Well, some of it. The cherry blossoms on the new trees of Point Grey Road.
From John Graham:
State Street in Santa Barbara
Yes, there are no people because it is raining—about enough to raise a shrug in Vancouver. But the real thing missing is parking. And in its place, fabulous street landscape and furniture. All parking is away in lots or under buildings or down side streets.
This week, selected items and observations from a short trip to Victoria.
The Victoria I grew up in was a product of the 1940s and ’50s. Literally: this was the house my father had built in 1946 on return from the war. Cost: $7,000, with a Veteran’s loan. (In 2017 dollars: $102,000)
It is astonishing to me how much of that era is still intact. Almost nothing has changed on the surrounding blocks, not even the corner store down the street.
Bringing my Vancouver eyes, I can see that era is coming to an end. Land values are rising as the decades-old housing stock decays. In some neighbourhoods, like Cadboro and Cordova Bays, it means the original house, regardless of condition or suitability, must be demolished and replaced with a development that maximizes the allowable density and provides all the amenities expected for million-dollar-plus accommodation.
The same conundrum: the loss of more affordable housing (small houses on large lots, especially), a change in scale and character of the community, discomfort with speculation and empty homes – but a resistance to anything that might lower property values or tax the spectacular gains that one generation lucked out on even as they complain that their children can’t afford to live in the neighbourhoods they grew up in.
This is not the Victoria that established residents want, but it looks increasingly like the one they will be getting.
From smartcitiesdive – some things to think about when designing or adapting cities for autonomous vehicles:
- Preparations and improvements could start with something as simple as fixing potholes and ensuring lane markings on city streets are visible and consistent.
- Should (AVs) be in dedicated lanes, at least during a likely transition period when they will need to share space with human-operated vehicles?
- Dedicating lanes to AVs could raise questions about fairness, as AVs would initially only be used by a select few people.
- It could be difficult given the constraints already on cities’ right-of-way and a lack of space to further widen their streets.
- Cities also need to consider upgrades to their intersections, so that connected AVs can communicate with traffic signals to ensure a smooth ride.
- If the growth in AV use means less need for parking, cities may need to decide what to do with excess surface parking lots and parking garages.
- Companies are already exploring how to change parking lots and garages, especially if those AVs also run on electricity and need to be charged. … With humans not required to plug the AV in to charge it, the car could take itself to recharge at any location that has the infrastructure.
Gord Price: Spent a few days in Victoria to deliver a talk for the District of Saanich as they begin local area planning revisions for Cadboro and Cordova Bays. In my extra hours, I had a chance to check out a few places in my home town.
The first observation: in some ways Victoria has changed not at all. It still seems to be demographically weighted to the older and retired. (At a restaurant in Broadmead, an affluent suburb of Saanich, among the hundred-or-so diners almost all were in their 50s or above, and 100 percent were white.) On Government Street downtown, Murchies tea shop still looks like the setting for a Barron cartoon*:
The extraordinary landscape of southern Vancouver Island, with Gary Oak and Arbutus prospering in the drier, milder landscape of rock outcrops and ridges, is still the defining feature of this self-conscious Eden.
However, the built city is changing, particularly in the blocks on the immediate west side of downtown:
Victoria, when I was growing up there in the 60s, knew what it didn’t want: anything that looked like downtown Vancouver and the West End. Understandably, given its first taste of highrise development:
But after downzoning James Bay and providing no alternative for residential growth (and certainly not tall buildings), the City saw its downtown suffer with the growth of retail elsewhere, cutbacks in provincial-government employment and the economics of seasonal tourism. It then looked to Vancouverism as a model, and the results are evident.
*Sid Barron was an editorial cartoonist for Victoria and Toronto newspapers, who had a gentle touch and a sharp pen, able to delightfully caricature the British-influenced culture of post-war Canada.
The site proposal being referenced in this decades-old cartoon is a waterfront parking lot on the Inner Harbour – still, as far as I know, contentious and unresolved.
Free Lecture & Webcast
Canada’s Capital and You: The West Coast’s Capital City Builders
The National Capital Commission (NCC), in collaboration with Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies (City Program), invites the general public to join the discussion in shaping the future of our national capital. You will learn more about the significant contribution of West Coast urbanists and outstanding professionals in building Canada’s capital over the last decades and you’ll have the opportunity to share your thoughts with the panelists and Dr. Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the National Capital Commission.
This panel discussion is part of the national talks on the newly released Plan for Canada’s Capital 2017-2067. Panel guests include:
- Anne Giardini, chancellor of Simon Fraser University
- Marta Farevaag, founding principal of PFS Studio
- Pauline Rafferty, chair of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights
- Norman Hotson, founding principal of DIALOG Design Studio
The panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the National Capital Commission. The event is hosted by Gordon Harris, CEO of the SFU Community Trust.
This event is sponsored by The National Capital Commission. Learn more about Canada’s Capital 2017-2067.
Wed April 11
SFU Segal Graduate School of Business (500 Granville St.)
