February 24, 2021

Vancouver Spending $14 Million for Parking Stations~Westminster London Ditches Them with Vancouver Technology

Did you know the City of Vancouver is swapping out old parking meters and installing a new system at a cost of 14 million dollars? As reported in this article by CBC News the city is getting rid of stand alone parking meters which served two parking spaces and going for new parking stations on the street which will serve entire blocks.

This type of parking and paying in one pay station is already pretty standard in Europe and in South America. In fact in Chile some commercial areas in cities had parking wardens  with the parking stations. Twenty years ago you parked your car on the street and  left your stick shift car in neutral, you paid at the parking station, and the parking warden pushed and bumped the vehicles together to squeeze one more in, or take one vehicle out.

Vancouver has about 11,000 parking spaces served by meters that will be decommissioned in favour of the pay stations. That will also alleviate the vandalism, and theft from coin meters. In Vancouver parking is a big revenue item for the City, bringing in about 60 million dollars a year pre-pandemic.

Of course there are some downsides in paying at  street parking stations. The City will be able to monitor them and you could be paying a premium for event parking on the street with the use of demand pricing. There will also be no more lucky finds of arriving at a  parking meter with already paid-for time.

In this interview with CBC’s Stephen Quinn on The Early Edition ,Vancouver Transportation Director Paul Storer  (one of the most thoughtful engineers and well versed to discuss sparky issues) talk about the changes that will be occurring with the new pay station system.

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The Walk Bike Places Conference is setting up to be a virtual conference again this year and the dates for it are June 15 to June 18. You can see the information about that conference here.

Last year the conference had a pretty hefty price tag that was beyond the reach of many people in the first few months of the pandemic. One of the architectural and walking critics in California dreamed up a whole bunch of the dialogue she imagined that would be discussed in each session based upon the name of the session, and of course the presenter. She shared that prose on her twitter account.  It kept the Twitterverse in stitches.

If anything can be said that is positive about this pandemic, there has been a great opportunity to participate in many free webinars and groups from across the globe. One of the best transportation conferences I have attended either in person or virtually was a two day online event provided by the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). It had a litany of fine transportation thinkers and sessions from across the continent. And it was absolutely free.

The Walk Bike Places Conference is not free, and early registration for this event is 290 dollars  US which ends on March 19. That is 365 dollars Canadian, which is out of reach for many that are not having conference fees paid for by an employer.

But not to fret~why go to a National conference that costs over three Big Bills when you can go to an Global one for free?

Walk 21 is hosting their annual conference from Seoul Korea this year under the auspices of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. There are papers that have been submitted by speakers from all over the world, keynote presenters, and virtual events you will be able to attend online. The conference runs from May 26 to May 28 and it is Absolutely Free.

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We should probably append all these myth busters in a book, as they continually circulate, just like the idea that sidewalks create crime. (Which they do not, and I can prove that with data too.)

Laura Laker reports in The Guardian about one canard that still quacks away at every public meeting that I attend~and that is that if you make pedestrian priority streets and if you do traffic calming, that will delay emergency vehicles.  Ms. Laker lays this myth to rest.

This is such a popular myth. When I was involved in installing traffic circles in various locations with the City of Vancouver, there was a lot of fear that the circles themselves would slow down emergency vehicles. In fact there are computer programs that model the size of the largest emergency vehicle and the radius that is needed for the traffic circle and that works perfectly well.

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Jeffrey Tumlin is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Municipal  Transportation Agency. He was the person that alerted us to this trend on San Francisco’s Slow Streets that are inspirational and readable. Poets have installed cards of prose and inspiration on the closure barriers along San Francisco’s Slow Streets.

It is such a great idea and we have many talented writers and poets in Vancouver. So when will we see our own prose on Slow Streets?

The one illustrated above reads

“Yield Traffic’s dull roar to lively air for Stellar’s Jay
Perched on a flagpole, rekindled phoenix of civic pride.
Do not drive through, bright birdsong blocks the way.”

And another poet and artist, Mc Allen  @that_mac has produced municipal poems, including the Villanelle for Slow Streets below.

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What is the biggest fear of someone who is classified as a “vulnerable” sidewalk user?  It is falling on the sidewalk. And for those vulnerable people using sidewalks, be they seniors or people with any type of mobility impairment or vision disability a fall can lead to death within months.

Despite clear international evidence that keeping sidewalks clear of impediments is a universal standard, the Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to allow for electrical charging cords to be placed on vinyl conduits over city sidewalks. Every present  member of council cited the importance of their Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) and with no acknowledgement of the irony of placing the rights of vehicles over sidewalk users, voted to allow cords with covers to be placed on the sidewalk.

As James Carter who owns a car dealership that sells electric vehicles  said on a CKNW radio show with Lynda Steele

They make people shovel snow off the sidewalk by 10 a.m. but they are going to allow people to place power cords across the sidewalk? It just does not sound like a good idea to me”. 

Mr. Carter also pointed out that there are lots of free charging facilities set up by B.C. Hydro and others across the city. There’s no electric charging drought.

This policy of placing electrical cord conduits on sidewalks does not impact most of us. But it does impact the most vulnerable of any sidewalk user.

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