Tomorrow, Vancouver City Council will receive a report from engineering about public engagement on proposed improvements to the Granville Bridge that would add safe, accessible facilities for cycling and walking, and connect up to similar facilities at either end.

What might that look like? Details aside, we already know the likely, big picture outcomes — you can see them on Burrard Bridge, and most recently, on Cambie Bridge.

Speaking of which, our friends at small places have a new before and after video called Cambie Connected: Cycling Smithe, Nelson, Beatty, and the Bridge

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Let’s take a fresh look at that old fish tale about pedestrians not crossing a street midblock. Think about it~why are we insisting that pedestrians cross at corners? Is that not specifically to treat pedestrians and other vulnerable road users just like vehicular traffic and force them to behave as such, waiting their turn at an intersection?

There is a sad reality on  our fatality statistics in Metro Vancouver and basically anywhere on pedestrian crashes. You will find that the majority of fatalities are pedestrians over fifty years of age, mostly men, that are crossing at intersections WITH the  walk light. And how are pedestrians getting injured and  dying? It appears that the majority of crashes seem to occur with drivers  turning left through the intersection when the pedestrian has right of way.

This article by ggwash.org is worth revisiting~author Ben Ross who wrote Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism asks why we insist that pedestrians cross at intersections, suggesting that “careful jaywalking” saves lives. Ross observes that while there are “no definitive studies”,  statistical evidence collected from New York’s Vision Zero program can show the way.

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When talking about pedestrian environments I am referring to walkable, inviting places that include the most vulnerable in our communities~the very young, the disenfranchised, those with mobility challenges, and the elderly. This is accessible mobility for everyone in the pedestrian environment.

Why is it so challenging to maintain good walking environments with smooth, continuous sidewalk, curb cuts correctly formed in the right locations at intersections, lots of visual interest and places to go to and through? Why do these pedestrian environments, which have been  proven to be great for enhancing retail’s bottom line seen as an add on in Council reports, instead of having their own distinct plan?

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The City of Delta’s management continues their 20th century fascination with car culture. Last month I wrote about the extraordinary Council report  where the  Delta engineering department recommending concrete barriers to facilitate vehicular movement at 16th Avenue and 53A Street in Tsawwassen with solid double  yellow lines for car traffic at this “T” intersection. There have been a number of vehicles that have ended up in neighbours’ yards and  there is NO marked pedestrian crosswalk. Vehicles in Tsawwassen never stop for  pedestrians.

This residential intersection  is on a bikeway and pedestrian access point to a park, schools and to the commercial area, but no provision was made for vulnerable road users in this design. In fact the words “pedestrian”  and “cyclist” were not mentioned once in the report to Delta council.

Subsequent to our comment last month, this report was pulled  and the Delta Engineering Department has gone back to the drawing board. But not before temporarily plunking concrete barriers with tips that now preclude safe pedestrian travel on one of the corners of the “T” intersection.

Motordom reigns supreme with the City of Delta.

 

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In the City of Delta there has been a council switcheroo, with the old city manager coming back as the Mayor, and the previous Mayor, octogenarian Lois Jackson coming back to “support” the Mayor as a Councillor. New Mayor and former city manager George Harvie is backing the same old agenda as Jackson did, once again demanding a multi million dollar pedestrian overpass at 52nd Street and Highway 17 linking the new golf course Tsawwassen Springs development (where the Mayor resides) with the Tsawwassen Mills mega mall.

You can see in the current design shown below that there are simple improvements that could be made to make the crossing more comfortable and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. And one of the things that Delta could do immediately is lower the speeds on 52nd Street, which the city has posted at 60 km/h at this location.

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Britain’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (with the wonderful initials of NICE) have drafted guidelines for planners and British municipalities to prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and transit over cars. In Metro Vancouver there is no pedestrian plan for the City of Vancouver, and for the City of Delta pedestrians are barely mentioned in the Transportation plan. A clear set of national guidelines in Canada would be helpful to create “safe, attractive and designed” roads that give people other options besides driving. Happily Britain’s Department of Transport supports the policies and understands that increasing walking and cycling prevents chronic diseases including diabetes and depression.

NICE has made the connection that well designed  transportation systems coupled with walkable accessible  built environments can keep people fit and active, which benefits the individual and the universal health care system. Designing for safety and security when walking or cycling is key, as well as for the most vulnerable users who may have limited mobility.

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