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:

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[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:

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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.

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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.

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For anyone that knows the Canadian First Lady of Landscape Architecture, 98 year old  Cornelia Oberlander you know that she is a force of nature with a visionary lens that has proven to be right time and time again.

She was advocating for green roofs decades ago, pointing out their ability to lower temperatures, provide greenery and absorb rainwater. She insisted on double rows of street trees as allees fifteen feet apart around the Robson Square Courthouse when it was being built in the 1970’s. She designed the roof top garden of the downtown Vancouver Public Library which is now on everyone’s list as a “go to” public space.

And she is already advocating for the new Jericho Lands 52  acre site to be developed as a complete ecological city, similar to Stockholm Port City or King’s Cross London. 

Sabrina Furminger in the Vancouver Courier   describes the new documentary film “City Dreamers” by filmmaker Joseph Hillel that follows four urban architects: Cornelia Oberlander, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, Phyllis Lambert and Denise Scott Brown.

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Occasionally ‘Changing Vancouver‘ will post an example of a Vancouver that hasn’t changed in decades.  Like this lot in the 600-block Nelson (click post headline for images):

This 1981 image shows that not everything has changed Downtown – yet. If heritage status could be conferred on surface parking lots, this one might qualify, as it has been a vacant site for at least 40 years, with no sign yet of a development proposal.

Here’s another at Richards and Pender:

 

These downtown sites at least generate parking revenue.  The really mysterious lots are those that have been grassed-over and empty for decades on high-value sites in the West End, like this one at Robson and Gilford:

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I wonder how many kids of Asian ethnicity, growing up in Vancouver, have images like this …

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…looking adorable as a blossoming cherry.

Actually, how many Vancouverites of every ethnicity take the same pictures every year as boulevards of Akebono, Kinsan and Pink Perfection burst into spring?

The Cherry Blossom Festival is definitely a Vancouver thing – recognition of a city with a shifting mix of European and Asian influences in its landscaping. And in the traditions of its families.

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