The Rick Hansen Foundation has announced an Accessibility Certification Program providing accessibility audits to ensure barrier-free experiences for people with mobility, vision and hearing disabilities. These standards also make it as easy as possible for people with walkers and young families with strollers to use buildings, public streets, walkways and parks.
The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) has developed RHF Accessibility Certification, an inclusive design and accessibility rating system. Similar to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), it measures and rates accessibility features. According to a recent survey conducted by Angus Reid Institute, 88% of Canadians consider a LEED-style rating program for universal accessibility to be worthwhile.
Trained RHF Access Assistants are currently conducting free beta accessibility reviews and rating buildings throughout Metro Vancouver and the greater Victoria-Colwood area. The first phase of pilot testing of the new RHF Accessibility Certification is underway until June 2017.
To learn more about this innovative pilot and how you can help make your communities accessible for everyone, contact Karen Marzocco, Project Manager at email@example.com, or visit www.rickhansen.com/Our-Work/Accessibility-Certification-Program.
At 37th Ave on the Arbutus Corridor is one of the few remaining billboards I know of. In tony crème-de-la-cremesville Kerrisdale, yet. A total eyesore from any angle. And true to form for the ‘hood, it’s advertising a hideously expensive watch brand.
On the plus side, it does have a mini-mass of iconic heritage-defining blackberry bushes.
Click photo for a larger version.
Admittedly, I haven’t travelled the full 9 km of the Arbutus Corridor recently, but from 10th to 59th, I think these were the only remaining train tracks on Feb 1.
Note the graceful electrical sub-station.
. . . and the irony.
This article by Wanyee Li in Metro News gets to the nub of a vital issue for one of the oldest, most historical and most loved parts of Vancouver. Vancouver’s Chinatown is not only one of the most continually occupied parts of the city, it is a district with great vibrant history, wondrous diversity, and a bunch of folks that quite frankly are responsible for the shape and structure of the city we experience today. And Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest most contiguous Chinatown in North America. So why are we not treating this area as unique and as a special example of a historic area? Why are we in a hurry to accept pronounced and profound development that may erase Chinatown for future generations?
It was the families and merchants in Chinatown that singlehandedly stopped the expansion of the freeway in the 1960’s from bisecting Vancouver’s downtown and decimating the existing housing for new and improved “replacement” CMHC (Canadan Mortage and Housing Corporation) housing. In the short video below Bessie Lee describes how Chinatown residents wanted to make the city “livable”, despite the calls for urban renewal from the City Council and the City Planner. And the word “livability” is one that has become a watchword for Vancouver’s past, current and future planning endeavours.
There is an Open House on proposed changes to the Chinatown plan scheduled for this Saturday between 10:00 a.m and 2:00 p.m. at the Chinese Cultural Centre Auditorium at 50 Pender Street. But here’s the troubling part-the boards prepared by the City and even the background suggest that there is something “wrong” with the community in the first place. The intent of this increase in size and height is to “update” the Chinatown Economic Revitalization Action plan as a “three year review”. Under the guise of a “lack of density limit leads to buildings with low ceiling height and compromised livability” the City is suggesting massive sizes and densities completely out of scale with the neighbourhood.
So where did things go wrong? For some reason, despite the historic and important cultural nature of the shops, services, community centre and the Sun Yet-Sen Garden (rated as a top city garden by National Geographic) there are proposed changes to the Chinatown plan to allow for building heights of 150 feet (15 storeys) and frontages up to 200 feet. This is completely out of character with the existing scale and texture of the small, varying frontages and facades of the street, and recalls the concrete whitewashing of the community proposed by the freeway expansion a half century ago. The sizes being proposed are sizes developers are happy to work with. They don’t necessarily make for good infill structures that blend harmoniously in to a well established and existent landscape.
Urban planner and Director of the Simon Fraser University City Program Andy Yan notes that such massive building scale and size “doesn’t match the existing texture of the neighbourhood, which is made up of small independent stores and low-storey buildings. Given the pre-existing grain of the neighbourhood, I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring a development that is modelled [after] areas of surplus industrial brown fields. It’s invasive to an established neighbourhood like Chinatown.”
