From Streets For Everyone – a community organization that advocates for the transformation of our streets into safe, inclusive, economically thriving and socially vibrant public spaces.
 
COMMERCIAL

.

The goal of the Streets For Everyone Commercial Drive Campaign is to build community support among a diverse group of stakeholders, such as residents and business owners, so that Commercial Drive’s design can be updated as soon as possible so that it is safe and accessible to all users.

Vancouver Courier article about the proposal here.  Website here.

.

commercial - 2

Comments

    1. Wouldn’t restricting left turns from Commercial Drive onto side streets (possibly just during rush hour) solve this problem simply while keeping the general plan the same?

    2. …yes it solve one problem…putting right turn bay could solve another one (but considering the block length, the bus bulge, you end up to remove a very signficant chunck of parking)
      As noticed by AL, once you solve all those problems you end up with a very different street…and still it is not working as well as the current one for buses (and the emergency vehicle by the way)

      1. Technically the current one doesn’t work. The current lane width is 3m, below Translink recommended for bus lanes – resulting in busses frequently driving a foot or two into the left hand lane. This plan widens the lane to 3.5m, the recommended widths. As for blocking traffic, it follows the Seattle model of all door boarding with pre-pay (presuming the Compass Card ever launches), to reduce loading times and maintain traffic flow.

  1. Posted on Voony’s, but also want to make the point here: Bus-bike lanes are terrible bike infrastructure and work for neither party. Certainly not the highly comfortable protected bike lanes by streets for everybody.
    However, I agree with Voony about transit getting forgotten in this suggested street design.

      1. I respect what you’ve done here and agree with it in theory, but people would cry bloody murder if you took the parking off the street (hence why SfE didn’t do it)

  2. Transit was definitely forgotten in this design. Unless you ban cars turning left and cars turning right, making it a street for through traffic which should not be the intent. And what happens when a much needed B-line is eventually built?
    Was the option of removing all parking from one side of the street considered? This gives space for bike lanes and wiser sidewalks. Put the bus bulges away from intersections (there’s no intersecting routes anyways). Gives more space to accommodate limited turning lanes.
    If there is a problem with parking for businesses, the city could provide a few well placed off street structures or require public parking below any redeveloped sites.

    1. I had that thought as well. This illustration (which of course is only a discussion starter) shows car parking on both sides. If there was parking on only one side then there could be more room available. But then the side streets will have to have more non-resident parking and also delivery zones.
      It’s a tough one for sure but good to get things talked about. I like how they’re approaching this.

    2. bus bulges are still much more convenient at intersections, even without transfers, as people walking into the sidestreets dont have to walk as far.

  3. It’s good that the first complete streets plan on a retail street is Commercial Drive. It’s already one of the most multi-modal commercial streets as it is. Also people there are fairly politically astute so there probably won’t be the uninformed knee-jerk reactions there. And with this group, that has no connection to the City, or Vision or any cycling organization is inviting all to come and be part of it will mean that nobody in the future can accuse the project of not consulting the community.

  4. How about a subway or tunnel below ? We have to move people, and goods, and adding bike lanes and narrowing a street to make it more pedestrian friendly works only if the street is viewed in 3D, ie as a corridor with below grade cars/trucks/buses or a subway.
    A growing city needs people and goods moving arteries, and since Commercial is one of those streets/corridors a tunnel option / subway must be considered.
    In the 1990’s the NDP choked the Lower Mainland of these transportation improvements until the Liberals changed it, and now Vision has done nothing except constrain traffic movement. It is time for a change. We need pedestrian zones and bike lanes AND subways and roads/tunnels/bridges to move traffic/buses/trucks/cars.
    It is not either/or, but AND .. And in the end that means higher taxes or road tolls, likely both. Which mayoral candidate has the honesty to say that ?

  5. You know I just really like the drive the way it is, and I am scared that outside interference would change it. Unlike Chris Bruntlett, I don’t have “world class ambitions” for it. Thankfully, this doesn’t seem to affect north of first, which is, imo, the best part. Perhaps these changes will put the south end in the north end’s league, though. I’m open to that, but world class implies serious gentrification, and then another unique part of Vancouver disappears to the pr machine. (I’d love someone to explain the desire to be world class to me; I don’t feel a need to seek validation from anyone else regarding my hometown) it seems newly built homogenous structures and the people that prefer them lack the character that those without financial protection and distraction must cultivate. Some things cannot be bought, but they can be destroyed.

    1. I agree. The main reason Commercial Drive is an attractive place is that most of the stores are locally owned. There are very few chains. Compare that to Robson Street or parts of Granville Street downtown which are basically like going to a mall that doesn’t have a roof.
      I would not want any new street design that would turn it into a strip of chain stores.
      Currently people move on The Drive by many means. It’s already multi-modal but motor vehicle usage is prioritized. Also it’s treated like an arterial during rush hours by people who are not stopping there but just passing through. That doesn’t need to be.

