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?”
“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]
The pendulum swings, as we engage in fractious debate about how we change Vancouver’s Arbutus Corridor from an unused 9-km railroad into a multi-use treasure for future generations. So far, the “we love gravel, let’s not change much of anything” crowd has won the day.
Mark Battersby, a Kitsilano resident who protested the paving, said his group was mainly against the project because it was proceeding without consultation. He is concerned that plants like blackberry bushes were being cut back and the berries made inaccessible, and that cyclists would go too fast on the paved path. [Thanks to Metronews.ca for the quote]
But now come other voices, that start to represent more of the citizens of Vancouver. And it gives a glimpse of the difficulty faced by City staff and elected officials when planning things. There are plenty of competing interests, and none of them has a veto.
Since the City fought for decades, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, to make sure we got a 42-acre transportation corridor for all its citizens, how do we do this? Does it make sense to simply rip out the rails and then leave things as they are, or should we find a way to let all potential users of this transportation corridor have a chance to see what it is, and envision how they’d like it to be?
Here’s a compelling voice: SG Peters’ blog, in an open letter to Council called “The Public Part of Public Space”. The author writes from the point of view of accessibility, with wit and precision. How, wonders the author, can the broad public assess the Arbutus Corridor’s potential unless everyone can actually use it. How can the design incorporate ideas and issues involved in getting to it, onto it and riding it for someone excluded due to accessibility challenges? You could say the same about many other points of view, for that matter.
I am going to assume Mr. Battersby did not mean to suggest otherwise but, just to be certain we are all clear – my rights as a human being should supersede those of a berry bush. . . .
. . . But this isn’t really a plant problem; it is a people problem, presented under the guise of being a nature problem.
It comes down to how you imagine public space, which in turn comes down to who you include in the word public.
If you do not see me as having the same right to access public space as anyone else then you can come up with any number of reasonable-sounding excuses for excluding me. If you believe I have the same rights as you do, then you may get creative about how to improve a space but you will not suggest sacrificing accessibility to do so. . . .
. . . And while I think railway lines can be quite beautiful, I don’t think they qualify as a nature preserve, particularly when running through the centre of one of Canada’s largest cities . . .
. . . Sentimentality aside, we are talking about making an area already developed by humans of a previous era more useful and accessible to people in this era.
Of course aesthetics and berry bushes are important concerns, the question is where they sit in the hierarchy of considerations.
The same can be said for many potential corridor users from the broad public. Those who walk, run or ride; those who move quickly, those who don’t; those who want to sit and enjoy the views and the passing parade; those who want rails, those who don’t; those who have places to be and errands to run; and yes, those who want to pick berries or garden.
And I’m sure I’ve missed some group or another — but let’s not presume a veto-toting hierarchy based on organized yelling and exclusionary thinking. Let’s let everyone try out the Corridor, and then let’s design something wonderful for future generations through many decades to come.
Since the story on the cube house on Point Grey Road generated so much interest, let’s go for another architectural and open-space controversy.
Michael Geller starts it off in his Courier column:
The third important event that happened last week has nothing to do with housing. It has to do with how we plan our downtown.
The story started with a call from CBC’s Early Edition inviting me to comment on a proposal to replace a glass rotunda and plaza with a new commercial development. …
The researcher wanted to talk about the plaza and rotunda at Howe and Georgia streets, part of Cadillac Fairview’s Pacific Centre, for which a proposal was going to the city’s Urban Design Panel (UDP) later in the week. …
I subsequently attended the UDP meeting where I was shocked to see plans and a model for a three-storey retail complex on the plaza. However, I was told the proposal was in accordance with a 2006 rezoning.
When I subsequently asked why a proposal for such a prominent site was proceeding without any community input, I was told by an official city spokesperson that this was standard procedure for a development permit application in accordance with zoning, and staff would be seeking public feedback through the neighbourhood notification process.
Surprised by this response I decided to review the 2006 rezoning decision myself.
While it confirmed council had approved a deal to allow the plaza to be redeveloped in return for a developer contribution towards the cost of the nearby SkyTrain station, council also decided “in the preparation of a development application, the public should be consulted about proposed land use and design concepts, through workshops and open houses.”
