Always a major issue for some:  where to park the car when I go to car-free day this weekend. Because, of course, there is only one and only one way to travel to such an event. And the destination city and the event organizers are morally and ethically bound to provide me with a (preferably free) place to store my vehicle when I get there, or anywhere else for that matter.  No matter where, no matter when.
HERE’s a bunch of handy tips for solving this dilemma.  Thanks to Kudos and Kvetches at the Vancouver Courier.

Introduction: This weekend, wide swaths of Main Street in Mount Pleasant and Denman Street in the West End will be closed to vehicle traffic for something called Car Free Day — also known as the Day Angry Old People Go On Facebook, Use the Phrase ‘Mayor Moonbeam’ and Complain about Bike Lanes. Just kidding, that’s everyday on Facebook.
The annual street festival that “reclaims traffic thoroughfares as community focused public spaces” has grown in popularity since it started in 2008. So much so, that it’s nearly impossible to find parking for those who choose to drive to the event in honour of not driving. It’s a real conundrum.
Sample handy tip:
Park.on.a.lawnPark on someone’s lawn.    Despite what you’ve been led to believe with your eyes and mind, lots of people actually possess lawns in Vancouver. Find those people’s lawns and park on them. They won’t mind. They probably won’t even notice. The people who are renting out the house with a lawn through Airbnb might notice but not the owners of the house with a lawn. They’re probably somewhere else that’s way cheaper and listening to Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie” on repeat. Is there any other way?


  1. I’d prefer the term ‘Street Party’. ‘Car Free’ is one big fat kahuna of a misnomer for what actually occurs.

  2. Yes, the irony of Vancouver’s “car-free” days and street festivals is that they have a much more disruptive impact on public transit riders than on motorists. Great lengths of major transit streets are shut down for the major part of a day (Denman Street June 17, Main Street June 18, Commercial Drive July 9; plus others).
    The “” website nominally discourages driving: “In the spirit of Car Free Day, we encourage attendees to walk, bike, carpool, car share, or take public transportation to our events. Translink has re-routed transit to accommodate our festivals and get you where you need to be!” However, the reality isn’t quite as rosy.
    Bus service is not only eliminated in these areas, forcing transit-dependent citizens to hike the 800+m to an adjacent route (if they know about it in the first place), but service is significantly disrupted by the re-routing distance and extra traffic congestion, both from motorists trying to get to the street party, as well as those trying to avoid it, This results in gaps and bunching, and therefore extended waits and/or pass-up conditions (the latter often the result of the former, adding insult to injury!). The ripple effects can extend across the city, depending on the layout of the routes affected. In Vancouver we also see GFG-free trolley buses replaced by diesels. Delays also result in overtime payments to transit operators who are delayed reaching the end of their shift, as well as cancellations of some service as buses are short-turned to re-establish some sense of order. Overall, more cost for poorer service, which is not the fault of TransLink or CMBC. (Any guess who is likely to get most of the public complaints?)
    Buses are not just over-sized private cars, with the flexibility to go anywhere. Buses provide a pipeline of shared mobility in the city, and therefore need to operate with consistency and predictability for the user. We ought to consider bus SERVICE essentially as “infrastructure”. To be effective, the service needs to be almost as fixed as “classic” infrastructure, i.e., the pavement and sidewalks, water and sewer pipes, and the power and telephone lines. We wouldn’t consider shutting all of those down, but give little thought to severing the public transit service that is deemed so important in formal city planning policy.
    Perhaps it’s too late to backtrack on the seasonal street closures, although the Kits area has shifted from major street closures, to a dispersed set of neighbourhood block parties; worth hearing some evaluations about the difference. I do acknowledge that street events can be interesting and fun in their own right (as long as they don’t digress into drunken rampages). Perhaps one of the costs of living a large and vibrant city is the periodic inconvenience of big events that throw a monkey wrench into routine living. However, if we are to be serious about tackling the traffic congestion that everyone is complaining about, then we need more than lip service in the consideration of transit continuity and priority; at the very least, acknowledgement of (and apologies for?) the disruption to the rest of the community, and efforts to minimize the delays and disruptions, so that transit actually can be a good way to get to a “car-free” event!

    1. This is all a result of how ridiculously sprawled our city is. At largely single family densities there can only be few commercial strips to support. They are so spaced that they combine with arterials and transit services. If every street had commercial activity there would be commercial streets that would be free of transit and make for great street fest locations.
      They could be free of cars too. All the time. No contrived street fest required. Just a more liveable environment.

      1. … such as Alberni, Water street, Mainland,…Pacific Bld,…there is no lack of choice to make a street party without disrupting major transit route…

      2. That pattern is a legacy of transit infrastructure, specifically the streetcar system. No doubt had we kept the streetcar system nobody would entertain the thought of shutting down their routes so cavalierly.

        1. Gonna dispute that one! Don’t blame the streetcars. It was their removal with the dominance of motordom that continued the sprawl to the ‘burbs instead of concentrating populations and their need of goods and services within a smaller area. The streetcar network (more or less the current city bus network) didn’t need to densify (much) even as pressure would have mounted to provide more commercial opportunities – straying from the hillbilly concept of commercial strips only following the :”highways”.
          We never grew up.
          As Voony pointed out, within the core, commercial activity occurred outside of the arterials. That creates variation and vibrancy that cannot be duplicated when all commercial activity occurs on busy arterials.
          Our most public spaces are dominated by the noise, stench and carnage of cars.

  3. The transit disruption shows we need more rapid transit BELOW ground or ABOVE it ! Not more bus dependency !
    The number of subway, LRT or SkyTrain km in a MetroPlex of over 2.5M people is atrocious.

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