In a single day, a chilling winter turns to a summer-like spring.  The seawall is packed; the bikes are out.  We look to the patios and parklets for conviviality and amusement.

These are the scenes captured in the videos of the ‘small places’ team – Brian Gould and Kathleen Corey.  PT has featured much of their work over the years, but here’s another one that’s perfect for the moment:

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Brian Gould and Kathleen Corey are urbanist filmmakers well-known to Price Tags readers, and anyone else following Vancouver’s progress with its growing bike network.

Seacycles (2014) could be considered their flagship video which, when released, gave the world a proper introduction to the multi-modal improvements at the south end of the Burrard Bridge. That video also includes a wondrous pairing of then vs now picture-in-picture comparisons, and drone fly-overs.

Now under the banner small places (“tiny plazas – quick transformations – big ideas”), Brian and Kathleen are back, this time with a companion piece to show how far Burrard Bridge has come in the intervening years.

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In 2014, Vancouver pioneered a first in North American intersection design: protected phasing. At the south end of the Burrard Bridge, each mode – vehicle, bike, ped – was separated and given its own phased lighting though Burrard and Cornwall.

Now the same thing will happen on the north end at Pacific.
The transportation engineers never hesitate in explaining why they could confidently reduce the number of lanes on the centre span of the bridge to vehicles without inducing intolerable congestion.  It’s because traffic flow is determined by the capacity of the intersections – effective meters on demand – not the number of lanes between them.  So they widened the north intersection to create more turn lanes while also extending the merge lane to handle the flow once on the bridge.

 
Vancouverites didn’t appreciate the significance of Burrard and Cornwall because all the attention was on the changes occurring further down the road – the closure of Point Grey Road to through vehicle traffic.  The spillover from that controversy created a lot of sensitivity among the stakeholders when the full redesign of the bridge and north intersection was being discussed – but the success of the southern intersection alleviated a lot of anxiety.*
That gives us a reason to post one of the best videos produced by Kathleen Corey and Brian Gould – Seacycles – that shows rather than tells how it all works so beautifully.

 
*What happened to all the outrage over the impact of changes to Point Grey Road?  It’s an old story: carmageddon predicted, and then never occurring.  If anything, traffic from Cornwall to Macdonald seems smoother than ever.  Lives have not been lost.  Chaos has not occurred.  So disappointing.
 
 

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Here’s your chance to weigh in with decision-makers about Bute Plaza (Bute St south of Robson), following its trial transformation into a people place.   The stakes?  Either a permanent plaza, or back to motor vehicle traffic.
The survey takes around 5 minutes, and closes September 18.   You can review the plaza in a delightful video (Kathleen Corey and Brian Gould) linked via this July post on PT.
My opinion is a great big YES to a permanent plaza, with a clear call for many more to come.  And on a larger scale.

I am also bemused that the usual suspects have not broken out howling, foaming at the mouth, about the loss to businesses of parking and movement space for motor vehicles.
Also note that bicycles are involved, in the form of a Mobi station.  Why, it’s the perfect storm. It probably helps to have the support of the local Robson St. BIA. Not to forget that people places of this sort are actually good for businesses.

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July 11, 2017

Before, during and after — the transformation of a street into a people place.

With the lines of buildings fixed, it can be a challenge to find space for public seating. Yet just south of Robson at Bute is a newly installed pavement to plaza, welcoming everyone in. Day or night, you can enjoy melodies from the community piano while relaxing in bright modular seats. The trial space is a City partnership with the Robson St BIA, recognized by Transportation 2040 and West End Community plans.

Again, a lovely production from Kathleen Corey and Brian Gould. Make sure your sound is on and providing hi-q audio to you.

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The New York Times describes the origins and progress of the conversion of parking space to park:

When the Parking Space Becomes a Park

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The idea for parklets began to germinate in 2005, when members of a San Francisco arts collective called Rebar wanted to apply their artistic flair to small fragments of real estate. They were also interested in challenging “the boundaries of the short-term lease offered by a metered parking space,” says John Bela, one of Rebar’s co-founders. And they questioned what they saw as an automobile-centered approach to urban planning and design.

They started an experiment. In a stretch of downtown San Francisco that lacked greenery, they found an empty parking space, rolled out a patch of grass turf and set up a park bench and a potted tree. They put up a sign that read, “If you’d like to enjoy this little park, please put some coins in the meter.” Then they went across the street to watch.

The land next to a parking spot, Mr. Bela says, probably rented for a couple of hundred dollars a square foot per year, “but you could rent this little piece of land, 200 square feet, in downtown San Francisco for a couple dollars an hour.”

Mr. Bela and the others saw a pedestrian wander into the spot, put money in the meter and sit on a bench. Soon another sauntered in, and the two struck up a conversation. Just like that, the exercise was a success. Without much effort or expense, the parking spot had been transformed into a mini-park. …

About 51 such parklets, each occupying one to three street parking spaces, have sprung up across San Francisco since 2010, and at least a dozen more are being designed or built, or are in the process of receiving city permits, says Robin Abad Ocubillo, the parklet program manager for the city’s Pavement to Parks program.

In the last couple of years, at least 72 more parklets have materialized worldwide in places like Philadelphia, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, Mexico City and Auckland, New Zealand. …

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Closer to home, Kathleen Corey (who with Brian Gould does those great videos like Seacycles) probably knows more San Francisco’s parklets than practically anyone:

For my MLA thesis, I visited 35 and captured them through photography and data analysis.  The map includes a few more parklets built since my 2013 visit.

Full collection here.

Some samples:

 375 Valencia

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3868 24th Street

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A stunning visual portrait of the new bike route from Burrard Bridge to Point Grey Road, by Kathleen Corey and Brian Gould – this time with extra drone!

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“World premiere” – is that a bit much?  Well, the politics of PGR alone makes it of international interest.  But the design of the project, particularly at the south end of Burrard Bridge, is an achievement of transportation engineering worthy of wide recognition.  So pass along this link to friends and contacts around the world: http://vimeo.com/kathcorey/seacycles

There’s also another reason to help spread the word, and the video.
Price Tags has devoted a lot of pixels to the “New Point Grey Road” in the belief that capturing its success visually would ensure its survival, even in the face of political promises that the project would be ‘reviewed’ to make it “accessible to all Vancouverites” – which can only mean opening it to through traffic.
This video, I think, captures something so beautiful and powerful that such a change to the ‘New Point Grey Road’ will never be seriously considered.

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False Creek’s oldest bridge, Seaforth’s spreading trees. Joined by paths like those between Jericho and Kits Beach.

Pocket parks sewn into a ribbon – Tatlow stitched to Volunteer. Ride a tandem by the seashore, run your fingers ‘long the seam.

A dozen cars for every bicycle? A dozen bikes for every car. What was louder than the waves is but an eddy in the wind.

Gentle ripples lapping at the wall, trickles open up a crack. The waves were out there waiting, and now they’re rushing through.

As the ships sail Burrard Inlet, the seacycles ply Point Grey.

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Music: Dexter Britain, The Time to Run (Finale)
Waves: Tim Kahn, Arcadia Beac

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Get ready.
Seacycles –  the new video by Kathleen Corey and Brian Gould – is set to be launched tomorrow.  They’ve done some great videos before that reveal better than any words the success of cycling and walking strategies in the central city – but this one takes it to a whole new level.
Literally.

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Check in here tomorrow.

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