February 8, 2021

Who Has The Right to Clear Access on Sidewalks~Pedestrians or Electric Vehicle Cords?

The City of Vancouver has a stated transportation hierarchy.  The hierarchy states that  people using the sidewalks and streets have priority over vehicles in using the city’s road network. That  makes sense in a city that is promoting sustainable travel, and has just amended the zoning by-laws to assist  corner stores to survive in neighbourhoods.

It is part of an overall trend to walkable, accessible places, for citizens to be able to walk to local shops, schools and services. It is also part of encouraging sustainable community that can pass the “ice cream”  or popsicle test~a neighbourhood with shops and  services that are safe, comfortable and so convenient that you can send your ten year old out for ice cream, and have that child arrive back home with the ice cream still not melted.

That is why the City’s latest report to allow the placement of electrical conduits on top of city sidewalks to charge electrical vehicles on the street is so confounding.

Read more »


A colleague, Dr. Bridget Burdett who is a Chartered Engineer with MR Cagney in New Zealand sends along a “Safe System Snippet” from Safe Solutions.

Dr. Burdett reminds that a “cyclist dismount” sign is NOT the answer.

If you find yourself in the situation where you want to install a ‘cyclist dismount’ sign on your road network something has gone wrong with your planning, design and/or installation.
The majority of cyclists will not dismount.
The risk remains.
We can do better.

We don’t have signs indicating Motorists dismount crossing roadways~you don’t need them for cyclists either if lanes are planned correctly.

You can take a look at more “safe system snippets” published by Safe Solutions in Brunswick, Victoria State Australia here.



Read more »

From Friend of PT, Michael Alexander:

Earlier this month, New York City opened its new train station. The Moynihan Train Hall, built inside an elegant and gigantic former post office building, is fabulous.

It also cost one point six billion U.S. dollars. It also serves only half the train lines of its predecessor, and it will cost another billion to restore all the service New Yorkers, commuters and visitors once enjoyed. Therein lies a cautionary tale…

In the first half of the 20th century, long trips in North America were mostly by train. Railroads were private businesses, which built stations sized to the communities they served.

The Canadian Pacific Railroad built Vancouver’s Waterfront Station in 1914, replacing an earlier station and hotel on the Burrard Inlet shore. In New York City four years earlier, the Pennsylvania Railroad had built Penn Station on the west side of Manhattan. Both were imposing structures, but Penn Station was spectacular: it was designed by the august architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, and was considered a Beaux-Arts masterpiece.

By the mid-1940s, Penn Station served more than 100 million passengers a year, commuters and intercity. But starting a decade later, air and interstate highway travel led to dramatic rail passenger declines. Looking to improve its bottom line, in 1962 the Pennsylvania Railroad sold the station’s air rights to a private developer, to build the Madison Square Garden sports complex (MSG). In exchange, the railroad got a 25% stake in MSG, and a no-cost, smaller underground station in the MSG basement. It wasn’t… elegant:

The demolition of the McKim, Mead and White building, and its sad replacement, caused an international uproar. “One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat,” the architectural historian Vincent Scully famously wrote in the New York Times. Public outrage catalyzed the architectural preservation movement in the U.S., new laws were passed to restrict such demolition, and landmark preservation was upheld by the courts in 1978, after the private Penn Central RR tried to demolish New York’s other great railroad treasure, Grand Central Station.

Today, Penn Station serves more than 600,000 commuter rail and Amtrak passengers on an average weekday, and arrivals and departures have doubled since the 1970s.

So why is this a caution for Vancouver? Tune in tomorrow.

Read more »

Curbs are being poured along Beach Avenue from Stanley Park to Hornby Street.

The City approved this permanent change from cones to concrete after a few months of consultation – albeit a ‘temporary’ permanent change, subject to the English Bay master plan currently under design by PFS Studio and Snøhetta.


These interventions also deal with some of the confusion and conflict resulting from this fast pandemic response in the spring when bikes were removed from the seawall.  Cyclists tended to ignore stop signals primarily designed for vehicle traffic – so now the crossings provide clarity, safety and a slowing down of two-wheelers.  (Hopefully eye-level signals for bikes will be installed where necessary.)

