We had the vision, we built the infrastructure, and now we use it – especially our young. This is who we are.
We had the vision, we built the infrastructure, and now we use it – especially our young. This is who we are.
I visited the Greenway a few days ago and saw lots going on, as the temporary Greenway takes shape, giving hints about the future, and the abandoned railroad track becomes a memory.
As usual, click a photo to enlarge it.
At Burrard & Greenway, a traffic signal is now in place. Greenway travelers get a signal pole on both east and west sides, each with a crossing button. Note the new crosswalk on Burrard and painted lane dividers on the asphalt part of the Greenway.
At several places, a centreline divider is visible, with what appears to be potting soil awaiting plants.
Likewise, crews were spreading soil on the edges of the temporary pathway. One person on the crew told me that the plan is to plant wild flowers there. I like it.
What’s the collective noun for this: Over 50 students from Charles Tupper school, assembling at Second Beach for a bike tour around Stanley Park. I don’t know if it’s an end-of-the-school-year tradition, but this is the second of three groups that have made the trek so far in the last week.
Paul, their leader, says they bring their own bikes or rent them on Denman, and then circumnavigate the park, stopping at key points to learn about the park.
And then hopefully continue on for the rest of their lives.
On Union St. yesterday afternoon.
Granville Island (GI) has been a wonderful place for locals and visitors alike since the 1970’s, when it was resurrected from a solely industrial place into a mostly people place. The time has come for another resurrection that goes way beyond a lick of paint and new lights.
Granville Island 2040 (big PDF), commissioned by the powers that rule GI (CMHC), looks broadly at GI’s present and way off into its future. Some guy called Gordon Price is on the Advisory Board that guided this report’s creation.
I count 9 separate consultation initiatives, reaching around 10,000 people by a variety of means, and with varying degrees of intensity.
The big ideas:
And the big challenges currently facing GI:
For me, though, the most serious of these challenges is this one (below), which also carries the opportunity for the greatest improvement in peoples’ experience at GI.
Challenge: Traffic Congestion & Parking
Quote from Granville Island 2040:
The most serious of these challenges is the combination of the dominance of the private automobile as a mode of access to the Island, along with the traffic congestion and demand for parking that has accompanied the Island’s popularity.
The single largest use on the Island is now vehicular circulation and parking, which occupies over a quarter of current land use. These pressures threaten the freedom of movement across the entire public realm and the pedestrian-friendly character of the Island, and risk the further erosion of public space.
The extent of the transportation challenge is evident in public opinion, which is more or less equally divided between those who want to decrease or eliminate private automobile access and those who call for an increase in parking to facilitate their personal access to the Island. Despite the latter resistance, it is not possible to address the challenge of climate change or create new opportunities that respond to changing generational, cultural and economic interests without the reduction of automobile traffic and parking.
The questions facing Granville Island 2040 are, therefore:
- How much and how fast can parking be reduced?
- How best can the minimal necessary traffic and parking be managed?
- What are the alternative modes of access to the Island which will substitute for private motor vehicles?
Crews near completion on the western end of the new and vastly improved Point Grey Road (at Alma). It becomes clearer each visit what the final result will be. And to think, just a few years ago, this was a noisy, dangerous quasi-arterial for 8,000 – 10,000 commuter motor vehicles per day.
Click photo to enlarge.
If you’re unsure about just what a cargo bike is, here’s a great chance to see a bunch (well over 30 expected entrants) up close and in furious but friendly head-to-head action, lugging stuff over a closed course. Ice cream and prizes, too.
There’s a message for you.
One-time winner of the contest to find the world’s most boring headline was: “Worthy Canadian Initiative“. But just how boring was the story, and what story do headlines really tell?
As a contrast in content, let alone journalistic integrity, consider these two headlines and the stories below them. The first covers a complicated story, and deals with the issues in a broad manner. The second employs cobwebbed rile-em-up tabloid tactics to satisfy some business model that the world is rapidly passing by on its way to somewhere else.
First we have Martha Perkins in the Vancouver Courier writing under the headline: “Interests Merge in 10th Avenue ‘Hospital District’ Plan“.
Vancouver Coastal Health, the British Columbia Cancer Agency and accessibility advocates are all heartily endorsing Vancouver city staff’s proposed new street plan
“It’s a great compromise considering all the stakeholders and the traffic of all modes,” said Stan Leyenhorst of Barrier-free B.C. “The city recognizes we’re trying something innovative”. We’re building an environment so, regardless of ability, you have access, including the senior who has cancer using a walker who is slightly sight impaired and can’t hear well.
“It’s terrific,” agrees Bruce Gilmore, also of Barrier-free B.C. By switching the conversation away from bike lanes, the strategy switched to problems that already exist for all users of the busy corridor. “I’m very excited that pedestrians have been heavily factored in, i.e. the vulnerable patient.”
