Infrastructure
April 24, 2019

Bike Bias: Did Roslyn Kunin ask whether the city asked?

From Orca:

Crossing the Granville Bridge recently, I was stopped by a woman who was interviewing walkers about a plan already adopted by the city to now spend at least $25 million creating an elevated greenway for walkers and bikers over that bridge. This was part of the public consultation program.

As a taxpayer, I wonder about governments that often adopt plans first with public consultation to follow.

I often use interviews as a research technique in my job so I noticed how cleverly the interview questions were designed to elicit a positive response to the project. They all centred on how wonderful the new greenway would be for the kind of people I very rarely see taking advantage of the similar and costly developments on the Burrard Bridge.

Some very important questions aren’t being asked. This project will be paid for by all the citizens of Vancouver. No one is asking them if they think that a greenway over the bridge is the best use of their tax money.

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I have been advocating for slower vehicular speeds in neighbourhoods to make communities safer, more comfortable and convenient for vulnerable road users. I also have been writing about  the impact on communities elsewhere that have adopted 30 kilometer per hour as the default speed in municipalities.

The Scottish Parliament is considering a bill to  lower speed limits to 20 miles per hour (equivalent to 30 km/h) in all cities, towns and villages. That is a reduction from the currently accepted 30 miles per hour (50 km/h). London and several counties in the United Kingdom that have adopted the slower speeds within their city limits have seen vehicular deaths decline by 20 percent, and serious  injury also substantially decline.

City of Vancouver Councillor Pete Fry has introduced a motion asking that Council support a resolution to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to lobby the Province to amend the Motor Vehicle Act “to a default speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour for local streets with municipalities enabled to increase speed limits on local streets in a case-by-case basis by by-laws and posted signage.” Councillor Fry has also requested that staff identify an area of Vancouver to pilot a 30 km/h speed limit, report back on the strategy, and implement the slower speed in that neighbourhood area to ascertain the effectiveness of the policy.

This is not the first 30 kilometers per hour rodeo going to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. The City of New Westminster and Councillor Patrick Johnstone headed up such a request a few years back.  What really needs to happen is for this initiative to leave the purview of the municipalities and be seriously considered by Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena who can give authorization for the change to the Motor Vehicle Act.

The beauty of a blanket implementation of the residential neighbourhoods is that there will not be a huge capital cost to create signage everywhere indicating how fast you can move on which street. While arterial roads would remain at 50 km/h, the local serving streets  within Vancouver  neighbourhoods could  all be 30 km/h.

This is also City of Vancouver City Council’s opportunity to correct the term “Vision Zero”. During the Vision Party’s majority they did not want the term “Vision Zero” in Vancouver’s reports  (which refers to the Swedish approach adopted in 1997 to achieve zero road deaths) to be used for political reasons.

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As TransLink prepares to update Metro Vancouver’s transportation plan through to 2050, it will be convening discussions with the public around the future of how we’ll move.

 

Technological advances in electrification, automation and the sharing economy are converging to reshape the transportation sector. Shared micromobility is already taking many cities by storm with the rise of electric scooters and dockless bikes. How will Metro Vancouver adopt these technologies in a way that supports our quality of life?

You’ll also have an opportunity to demo an electric scooter or e-assist bike following the event.

Reserve here.

 

Emcee: Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale and Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink

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105 Avenue Connector Road, Surrey 

At the 6th Annual Bike Awards on February 28th, HUB Cycling awarded five municipalities for their efforts to #UnGapTheMap across the region.

The first category of infrastructure winners were part of the 20 in 20 Infrastructure Challenge, launched last year as part of HUB’s 20th Anniversary.

Third place went to the City of Burnaby for completing nearly 20 Quick Fixes,  ranging from re-paving parts of the Sea to River Bikeway, trimming foliage that obstructed bike lanes and urban trails, and re-painting faded lines and shared lane markings.

A close second went to the District of West Vancouver, who also nearly completed 20 Quick Fixes, including removing narrow bollards and adding reflective diamond paint along the Spirit Trail, adding wayfinding signage at Ambleside Park, and installing rapid flashing beacons for safer crossings along 27th and 29th streets at Marine Drive.

