Cycling
May 22, 2019

Park Board Cycling Policy: To, Not Through – and not even that

Let’s just say it (because the Park Board doesn’t want to have to): Its de facto policy towards cycling is ‘To, Not Through’.  ‘We’ll accommodate bikes going to our facilities, but we don’t want to build cycling routes to enable them to cycle through our parks on the way to somewhere else or to reach key destinations in our parks.”

Hence: no separate cycling paths through Kits or Jericho parks.  Let the City build bikeways around them.

They don’t even want to accommodate cyclists going to their facilities if they can avoid it.

Like this one:

This is Kitsilano Pool.  It has about a half dozen asphalt paths leading to its entrance.  This is what they look like if you’re on a bike:

Or counting the little no-bike logos from space:

The paths all lead here:

Read more »

If you have been on the eastern border of France near Switzerland and Germany you may have visited Mulhouse, a former textile manufacturing town that has gone sleepy and was past its prime. But as The Guardian’s Angelique Chrisafis reports in the past decade 470 new stores and businesses have come to Mulhouse, with over 3/4 of these being independent operators.  “It is one of the only places in France with as many independents as franchises. And it is one of very few places in France where more shops are opening than closing.”

So what is the Mulhouse Magic and how did they attract new businesses? The town with a population of 110,000 made a point of attracting and promoting  independent businesses that were not part of chain stores. Like America big box retail has tried to lure the French market to more suburban locations, but a combination of factors have made Mulhouse radically different.People want to go and spend time downtown.

With a 36 million dollar euro investment plan over six years the town recreated its downtown as an “agora”, a center welcoming residents, and rebalanced its housing plan. Many high salaried citizens had moved to housing outside of the downtown core, leaving many properties vacant. By subsidizing building facade renovation and installing a tram system, bike shares, shuttle buses and easily accessible parking, Mulhouse demonstrated it was open for business.

But here is the piece that is important-the town’s public spaces and downtown environment were key in the transformation of Mulhouse into a place to locate businesses and to shop. The magic ingredients? Wide sidewalks, benches, and lots and lots of tree planting and landscaping.

 “Making the town’s public spaces attractive was just as important, with wider pavements, dozens of benches, and what officials deemed a “colossal budget” for tree planting and maintenance, gardening and green space. Local associations, community groups and residents’ committees were crucial to the efforts. A town centre manager was appointed to support independents and high-street franchises setting up.”

Read more »

[Update: Do read Geoff’s comment at the end of this post.  Powerful and provocative.]

 

SFU Vancouver – the downtown campus – is now 30 years old since SFU came down from the mountain.  It’s what President Andrew Petter says helps make SFU the engaged university.

Engagement is the particular work of the Centre for Dialogue, Public Square, City Conversations and the City Program – all of which had events happening on Thursday, and two of which featured Mary Rowe, the speaker for this year’s Warren Gill Lecture.  They certainly engaged me, with more questions than I had a chance to ask.  Here are some.

INEQUALITY AND DIVERSITY

When considering the rural-urban divide in Canada, Mary began with two points that are pretty much taken as self-evident in academia: diversity is good, inequality is bad.  Policies for healthy cities should encourage the former and reduce the latter.

But what if inequality is a measure of diversity?

Since a diverse city is one in which there are many different kinds of people and pursuits, do those differences of equality become magnified with greater diversity? In fact, is increasing inequality how we know the city is more diverse?

Let’s say public policies were effective at reducing inequality by redistributing benefits, by building the infrastructure, physical and cultural, to build a stronger middle class.  Isn’t the result a more homogenous city, perhaps less likely to generate the cultural and economic energy we associate with places like New York in the 1970s, London in the 1800s, Florence in the 1500s?  Does equality mean boring and less diverse?

 

MAKING CHOICES IN A CLIMATE EMERGENCY

At noon, at City Conversations the topic was the climate emergency, with Councillor Christine Boyle (who introduced the climate emergency motion at council and is interviewed here on PriceTalks); Atiya Jaffar, digital campaigner for 350.org;  and New Westminster Councillor Nadine Nakagawa.

I had three ‘tough questions’, with the opportunity to ask only one – itself somewhat facetious:

Read more »

In cities across the States, councils and legislatures seem ready for sweeping change – in this case, sweeping away the constraints of single-family zoning to force or incentivize cities to accommodate more density and, arguably, more affordable housing.  What seemed to begin in Minneapolis is now gaining momentum – and pushback.

There’s a report, column or opinion piece coming every week (thanks to Sightline for keeping track). Here’s a sampling.

In Washington:

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a wide-ranging set of housing reforms sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon. The representative hopes the measures will address some of those key barriers to housing. The new laws will offer a financial carrot for cities to allow more density, loosen regulations to reduce the cost of constructing subsidized affordable housing, limit opportunities for legal challenges against new development, bar discriminatory bans on supportive housing for people exiting homelessness and more.

