Cycling
March 24, 2021

North Shore Tour 3 – The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Whee

When Tony Valente invited me over for a tour of recent cycling developments in the City of North Vancouver, he offered an irresistible inducement: an e-bike experience.

As someone who has never quite seen the need for one (or felt that it was a kind of cheating), I nonetheless anticipated that e-bikes were the wave of the future.  In fact, I was surprised they hadn’t washed ashore sooner in a tsunami from some massive factory in Taiwan.

Well, the future is showing up – that wave is coming in on the North Shore.  In particular, at Tony Sun’s Reckless outlet in The Shipyards.

Perhaps it’s is a confluence of factors: small powerful batteries, an aging demographic, falling prices, the need for pandemic-safe recreation, the cool factor.

Or even hormones.  Once Tony took a few minutes to explain the basic mechanics, I was pressing the button to kick in the e-assist.  It was like a hit of adrenaline, the bike felt almost alive, and out of my mouth came an unforced reaction.

Whee!

And what better place to take a test run than the North Shore.  They have hills over there.  Long ones, like East Keith Road:

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Councillor Tony Valente has been advocating for ‘complete streets’ even before he ran for council in the City of North Vancouver – a city laid our before the dominance of the auto (check out its City-Beautiful aspirations on Keith Road or Grand Boulevard) but succumbed to Motordom as a post-war suburban city (check out Third Street west of Forbes or, worse, Esplanade).

Esplanade was a particular target for Tony (who now lives on the arterial) in his advocacy for streets that could serve a variety of modes safely and beautifully.  He’s now seeing it come to fulfilment.

The changes, complete with separated bike lane, are part of a greater transformation of Lower Lonsdale – with some big changes, small indicators, and one that’s quite surprising.

Here’s a delightful touch on Carrie Cates Court at Lonsdale Quay – a glass-enclosed canopy for bike racks on a newly widened and well-furnished sidewalk in front of a mixed-use tower.  Check, check, check.

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A trip across the water last week to meet City of North Vancouver Councillor Tony Valente for an e-bike tour.

Began at Lonsdale Quay – home to one of the best but once-dullest transit exchanges in the region.

 

That’s changed.  As part of the station upgrades which TransLink has been doing these past few years (and which have had the misfortune of finishing during the pandemic), Lonsdale has gone from dismal gray to crisp white.

There is still a lot of gray, particularly in the tile work.  And I had been expecting more animated LED lighting for colour, particularly along the so-seventies ribbed concrete walls on the side (though there is such an art work at the north entrance, right, plus some highlighting of a light well.)  Other changes are illustrated in this Hive article and before-and-after video from the North Shore News:

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Councillor Tony Vallente sends in this post from the City of North Vancouver, in anticipation of the new RapidBus service to Moodyville and through CNV.  Click title for helpful illustration  

As previously suggested in Dan Ross’s post More than Enough in Moodyville, a multi-year transformation is underway in the North Vancouver.  The arrival of the Marine Drive RapidBus delayed from Spring 2019 to early 2020 is very much underway.

A complete street is taking place on East 3rd Avenue in the City of North Vancouver, with space allocated for walking on sidewalks, a Mobility Lane, a dedicated bus lane (currently used as parking, all hail Shoup!), and a lane for cars.

A Mobility Lane is CNV lingo for a space that serves bikes, electric mobility devices, e-scooters, and probably other stuff we do not know will exist in the near future. (Councillors McIlroy and I passed a motion in July asking staff to prioritize segments of the City’s AAA cycling network as Mobility Lanes.)

The City of North Vancouver has been very diligent about attaining adequate space along the East 3rd corridor for years and that vision is now coming to fruition as the new Moodyville will be well served by RapidBus and also have space for alternate modes.

If the change in Moodyville to complete streets seems insufficient, look at Chesterfield at 3rd Street where a new development included a segment of off road. This is the new standard for bike routes in the City.  As more people use them with an increasingly diverse number of transportation devices, we can expect the outcry for a more complete transportation network to grow.

Transportation options in North Vancouver are beginning to be plentiful.

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The Shipyards has been launched.   It’s just east of Lonsdale at the North Vancouver waterfront – a mixed-use commercial development at the centre of the City of North Vancouver’s Central Waterfront  

The commercial offerings (the restaurants, the boutiques, the Cap U extension) are still to come.  Nearly complete, however, is a great new public space that will serve not just Lower Lonsdale (LoLo) but the whole North Shore.

The Shipyards replaces the bloodlessly named Lot 5 in the plan below.  The green-coloured Commons’ fulfils almost exactly the vision that informed the project from the beginning.  The Commons is a covered year-round public space big enough, at 12,000 square feet, to accommodate major events while still providing a flexible intimacy needed to give sparkle to what mayor Linda Buchanan calls ‘the jewel in the crown.’

The design is by Dialog, among whose principals, Norm Hotson and Joost Bakker, were the architects of Granville Island.  This space is not just what’s on the floor and at first level.  There is also the spectacle of the walls and ceiling: a cathedral-like industrial legacy above, a retractable roof extension over the water park alongside, with galleries surrounding the space to the east and south.  There’s constant animation around, over and above, with people looking down, up and across.  Irresistibly moving around to capture views and Instagrammable moments both front and back.  It’s dynamism in three dimensions.

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