I have been writing about the fact that Vancouver has a dearth of public washrooms in downtown areas and also along the major transit routes.

Let’s talk about  Portland’s success in not only getting their very own designed bathroom available to the public, but one so cool it even has its own patent. And this is nothing new, Portland was busy installing their fifth public washroom in 2012, customized with art by students in a local primary school.  You can see the YouTube of the official unveiling of the Portland Loo below.

The design process for this washroom as outlined in CityLab was unique in that Portland looked at other municipalities’ public toilets and realized that the privacy of them allowed for “nefarious” activities to occur in them.

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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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The January winter is always a time where people evaluate effectiveness and success, and looking at New York City’s High Line is no different. This article by Justin Davidson in the New York Magazine describes the author’s ennui with the place, as it transformed from an old 30 foot high 1.45 mile (2.33 km)  long train bridge to a wildly successful people place.

Davidson minces no words describing the High Line as “an elevated cattle chute for tourists, who shuffle from the Whitney to Hudson Yards, squeezed between high glass walls and luxury guard towers. The views are mostly gone, which is a good thing because stopping to admire one would cause a 16-pedestrian pileup. The rail-level traffic mirrors the congestion overhead, caused by construction so hellbent on milking New York’s waning real estate hyper-boom that any patch of land bigger than a tick’s front yard is considered suitable for luxury condos.”

I spent time with Mitchell Silver, New York City’s Park Commissioner and Robert Hammond, one of the founders of the High Line walking the length of the project, and described that here. Mitchell observed that locals stay away from the High Line during “tourist season” hours, and also stressed that the width of the walkway~fifteen feet~was inadequately narrow, despite best intentions. The reuse of an  old highway overpass in Seoul Korea has resulted in the creation of Seoullo 7017, a fantastic arboretum and linear park thirty feet in the air. When I visited this project last year, designers also said that their walkway~which was also fifteen feet wide~was too narrow as well. This project is well-lit and open 24 hours a day and has a bakery and a daycare on its deck.

Seoullo7017

While it is popular to believe that the High Line has been responsible for the rejuvenation and revitalization of this very old meatpacking district, I beg to differ.

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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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“The truth about a city’s aspirations isn’t found in its vision,” says Brent Toderian. “It’s found in its budget.”

“Budgets,” confirms Sam Sullivan, “are the sincerest form of rhetoric.”

So when it comes to the priority that the Parks Board places on cycling, don’t bother with its plans or the commissioners’ affirmations.  Look to its capital plan, where you will find … almost nothing.

Here’s the 2019-22 capital plan.  Check page 36 for the Parks Board, where you will find in the chart $2.4 million for “skate &bike facilities/tracks” – a pittance in the scheme of things.  By comparison, the City will spend $3 million just for the Bute greenway and Helmcken-Comox greenway extension.

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