In Oregon:

Read more »

Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Heritage House Tour

The 2019 self-guided tour offers an exclusive look inside ten historic Vancouver houses across five neighbourhoods and six decades of design, from the 1890s to the 1950s.

The adaptability of older houses and buildings is also a theme on this year’s tour with both historic and recent examples: two heritage homes converted for school use, starting in the 1930s but with recent chapters.

See how a charity utilizes a special historic house that was saved from demolition by community efforts and now offers a welcoming environment. Nearby, a former duplex  converted into a bed & breakfast and venue for same-sex marriages.

Also modern interventions such as a basement suite addition, a concept that has added living space and housing options to Vancouver homes for decades. Another stop will show a sensitive second floor addition on a character bungalow, expanding family accommodation while retaining original features.

Not to be missed design highlights include the Mid-Century Modern masterpiece created by architect Barry Downs in 1959 for his own family and the 1910 Hirschfeld House in handsome Arts and Crafts style.

A pre-tour lecture. The Ever Changing House: A History of Adaptability with historian John Atkin will explore the many ways older homes have been adapted through the decades in Vancouver.

 

Sunday, June 2

10 am – 5 pm

$40 or $30 with valid student ID (not including taxes and postage)

Tickets here or call 604 264 9642

 

Pre-tour Lecture: The Ever Changing House: A History of Adaptability

Monday, May 27th, 7:30 pm – 9pm, $16 or $10 for students and 2019 Heritage House Tour ticket holders

 

Read more »

Sandy James’s post on Cornelia Oberlander – “the First Lady of Canadian Landscape Design” – is so apropos at this time of year, when her legacy, particularly Robson Square, literally blossoms.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the look of Vancouver is captured in her works.

She’s still active, still provocative.  In the film “City Dreamers” in which she’s featured, she says she’s not in favour of daylighting streams that have been previously culverted – as is proposed, for instance, for Brewery Creek through False Creek Flats.  Too many unexpected consequences, says the voice of experience.

Read more »

In the good news/bad news department, the City of Vancouver has announced a “Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI) “on a proposed master plan for four iconic west end parks, their beaches, and the adjacent street networks. Noting that there is an expectation of 18,000 more residents in the West End by 2040 and the fact that this area is heavily frequented by tourists, the City is looking at a refreshing rethink of this place that is so loved by locals.

That heavily used parks that are older are being considered for a facelift is great, with enhancements being proposed for Morton Park, better connections for cyclists to the seawall, better readable open space, and an emphasis on biodiversity and festival space.

The Vancouver Aquatic Centre built in 1976 is over forty years old and is due for an overhaul. It would benefit from a redesign that tied it into Sunset Park. The RFEOI also wants to explore climate change and sea rise, and  do work differently. Noting that these lands are on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, any proposal must include meaningful engagement with the Nations. This could be very exciting to have placemaking and marking from the indigenous perspective, and explore culturally and historically the use and importance of this site.

The bad news was it appeared that some City Councillors and Parks Commissioners were unaware of this city proposal and initiative, which follows city policy to improve and manage public amenities and improve active transportation connections.

Read more »

TransLink was recently asking Vancouverites for suggestions on the best seating design for new SkyTrain cars.  Hopefully they saw this video from Cheddar on a study done for New York’s transit system:

Are the cars the MTA uses currently the best for the way we ride the subway? In 2013, researchers from Operations Planning Group at NYCT submitted their improved design to the Transportation Research Board.

(Click headline of post to show video.)

Yeah, it’s fodder for ELMTOTs*, but it also an exploration of human behaviour in confined spaces and how design affects us.

 

* Urban Dictionary: “Stands for Expo Line Memes for TransLink Oriented Teens. It’s a Facebook group for over 1300 kids-with-no-life to share memes of Vancouver.”

And doesn’t that screen capture above look like Vancouver?  It’s probably Long Island City, as the East River shoreline transforms into False Creek.

Read more »

Shaping Vancouver 2019: What’s the Use of Heritage?

“What’s the Use of Heritage?” discusses how heritage fits in to planning Vancouver’s near future, what some of its uses are, and how it contributes to the city in more ways than aesthetics and historic commemoration.

 

Conversation #1: Reshaping Local Places

Under many different names, including “revitalization”and “regeneration”, heritage is and can be used to craft a positive place image, develop local economic sectors, create a neighbourhood centre for culture, and improve upon the animation of local areas.

This process is especially relevant and timely in the False Creek Flats, Chinatown, and Punjabi Market areas of Vancouver.

Four panelists share their insights about their local places:

  • Ajay Puri– Engagement consultant, City of Vancouver Report on Punjabi Market
  • Alisha Masongsong– Project Manager, Exchange Inner City
  • Belle Cheung– Social and Cultural Planner, City of Vancouver Chinatown Transformation Team
  • Elia Kirby– President of the Arts Factory Society at 281 Industrial Avenue

 

Wednesday, May 21

7 – 9 pm

SFU Woodwards,149 West Hastings Street, Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre

Tickets here

 

Read more »