Rod King holds  an MBE awarded by the Queen (Member of the British Empire) in Great Britain for his work as  Founder and Campaign Director for “20 is Plenty.”  He has been an advocate for default vehicular driver speeds of 20 miles per hour in cities and towns in Great Britain and Europe,and he has the support of the  United Nations Assembly and the World Health Organization.

With metric conversion Mr. King likes  30 kilometers per hour for municipal driver road speeds too.

Mr. King has been actively campaigning since 2007 assisting communities in a more liveable street environment, encouraging  mandatory 20 mph (30 km/h) speed limit for most roads. His advocacy group does not “represent any particular sector of society or mode of transport and supporters include children, adults and the elderly.”

In 2018 the City of Edinburgh lowered driver road speeds around the city to 20 mph to make the city safer, walkable and more sociable. I have previously written about  Edinburgh experiencing a 25 percent reduction of  cyclist and pedestrian injury rates in the first year of the reduced road speed.

In an extensive study published in the Urban Analytics and City Science Journal, researchers looked at the  impacts of reduced speeds in the City of Edinburgh. The researchers at St. Andrew’s University  found that the lowered driver speed limits of 20 mph reduced crashes by one-third in the two years since the lower road speeds were implemented.

As reported by The BBC St. Andrews University’s Dr. Valentin Popov of the School of Mathematics and Statistics says that the research indicates that the 20 mph lower speed policy was effective.

Read more »

During the start of the Covid pandemic, bus drivers had a particularly hard time finding places to use washrooms. When the shutdown commenced last March, there was still not a lot of information out about the Covid-19 virus, and many businesses were hesitant to allow the use of their washrooms by people other than their own customers.

Saramaya Jasaitis sends this article about the Wallflower Diner at 2420 Main Street who right from the start invited bus drivers and others that needed to go to use their facilities.

Owners  Heather Szilagyi and Eric Neilson opened up their washroom early in the pandemic, as Miranda Fatur reports in CityNews.

These are the kind of business people we all need to support, in that they directly realized the challenge of lack of washrooms for the most vulnerable of residents. “People are already marginalized, and we don’t want to contribute to marginalizing [people] even further.”

It’s not easy to open up your washroom facilities in a restaurant, and the Covid protocols require a lot of extra maintenance in those areas. I have over the last several years written about the fact that this city does not provide public washrooms anywhere in urban places where it would just make sense for people in the downtown who are seniors, who are vulnerable, who have children, or just plainly need to use the facilities.

As covered in the Vancouver Sun, five years ago  Vancouver councillor Elizabeth Ball put forward a motion, inspired by the  Vancouver’s Seniors Advisory Committee for public washrooms, which stated: “Access to public toilets is a basic human need and is a critical feature of any age-friendly city.”
As noted in the motion, public toilets help older adults and those with medical issues feel comfortable going out to run errands, exercise and socialize, “thus encouraging healthy, active aging”.  

Public washrooms also assist people to use transit if there are facilities at the transit stations. But somehow providing public washrooms as an amenity was something not valued by this city, and while there may be over 90 washrooms in public parks, those are NOT in downtown urban areas or places that people frequent for accessing shops and services.

It is certainly not helpful for a current City Council member to state to CityNews “The lack of washrooms, and defecation on streets, points to the biggest issues like housing. So washrooms are just band-aiding the issue.”

That is absolute nonsense.

Read more »

In 2016 when a report  on  Point Grey Road becoming the Seaside Greenway went to Council, there was much discussion about separating walking from biking, and ensuring that sidewalks were adequate and wide enough. You can reference that report here.

Of course some residents had usurped public city owned boulevard property as their own, by adding in shrubbery and fences, and were none too pleased when the City needed that public property for public things, like sidewalks and boulevards.  There was even discussion from residents that they would be more likely to crash into pedestrians and cyclists with the hedges and trees removed. You can’t make this stuff up.

It is always instructive to look back at what people feared of and to look at how things actually progressed. When the Seaside Greenway was approved, real estate values on Point Grey Road apparently  increased by 30 percent. It is a traffic calmed, quiet street.  And yes, there is an elephant in the yard, in the 3600 block of Point Grey Road.

I have written that  privately owned landscaping on public property may always be challenged. As the city grows and enhances walking and cycling mobility there will be more vigilance to ensure that homeowner landscaping does not impede proposed city works, or indeed, city owned property.

Sadly, the Point Grey elephant’s enclosure does take up some publicly owned property too, and the fence was not moved as part of the improvements for the Seaside Greenway.

Read more »

If you have been walking on the Seaside Greenway on the southside of False Creek, you may have noticed that it is a bit of a slime fest  and hard to walk on for several sections. In 2015 the City had a summer drought and cut back on the use of things like pressure washers, according to this CBC story. 

But the story also said that pressure washing could continue for health and safety purposes, and there is no drought now.

What happens when it is a city owned greenway where hundreds of people walk? I had heard that the city was no longer using pressure washers for regular maintenance, but could not find any report or reference to that change of practice on the City’s website. Perhaps PriceTags readers would know.

Read more »