As reported in Metro News “city councillor Raymond Louie is quick to point out staff have the difficult task of coming up with a plan that meet both council’s demands as well as economic realities. Dividing land assemblies to less than 200 feet would not be cost effective…[Staff] are trying to balance off all the other aspects of what council has asked for – additional social housing, preservation of heritage, making sure that these buildings are built to the highest environmental standards, and making sure that these buildings are ready to hook up into our district energy systems. Louie says fears about big block stores displacing small businesses are unfounded because the new rules, if accepted, would limit retail storefronts to 50 feet. It’s one of many examples of the city is listening to public input.”
I would suggest that a fifty foot retail frontage is still a pretty vast space and not in keeping with the existing cultural fabric. But why are we trying to shoe horn development blocks in one of the most culturally sensitive parts of the city? Why does this area, which contains the fabric of a very early part of Vancouver be required to meet all the city and developer’s demands? As Andy Yan notes, Chinatown comprises just one per cent of the city’s fabric. Let’s treat it as the special unique gem it is.
Out yesterday and found that the Burrard Bridge renovation is partly complete. The west sidewalk is now half open (the south half). I like the way it looks.
Note the new cement dividers that delineate the west bike lane — some elements appear gracefully curved, and the design echoes the bridge railing.
Click an image for a larger view
Puerto Madero benefits and suffers from the same factors that affect similar megaprojects: the comprehensive planning, done all at one time, has a certain sterility. In part because of the high-quality of urban design, infrastructure and location, it quickly gets priced up, and is seen to be more a reservation for the rich than something which reflects the urban mix of the surrounding city.
It’s reported that up to half the suites in the private complexes are empty of day-to-day residents.
But the more serious problem with PM is its physical disconnection from the adjacent neighbourhoods of BA, including the historic centre of the city, Plaza de Mayo.
A drawback for those living or staying here is it is somewhat disconnected from the rest of the city, lacking in subway service and away from the city’s major arteries. Most denizens here own cars …
It seemed like it would be a straight shot on foot from the President’s Palace, Casa Rosado, to the north side of Puerto Madero via the Woman’s Bridge. Classic City Beautiful planning: everything lined up.
Not to be.
Security fencing surrounds the Casa Rosada and diverts pedestrians (and protestors) to the side, where crossing the street(s) becomes a major challenge, unless you know, without evident signage, where to go.
And then there are parking lots, more arterials, a rail line and a general sense that no one thought this through. As a result, for most times of the week, there are not a lot of people in the public places of PM. Even getting a taxi back to the city was a challenge.
Regardless of whatever deficiencies there are in Vancouver’s megaproject planning, there was always a priority on connecting them to the fabric of the city and offering as many transportation choices as possible. Plus no permanent surface parking lots.
A recent PSA by Alberta Transportation delivers a loud and clear message.
Motorists — here are a bunch of sure-fire excuses to keep in mind when you mow down a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Yep — keep on grinning. Thumbs up, baby, you’re golden.
Peds — it’s always your fault. And you’re not safe anywhere.
After much outrage, Alberta Transportation pulled the message. But it’s hard to understand how peds are singled out like this, when the facts of the matter are quite clear as to what the source of the danger is.
According to the City of Vancouver’s 2012 Pedestrian Safety Study:
The vast majority of collisions at intersections involved drivers failing to yield to pedestrians when pedestrians had the right-of-way.
One quarter of all pedestrian collisions took place at mid-block locations, where the pedestrian was either crossing the street at a mid-block crosswalk or a location without a traffic control, crossing a driveway or laneway, or was struck at the sidewalk or at a bus stop.
The top five pedestrian collision types listed below accounted for approximately two-thirds of all pedestrian collisions:
- Vehicle turns left while pedestrian crosses with right-of-way at signalized intersection (25.6% of known collision types)
- Vehicle turns right while pedestrian crosses with right-of-way at signalized intersection (17.1%)
- Pedestrian hit while crossing mid-block without a traffic control, or jaywalking (11.5%)
- Vehicle proceeds straight through while pedestrian crosses at stop sign or crosswalk (6.9%)
- Pedestrian hit while crossing driveway or laneway (6.5%).
Yet another opportunity to find out what’s what, and to put your views on the table.
Amid the vast array of projects underway in Vancouver, here’s one that will move lots of people, take motor vehicles off the road and so mitigate growth-related problems, and provide an opportunity to increase business density along a major corridor and residential density around it.
Planning for the Millennium Line Broadway Extension is underway.
Saturday, January 28. 1-5 pm
Douglas Park Community Centre (801 W 22nd Ave – near Heather St.)
Tuesday, January 31 4-8 pm
Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Dr.)
Wednesday, February 1, 4-8 pm
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral (154 E 10th)
A summary of key info is HERE, in a long, long PDF.
A summary is HERE of the alternative technologies and plan variations that were considered.
When more people have more ways to get around, it brings more smiles to more business owners. Especially those that are on or near the new Arbutus Greenway. It does show the importance of the connections from the Greenway to the transit, ped and bicycle infrastructure that the Greenway meets.
Thanks to Jen St. Denis in MetroNews for this article discussing two BIAs (Marpole and Kerrisdale) that think the finished Arbutus Greenway will help bring customers to their shops.
The Arbutus Greenway is a 9-km long corridor, stretching across the city, with the opportunity to develop something magical out of a disused railway right-of-way. The next step is upon us, and another chance for us all to get involved.
The background is that the City of Vancouver wants to create a high-quality public space for walking, cycling and wheeling, with a streetcar line in the longer-term plan. Previous planning material is HERE (14-page PDF), including several reference designs from other places like Atlanta, Minneapolis and Chicago (with costs).
For those new to the idea, here’s a definition: Transportation greenways are linear public corridors for pedestrians and cyclists that connect parks, nature reserves, cultural features, historic sites, neighbourhoods and retail areas.
You’ll get lots of chances to see what’s up, and to put your thoughts on the table. Free hot chocolate, too.
Online survey HERE until Feb 15.
- February 4, 11:00am – 2:00pm
at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House
- February 9, 7:00pm – 9:00pm
at Marpole Community Centre
- February 11, 2:30pm – 5:30 pm
at Roundhouse Community Centre
Pop-up Hot Chocolate Kiosk
The plan will increase sustainable alternatives to the motor vehicle, and so help to reduce congestion on the roads as the region grows, and further the vision of density and transit orientation. This is smart and necessary. Smart, too, is a focus on integration of transit, cycling and walking.
Phase One also begins to deal specifically with the hidden congestion so prevalent in Metro Vancouver — the transit pass-ups and overcrowding due to high demand. Odd, isn’t it, that we rarely hear about this amid the noise about motor vehicle congestion.
Major detail on Phase One HERE in a 104-page PDF, which also serves as TransLink’s Strategic Plan until superseded. (Funding detail starts on p 39/104).
The funding for this Phase One is a combination of Federal ($370M) and Provincial ($240M) money for capital only. The 23 municipalities will fund $500M for capital and $800M for 10-year operating costs. As a result, the munis will increase fares and property taxes. They will also borrow money, introduce a development fee and sell TransLink property (such as the Oakridge site, which brought in an astonishing $ 440M).
The big bucks will come in Phase Two, which will see construction of new rapid transit and a new Pattullo Bridge, among other things. There are serious hints of upcoming tolls and road pricing (a.k.a. mobility pricing) to fund Phase Two. The Mayors have already begun lobbying the Feds for infrastructure money via the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for transit, plus other things such as housing. No sign of Provincial intentions yet.
Excerpt from “Seizing the Moment: Budget 2017 Recommendations From Canada’s Local Order of Government”
It’s no coincidence that the world’s most dynamic cities feature some of the best transit systems. People want to spend less time commuting and more time with their families. And those faster connections increasingly attract top employers, skilled workers and innovative professionals.
Local transit solutions will tackle national challenges as well. Getting people and goods moving faster will kickstart economic growth. Getting more cars off the road will reduce Canada’s climate-changing emissions. And we’ll finally start recovering that $10 billion in productivity that our country loses to gridlock each year.
Given the right financial tools, large and mid-sized cities have major transit expansions ready to go. These projects incorporate light rail, streetcars, hybrid buses, accessible transportation and beyond—as the backbone for innovative, lower-carbon models of urban land use and development. In many cases, planning, consultation and engineering are well underway.