Second, by way of contrast, Global News on May 16. Keeping the world safe, and preserving all asphalt, for motordom: “Separated Bike Lanes Could Replace Metered Parking In Vancouver’s Health Corridor Along 10th Avenue“.
Yup, good old bike lanes vs. parking. Cars vs. bikes. Real people vs them stinkin’ people on bikes. Yup: “Yet another controversial bike lane”. The video clip features an exasperated car driver who complains about parking and completely bone-headed decisions. The clip ends by bashing bike riders with a gratuitous context-free crack about riding bikes on the sidewalk.
Pedestrians and patients get little if any attention.
Parking in front of key medical agencies like the BC Cancer Agency, the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre and the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) could get a whole lot tighter.
On Tuesday, Vancouver City Council will be presented a proposal to remove meter parking spaces from 10th Avenue, in favour of separated bike lanes between Oak and Cambie streets.
Connecting things, people and places is an opportunity, if not major rationale, for the Arbutus Greenway.
It’s already happening on the increasingly busy temporary Greenway.
Some new connections arise from the very nature of the conversion from unused railroad into accessible, if temporary, Greenway. People have a new way to travel from home to retail areas, schools and parks.
But old informal pathways are already getting upgrades to provide better connections from and across the Greenway to local neighbourhoods, bus stops, crosswalks and so on.
While wandering in the West End the other day, I saw several restaurant delivery people on bikes. It seems like a sensible business model, a resource-light way to provide a service, lugging food from restaurant to hungry people.
I like seeing people coming up with more options — more ways to get things done.
Click to enlarge.
For friendly competition, nifty prizes and a chance to do something completely different, why not sign up for Bike to Work Week??
From a standing start in 2007, BtWW has become big, and a part of life in Vancouver. The 2016 spring event alone attracted 11,602 registered riders, with 1,963 riding to work for the first time.
Another goodie: A pass for Mobi. Try two things at once.
It’s free to register, free to form teams, free to log your trips, and free to hang around the celebration stations for bikey talk, munchies, drinks, bike mechanic services, and extra giveaways.
As reported in Metro News, by Matt Kieltyka there’s a report going to Vancouver City Council next Tuesday with the title “Complete Streets Policy Framework and Related By-law Changes”. What that really means is that the City Engineer is asking for changes in the Streets By-law to undertake work under the guise of the Complete Streets Policy as outlined in the Transportation 2040 Plan without having to schlep to Council for approval of things like lane changes or the making of public spaces that generally follow the plan.
The challenge with the lack of reporting back to Council is establishing what Council should know about-or not. My years working as the City’s greenways planner showed that even something that would be seemingly a public good and not contentious-like closing the street for a small greenway at 11th Avenue and Maple Street in Arbutus-brought over twenty delegations to Council. While Council approved the greenway, the final design that was built incorporated the existing street instead of the specialized surface promised to the residents, and was not to the design approved by Council. At some time when redevelopment occurs on that section of street, I am sure that the residents will remind Council of this lapsed undertaking and request a greenway reboot.
There’s been some contention over the City’s move towards walking and biking priority as per the 2040 Plan, especially in recent events with the Point Grey Road, Commercial Drive, and the Kitsilano Beach bike lane and the Tenth Avenue Hospital improvements that will take out all but two metered parking spots on Tenth Avenue west of Ash Street. These big “events” would still be going to Council.
One councillor, George Affleck wants to maintain council oversight on road use changes. “It’s a great way for Vision Vancouver to avoid having to talk about bike lanes ever again. It would make me very uncomfortable,” said Affleck. “In my mind, the buck stops at council. Decisions on major developments, how we build our city, streets … those kind of decisions should be discussed in public with council oversight. That’s our job and when we start skipping that process, we’re in big trouble.”
“[The bylaw revisions] go against what I believe was the intention of that plan and why I supported it,” he said. “Changing a speed bump is one thing. But if you’re changing and getting rid of a lane or parking for bike lanes, making change that has significant impact not only on the neighbourhood but the city at large, city council should be making a decision on it.”
It’s an interesting point, as when changes do go to Council there is the opportunity for public debate and learnings for Council and the public. Do we need to have that discussion? Or should the engineer use delegated authority for changing modes and uses on public right of ways and do diversions and rerouting traffic routes? Are we at a place where the public good is recognized and served by less Council oversight and public debate?
A design concept package for the 5-block part of 10th Avenue between Oak and Cambie is coming to Vancouver City Council on May 16 for review and approval. The area even has a name — the Health Precinct — which will be reflected in the redesign.
This is an area that is currently not working for many of the most vulnerable of its growing user group. But the area’s complexity means the changes are fittingly complex. For example, they include the City acquiring new right-of-way agreements for land to be used for sidewalk and utility purposes.
