Infrastructure
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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We date contemporary ‘bike lane’ design back to the 1970s, when a cycling wave hit Europe and North America.  Here’s an historical example from Toronto:

Toronto’s cycling committee was established at city hall in 1975 to promote safe cycling. Four years later, the first bike lane in old Toronto was constructed on Poplar Plains Road.

There have been many iterations since, each once advancing more space for active transportation.
Vancouver was one of the first to evolve the completely separated route in a downtown – Dunsmuir and Hornby in 2010 after the Olympics.

Now other cities that have generated large volumes of bike traffic have realized they have to reallocate some highly contested space.  Like on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The New York Times:

… the city will finally address longstanding concerns about the Brooklyn Bridge, which has long been known as a particularly dangerous route for cyclists, and the Queensboro Bridge. Under the plan, the city will ban cars from the inner lane of the Manhattan-bound side of the Brooklyn Bridge to build a two-way bike lane.

The existing promenade area at the center of the bridge, which is elevated above the car lanes, will be used only by pedestrians. Cyclists will no longer be able to ride on the promenade, where there is currently a bike lane.

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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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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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David Finnis who is on Twitter @ilovethearts says:

“This is one of the reasons many people don’t feel safe cycling in Vancouver. If drivers can’t slow down and avoid hitting a stationary object.And this slow street sign is on a quiet residential street!”

Which also brings up who is managing the  pandemic response of Slow Streets 30 km/h infrastructure in Vancouver, and why there is not someone that can go out and check that the infrastructure is where it is supposed to be. And as we go into Year Two of the pandemic, why are we not making these barriers a bit more substantial so they stay in place? Why can’t they be filled with water or sand?

While Vancouver Slow Streets was introduced several months behind programs in other Canadian cities, it consisted of jersey barriers of different kinds either on the street or at the street’s side, indicating that it is a slower street, with  repurposing for walkers, rollers and cyclists to maintain physical distancing.

There were two reasons for doing this: one, to facilitate  destination oriented routes for people not in vehicles; and second, to provide a way for families and others to exercise in a safer environment with physical distancing that could not be met on the sidewalks.

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