Read more »

Last month I wrote about Arianne, the six year old Ladner girl that had difficulty crossing Central Avenue with her siblings and her grandmother. A vehicle driver had rushed around the corner nearly hitting the children. Arianne wrote to Delta City Council telling them that a crosswalk was needed to the stores and to the park, and how hard it was to see around the corner. She finished the letter by reminding Council that she was “six years old”.

Arianne also sent in a splendid illustration of the corner where the incident happened. She drew a very nice spider on her letter, and created her own petition. She then got thirty signatures for her petition. All during the pandemic.


The one person you never want to disappoint and i would also argue disagree with is a six year old who  has done their homework, evaluated the problem, and proposed the solution.

Thankfully as Sandor Gyarmati writes in The Optimist Delta Council at their December 9th meeting  has agreed to add a crosswalk improvement at this intersection with  “overhead illuminated signs with overhead and side mounted flashing beacons, new pushbuttons, replacement and addition of LED street lights and pavement markings.”

The work is scheduled for next year, and you can be sure Arianne will be making drawings of the improvement, and monitoring it to ensure it works efficiently and correctly.



Read more »

Regular commenter Alex Botta responded extensively to the Return of the Icepick in a post below.  But his remarks deserve this separate treatment, with updated illustrations:

This thing keeps popping up like Dracula’s curse, first on hand then a body emerging from the ground. Cue the night moon, mist and pipe organ. A stake needs to be driven into its heart once and for all. I’m not convinced the Heritage Commission has enough sway to do that, though the majority certainly drove home the message that the Icepick will destroy any sense of heritage preservation with its gross intrusion.

This project cannot be compared to other singular buildings (e.g. The Exchange) because the context is completely different. The proposal is also too clumsy and inelegant by comparison to other stand-alone heritage conversions. The old CPR Station, which will be pierced by the Icepick, resides at the terminus of a preserved low-rise 19th Century streetscape. The closest high rises are separated from the Station by the 26 metre-wide Cordova Street. Moreover, it overlooks the low-rise waterfront (with the exception of the intrusive Granville Square tower). Context is everything.

There is also the conflict between public use (transit) and private use (the Icepick is a private office development as part of Cadillac Fairview / Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund). The Station is a privately-owned public use space, which seems superficially contradictory, but a dominant public use relationship that could be protected with strong long-term leases. The Icepick will be 100% private space. This is symptomatic of the confusion between public and private, and a diminishment of the role public space has in our economy. Public uses are stabilizing forces while the private economy chugs up and down the market’s peaks and valleys, occasionally getting knocked to its knees by tectonic occurrences, like pandemics that put the question to the need for so much enclosed office space. My view is that good science will win the day and allow indoor social gatherings again, but that still doesn’t justify the Icepick from a design and use perspective.

Read more »

For people northbound in the Massey Tunnel last month, there was a leak spraying in the tunnel which most motorists acclimated to Vancouver rain storms simply drove through. It was a leak from the fire suppression system.

But kudos to the Delta Optimist’s Sandor Gyarmati who scooped up and put together the best leak of the week, and that is that we will be hearing about the final decision on the Massey Tunnel replacement. That makes complete sense, as the Provincial government promised a decision this Fall, and this is the last week those kind of announcements can be made before the Christmas and New Years holiday time.

I have been writing about the twists and turns as the Massey Tunnel replacement has been politically batted around in Victoria. From a plethora of options the Ministry of Transportation earlier this year announced that there were two alternatives being considered.  There would be a tunnel or a bridge, both with eight lanes. There would be dedicated lane for transit vehicles.

Mr. Gyarmati had spoken in October with Bruce Reid, who ran for the New Democratic party unsuccessfully in Delta South. Happily Mr. Reid had divulged that it was 95 percent certain the alternative chosen is a new tunnel option. This option means that there is a gentle enough grade for the eventual installation of rail transit, there will be no flying cloverleafs usurping up land area, and the subdivision at Captain’s Cove will not be overlooked by bridge infrastructure.

Read more »