Open House Events
- January 21 11 am – 3 pm WISE Hall, 1882 Adanac at Victoria Drive.
- January 23 4 pm – 7:30 pm Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer at Princess.
Why do this? Well, it’s a busy corridor for people on bikes.
Here’s a proposed design idea that you can critique at an open house event.
A compelling video from 2014 (quoting 2014 budget prices) is narrated by Vancouver architect Peter Cardew about how the current Vancouver Art Gallery could be renewed and expanded. Peter Cardew was commissioned to look at the gallery spaces a decade earlier, and his take is very similar to that of the late architect Bing Thom’s-the current location of the art gallery is the centre of pedestrian traffic and importance in the downtown. Bing Thom Architects developed a “post-gallery” plan below the building’s North Plaza.
Like many Vancouverites, the late Bing Thom architect extraordinaire loved the current site of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Hornby which is the place to sit, to people watch and functions as the navel of the city. Bing proposed a remarkable redo of the old gallery once vacated to include a light-filled entrance to a 1,950 seat underground concert hall, a multi-use theatre and retail stores. Importantly he also proposed reopening the Georgia Street entrance of the building and focusing a new plaza on Georgia Street as the City’s primary public space and square.
Peter Cardew thought the Vancouver Art Gallery should stay on this site. In this article Peter Cardew thought “ as much as 176,000 square feet of additional space can be added to the historic courthouse building by creating additional underground spaces underneath the outdoor plaza facing West Georgia Street. It includes an underground “Grand Hall” measuring approximately 300 feet long and 70 feet high that incorporates a glass ceiling from the plaza to allow natural light to stream in. The vision also proposes to renovate the existing gallery spaces and repurpose UBC Robson Square into added space for the museum.”
At that time in 2014 dollars, Peter Cardew estimated that the cost of changes would be $100 million less than the proposed $300 million dollar Larwill Park site on Cambie Street across from the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. And there are precedents-both the Louvre in Paris and the Tate Modern in London expanded their facilities at existing galleries.
“I don’t know any gallery in the world that has such a prime site as the Vancouver Art Gallery does. If it were a vacant site that is where the Vancouver Art Gallery would be.” -Peter Cardew
An article in the New Zealand Herald notes how diminished the pedestrian is for road space in that country. Lynley Hood is a researcher in Dunedin who is losing her sight and has started a petition asking the government to reduce the number of pedestrians killed on New Zealand roads. In New Zealand pedestrians do not have priority over motor vehicles when crossing side roads and intersections.
Between 2006 and 2015 384 pedestrians were killed on New Zealand roads. Ninety cyclists were killed during the same time. Dr. Hood notes that the government “has more than $350 million invested in a Cycling Safety Action Plan. There is no pedestrian safety plan.” Thirty per cent of the pedestrians killed on the roads were 65 years and older. Ms. Hood notes that the 104 seniors in that 30 per cent of pedestrians were more than the total of cyclists killed, but that no special funding was available to ameliorate the cause of this carnage.
Ms. Hood had little interest in her work except from New Zealand’s chief coroner. Since the senior population in New Zealand will double in the next two decades that means the pedestrian death rate could also double.
“Older people need to walk for exercise, Dr Hood said, and they have to cross roads. They are more unstable, move more slowly and are likely to have sight and hearing problems.When crossing a road they have no protection, and they are generally poorer judges of speed and distance. What’s needed is some commitment by Government to pedestrian safety. There are a lot of young traffic designers who would leap at the chance of tackling the challenge if Government put some money into it. We’re not all petrolheads.”
In New Zealand anything that is not a motorized vehicle uses the sidewalk including scooters, skateboards, mobility scooters and Segways as well as walkers. There is no set standard for width, design, surface or grade. In a country with a population size similar to British Columbia’s it is time for motordom to accept the right of all users, and to give pedestrians the priority for safe access across roads.
Vancouverites could always tell if a vehicle was from out-of-town due to the salt and gritty exteriors of those cars in the winter. Well, that whole paradigm has changed with Vancouver having a winter wonderland twice in late December and with a repeat performance being scheduled handily for the weekend.
