Ohrn Image — Public Art

This is “Bird Wrap“, and an ambiguous, mythical, but menacing figure crouches in a bird-like hoodie. It is located at Vancouver’s gorgeous Pacific Central Station, where Via Rail, Amtrak and Greyhound move people to and from the city.

If you haven’t done it, take some time to wander the station’s concourse, and see what the glory days of the railroad business looked like in Canada.



“Bird Wrap:  Ivan Eyre.  Vancouver Biennale



Twinning Thoughts — Arbutus Greenway


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]

Mobi Miscellanea


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A few items from the land of Vancouver bike-share.

Jens von Bergmann finds tweets-of-gold in the fast-growing thickets of Mobi data:  e.g. each bike gets around 3 rides per day so far. This is pretty good for a smallish system, as Mobi is currently, as the installation rolls out.


Ontario and Seawall station:   most popular (for a few days at least)

And as Mobi increases its utilization and physical reach, it also moves forward on the marketing front.  Kiosks and hair nets and new rates for the occasional (casual) rider: see more detail on rates HERE.  New daily pass and three types of monthly pass.


This related information comes from New York City via a large report on mobility in general. CITI Bike there has around 8000 bikes (soon growing to 10,000), and for some types of trips is cheaper and faster than a cab.


City Surfing In Vancouver


REVIVER Sport+Entertainment is proposing CitySurf — a pay-to-play wave pool, beach and surfing site for the east end of False Creek. There are no financials available, but my wild-ass guess is that they’d like to have a whole bunch of Vancouver park and waterfront land for free as part of the deal.

“Vancouver is an ocean city with an active outdoor water-oriented lifestyle, but due to geography it lacks open ocean surf. CitySurf changes all that,” said architect and REVIVER CEO Philip Davis in a statement. . . .

.  .  .  CitySurf , provides Vancouverites with social amenities and programmed park space, all while actively addressing the significant pollution problem in False Creek through an innovative water filtration system within a floating wavepool.



Founders Colin Weston and Philip Davis



Ohrn Image – Public Art With Mobi



Located on Cambie between 8th and 7th, in front of Home Depot (one of six panels shown).

Odd, and delightful, how very quickly Mobi is becoming just another part of the CityScape. This Mobi’s rider used the built-in cable lock to secure the bike while (probably) shopping at next-door Save-On Foods.



“walking the line”, 2007, Doug Senft

To quote the attribution plaque“Imagery for this work was derived from the topography of the coastline of British Columbia.  GPS mapping software was used to acquire the original topographical information, which was refined through additional hand and computer drawing.  The steel was subsequently cut using computer guided high definition plasma cutting technology and then fabricated by hand.”

Commissioned by Grosvenor Canada Ltd.   (Six sculptural grates for fresh air intake vents for underground parking)


Another Voice On Arbutus Greenway


Based on the concerns expressed to City of Vancouver on the type of temporary surface for the Arbutus Greenway’s pre-consultation period,  Naoibh O’Connor writes in the Vancouver Courier.

She quotes HUB spokesperson Jeff Leigh (and regular Price Tags commenter) He weighs in on HUB’s broad and forward-looking view of the Greenway, and the issues of consultation and vision.


Photo:  thanks to Dan Toulgoet

“Our goal is to get more people cycling, more often, and whatever accomplishes that is the way we’re going,” he said. “We’re not wedded to pavement or gravel. We’re promoting cycling as a transportation alternative. If our membership comes back and says, ‘We’re just as happy to ride on a gravel path,’ that’s fine. That hasn’t been our experience so far, but we really have to talk to our members and see.”

HUB has discussed ideas for its general vision for the final design of the greenway. The vision talks about the route being a social experience, that it be sufficiently wide for people to ride side-by-side, that it has room for all users and that it respects heritage and different neighbourhoods.

“But it’s at a very, very high visioning level. I think we really need to get to a consultation,” he said. “We look forward to that consultation. These are very early ideas about what it could be. But we see it as an active transportation corridor that we need to have all user groups have a say in.”

Eye-opening footnote:  Writer O’Connor on the relevant volumes of concerns expressed to City of Vancouver on the type of temporary surface for the Arbutus Greenway’s pre-consultation period:

Between Aug. 5 and 11, 53 people weighed in by correspondence to the city — 28 expressed support for paving, 15 were against it, four were neutral or offered a suggestion, while six asked a general question.

 [Note to self:  never underestimate the power of a letter to council and City staff].


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