Admission: Free but reservations required. Reserve seats on Eventbrite.
Webcast: Free. Register on Eventbrite.
Autonomous Vehicles (or AVs) were to make life easier with less road crashes and carnage. Nearly 38,000 people in the United States are annually killed on roads, and that number is rising. Autonomous vehicles would enable transportation for people who did not have drivers’ licences, and also dealt with the pesky problem of drivers getting older. Statistics Canada figures from 2009 show that almost 28 per cent of drivers over the age of 65 are driving with some form of dementia. Autonomous vehicles would allow everyone to be mobile that could afford to use their services.
Transportation experts have continually pointed out that despite the positives of universal access to AVs there are some fundamental problems. Autonomous vehicles do not get rid of congestion, they just add to it. And while there may be less parked cars in downtowns and in cities, the streets may be designed to allow for the flow of autonomous vehicles and may not be inclusive of active transportation users such as cyclists and pedestrians. Perhaps that is the fundamental question: are we so engaged by this shiny new technology that human-powered active transportation and human based design of place and cities will be suppressed for the latest iteration of motordom?
In Tempe Arizona a homeless lady with her bicycle was struck and killed by an autonomous Uber. Sadly as reported in City Lab by David Alpert, the police reported that the lady was not in a crosswalk, and the fatal road violence was blamed upon the dead victim. Nine other pedestrians had died in Arizona that week, but this death, by an autonomous vehicle was the one that garnered attention. But if all road deaths are reduced by 90 per cent, is that a reason to embrace this technology? “The woman was, indeed, not in a crosswalk. Bizarrely, there is a direct, curving brick path through the area, but it’s strictly ornamental: Pedestrians are forbidden from using it, and there are multiple signs posted to tell people not to use the path. The path follows what seems to be the most logical route to a nearby bus stop, and crosses the roads at narrower (and thus less harrowing) spots than the official crosswalk, which requires traversing seven lanes, counting turn lanes.This is the engineering reality of much of Tempe, and much of suburban America: Designers create inhospitable environments in which to walk, then try to prohibit walking in the least inhospitable parts of those environments. And often, when someone is killed, police rush to exonerate the driver.”
The Federation of International Pedestrians has been resolute in saying that no death is acceptable, and has insisted that autonomous vehicles be programmed to save all road users, not just the ones in the vehicle. There is an interest in adopting edicts like “Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities” which prioritizes people’s lives over the vehicle occupants. But as Alpert observes “We can insist that any pedestrian death is not acceptable, just as we do for aviation, where all incidents are studied intently, and commercial aviation deaths worldwide have plummeted from 2,469 people in 55 crashes in 1972 to just 44 fatalities—and none in a passenger jet—worldwide in 2017. There have been zero deaths on U.S. airlines since 2009.”
It is time to stop justifying deaths on roads because of “speed” or “convenience”. “Let this, the first recorded pedestrian killed by an autonomous car, set a better example for what we expect of our roads, and the technologies transforming them.”
Aaron Knorr is a senior architect with Perkins + Will. But, according to his business card, he’s also a “Future Mobility Researcher” – not something you’d ordinarily associate with an architectural firm.
Knorr proved the worth of those words last week when, for a select crowd, he presented the following:
It was a valuable presentation, providing both a good summary of a fast-changing topic and insights into the consequences both anticipated and possible – with lots of implications for architects.
Fortunately for those not in the room, Aaron has produced a report:
The Great Freeway Fight is one of the key mythologies of post-war Vancouver, still referenced as a key to understanding this place. But at exactly the same time – late 1960s to 1972 – a parallel fight was happening in Seattle. While I-5 had been built (and was used explicitly by the Vancouver Planning Commission to oppose the Chinatown Freeway), Seattle citizens were organizing to oppose two more freeways.
The so-called Freeway Revolt didn’t just determine the fate of Seattle’s built environment — halting the development of the proposed R.H. Thomson Expressway and Bay Freeway — it was also a galvanizing force in local politics, according to a new directory released by the Seattle Public Library.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, a broad coalition of activists in Seattle challenged plans for a dense network of freeways traversing and girdling the city. Seattle’s freeway revolt was remarkable in its scope and diversity, uniting geographically, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse groups across the city. Their collective actions over a multi-year period succeeded in halting two major freeways and significantly downsizing a third, saving parks, shoreline and thousands of homes and businesses. …
The freeway revolt was part of a unique period of activism and social change in Seattle, from the anti-war, environmental and Black Power movements to transformation of the Seattle City Council with a “new wave” of political leaders. The well-known “Save the Pike Place Market” initiative passed at the ballot only a few months before voters defeated the R.H. Thomson and Bay Freeways; leaders of the two movements were collaborators and colleagues.
Organizations such as the Seattle Model Cities program, Central Seattle Community Council Federation, Choose an Effective City Council and the Forward Thrust campaign came into being around this time and intersected with the freeway revolt around issues of community empowerment, civic leadership and mass transit.