Pedestrian Only Zone!

November 27, 2012

HUSH online magazine has published a piece that argues for sidewalk cycling and segregated bike lanes in Vancouver. It has been picked up on Twitter by the usual pro-bike suspects.  It handles the arguments for segregated bike lanes very well and makes a fine case.  A case I absolutely support.  We should definitely move to build segregated bike lanes across much of the city.

My problem with the article is the encouragement and demand that, in the meanwhile, cyclists should have the right to ride on sidewalks.  Yes, riding on the sidewalk is safer for the cyclist than on an ordinary road.  And, yes, having cyclists riding on the sidewalk is significantly more dangerous for pedestrians, especially seniors.

What would the cyclists say if a group of walkers strolled slowly down a segregated bike lane?  There would be hell to pay.  But it is OK for you to trample us down in our own segregated pedestrian lane?  Why do you think it is more important to protect the lives of cyclists than to protect the lives of pedestrians?

You cannot buy your safety with our bodies!


To Victoria Without A Car

October 24, 2012

We took a day trip to Victoria yesterday to collect some material from the BC Provincial Archives.  It was great fun and we enjoyed the entire journey which we did by bus.

It is hard to believe that we would ever want to take a car from the Lower Mainland to the Island.  The coach is comfortable, there are no driving anxieties (you can even take a nap), and the coach gets off the ferry first every time.  We walked around Victoria when we arrived, but we could just as well have used local transit or taxis or even rented a local car for our time there.

Definitely no need for us to bring a car from Vancouver — ever.


Bring Back The Streetcars?

October 9, 2012

Mike Klassen has re-opened the debate about streetcar use with a detailed and provactive post at VanCity Buzz.

He opens by describing the chaos that is the present Broadway transit corridor and extrapolating how much worse it will be once the Millenium Line connects to Broadway and Commercial.  The Broadway corridor is already the busiest bus communter route in North America and an estimated additional 70,000 riders a day simply won’t work with the present B-line plus system.

A Broadway Commercial-to-UBC rapid transit line seems the obvious infrastructure improvement.  But that isn’t going to happen.  I agree with Gordon Price that we will never see this in his or my lifetime, no matter how important it is.  The cost and the NIMBY obstacles in its way are simply too great.   But, obviously, we cannot just let the transit traffic on the Broadway corridor grind inexorably to a halt.  This is where Klassen re-introduces the idea of a streetcar.

“Integrated with the existing bus and rapid transit systems, a streetcar line could link the VCC-Clark Skytrain station (Millennium Line terminus) with a new rapid bus connection located at Arbutus and Broadway. A railway right-of-way exists for much that entire route. The section by southeast False Creek is currently under redevelopment and promises to bring thousands of new commuters. While it cannot match the ridership nor the speed of Skytrain, it could take many UBC-bound commuters off the overburdened 99 B-line west of Commercial.”

Bob Ransford adds the following:

“The Olympic Line streetcar project can be built for one quarter the cost of any SkyTrain extension. The city owns most of the right-of-way that would allow a streetcar to run between the Clark Drive SkyTrain station, the Canada Line Olympic Village station and Granville Island. It wouldn’t be that difficult to secure a right-of-way all the way to Arbutus Street. This routing would tie together all the SkyTrain lines and service the densest part of the Broadway corridor. A rapid bus line from Arbutus could adequately continue to service UBC.”

Yes, I’m none too happy about supporting an NPA position from the last election.  But it is dumb to drop a good idea just because one doesn’t care for the politics of the proponents.  And, yes, I do think this is a good idea.  The strteetcars are a vital part of Vancouver’s urban history, and the economics and the need seem to work for their return today.


Cyclists Doing Themselves No Favours

August 29, 2012

I fully support the development of bike paths in Vancouver, and I am keen to encourage the increase of cycling over car riding.  But cyclists do themselves no favours when they put pedestrians like me in danger by cycling on the sidewalk.  I must have had to avoid half a dozen cyclists today, riding in places that are supposed to be safe for me and other walkers.

Why the hell should I, elderly folks with their groceries, and mothers with young children have to take avoiding action just to protect ourselves from these two-wheeled maniacs?