Compared to most world cities, Vancouver has few public open spaces and plazas, and sadly we seem to be losing many of the spaces we do have.
Before we lose another plaza at Howe and Georgia, I urge the mayor, council and the city’s planning department to instigate a proper public consultation process to find a better solution to retain all, or at least a portion of this important downtown open space.
Ray Spaxman weighs in:
This is so awful!
It is bad architecture at this location, bad urban design for this location, bad loss of public usable space, bad scale in that location, terrible corner and frontage to Howe Street. It looks as if it was relocated from Robson Street (where it might fit well).
Perhaps some people want Georgia Street to look like Robson Street – crass commercialism overwhelming public good and opportunity. The design rationale in the application seems unaware that there is something called Urban Design. We seem to have lost the ability to visualise the potential design and functional richness of a whole street.
And where is the city’s Downtown public open space plan?
Say hello to “crossbikes” — Portland’s latest bikeway innovation for bikes.
If you see one, don’t fret. Treat them exactly like they sound: sort of like crosswalks, but for bikes. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is set to officially announce the new treatment tomorrow with an educational push (see new sign below) similar to the one they did around bike boxes in 2008.
Roger Geller, PBOT’s chief bicycle planner, said it’s just the latest effort the bureau has undertaken to make crossings safer on what are designed to be low-stress, family-friendly streets where people on bikes and foot are prioritized.
Geller said it’s an idea he’s be working on for several years (we posted a Q & A with him about crossbikes back in 2011) and it came from how he observed people using curb extensions — where curbs are bulbed out in order to narrow the crossing distance. …
“We we wanted to indicate that these intersections aren’t just pedestrian crossings, these are also bike crossings,” Geller added. “The green bike bars indicate this is an extension of the bikeway thru the intersection.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced the “Rail Deck Park”, 21 acres of downtown public space to be built above existing rail yards. This in an area of expanding population with little public space. “I believe that creating a new downtown park is the best thing that we can do for future generations,” he said. “Not just any park, a big park, a bold park.”
Thanks to UrbanToronto.ca: By decking over the existing Union Station Rail Corridor, the tracks below could remain operational while the space above would be reclaimed for public use. For the CityPlace, King Spadina, and Fort York neighbourhoods that straddle either side of the rail corridor, the park would provide both a vital communal space and a link to others part of Downtown. For the geographically sequestered CityPlace in particular, an improved connection with the more established urban environments to the north could be a significant boon.
Thanks to Brent Toderian and James Bligh for the links.
Let’s jump right in:
When finished, it will be nine kilometres of wide, smooth-surfaced path flanked by gravel and trees, blessed with perfect sight lines and ideal for swift riding. But it’s far from everyone’s idea of what a green space should look like — even a temporary one. It’s also well out of step with current trends in landscape architecture, experts say. Though there are competing philosophies over parkland, wilder environments — rather than manicured spaces — are in vogue.
Mark Battersby lives a few blocks from the greenway, which the city bought from the Canadian Pacific Railway a few months ago. When the city began to pour asphalt where the railway tracks once lay, the image that came to Battersby’s mind was of “a bike freeway.”
“We had in mind something that would be much more attractive to walkers and children,” he said.
Battersby, displeased with what he saw, produced a simple video slide show using before and after photos of the greenway:
Maureen Ryan, who also lives near the greenway, shares their concern. Ryan does want to see cyclists in the corridor, but on a crushed-stone surface rather than a paved path, to limit cycling speeds.
“We had a beautiful, beautiful green space,” said Ryan, who is a member of a coalition calling itself the Concerned Residents and Corridor User Group. “What we would like is a surface for bikes and wheelchairs that is, in fact, green.”
It’s definitely the shock of the new:
And it’s another no-win for the City, no matter what they do or don’t.
Do something too quick, and there’s usual criticism of fait accompli. (So ironic, since the default criticism of government is usually its lassitude.) Propose an extensive consultation process, and the criticism is that City Hall is disingenuous.
Do nothing, and there would be complaints about its inaccessibility for the disabled (and look what they achieved with TransLink’s faregates). Do the absolute minimum and the criticism would be the failure to meet minimum standards. Do something too expensive, and the criticism would be spending too much on something explicitly meant to be temporary.
The easiest criticism is the lack of consultation. For those who believe ‘consultation’ means only process, not outcome, it’s an effective delaying mechanism to retain the status quo. For those who want change, consultation can be used to reject every alternative than the one they want. The perfect is the enemy of the merely good.
If Kits Point is the precedent, then once again, long-time residents of a certain age will be fighting to keep things pretty much the same. Only this time, the City was clear that Arbutus is a transportation corridor, and any design has to be for All Ages and Abilities. For the moment, that’s what we’re getting.
Quiz: can you identify the world cities from their running heatmaps?
I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I recognize number 1. (Incidentally, as a planning device, I think heat maps like this are used far too little … They show the desire lines for an entire city, and are a great source of data on how people want to use their city)
They’re not all that easy:
Glasgow, Gdansk or Gothenburg:
Ljubljana, Lanzhou or Liverpool:
Take the test here.
One of the initiatives I’m most pleased with during my time on City Council was a request for a study in 1996 to examine the possibility of higher buildings on those sites not crossed by view corridors. My concern was that with a standard height limit within zoning districts, the city would bench out – a flattened skyline of glass towers. Why not, I argued, a skyline that reflected the mountains, a skyline of peaks and valleys?
Eventually Council approved the possibility for towers to exceed the downtown height limits on seven locations in the CBD. (It’s been amended a few times since then, as reported here.)
A decade or so later and we can see the results:
The Lancet (an independent medical journal) has produced a series (“Physical Activity 2016“) to update their 2012 findings. It seems the authors of this series care a lot. And yes, urban planning has a big role to play.
In 2012, The Lancet published its first Series on physical activity, which concluded that physical inactivity is as important a modifiable risk factor for chronic diseases as obesity and tobacco. Four years later, the second Series presents an update of the field, including progress in epidemiological research, global surveillance, intervention strategies, and policy actions. The papers will also feature the largest harmonised meta-analysis on the joint health effects of sedentary behaviour and physical activity, and the first global estimate of the economic burden of physical inactivity.
The Series encourages policy makers to take physical activity more seriously and to provide sufficient capacity and funding to implement national policies. Without a rapid increase in action, the WHO target of a 10% reduction in physical inactivity by 2025 will not be reached. We must continue to strive towards the longer term goal: the integration of physical activity into our daily lives.
The Series contains around 13 articles, perspectives and related content. Those I read required free registration but not payment.
Background: Since the publication of the ﬁrst Lancet Series on physical activity in 2012—which recognised physical inactivity as a global pandemic and urged all sectors of governments and societies to take immediate action— the demand for eﬀective strategies to increase population physical activity levels has grown. A substantial body of evidence resulting from decades of research in the ﬁelds of exercise physiology, public health, epidemiology, and the behavioural sciences has shown that physical activity has broad economic and health beneﬁts and that under scientiﬁcally controlled circumstances, behaviour change is achievable for increasing physical activity in diverse groups. . . .
. . . Urban planning and transportation policies should prioritise actions that promote safe, equitable, and environmentally friendly active mobility and leisure options for all citizens
Caution: this is rigorous scientific material, for the most part. Those with a low tolerance for depth and complexity, or for opinions contrary to their own, need not dig into any of it.
An open letter regarding the use of design-guidelines, and the proposed down-zoning of RT lots in the Grandview Woodlands Plan
To Mayor and Council,
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our concern about the proposed downzoning of RT ‘outright’ density that is included in the Grandview Woodlands plan. Our concern is both for this specific plan, and for the problematic thinking underlying it that has implications across the city.
As architects, designers, and planners who are involved in RT duplex-zoned housing projects across the city, we understand that the policy shift is aimed at reducing the rate of character-home demolitions, but we feel that this proposed approach (reducing FSR from 0.6 to 0.5) is taking the city in the wrong direction; it fails to address some of the underlying problems, may have unintended consequences, and it overvalues character retention in the face of other priorities like affordability and carbon-footprint reductions.
