouver, when the City was opening stretches of new seawall, particularly along North False Creek and Coal Harbour.  A time of discovery – new routes, more connections, an expanding network for alternative transportation.

The first extension of the seawall was also a temporary path, just asphalt and a chain-link fence, strung along the shoreline of the Expo site prior to its sale, laid down around 1990.  It stayed that way until the development of David Lam Park – when we experienced the new standard of active-transportation planning: a separated cycle track.

More kilometres of the now-named Seaside route followed, connecting False Creek to Coal Harbour – all built to the highest standards then devised.

Arbutus is in that tradition.  The finished design will come, and it will likely be terrific.  But in the meantime … immediate access, and a new mental map of our city and its neighbourhoods.

I discovered the latest expansion of the Arbutus pathway north from Broadway when cycling uphill on up Burrard past 4th on the separated lane snuck in by the engineers – and there it was.  Fresh asphalt!  The shock of the new. So perfect in its unflawed inky blackness.

Not even technically open, it’s too enticing not to be explored.

The new will fade, softened by nature, cultivated by the gardeners who are already colonizing the verges.

The future of the greenway as a cross-city corridor is settled.  The Arbutus Greenway isn’t going to become just extensions of the surrounding neighbourhoods, limited in use and accessibility.  Other people from other places, all part of a connected network of greenways, will be flowing through, on their way to other places.