Cyclists should start minding their own kind, bringing social pressure on those that won’t follow reasonable community standards.  If they don’t, sooner or later, supporters like me will become ever more reluctant to help.


Narrow Streets, More Housing

July 31, 2012

Vancouver City’s ReTHINK Housing competition has thrown up at least one winner that I can fully support — the idea of reducing roadways from 66′ wide to 33′ and using the new found land to build affordable housing.   The housing would be affordable because the city already owns the roadway and so the cost of land in this proposal is essentially zero.

The proponents suggest three different types of housing usage for the recovered strips. They estimate that the City could gain 10,000 ground level housing units and a $2 billion fund from just 50% of the possible space using the least dense type “without demolishing a single unit of existing housing, or undertaking a single rezoning.”

I would suggest that along some of these recovered areas we could also place new transit services of various types, while leaving the remaining roadway for walking, cycling and, I suppose, cars.

Here in Grandview we are used to 33′ lots (even many that are just 25′) and there seems to be no difficulty in creating a very livable community under such conditions.  This is a creative idea that conjoins the idea of affordable housing with a less-cars-is-better sensibility, and I am glad to hear via Twitter that it is an idea that is being considered seriously at City Hall.


The Grandview Transportation Forum

July 18, 2012

The weather last night was beautiful, and it was a sheer pleasure to get out of the house and walk down Victoria to the Maritime Labour Auditorium where I joined forty to fifty others at the Grandview Workshop for the City’s Transportation 2040 Plan.

Given that this was supposed to be primarily a chance for residents to discuss and put forward idea, it was a shame that the first 70 minutes of the two hour session were taken up with presentations by Paul Kruger of the Transportation team and Andrew Pask who is spearheading the Grandview Community Plan, followed by unstructured Q & A. Both of these gentleman are proficient and articulate presenters; but most of us there would have already seen these slides on more than one occasion.  Andrew’s presentation did at least have the value of giving us the results of the online survey they’ve been running for the last month or two. It appears that generally speaking residents of Grandview are pretty happy with things as they are (or at least that is how the numbers were spun).  That being said, we could have done with a 15 minute overview and then be left to get on with it, in my opinion.

One important piece of news that did come out of the Q&A was that the plan to present the viaducts decision to City Council next week has now been delayed, presumably to allow more public input. A cynic might suggest that the delay is to allow Meggs and his planners to spin the opposition that has already arisen.  However, the delay is generally good news and I hope that Strathcona and Grandview can use the time to continue the pressure to ensure that this major decision takes all our opinions into account.

Another interesting fact that emerged is that the Powell Street overpass — a $50 million project — is designed to allow CPR to assemble and move trains that will be 10,000 feet — two miles! — long.  Bruce MacDonald wondered aloud how much of the $50 million is being financed by the railway as they seem to be the ultimate beneficiaries.  No answer was forthcoming.  He also mentioned that the massive rail network on the False Creek Flats has been essentially unused for a long time.  The Planners were unhappy with any suggestion that the space could be better employed:  “Once we lose those railyards, we’ll never get them back,” they cried as if that were a fate worse than death.

Eventually we were organized into small groups to work through ideas on subjects such as “Transit”, “Street Calming”, “Cycling” etc. I was at one of the Transit tables and I enjoyed the ideas and discussions that half-a-dozen of us kicked around for twenty minutes or so.  The meeting concluded with each group being asked to present their one big idea.  In most cases this became a list of everything that had been discussed.  At our table, went with my One Big Idea:  that transit should be a free service, funded by Lottery and Gaming revenues.

It was grand to get out of the house and to spend time with active residents, many of whom I already knew.  Having enjoyed the stroll down the hill to Triumph Street, I was very grateful for a ride back up the hill!

 


Grandview Transportation: History

July 11, 2012

Further to my earlier post about next week’s Transportation Meeting, I thought you might be interested to see this headline:

 

 

This was the front page story in “The Highland Echo” dated 3rd November, 1938 — seventy four years ago!  We have been struggling with this issue for a very long time.


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