Our understanding of the problem is that many home-owners are choosing the ‘outright’ path with full demolition not because the FSR is too high (0.6) but because the conditional path (including the path which allows for an infill dwelling) is entirely too onerous, exclusionary, slow, and extremely frustrating to deal with.
We believe that the level of design micro-management required by the conditional RT development process is reflective of Vancouver-in-the-1990s (when much of the policy was developed) but it is now badly out of date. By contrast, the RS-1 (single family) zone has been updated multiple times to include basement suites, lane houses, one storey lane houses, and now passive houses – and there are many lessons from RS that should be brought to the RT neighbourhoods.
The context + character approach has had its successes in years past, but many of us in the industry now believe that the ‘low hanging fruit’ – the exemplary character buildings – have, at this point, largely been retained and upgraded and what we are doing now is a superficial exercise in re-constituting low quality examples of pre 1940s homes. At the same time it is taking 2x to 3x as long to navigate the permitting process when compared to RS, and for all of that effort there is generally less housing being provided. The burden of the current RT process, is – we believe – contributing to the stagnating population numbers in the GW plan area and creating an undue burden for home-owners with RT properties. The city’s policy favours a static approach to ‘character’ that unfortunately comes at the expense of abundant, affordable and energy efficient housing.
Given the intense housing constraints facing us, we believe our approach to ‘heritage’ and ‘character’ needs to be revisited. We believe that ‘heritage’ is a living concept that includes both tangible and intangible elements, and that the purely aesthetic approach to heritage retention ignores many of the key elements of living ‘heritage’ that are often more important than a specific architectural style or time period.
To those ends, we reject the idea of lowering the outright density allowed in RT, and instead would propose a process to review and update the city’s conditional zoning requirements. Possible updates to the RT zones might include:
- allow outright 1&2 family homes and multiple conversions to be created without the need for a development permit or conditional guidelines
- allow an outright density similar to RS zones (0.86)
- allow either strata infill dwellings or non-strata laneway houses on all RT lots
We support the ongoing maintenance of a robust heritage registry, and we support the inclusion of exemplary blocks or small districts. We would hope to see “carrots” offered for rehabilitating quality character homes in the form of cost and density bonuses instead of the “stick” of downzoning that is being proposed.
Many of us are involved in character home rehabilitation, and we would like to see ongoing support for those types of projects, but not in the form of penalties or checklists.
As the city struggles with both the affordability and climate crises, we need to adapt to the times. Our collective heritage is rich and diverse and deserves an updated approach to planning.
- Allison Holden-Pope – Principal, One Seed Architecture
- Bruce Carscadden – Principal, Carscadden Architects
- Bryn Davidson – Principal, Lanefab Design/Build
- D’arcy Jones – Principal, D’arcy Jones Architecture
- Geoff Baker – Co-founder, Westcoast Outbuildings
- Irena Hoti – Designer, Irena Hoti Designs
- Khang Nguyen – Principal, Architrix
- Mac Hartfiel – Principal, Bower Design Co.
- Marianne Amodio – Principal, Marianne Amodio Architecture Studio
- Matthew Halverson – Associate, Urban Arts Architecture
- Neal Lamontagne – Urban Planner
- Shaun Smakal – Landscape Architect
- Shirley Shen – Co-founder, Haeccity Studio Architecture
- Siobhan Murphy – Urban Planner & G.W. Resident
This letter was curated by the Dynamic Cities Project.
It’s been a decades-old commitment to add density along the major arterials of the city. (Residents of low-density and single-family neighbourhoods tend to support the initiative because it keeps higher density along the edges and provides a buffer from the busier routes – though most people would prefer to live on the quieter inside streets. See the West End and Kerrisdale on either side of 41st.)
Still, as examples emerge, the results are looking good. For example, along 41st across from Oakridge:
Even better, the row housing lining up along Oak:
On Smithe, looking roughly south, just east of Homer. This tree-lined passageway gets you on the way to Yaletown Park at Nelson and Mainland.