  6. I agree with Jenables that Commercial Drive works as it is and the suggestion in play here would degrade it. The dynamics of the street are that it attracts (and can accommodate) more traffic than the neighbourhood itself generates, therefore a more interesting selection of businesses can survive there. To sustain that outside traffic, and thus the stimulating mix of businesses, you need parking because that’s the only mode of travel that enables people to come AND CARRY THE STUFF HOME. Not to mention delivering the goods to the businesses in the first place. I live quite nearby but often drive to the Drive because I simply can’t carry the amount of groceries I need. I also often stop on the Drive en route home from a longer drive outside the area. Smaller personal vehicles (Smart car type) may be the future of the Drive, but more bike/bike trailer space is not.
    What makes the Drive work is precisely that traffic goes slow, slow enough to accommodate bikes and scooters, and people still stop for pedestrians. What slows the traffic down is, as others have pointed out, parking on both sides. Also, lots of turners – it’s all so unpredictable, you have to go slow. I wonder how many vehicles/bikes even travel straight through. It’s the whole culture of the street that makes it work, and turning it into some utopian wet dream is going to change that culture. The cars you decry bring the people you want, and the people are not going to come if they can’t park. Ask surrounding residents about that on car-free day – people drive from miles around to come to those events, and if they didn’t, the events wouldn’t work.

  7. Some numbers have been crunched, and it appears that the street for Everyone proposal could cost to Translink ~$1 million/year by conservative estimates:
    detail here
    May be, the tonight forum will address that…

    1. Compared to the current configuration, wouldn’t the proposed configuration with two motor vehicle lanes, bike lanes, parking lanes and bus bulges increase transit speeds? The bus would not have to pop in and out of traffic, thereby saving time. I suggest that the proposed complete street is an improvement for everyone.

    2. I don’t see how Davie or Robson street are comparable. On these streets, the bus pulls over into the ‘parking’ lane and lets all SOVs pass, with the bus getting stuck behind them as it pulls out of the bus stop. On in the designs pictured above for Commercial, the bus blocks SOVs at the bus stop, giving the bus a free lane once it’s done loading and unloading. The concern with turning cars is valid and can still cause problems in this scenario, but it is less severe than you make it out to be.

    3. Jens and Arno
      If you are right: bus bulge could improve the bus speed on Robson, you should actively advocate for it, there first, since it is a low cost/reversible experiment which could help to prove your theory:
      One has to wonder, why no-one has thought of that idea before you: Any idea?
      Spoiler:
      Translink has already widely experimented with bus bulges, especially on Main street, and there is even one at Commercial # 6th avenue:
      -Bus bulge are good and have many benefits: improved operating speed is not one of them

      1. I brought the idea up at a Downtown Vancouver Bus Service Review open house. The city engineer seemed interested in the idea. Hopefully, they are considering it downtown.
        Here’s a report on a series of improvements, including 22 bus bulbs, made to NW 45th and NE45th in Seattle. From page 48, “each bus bulb results in time savings up to 15 seconds.” This appears to just be from modelling though.
        http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/45th/final_traffic_reportV2a%20(2).pdf

        1. Of course, bigger time savings can come from reducing dwell times. For the route in Seattle covered by the report, dwell times are 25% of the trip time. Clearly, there’s room for improvement, and that’s where pre-payment, stop consolidation, and all-door boarding can help, especially if the Mayors’ Council wants to put in a B-Line or make the 20 more like a B-Line.

      2. As I have mentoned, bus bulge are good fro a host of reason (one of them, is that allow increased parking space, since the bus doesn’t need a pull-out zone!)…
        When Vancouver installed its first bus bulges It did it in a scattered way, and was not able to measure any time saving difference.
        I guess that is the reason leading to the main street experiment with high expectation:
        http://www.translink.ca/~/media/Documents/plans_and_projects/urban_showcase/general/urban_showcase_proposal.ashx
        Alas, expectation haven’t materialized, travel time is pretty much still the same…and if you find a difference, it will entirely explained by the switch from high floor buses to low floor one (that has been proved to reduce dwell time).
        One reason, is that current Translink bus stop policy (far side, bus stop config. with a pull-pou zone, transit priority)…work already pretty well.
        …A B line on Commercial? I am skeptical (average travel distance on the route must be ~ 3 km…not enough to justify a layered service. Improving the current bus service seems a much better option:
        bus consolidation, pre boarding payment, that is all good, and can be applied
        All doors boarding can reduce dwell time, but Transit agencies have also found that can increase dramatically the fare evasion rate ofsetting the reduced dwelling time benefit.

        1. Again, Main Street is not a comparable. The bulges on Main have a different effect. They only shave some seconds off the dwell time, if that. The proposed setup on Commercial creates a vacuum in front of the bus during bording time as cars can’t overtake and fill up that space.

        2. That being said, I think it is fair to say that the proposed redesign and reduction in travel lanes will lead to slower motor vehicle travel times, including for buses. But I don’t think it is as much as you make it out to be. And other designs are worthwhile considering, personally I am a big fan of removing parking, but politically that’s very hard to do.

