It’s been fascinating to watch Granville Street between Cordova and Smithe.  Even though the street is still closed off to traffic, pedestrians assiduously keep to the sidewalks. They go to the corners to cross.  They wait for signals.  They don’t take the diagonal at Georgia, even though there’s no reason not to.

We are so well trained.  Ever since the public-safety campaigns of the 1920s (bringing in the use of the pejorative “jaywalker”), people are programmed not to walk on the roadway, to wait their turn, to assume that streets are first of all for moving vehicles.

Granville is scheduled to be returned to trolley-bus and taxi traffic in the fall.  In the meantime, pedestrians will have the use of the entire right-of-way – if they choose to use it.  Some think it’s time to consider what we learned from the Olympics, and reconsider the plan to bring back traffic . Rather, make Granville ‘a street for people.’

The prolific Paul Hillsdon thinks so.  That bright young guy from Surrey even has a Facebook site for just this purpose.

Granville was a bustling gathering place for people during the Olympics, featuring public art, food vendors, street performers, pin traders, and hockey games! Let’s keep that spirit alive and demand that Granville remain not for cars or buses, but for us the people!

1. Keep the buses on Howe and Seymour. Nearly bankrupt TransLink plans to spend $10 million to move buses back onto Granville. The buses are operating just fine on the parallel roads. We should put that money elsewhere!

2. Relax the bylaws. Burdensome city restrictions are keeping Granville from having more outdoor seating or street vendors. Wouldn’t it be great to have people spill out onto the street from restaurants, making Granville more lively?

3. More events and activities! The City and its partners need to run more events, festivals, programs, and activities to keep the street bustling. How about street hockey tournaments, an international buskers festival, an outdoor fashion show, yoga lessons, dance parties, or a permanent art walk?

Check it out, and see if you agree.

Comments

  1. I agree with having the buses kept where they are, on Seymour and Howe. Allow car traffic along the whole length, but only M-F from 6-6. Every evening and all weekend it should become a vechile free zone. Also get rid of the sidewalk parking and move it back onto the street, that will limit the amount of traffic on the street but still keep merchants happy.

  2. Joe Just Joe is right, the waste of space for this ridiculous sidewalk parking needs to go.

    A great point by Paul Hillsdon about wasting 10 million that Translink does not have when the buses are working quite well on Seymour and Richards.

    A great point about the number people just walking on the sidewalk on Granville. I have noticed that a lot of Granville, everyone just sticks on the sidewalks – sheep mentality – I will walk down the middle of the road without a soul around me. I have crossed against the light at midnight, with not a car in site for 5 miles, and there were people just standing there waiting for the light. On the opposite side of the coin, on a busy afternoon I have crossed against the light and ran across the street, the people waiting for the light seeing me cross the street do not look at the light and think the light has changed – almost getting run over by an approaching car. Again, sheep mentality.

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  4. It kills me that we’ve got a perfect trial of a pedestrian street going on and we’re going to actually spend money to end it (we’ll, Translink is going to).

    Traffic and buses have been rerouted for two years and the world hasn’t ended. Once buses go back on, it will be virtually impossible to ever get them off except for special occassions. Having a pedestrian street shouldn’t be a special occassion!

    It seems that the Olympics helped rewrite Vancouverites’ mental map of downtown to include Granville as the new place to be. I’m guessing everyone saw construction was done and that it was a fun place you could hang out without the din of traffic. You go there now and there are buskers in the middle of the street, musicians everywhere, people just hanging out; it’s a new street. Very different than before. Different enough to survive as a pedestrian street? I think so.

    I believe part of the barrier is that TransLink helped contribute to the cost of the Granville St redesign – on the premise that it would be a transit mall. (can anyone confirm this?) I don’t know how we overcome that obstacle.

  5. Granville between Smithe and Cordova may be ‘closed’ to traffic for now, however every time I was out this weekend there were cars driving on it. The Smithe/Robson block seemed particularly busy all the time and lots of taxis. I left a show at the Commodore Sunday night and there was a block long line of cabs waiting outside with other cars passing the cabs in the oncoming lane.

    I normally take great pleasure walking down the middle of the street, but didn’t really feel safe doing so this weekend. Since so many cars are ignoring the signs to stay off maybe that’s why the pedestrian are sticking to the sidewalks. I was half tempted to drag one of those orange barriers back into the street. Part of the problem there are no design clues to drivers that that part of Granville is not for them. The bus only section of the road should have been raised flush with the sidewalk with a curb-cut like transition at Smithe Street.

    I totally agree that the sidewalk parking is awful.

  6. Yes, but: in almost all contexts, people are attracted to the edges of a space and rarely head straight to the open middle. WH Whyte’s extensive observation of people in public spaces in NY showed this and it seems true no matter the context (street, ballroom, square, park, etc…). Most of the time, there’s nothing to do in the middle of Granville – the storefronts and activity are on the edges, therefore that’s where the people go.

    It seems somewhat unkind to label everyone ‘sheep’ and a touch misleading, too: if the design changed tomorrow so that there was one uniform surface from building line to building line, people’d probably still be at the edge. Throw some performers, art, back-to-back benches, fountains, street hockey games, etc… into the middle, and perhaps things’ll be different…

    Agreed that it’s a pity about the buses, surely there are many more interesting ideas for Granville St. As a bus rider, it’s also more convenient to have all options in one place. If leaving Downtown, Howe gives so many options- 4, 7, 10, 17, etc… depending upon your destination, you can take the first one that shows. Splitting them up between different streets breaks that up a bit, with (in this case) seemingly little gain in terms of convenience (it’s only a block over, thus not really serving Granville ‘more’ than when on Howe.

    Incidentally, Howe is where those digital next bus notifiers installed on Main should’ve been put. The 3 comes every 15min and it’s the only option; you don’t need digital signage for that. All the different choices on Howe mean that a digital sign would be great- should I take this 7, or should I wait for the next 4? But I digress… do something more with Granville, but don’t be surprised to see people clinging to its edges, no matter the design…

  7. I would prefer having all the trolleys back on Granville Street, it’s more central and provides easier flow in and out of the Skytrain and RAV stations. The arrangements on Howe are weird, Seymouir OKay, but not as good as Granville.

    Why not turn Seymour or Howe into the new pedestrian only street?

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