We have been talking about the virtual and sharing economies and Vancouver hit a milestone today. In the parlance of Malcolm Gladwell, Vancouverites are “early adapters” to new technologies and ways of doing things. The rampant success of car sharing is a key example. Vancouver is the first city in the world to exceed 100,000 Car2Go members. Given that Vancouver’s population is 603,502 according to the 2011 Census, that means that 1 in 6 are members of this car sharing service.
And there are some fun statistics-the average trip is six kilometers and Vancouverites have driven 33.6 million kilometers since the inception of this company in 2011.
Car2Go has 1,250 Smart cars with another 1,000 vehicles offered by the other three car share companies, Evo, Modo and Zipcar.
I like the convenience of the service, and have many friends that have tried car sharing and liked it so much they sold their car. There are however challenges-for folks living outside of Vancouver and parts of North Vancouver these cars are not readily available. To make a business out of car sharing, there needs to be higher density and a frequency of users to make a profit. That required density is something that the other Metro Vancouver municipalities do not have-yet.
The Vancouver Sun article by Matthew Robinson on car share delves into the car share business, and also gives a thumbs up to the forthcoming Vancouver bike-share service.
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Bjarke Ingels is partnering with Ian Gillespie to build a fantastical tower in downtown Vancouver. When the tower was in its inception stage, I received some unusual mail from Ian’s Westbank Developments. It was a series of post cards promoting the new tower, showing Bjarke either biking around Vancouver or standing around Vancouver.
Bjarke was involved with OMA the firm that built Seattle’s Central Library which is well worth a visit. The best way to view that building is to take the elevator to the top floor and the escalators down each floor, to feast on the architectural design and detail. This was the only time that Bjarke actually worked for anyone before starting his own business with a Belgian design partner.
Bjarke has been tremendously successful at selling his image and his ideas, as witnessed by the commissions he has received. Kudos to Brent Toderian for openly addressing that Bjarke needs to learn how to work on the ground plane to mesh his buildings into active streetscapes. Read the rest of the story, published in the Globe and Mail, here.
Perhaps one of the most telling changes in Times Square New York City is the need for its police station to adapt to a new principle in the pedestrianization of this space-a lack of crime.
Time was when this location was for pickpockets and scammers, and an active station necessary. These days the Times Square police station is up for discussion, as you can see in the link to the New York Times. The old station is more an ambassador, and perhaps in the future eyes looking for terrorism in public places.
The old station has a historic tiled wall map of New York City, and cannot build up or out, being located above a subway. Future uses could include an ATM machine and a gallery of the history of the New York Police Department. Times are changing.
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This excellent article came by way of the Atlantic CityLab related to the work undertaken by the City of Austin Texas. Using polka dot and paint, the City of Austin has inexpensively narrowed the crossing distance on major streets to make it easier for pedestrians to cross. It is a very simple, perhaps not too elegant solution to “normalizing” an intersection without paying for the curb bulges. And hey, if it works in Texas….
James Cheng, Richard Henriquez and Joost Bakker spoke at a UDI luncheon last week about the current state of the planning process within the City of Vancouver, and stated that they saw the need to take a new look at the City’s View Corridor policy. As reported in the Vancouver Sun by Jeff Lee, the trio of well known architects felt that the policy deprived the city of significant opportunities and felt that further consultation was necessary to move forward.
The view corridor policy can be viewed here. This was a significant piece of work, and has resulted in maintaining magnificent views to the mountains and to the water from downtown streets, and also takes into account shadowing from buildings.
I believe that the View Corridor Policy is one of the facets that has made downtown Vancouver so special. But is there a point where sophisticated development should trump the view policy, to allow for higher point towers in other locations? Is this part of a maturing metropolis? Or should the policy remain?
Image by Ken Ohrn
We all know them-sure that paved and fenced path is designed for you to follow by bike or by foot, but that little route off the beaten track is often so appealing. And rightly so too-if planning followed where people actually want to travel, the world could be better. Here under desire lines is an interesting article by Kurt Kohlstedt describing how these self reinforcing pathways beaten off the “official” paths are used by universities in their campus pathway planning, and by Finnish communities to look at their trail planning processes. You will also see some photos of ancient holloways left by thousands of ancestral street, and learn about “sneckdowns” those snowbanks in winter city parking lots that are not for people or cars. Perfect Monday morning reading.
And where is your preferred pathway off the road more travelled? The photo above is of stone hopping at Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway .
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I have enjoyed my time as guest editor with Price Tags and I am turning over the file cabinet keys to remarkable photographer and bicyclist around town Ken Ohrn and our London correspondent Michael Mortensen .
Thank you again, and see you soon. Happy New Year!
Director, Walk Metro Vancouver Society
Artwork from “Sculpture by the Sea” Bondi Beach Public Art Festival 2014.
Why does walkability in a city get such short shrift when it is completely sustainable and carbon neutral, is highly recommended for mental and physical health, and is a key ingredient to enhanced sociability and city life? Walkability and spaces designed for those on foot also provide universal accessibility for the young and old, disabled, and those without financial means of transportation.
The City of Vancouver is doing a great job bringing on bike lanes and making plans to make bike riding safer, faster and more convenient…but there is barely a mention about public realm and sidewalk improvements for pedestrians. And does not every journey, no matter what transportation mode you are using begin and end with a walk?
The recent City of Vancouver Council committee on December 10 considered the Active Transportation Update to the 2040 Transportation Plan.
The update will provide new bike lanes, and upgrade some of the existing bicycle routes and facilities. But little breath is given to walkers. This gap was also noticed by the Vancouver Public Space Network who noted on their blog that the word “pedestrian” appears only twice in the report and the word “walking” appears 17 times compared to the words “cycling” (59 times) and the word “bike” (66 times). Here is their take below:
The City’s 2016 budget does provide for sidewalk maintenance, curb drop construction, and new pedestrian and cycling signals. But walking is more than this, it is the mindful connection of complete streets, enhanced pedestrian plazas or spaces. This is all work that was championed from the City’s Urban Landscape Taskforce in the 1990’s in the creation of Greenways which were streets for walking and cycling before cars.
How does walking and walkability get back on the Civic Agenda?
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The Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place Conference is coming to Vancouver in October 2016 in concert with the folks at People for Public Spaces in NYC and local sponsors. The conference theme is “Moving towards a Healthier World”.
More information on the conference and the conference call below:
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One of the more curious elements of 2015 was the December burst of information about the Province’s new crossing of the Fraser River between Richmond and Delta. This not yet named bridge is being referred to as the Massey Bridge, after the tunnel this link will be replacing.
Whatever the reason for the new bridge-linking the Roberts Bank and B.C. ferry terminals, allowing more industrial/residential development on the sensitive river delta, or simply relieving the four lane tunnel congestion with a ten lane superbridge-there is a lot of diverse comment in terms of regional growth, assessed need and local impact.
But what of the view on the south side of the Fraser River?
The Mayors of Richmond, Vancouver and Surrey have questioned the project, with the Mayor of Surrey hoping that any funding could go towards more transit oriented initiatives.
Mayor of Delta Lois Jackson weighs in through the Delta Optimist that it is Delta’s turn for a new transportation link to Vancouver, noting that 64 per cent of trips through the tunnel are destined for Richmond, not Vancouver.
This viewpoint is reinforced in this editorial from the Delta Optimist on the December 23rd:
The December released provincial Massey Tunnel Replacement Project Definition Report outlines the rationale for the bridge and and pinpoints opportunities for the public to participate in their formalized process: