Tagged: urbanism

A Bridge Too Car

A quick doodle about a potential way to address real or perceived safety concerns for using the current Granville Street Bridge pedestrian underpass as a way to access the proposed greenway.

  1. A gentle ramp would descend from the greenway to the tunnel, open to the sky, cutting the tunnel in two with natural light.
  2. The tunnel would be expanded in width.
  3. Corners would be rounded so you could see what was there.
  4. Stores (Jugo Juice?) could built into the walls to provide more security as well as a refreshment spot for pedestrians.
  5. Cyclists would be required to dismount and walk through underground areas.

Granville St. Bridge - Greenway Access

UPDATE: See Gordon Price for an idea on what to do on the North side.

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Notable Linkage: There have often been misperceptions – underestimates – in the retailing community of the value of walking and cycling to main streets and neighbourhoods centres. This misperception creates the risk of mistakes in transport and planning policy. It is

Excerpt:

There have often been misperceptions – underestimates – in
the retailing community of the value of walking and cycling to
main streets and neighbourhoods centres. This misperception
creates the risk of mistakes in transport and planning policy. It
is important that transport arrangements in main streets are not
managed on the basis of myth and misunderstanding. Of course
the views of retailers are important, but that does not mean that
they should become the de facto transport planners in the city.
Walking and cycling are essential to the success of revitalisation
strategies. Streets, laneways and squares that are dirty,
dangerous and unattractive discourage walking and reduce the
quality of urban life. This is not just about walking and cycling
as a means of getting from A to B. It is also about sitting, talking,
meeting neighbours, helping strangers and allowing children
to play.

There have often been misperceptions – underestimates – in the retailing community of the value of walking and cycling to main streets and neighbourhoods centres. This misperception creates the risk of mistakes in transport and planning policy. It is

Compare and contrast: Right-wing urban development edition

Yesterday in the Vancouver Sun, Pete McMartin – in what I can only suppose is it’s important to give equal consideration to any crackpot idea as long as the crackpot idea originates from the right-wing – wrote an article on the urban development ideas of Wendell Cox. Mr Cox is described as a U.S. public policy consultant. This is true. What is also true is Mr. Cox is a a U.S. public policy consultant, visiting fellow of the Heritage Foundation and senior fellow of the Heartland Institute. The latter being infamously in the news lately. Anyway, Mr. Cox loves urban sprawl. To whit:

But densification, Cox maintains, rests on a mistaken assumption — that if a city is dense enough, we’ll get out of our cars in sufficient numbers to make a difference.

Instead, Cox wrote, densification does exactly the opposite. Most people continue to use their cars, but in a slower, less efficient flow of traffic.

But later that very same day, over the newswires…Gen Y doesn’t buy cars: study

For young adults coming out of school, many of who have incurred healthy debts, the idea of buying a car and adding to their debt leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Paying off student debts is seen as a priority, while owning a new car is a luxury. Add into the equation low wages and high insurance prices, and you’ve got a potent mix of reasons not to buy a new car.

But is it really that simple? For instance, a new Pew Research study finds that around 30 percent of Millennials move back in with their parents, freeing up more money for a vehicle. If kids aren’t paying rent, then why aren’t they buying cars?

Why indeed. Oops. McMartin ends…

Much of this in a city like Vancouver seems counter-intuitive, and given the ascendancy of the densification philosophy here, worthy of further discussion.

I look forward to a worthy discussion on whether the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Sorry, Pete. This was a dude.

UPDATE: See Gordon Price

Auckland observations

I’ve just spent a wonderful 3 weeks in New Zealand. It’s a great country – a little bit Britain, a little bit California and, yes, a little bit British Columbia. For the urbanists in the audience here a few brief observations:

Auckland Public Transit: Auckland’s privatized, balkanized public transit system was strange to use.

  • Tickets purchased on one line often couldn’t be transferred to another connection – requiring the purchase of a second ticket. I understand the system is going to be amalgamated once again soon.
  • Staffing levels was also unusual. There was the driver, who you would sometimes buy a ticket from. Sometimes you would buy your ticket from a transit official at the stop. There was another staffer at stops keeping an eye on things and taking stats. And there there was a staffer who, as far as I could see, was there to keep the ticket seller company. For a private system this seemed odd.
  • Buses didn’t operate to a schedule – they left when they were full (at least on the lines I went on). It was impossible to connect with the trains, which did operate to a schedule.
  • You would receive a ticket, which was punched with an old-fashioned ticket puncher. If you were transferring (from train to bus or vice versa) you’d receive a second transfer ticket. You could have a pocket full of little stubs quite quickly.

Pedestrians: Unlike in Vancouver pedestrians do not have the right of way at street corners. The only place they do have the right of way is at zebra-stripe crosswalks which are few and far between. Unless you are at these crosswalks cars will not stop for you. It’s dangerous to be a pedestrian in New Zealand.

Pedestrian-only streets: That said, both Auckland and Wellington each have very nice new pedestrian-only streets to stroll, shop and eat.

Shopping Streets: Auckland is older than Vancouver by decades and retains the local “village” shopping street of days past (in Vancouver think Kerrisdale). They’re quite charming and walkable and something which Vancouver is now trying desperately to recreate. Small towns too still have their “downtown” shopping streets – which you could not say of many small towns in B.C. Ironically I was told these streets are suffering due to new North American style autocentric malls and big-box stores.

Architecture: I find many buildings of recent construction in Vancouver to be extremely bland architecturally and in terms of materials and finish they often look like they were done on the cheap (which they, you know, were). Perhaps I’m just looking at someone else’s bad architecture with new eyes but I found new buildings in Auckland and Wellington to be more daring, better made, and much more varied in look and feel. It’s almost as if the Kiwi architects weren’t using a cookie-cutter!

Heritage: Auckland has done a much better job at preserving and refurbishing it’s heritage buildings than Vancouver. But then…most cities have.

Policing: There are no local police forces in New Zealand – everything is handled by the national New Zealand Police. I don’t know if this is good or bad but it comes in the shadow of recent local discussion on amalgamating the local Metro Vancouver police departments and ditching the RCMP and setting up a B.C. provincial police.

Highway Viaducts: According to the Auckland Transport Blog, Auckland like Vancouver is also considering ditching one of it’s viaducts. Neener neener.