And coming out on top was the City of Surrey, who doubled the 20 in 20 target with over 40 Quick Fixes. Highlights included adding new wayfinding signage, widening narrow bike lanes, and removing and or widening several narrow baffle gates that now allow people cycling with trailers (often with children inside) to pass through.

The Cities of Vancouver and Surrey also won an Infrastructure Improvements Award for providing All Ages and Abilities (AAA) cycling infrastructure at East 1st and Quebec (below) and along 105 Avenue (above).

East 1st and Quebec, Vancouver

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Michael Alexander came up with a great name (‘Granville Grind’) for the opportunity to include a stairway from the Granville Bridge deck to the Island below.  It should be a necessary part of the Granville Connector – the City’s name for a centre walking and cycling path across the bridge.

There’s an online survey (here), open houses and workshops through the end of April.

Michael notes:

In the future, they say they will consider an elevator to Granville Island. If they also build a stairway, and call it the Granville Grind, it will become a destination and a challenge. But if you take the survey or visit an open house or workshop, you can push for it now.

Both the City and Granville Island should priorize an elevator and stairway now.  It is, after all, part of the Granville 2040 redevelopment vision (detailed here) and makes sense from a transportation view, providing a link for all the transit that crosses the bridge.

But best of all, it would be an attraction all on its own – at a time when active tourism has proven its worth (hello, Grouse Grind) and seems to be the big new thing.

As Michael discovered at the Vessel in New York’s Hudson Yards:

Michael: “It’s not just New York City that can make stairways into destinations.”

 

UPDATE:  Scot Hein adds this recollection.

I vaguely recall that Bruce Haden, the originator of the Granville Island elevator and stair proposal in August 2002 (hard for me to believe it has been 17 years), came up with that name (‘Granville Grind’). We started referring to the potential as a fitness asset by that name within city hall at that time.

 

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London leads in the intersection of  health and transportation planning for safer, healthier cities.  Asthma is a lung disease where the airways of the lungs are swollen and  inflamed, making it harder to breathe.  London, United Kingdom is the first city in the world  introducing ULEZ zones in the inner city. ULEZ stands for Ultra-Low Emission Zone and as reported in the Guardian implementation of this zone will “reduce the 36,000 deaths caused in the UK every year by outdoor pollution.”

London is wasting no time with the zone change happening on April 8. The World Health Organization has identified outdoor air pollution as  causing over 4.2 million premature deaths in low, middle and high income countries around the world. In cities particulates from diesel engines enters the bloodstream and damages heart and circulatory systems, impacting the most vulnerable and low-income. Since London estimates  50 percent of air pollution is from vehicles and 40 percent of that from diesel vehicles, charging more for diesel vehicles’ access to the centre city should be a deterrent and have healthy consequences.

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In these two current Streetviews of the Granville and Burrard Bridges, I counted the number of pedestrians, cyclists and cars – and yes, I know the weather is distinctly different in each.  (Click title of post to see images.)

 

 

Roughly, about the same number of cars on both, a few less pedestrians on the Granville, but no cyclists.   Notice, especially, the four south-bound lanes: empty.

That’s why the City’s proposal for a new walking, rolling, and cycling path across the Granville Bridge, without adversely affecting vehicles – cars, trucks, transit – is doable.  Just as we did on Burrard.

The draft project goals are to:

– Make walking, rolling, and cycling across the bridge accessible, safe, and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.
– Provide direct and intuitive walking, rolling, and cycling connections to key destinations and to the rest of the network
– Create a special place that provides an enjoyable experience for all.
– Accommodate motor vehicles, considering the needs of transit, emergency services, and people driving.
– Design with the future in mind, considering related projects and opportunities to coordinate work.

It was identified as a priority in the early 2000s as part of a False Creek Crossing Study, and included in the City’s Transportation 2040 Plan (2012).

 

Your chance to participate in the design is coming up.

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This is a very big deal.

You know the line: “If you can make it there …”

The fees are part of a groundbreaking congestion pricing plan … which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers agreed upon early Sunday morning.

New York will become the first American city to charge such fees, though congestion pricing has been in place for years in London, Stockholm and Singapore, among other communities. The fees are expected to raise billions of dollars to fix the city’s troubled subway system and thin out streets that have become strangled by traffic.

Here’s some context … and implications for the rest of us:

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