An important step for what is really one of Vancouver’s heritage neighbourhoods: South False Creek (between Granville Island and the Cambie Bridge) – a master-planned community by the City, incorporating many of the radical ideas in urban design and social policy originating in the early 1970s, and largely achieved.
From the neighbourhood newsletter via ‘Items from Ian.’
*RePlan Wins Unanimous Support from Vancouver City Council
False Creek South (FCS) residents achieved a notable success on July 13th. At *RePlan’s first public meeting with Vancouver City Council, Councillors voted unanimously on a five-point motion proposed by Councillor Reimer, which we believe will lay the foundation for lease renewal, with affordable options to enable all leasehold residents to stay in the community if they choose.
*RePlan sponsors course on Community Land Trusts (CLTs) on September 9 and a free lecture on September 8
To find out whether CLTs are the vehicle to retain much needed affordable housing and finance future sustainable and locally guided development on publicly-owned land, such as False Creek South, *RePlan organizes a public lecture on September 8 and a full-day professional development course on September 9, 2016.
One of the newest public spaces in the city:
It’s only a few meters wide: the brown paving in the pic above.
Space for a bench, a foodcart and, most importantly, a line-up of people. Before, they blocked the sidewalk, even spilled onto the bicycle path. Absurdly congested.
By taking a lane from the road to make this space, everyone comfortably moves through or stands around – relaxing, without wondering what they might run into.
With room to breathe, wonderful things happen:
A small piece of public space, critically located – what a difference a small intervention can make. Here’s the ‘before’ shot by Rick Jelfs:
Up for discussion: extending the flag triangle where Beach, Denman and Pacific meet, across the avenue to the Seaside greenway and the beachfront.
Inside this story is a larger one. And right on time, as the Commercial Drive bike lane debate plods on, with no resolution in sight.
Kevin Griffin writes in Postmedia’s Vancouver Sun about new businesses springing up in response to the success of Vancouver’s existing bike lanes. This is all good.
First, in respect of existing businesses, Mr. Griffin updates those few who may have missed it on the bike-lane turnaround at the DVBIA, which represents 8,000 businesses of immense variety. He quotes Charles Gauthier:
Some businesses expressed a lot of concerns primarily that they thought their customers primarily arrived by parking and driving in front of their store,” he says.. . . But a 2011 Vancouver Separated Bike Lane Impact Study included surveys that talked to customers and businesses affected by the Dunsmuir and Hornby bike routes. It found a big difference between perception and reality: 20 per cent of customers arrived by car compared to 42 per cent by transit, 32 per cent on foot and about eight per cent by bike.
“What we have seen in the intervening years along Hornby Street is that things have settled down considerably,” says Gauthier. “We’re hearing less and less about it as a point of concern.
Mr. Griffin goes on to highlight several new businesses that are bike-lane-related. But there is something else hidden in the stories, which is the City’s reputation, and the reaction of visitors to Vancouver, amid these new opportunities:
We get a lot of families, parents going out with kids, and people who have heard that Vancouver is bike friendly,” he says.
“If we didn’t have this reputation and the infrastructure that you can obviously see, you wouldn’t do that. . . .
“. . . We see the smile on people’s faces when they come back,” he says. “They’ve experienced the city in a new way. They tell us ‘I wish our city could be like this.’
Says ModaCity’s Chris Bruntlett, about the move into bike-related filmmaking:
We’re telling Vancouver’s story and what’s coming out of this huge shift that’s got 10 per cent of trips to work on bicycle,” he says. “The eyes of North America are really on our city in terms of promoting and enabling cycling.
Here’s Bomber Brewing’s Blair Calibaba on their business success, located at the intersection of the Adanac and Mosaic bikeways. Don’t forget that Cycle City offers a “Craft Beer Tour”, encouraging travel (by bike) to parts of town off the typical Stanley Park – Gastown circuit:
Part of the draw for us was the location and being on such a busy avenue for cycling,” he says. “We knew we would get traffic and consistent customers. The city’s bike culture is growing incredibly in this city, thanks to the infrastructure and more cycling routes.
My take is that the bike lanes we have work fine for existing businesses, and are spawning new locally-focused and visitor-focused ones. Such opportunities will multiply as Vancouver’s AAA-network (*) spreads, and more and more destinations can be reached by people of all ages and abilities (AAA) on bikes.
I hope to see, some day in the future, more locals and tourists setting out (as they do now for other areas) for the Drive, — which is a wonderful area to explore and spend some bucks. And they will increasingly want to do it by bike. And it is the AAA bike lanes, and the network of them, which will get more people travelling to the Drive.
(*) All Ages and Abilities bike network defined.
Pride activities begin with the opening at a significant new public space in the heart of the Davie Village:
Indeed, Jim Deva Plaza will create a heart for the Davie Village by permanently closing half the south block of Bute Street, providing a flexible multi-use space:
The crosswalks on Davie have also been refreshed (hey, a square rainbow!):
But as Thomas Donovan notes in Facebook, this wasn’t the first time or place for the rainbow:
The concept of municipal governments painting rainbow colours on city property to show political support for the GLBTQ Community, was first demonstrated by Vancouver the day before Canada legalized same-sex marriage in July 2005!
Regardless of how the federal government decision turned out, the City wanted the world to know that Vancouver completely supported the GLBTQ community, and displayed that support with it’s rainbow coloured stairway at city hall.
I am so proud to have been the Pride Event Producer who came up with the concept of painting the steps. I pulled together a team of community volunteers and we painted the giant staircase leading up to city hall the very afternoon before Vancouver’s annual Pride Launch event, which by no coincidence was the day Canada legalized same sex marriage.
City of Vancouver is moving ahead to engage citizens on changes to the 55-hectare (136-acre) site, owned around 80% by CoV. Currently, density is higher than average in this spectacularly desirable location, now home to around 5,800 people in a mix of condos, co-ops and non-market rentals.
Since around 60% of homes there are on leased City land, CoV is starting early to plan for lease expirations, which occur mostly in around 20 – 30 years.
Let’s Move! Creating Active Cities through Design
The link between movement and health is clear, but how can designers encourage movement? What are the health benefits being more active during our day? What can municipalities do to reduce sedentary lifestyles?
Light House Sustainable Building Centre cordially invites you to our second Inspiration Session of 2016. Let’s Move! Creating Active Cities through Design continues the 2016 theme of health and well-being in the built environment.
11 am -2 pm
Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre
- Healthy Places, Healthy People – Meghan Winters, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU
- Moving Bodies and Minds through Active Design – Kimberly Baba, Interior Designer, Perkins + Will
- Better Buildings: Implementing Active Design through Creative Regulations – Michael Epp, City Planner, Community Development, City of North Vancouver
I like following changes in opinion and shifts in the conversation. Here’s a sign of such a shift in the conversation underway in Toronto, and we can hear major echoes of it here in Vancouver. Clearly, our battle goes on, with rancor galore from those who oppose the changes in how City land is used for transportation by what mode.
Oliver Moore writes on Urban Transportation for the Globe and Mail.
About one quarter of Toronto’s land area is streets and sidewalks, and how the city uses that enormous resource will help determine how it develops in the decades to come.
At a time when cities are recognizing that mobility is no longer primarily about cars, Toronto is preparing to select a new leader for the transportation department. It’s one of the most important roles in the bureaucracy, with the ability to shape the city, and the choice will send a message about the future Toronto wants to build. . . .
. . . In an earlier time, roads were for moving cars and the main job of city bureaucrats was to make sure motorists weren’t slowed down. But cities are changing. Mobility is changing. Toronto has made initial steps in this direction, with the introduction of some protected bicycle lanes and dedicated transit corridors. And the prospect of bigger change looms, from the emergence of driverless cars to carving out space for pedestrians on Yonge Street.
In Vancouver, I understand that some 32% of its land is devoted to transportation, so changing priorities affects a lot of land. And new priorities need to be a prominent part of the conversation.