Tag Archives: pedestrians

English Bay Boathouse Area: Congestion Caused by the Cactus Club and too much Roadway

5 Jan
The area around the Cactus Club at English Bay is an accident waiting to happen, the result of placing the front door of a popular restaurant right onto the busiest bike way in the cityAnyone who bikes, walks, or rollerblades through this narrow section knows it is a shambles of a limited sidewalk, a narrow bike lane, bus shelters, and pylons; however, with a bit of creativity the problem can be easily rectified.
The solution – move the bike lane onto Beach Road and redirect Stanley Park in/out traffic onto Morton Ave to the north side of the “Laughing Men” statues – this will connect these statues to the beachfront, as the short section of Beach Road and Davie Street that lies between it and the seawall would become a bike path and pedestrian space.
The drop-off parking in front of Cactus Club is also part of the problem, but can be fixed by also relocating it to the north of the “laughing men” statues.
The impact of these changes to traffic will be minimal, as the area is a 30km/hr zone access road to and from the park, which means drivers should not be travelling in a hurry.

Protective Barriers for Dogs, but not for Cyclists

17 Nov

I am one of hundreds of cyclists who ride the Stanley Park causeway on a nearly daily basis, and each time I never know if it will be the last time.

The causeway, as I have blogged about before, has no official space for cyclists, rather bikes and electric scooters share the same sidewalk as pedestrians. Adding to the problem is there is no barrier separating the narrow sidewalk from vehicle traffic.This situation has led to a number of serious accidents, including fatalities, where pedestrians (of all ages) and cyclists (of all ages) have collided and ended up on the causeway, crushed by a vehicle. Pedestrians and bikers have no alternate route to get to Stanley Park and the downtown, as the Seabus is at Lonsdale Quay, and buses are only designed to take two bikes at a time. Operated by the province, the roadway is the only link from the North Shore to the city centre.

This past week another dog sailed over the side of BC place, the result of a negligent owner ignoring signs and letting his large dog wander the public space without a leash. BC place has promised it will immediately construct a barrier to ensure this does not happen again. BC place is run by the provincial government.

Does this mean dogs who are off leash in on leash areas have more rights than cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians? How come the province won’t build a protective barrier on the causeway, but will do so at BC Place?

Room for Improvement – Better Pedestrian Public Space in Vancouver

13 Oct

Trees, wide side walks, a varied composition of shopfronts and residential spaces, low levels of traffic noise, good lighting, pedestrian walkways, shelter from rain in the form of tree cover, canopies, and awnings; walking distance to amenities. These are the elements that create an appealing walker’s public space.

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Piazza in Konstanz, Germany

Most of Vancouver’s inner city neighbourhoods such as Kitsilano have high walkablility scores because their streets contain many of these elements, however, apart from the Westend, Vancouver’s downtown streets are a striking contrast. In the majority of cases, they are automobile thoroughfares offering limited shelter from rain or noise for pedestrians.

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Typical downtown Vancouver streetscape

After spending a month travelling in central and southern Europe, I was once again reminded how walkable European cities are. They are of course this way because they were developed prior to the automobile and stitched together during the golden age of rail travel.

Europeans are accustomed to efficient train travel, connecting seamlessly from foot traffic to a metro to an intercity express. I did this several times on my travels, catching a train from Barcelona to Lyon, another from Lyon to Milan, and from there to Lake Como and the gateway to the Helvetic Confederation. Travel was easy, inexpensive, and at each destination I was greeted by yet another inviting walkable inner city playground, a sort of pedestrian and cyclist’s Disneyland, populated with water fountains, trees, and restaurant patios of all shapes and sizes.

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Lyon Bike Share

Europe is not the only part of the world with this sort of infrastructure, even the centres of cities such as Melbourne, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, and Buenos Aires, where rail is almost non-existent, are a cyclist and walker’s paradise, urban oases providing respite from the noise of cars, motorbikes, and abrasive sirens.

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Cape Town Gardens

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Greenmarket Square, Cape Town

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Confederation Square, Melbourne

And what about downtown Vancouver? Where are our piazzas, our alcohol friendly sidewalk patios, our pedestrian malls, and our central squares? Why do we fight and squabble for 20 years over a bike lane, when in most other cities this sort of infrastructure is considered normal, an essential part of urban infrastructure in much the same way as the construction of sewers, roads, and powerlines?

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Buenos Aires

There is no clear answer to this question. This is the very reason why some societies are highly successful and others fail miserably, and why even with free access to near unlimited information, this divide persists. Why is Detroit not like San Francisco, or why does Norway have a sovereign wealth fund and Greece an economic crisis, or why is Ukraine a failed state, while Poland is an economic miracle?

I remain optimistic that Vancouver is connected enough to the rest of the world that eventually we will see the need for more walkable public space in our downtown core. We may live in the “Best Place on Earth”, but there is always room for improvement.