Motorists, cyclists and pedestrian commuters have all had their shares of thrills and spills, including the television station that always films cars unfortunate enough to try to go northbound on Oak Street between Broadway and 6th Avenues. Apparently BMWs fifteen years ago consisted of a lot of rear wheel drive vehicles. Apparently everyone that has a rear wheel drive forgets this fact until they get to this hill.
So why use salt on sidewalks and roads? While water normally freezes at 0 degrees centigrade, that threshold drops once you add salt, allowing everyone to move around a bit easier. With City Hall back to work after the annual holiday closure, the fire halls were pressed into service to provide-salt to eager Vancouver residents trying to make the sidewalks and roads in front of their residences a bit more walkable. And there were line ups around fire halls for salt, and even a pile of salt that was allegedly “stolen”-but I expect it has gone to good use on someone’s city sidewalk or roadway. “BYOB” in this case means “Bring Your Own (salt) Bucket”. Originally you were allowed to take two buckets of salt, but demand is now limiting Vancouverites to one free bucket per visit.
The City of Vancouver is now working with their 2017 year budget and quickly got to work deploying staff to remind residents that they have to clean off the walk in front of their properties. While all the Metro Vancouver municipalities require this action, when you need to do it by and what the consequences are if you don’t do it differ. CKNW has created a handy interactive map so you can view the regulations for your metro community.
Vancouver also has a “Snow Angel” program that matches those that can’t shovel out with someone who can. Enjoy the weather, watch your step, and remember Spring is a mere ten weeks away.
The statistics have just been released that there were 11 murders in the City of Vancouver in 2016. The 11 murders did not include the 11 pedestrians who died by being crashed into by vehicles on city streets. And some sobering statistics for Metro Vancouver-“the coroners’ research found that 40 per cent of pedestrians killed in Greater Vancouver were struck at intersections and in crosswalks. Of those killed in crosswalks, two-thirds were crossing while the light was green”.
Concerned citizens nationally note that somehow we view the death of walkers by cars as an inevitable side effect of motordom, an unavoidable collateral to the convenience of the car. Indeed one of the rationales for driverless vehicle technology is that less pedestrians will be maimed and die.
Torontonians call this carnage “road violence”, a term first used when the car started to take over public streets in the early part of the 20th century. Earlier in that century cars in Paris were even regulated to only go the speed of a walker, to ensure that pedestrians had a chance. Vancouver pedestrians are dying by vehicle crashes at twice the rate per capita of Toronto, where one person is injured every four hours, and over 44 pedestrians were killed in 2016. But in Vancouver there is not the outrage, not the insistence that we look clearly at the four items that can ameliorate this awful paradigm-visibility, driver behaviour, speed and road design. We don’t have a city councillor or mayor that is taking this task on, and many people deride the obvious statement that reflectivity is very important for pedestrians in our low light winters. Wearing reflective items markedly decreased pedestrian deaths in Scandinavia.
We need political will to change driver behaviour, speed,and road design in Vancouver. Visibility? Pedestrians can assist with this piece. Noted journalist Daphne Bramham has written in the Vancouver Sun that “At least half a dozen times since the rains have come, I’ve been startled by pedestrians — dressed all in black — darting across the street in the middle of the block or against a red light…Sure, it’s fashionable and comfortable to wear black. But it’s also bloody risky, especially on dark, rainy Vancouver nights.
“There is data showing that Vancouver (closely followed by Surrey) is the pedestrian death capital of Canada. During this past, bleak, rainy October, twice as many B.C. pedestrians died as were killed in the six previous years. Ten pedestrians died in five Lower Mainland communities, which brought the provincial death toll for 2016 to 47. Usually, January is usually the worst month. Data for 2010 to 2015 collected by the B.C. Coroners Service shows that, on average, 7.4 pedestrians die every January. In November, the average is 7.2, and in December, 6.3.” And in Tsawwassen, one of those lower mainland communities, two seniors were mowed down and killed on 56th Street in two separate incidents. They were in a marked crosswalked intersection killed by cars making left turns.And in the Lower Mainland a disproportionate number of those killed by vehicle crashes are seniors.