To quote the design concept package:
CONCLUSION The general sentiment heard through the engagement process was that 10th Avenue through the Health Precinct does not work well for anyone in its current form. This proposed design has been endorsed by the Health Precinct partners and staff believe the changes made to the recommended design over the course of the engagement process address the primary concerns raised by the city advisory committees, including the Seniors’ Advisory Committee, the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, and the Active Transportation Policy Council (see Appendix F and G for specific responses). Staff will be meeting with all three committees in advance of presenting the project to Council. The new design is expected to improve the area for all road users, particularly vulnerable pedestrians, people accessing the health precinct by vehicle, and people biking.
Here’s an example — an overview of the changes proposed for the block between Laurel and Willow:
As usual, you can have your 5 minutes before council by registering in advance.
A grey Wednesday.
Mobi’s bikes move all day long, and patterns emerge. For example: Some docking stations fill up in the morning, and others empty. To make sure that most stations have both bikes and empty docks — you have to balance the system, all day, every day.
Walking home from an errand, I saw the rebalancing crew at Harwood and Bute. Apparently, part of the Mobi package is an iPad app that notes the candidate stations for pickup (most docks full) and dropoff (most docks empty).
Click to enlarge.
No, not the Robson of the last two decades. More like the Robson that emerged in the late ’70s and ’80s, just after the completion of Robson Square, when it re-emerged as the pedestrian commuter street between the West End and the CBD.
Something similar is happening on Dunsmuir.
No, not the old Dunsmuir prior to the Olympics, when it was a one-way arterial with four lanes of fast-moving vehicles on synchronized signaling from the viaduct to Burrard. The Dunsmuir that emerged after the opening of the separated cycle track in 2010 is taking on a distinct character from block to block. It feels, even with all the traffic, as a predominantly pedestrian street and cycle arterial – quieter, safer, more eccentric.
It’s the preferred feeder for the ‘academic quarter’ – from BCIT at Seymour to VCC at Hamilton, with ESL colleges, the SFU complex and the Vancouver Film School populating the blocks to the north with thousands of students of no visible majority.
It has three SkyTrain stations blocks apart. There are corporate office buildings and civic institutions like the Queen E. There is a cathedral and the country’s most profitable mall. There are restaurants and bars, from Ramon joints to the Railway Club (back again!).
It is a street still creating an identity, with an even more energetic future to come (the Art Gallery at Cambie, the redevelopment of the post office at Homer, a connection to False Creek when the viaduct comes down). It will become even more Robson-like as the residents in the eastern towers and offices populate that end of the street, and more businesses open to serve them.
My favourite intersection is at Granville, anchored by the elegant old BC Electric showroom, now incorporated into The Hudson. The pacing of people, vehicles, bikes and buses is an urban gavotte, a choreographic rhythm of traffic signals. And with downtown’s biggest gym nearby, the people watching is pretty good too.
There is a lesson here. If a separated cycle track and the removal of a vehicle lane with parking was going to kill the economics of a street, Dunsmuir should be dead by now.
In particular, the St Regis Hotel, having lost its curbside access, should be suffering. That does not appear to be the case. Indeed, it can only profit more from the changes that are occurring as a consequence of the Dunsmuir cycle track.
In which case, the owner, a prominent businessman named Rob MacDonald – he who led the vilifying campaign against separated bike lanes, and even spent close to a million dollars backing the NPA in the fight – should perhaps offer a full-throated apology, or at least a recognition that the apocalyptic op-ed that he penned back in 2011 – “Downtown bike routes are a disaster” – was maybe a tad overstated.
And that Dunsmuir is turning out way better than anyone really expected. Thanks to a bike lane.
Shift Delivery is hiring.
From a standing start in August 2011, Shift Delivery, the trike-based delivery company, just keeps on rolling. They’re a highly visible part of Vancouver’s ever-growing bike culture.
Each trike handles loads up to 75 cubic feet and 500 lb. Shift are now also working cargo trikes as an advertising vehicle.
More about Shift HERE, where Business In Vancouver’s Albert Van Santvoort interviews Shift Delivery co-owner Ben Wells. Good information if you are considering a job there.
“Our co-op journey has taught me that the most important thing for people running a business to do is to dig deep, know your values and stick to them,” Wells said. “Really understanding the core principles that matter to you sets the foundation for good decision-making and great leadership, and provides guidance through the roughest of times.”
On corporate structure | “It’s sort of ironic that we have this constant dialogue in the public sphere about how important democracy is but then we run all of our businesses like feudal states.”
While thinking about Shift, and its relative youth as a company, I am reminded: “All that is old shall be new again”. Well, not quite. Looks like we’ve kept the cargo trike but thankfully ditched the cigarettes.
On a lovely Saturday morning, I went for a walk along the newly temporary Arbutus Greenway from Broadway south to 16th. The crowd (~40 people by my estimate) listened to Dale Bracewell and others, including Maggie Buttle, the Greenway’s senior project manager.
At one intermediate stop (14th Ave.), I saw things that stimulated thoughts about the final design. (See photo below).
Small guerilla public art piece (Artbutus). See photo at right. More art to come, as City staff work to bring varied programming and art to the Greenway.