Cycling
June 13, 2019

Downtown Vancouver Bike Network Expansion: Drake Street Options

The ‘golden age’ of active transportation development in Vancouver continues, with ongoing expansion of the downtown bike network now reaching Drake Street.

Despite what you may hear elsewhere, Drake isn’t very sexy, or even that interesting. But as the City suggests, Drake is actually essential to the concept of a complete network, because it connects where people are coming from, to where they want to go.

A fair number of people cycle beyond the protected cycling facilities on Drake Street, indicating…strong desire.

Currently, cycling volumes on Drake Street are highest between Burrard Street and Hornby Street, the only section with dedicated cycling facilities.

That “strong desire” is based on evidence of an average of 500 daily midweek bike trips in the summer, about 40% of the volume at the separated portion.

By focusing on the rest of Drake, one can infer that, not only is the ultimate goal to provide safe passage for those venturing between Burrard/Hornby and Richards, Homer, or to destinations like David Lam Park, but that more people could be drawn into downtown by bike in the first place, if only these connecting bits (like Drake) had dedicated facilities.

Here’s where the City needs your input — they’re seeking feedback on two different design options, plus ideas on how to support the activities of local businesses, organizations, and residents.

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At 7pm this evening, award-winning landscape designer and author Margie Ruddick presents the third of the Inspire Jericho Talks public lecture series, “Creating Great Neighbourhoods – Respect the Land“, hosted by Canada Lands Company, the MST Partnership, and the City of Vancouver. (Details and registration links follow.)

Ruddick is a New York-based landscape architect and author of Wild by Design, and winner of the National Design Award in 2013 for her pioneering, environmental approach to urban landscape design, “forging a design language that integrates ecology, urban planning, and culture”.

Her reputation for realizing the idea of nature in the city once actually resulted in a court fine for bringing a bit too much nature to her own backyard.

As the landscape design mind behind some of the east coast’s most treasured, natural public spaces, Ruddick is perhaps the perfect choice to talk about strategies for creating life-enhancing landscapes that combine ecological function with design, reflecting the aim of Inspire Jericho Talks — to share inspiration, spark ideas, and explore possibilities for the future of the Jericho Lands.

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The following video features new Vancouver city councillor Colleen Hardwick speaking to the amendment, drawn from the “Making Room” housing program — itself an outcome of the staff-driven 10-year Housing Vancouver Strategy — that would allow duplexes across the city.

It’s actually two parts, featuring…

  1. Candidate Hardwick at a public hearing in September, on concerns about the process used to approve the original “duplex motion”; and
  2. Councillor Hardwick addressing the council amendment about a process, proposed in November, to facilitate the rescinding of the motion.

(Hint: The first part is not like the second part.)

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Six years after the adoption of Transportation 2040 by city council, work continues to expand and connect the downtown Vancouver cycling network.

Up next are upgrades to an extension of the Richards Street protected bike lane, from Cordova to Pacific, to provide better access to downtown, and of course the commensurate infrastructure for the safety and comfort for people of all ages and abilities. (Can you say triple-yay?)

An open house is happening next week where the public can ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed design:

Thursday, December 6
4pm to 8pm

Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch
Promenade Trade Fair (North End)
350 W Georgia Street

Can’t make it? You can be part of the consultation — check out the design boards and information displays, then:

 

 

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One of the more remarkable aspects of the housing affordability crisis in Vancouver is the endless bloviating about community amenity policies and consultation processes, yet we are unwilling, or unable, to discuss actual root causes.

Stuart Smith is a director of advocacy group Abundant Housing Vancouver, and has done a lot of research on factors that have gotten us to where we are today, like exclusionary zoning. My notes from a meet-up over beer in early May include the names Sonia Trauss, Kim-Mai Cutler, and Stephanie Allen.

A few weeks ago, on the first of two days of public hearings in council chambers to debate the motion to amend RS-1 zoning across much of the city to allow for duplexes — an offshoot of the Making Room report (spoiler alert: it passed) — Stuart was one of the voices supporting this motion.

He was too short on time for an anecdote which would have served as an important educational moment — he shared it with me afterwards, along with the above map:

90 years ago, Harland Bartholomew drew this map. Its explicit goal was to constrain and separate apartments, and people who live in apartments, from detached homes, and the people who live in detached homes.

Many proponents of this map knew it would ghettoize apartments, and the racialized and marginalized people who were most likely to inhabit them at that time. They considered this a feature, not a bug.

This was a radical change to traditional ways of building a city. It’s been 90 years. The experiment has failed. It’s time to move on. It’s time to make room.

It’s possible this 90-year old zoning plan ultimately influenced the housing tempest we find ourselves in today.

If you buy into the idea that past is prologue — or, if you’re skeptical of Making Room and the duplex motion in general — watch and listen to the final 90 seconds of his Stuart’s actual presentation. It’s worth it:

The full text of Stuart’s five-minute presentation to Council follows.

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Any macchiatto tour of Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant hood must now begin (or end) at one of the most west coast of open-air patios — at 14th and Main.

Pavement-to-Plaza, a new video by the team of Brian and Kathleen of small places, shows how the new configuration at this popular intersection, in the midst of a busy stretch of high street stores and restaurants, is also fulfilling the demand for calmed public spaces, with safer passage for people on bike and foot.

Check out the video below — a head-bobber, for sure.

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The majority of Vancouver’s land is zoned for residential use, but forbids apartment buildings.  (click to enlarge)

Thanks to @GRIDSVancouver for this rendering of the opportunity in Vancouver to change zoning and provide more housing for more people.

My question: how will this play out in the upcoming civic election? A split across traditional left-right dimensions? Emergence of new poles of opinion  density increase, or status quo; rezone or not; rezone much, or a little; rezone on arterials only; rezone only mansion-oriented pockets; rip out bike lanes?

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Candidates of various persuasions keep telling me that housing is the #1 issue for Vancouver in the 2018 civic election.

I suppose that various parts of the political spectrum will find ways to claim this issue for themselves. Crazy, I know, but maybe by coming up with policies and platforms that lead to solutions. (Well, maybe.)

Here, COPE lets us know just what they stand for, as we tiptoe deeper into the troll-infested topic of housing, rezoning, density, neighbourhoods — and brace ourselves for the blow-back from certain quarters.

COPE’s opening policy statement (below) seems like a stake in the far left of the political spectrum. And would you expect anything less from the party whose recent electoral slogan was “Tax the Rich”?

With thanks to COPE council candidate Derrick O’Keefe (@derrikokeefe)

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There are some surprises in the City of Vancouver’s Northeast False Creek rezoning plans for 750-772 Pacific Boulevard (the Plaza of Nations site, or Sub-area B), and the 777 Pacific Boulevard site (1 Robson Street, or Sub-area 10c) — previously covered by Price Tags —which appear to favour the developer, not the public.

The BC Pavilion Corporation — or PavCo, the public developer and a BC Crown Corporation under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture — is exceeding the recommended square footage for the sites laid out in the guidelines by nearly twenty per cent.

The plan insists on a “gateway” of three over-height towers, well above the established heights for the site of 300 feet. Instead of three 30 storey buildings, the plan is asking for two tall towers of 42 storeys and a “smaller” tower of 40 storeys.

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