Daphne also noted that “A good and caring friend gave me some reflective bands to wear. Yet even though I knew I was safer, I felt foolish wearing them”. That is the work that the Walk and Be Seen Project at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House is undertaking with seniors to change how pedestrians feel about using reflective items in our rainy winters.
Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) makes a universal reflective sash that can be used by anyone, and there are textiles, sprays and even reflective wool that can be knitted. We need to insist that winter clothes have reflectivity and are not all black as is the current style. Until we can change the paradigm with the car, being visible at night is one thing that pedestrians can do, as well as contacting their Metro Vancouver Mayors and City Councillors and demanding that pedestrian safety be made a priority. It is a matter of life or death.
And no, we are not talking about any current holiday trend, but the group of Asian ladies of a certain age who have divvied up the “turf” of single-family housing areas in Vancouver. They collect bottles and redeemable containers from blue box recycling containers on recycle collection days. Some are pleasant, and respectful, and know all the neighbours. Others are more demanding, going onto properties and in garages to retrieve their booty. One local bottle lady tucks her treasures in a late-model car. But what is the life of these women, how do they divide their territories and how does it all work?
Marcus Gee of the Globe and Mail also wondered how these ladies operate in Toronto, and armed with a translator approached them. Marcus notes: “Big, complex cities such as Toronto contain worlds within worlds, many of them unknown to each other. The world of the bottle ladies is one of the city’s most obscure. Social agencies that track downtown poverty and work with the Chinese community admit they don’t know much about who they are or what drives them, although they think some may have dementia or hoarding issues.”
“Despite their old clothes and their willingness to trudge the streets for a few dollars, most are not homeless or desperately poor. Many have families. Quite a few have a government pension or other income. Many live with a son or daughter and spend the daytime caring for grandchildren. They insist they never take money from anyone. The last thing they want is charity or pity.”
“They go out collecting, they say, to bring in a little spending money and to keep active in their later years. That’s not unusual in China, where garbage picking has been refined into an art. Even in prosperous Hong Kong, wizened, bent women can be seen pushing carts piled high with scrap cardboard down busy city streets. Many bottle ladies, it turns out, come from neighbouring parts of southern China, especially Taishan, in the Pearl River Delta.”
Marcus also found that one bottle lady actually leaves gifts and tokens for customers who left bottles out for her, and collected to stay active. “The phrase she used to describe herself is “ngaii duk,” a Cantonese term to describe someone who can endure hardship with fortitude.”
An article in the South China Post published in 2014 found that nearly 70 per cent of vulnerable Hong Kong seniors collected recycling to pay for basic housing and food costs. It is also a part of Vancouver life dominated by one cohort of ladies who have wholeheartedly embraced the bottle collecting task. The Globe and Mail article gives a glimpse into the reasons why.
Metro Vancouver has had a few “snow events” recently which have thwarted active transportation and transit users. It is very true that these events have been less frequent in recent years. It is also true that people are also walking and cycling more in all kinds of weather. Global News reported that icy walkways along the False Creek Seawall were still not salted by the 27th and were causing pedestrian slipping and sliding. If you were wondering, commercial businesses and home owners are responsible for shovelling out their respective sidewalks. But public walkways and the sidewalk noted below? It’s the municipalities’ responsibility.
In Delta, 52nd Street which is the street that is not only a walking loop but also directly connects the Tsawwassen Mills mega mall with the rest of Tsawwassen has one sidewalk going down a very steep slope. While the road was salted and sanded, pedestrians were left to grapple for themselves down the icy sidewalk surface last weekend. This is the street that the Mayor of Delta wants a pedestrian overpass over Highway 17 -if the pedestrians can make it down the frozen incline with no salting by the Corporation.
In Metro Vancouver where we are supportive of all season active transportation and so hoping that those not driving with snow tires will keep their vehicles off the winter road, we should be ensuring that the walking and cycling paths are salted and safe for citizens. It’s quite simply the right thing to do. Sure citizens should shovel out the sidewalks in front of their houses as a courtesy-but municipal salting of heavily used sidewalks and icy public walkways is necessary for safety and comfort too.