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From Granville Island 2040:

Help Shape the Future of Transportation on Granville Island

We want your input as we develop a transportation strategy for Granville Island.

CMHC-Granville Island is moving forward on a key pillar of the Granville Island 2040 vision that aims to “Improve Access” to the island. In order to realize this vision, we are creating a transportation strategy that will outline a set of coordinated policies to increase access and convenience for all modes of transport.

We have prepared a draft version of this strategy and are now sharing it with the public in order to solicit their feedback, which will be incorporated into the final version.

We encourage you to read the draft Transportation Strategy and tell us what you think by completing the survey before April 8, 2018.

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Gord Price: Having been a member of the advisory council for GI2040 with a particular interest in transportation, I confess that I’m a bit disappointed with the draft.  My particular and emphatic input was on the need to rethink the street design of Granville Island.  This is as much an urban- design question as transportation management – but it is essential in thinking about some predictable changes on the Island.

Granville Island, when it opened in 1979, had a startling street design by the standards of the time: no curbs, no sidewalks, no painted lines, no separation of modes; piping and street furniture were used to define space. It assumed people and vehicles could mix if everyone used common sense.

It would never have been approved by City Engineering, but GI was under the control of the Feds.  Hotson and Bakker, the young architects assigned on the project, argued that their approach would maintain the tradition of the Island, save money – and anyway, it wasn’t likely that many people would be on the Island at any one time.  But even with GI’s huge popularity, the design still worked.  With few accidents, it arguably may be even safer than tradition design.

Today, that achievement still needs to be acknowledged – but it may not work for the future of the Island as new pressures and others changes are implemented.

Here are some of the issues:

(1) Granville Island is still car-centric.  The one-way triangle for vehicles may be necessary to handle traffic, but it means bicycles must take long out-of-the-way routes rather than go directly to a destination – for instance from the Anderson Road entrance to the Public Market.  Or cycle against vehicle traffic, presumably illegally.

(2) With the upgrades of greenway routes to the island, particularly South Shore Seaside and Arbutus, GI will be an anomaly.  Parents, in particular, who may feel comfortable having their kids cycle to the Island on safe and separated routes will find they have to navigate mixed congested traffic when they get there – particularly on Anderson, with its complicated entrance, cross traffic and too-narrow lanes.  

(3) With the construction of the Alder Bay Bridge on the east, connection to the Arbutus Greenway on the southwest and Burrard Bridge/Kits to the west, GI will no longer be a destination cul-de-sac; it will be part of a high-traffic interchange with a need for two-way passage, particularly on Cartwright.

The question of how Granville Island can adopt its street design for this new scale of use goes unaddressed in the draft plan.  Presumably, the conflicts will be addressed as they emerge, particularly with the design of the Alder Bay Bridge.  But it would be better to at least identify the issue and begin to explore some options.