        3. Jens – it’s not a political matter to remove parking; it’s economic. If people can’t park near the stores, the stores will die, and move away, to be replaced by either businesses that cater only to walking traffic from the neighbourhood, or empty spaces (with their inevitable corollary). Then there will be no reason for anyone to ride their bikes to, or even along, Commercial Drive. I actually think it’s hysterically funny that advocates for “everyone” don’t understand that the whole attraction of Commercial Drive is fundamentally, well, commercial. Even Car Free day gets that; with extra vendors even brought in for the day.
          In contrast, rapid movement for people driving up the strip from Venables to Commercial is not really a priority. As has been pointed out, it’s a short strip, and as I’ve said, keeping traffic slow is what keeps the street pedestrian and bicycle friendly. So getting stuck behind a bus while it “dwells” needn’t really be a big deal. It happens all the time to drivers behind Toronto’s street cars, if I recall correctly.
          This new idea of putting bicycles between parked cars and the sidewalk is a recipe for accidents. Passengers are not accustomed to looking for cyclists before they get out of their cars, and they will get hit if they haven’t already. I wonder if there is anywhere where the bike lane is put up the middle of a road. Entry/egress would have to be managed, but it might be worth exploring: cyclists are often more dangerous to pedestrians than drivers are to cyclists.

        4. Karin. I agree that one should not expect to go fast down Commercial. It’s not that kind of street. I prefer removing a travel lane for car parking than to keep two lanes and not have parking. It’s great that the Streets For Everyone movement learned this early on. I get the impression that they are very aware that the street is for shopping. The idea is to be able to shop by foot or bike better than it is now. They do understand that. They’re not at all looking at a commuter cycle route. They’re proposing a shopping cycle track.
          The design of a cycle lane between parked cars and a sidewalk is not new at all and works very well around the world and here on Hornby, Richards and a block of Union. People walking and exiting cars learn to look before stepping out in a very short time. They also have very good sight lines for this with nothing blocking their view. In practise there have been no problems. Also people when they cycle have good sight lines and can slow, ding their bell and move to the right or stop. Also when cycling down a parking buffered cycle lane you can concentrate solely on what’s ahead (as opposed to cycling in “the door zone” where you have to both concentrate on cars to your left and doors opening on the right.) If you’re unsure how this could work, go hop on a bike and cycle down Union between Gore and Main and see how well it’s working.
          Regarding a cycle lane in the centre of the street, there’s a principal in the Netherlands where travel modes are arranged in order of average speed. This means it’s always “fast-medium-slow”, not medium-fast-slow. Putting medium speed cycle traffic in the middle of the street and faster motor/general traffic between that and the slower walking traffic goes against this principle. There are a few places in the world with the cycle tracks were put in the centre of the street but it does not work well and people tend to not use it as it’s not pleasant to have fast motor traffic whizzing beside you on both sides. Also you aren’t able to easily stop and go into a store to shop. Again, they’re not proposing a commuter route but something to go shopping by bike on.

  8. Some commenters suggest that by upgrading the street to be more friendly to those on foot and on bike will somehow destroy the street. Wouldn’t it make the street more vibrant and livable? Wouldn’t it attract many more people to the stores? Note that there is no loss of parking, so everyone should be happy.

  9. A bus bulge would probably add a parking spot since merge area would be eliminated. Not sure if curb bulges would have any effect since there is a no stopping zone near the intersection. Adding one bike coral would easily replace any lost car parking.

  10. Main street is quite different, since there are two traffic lanes in each direction, so other traffic can get ahead of the bus. With the Commercial Drive vision, there would only be one lane in each direction. And I think they should try this out on Robson – I predict that this will increase transit speeds.

  11. Arno – you’re right, that’s the reason why I said an 80′ ROW like Main Street could accommodate the full meal deal (by using some of the travel lane space for bikes) but not a 66′ ROW, like Commercial Drive north of E. 1st.

  12. Main Street is 99′ wide north of 17th. There are left turn bays and traffic islands in addition to four travel lanes and two parking lanes. It is 86′ wide to at least 33rd. Main’s dimensions are more like Broadway’s and Hastings’ east of Carrall than Commercial’s in that the right of way is a mix of 86′ and 99′.
    Commercial’s dimensions are most similar to Fraser south of King Ed, West 4th, Granville downtown and at least as far south as 16th, Victoria south of Kingsway, Hastings west of Carrall, and West 10th west of Alma, all of which have 80′ rights of way.
    Kingsway’s width is 99′ or 100′ for its entire length. It’s lanes, typically 12′, are very wide compared to all other retail streets in Vancouver. If the travel and parking lanes were made as narrow as they are now on Commercial, narrow 1.8 m bike lanes (the buffer would make them narrower than this) could be added without removing travel lanes or parking lanes, but maybe some left turn bays would have to go. The reason this isn’t true on Broadway or Hastings is that the sidewalks are much wider on both these streets than they are on Kingsway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *