April 23, 2021

The Futility of Free Parking


This one is for the textbooks.

From The Hive:

… temporary free parking that began last year as a COVID-19 pandemic measure will be reduced   … pay parking will return …

Granville Island management had expected parking to be abundant due to travel restrictions, so they could afford to give drivers an incentive to come.  And drivers came – but not to support Granville Island businesses.  They came for the free parking.

“From employees of surrounding neighbourhood businesses to multiple groups parking to only ride their bikes along the seawall, and boaters gone for days and weeks at a time.

This, unfortunately, has resulted in a lack of parking near the Public Market for shoppers, the docks for kayak, paddleboard rentals and patios, and the artisans, restaurants and shops across the Island.”

In other words, the subsidy of free parking actually hurt the businesses it was meant to help.

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Items in the Inbox from Daily Scot:

Have you seen the Keefer Yard in Chinatown?   My favourite outdoor Covid bar in the city.

Price Tags: Now that pop-up patios have been approved year-round in cities like North Van and Vancouver, we can expect a lot of innovation to keep us protected, happy and safe through the winter, not to mention a host of decorative responses in the spring.  Here’s an example from Coal Harbour:


Scot: What if we use the pandemic to convert some of the enclosed parking garages on Granville Island to beer gardens with plenty of space to social distance?

The structures would have a unique industrial chicness, drawing people from all over (which Granville Island needs, particularly in the winter).  And there is an immediate anchor available with Granville Island Brewing next door.  Other Vancouver breweries could take turns catering the spaces; food trucks could be part of the scene; nibbles could be provided by the Islands many food vendors.

Check out how other cities have created urban beer gardens:

Frankford Hall, Philadelphia

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The Blue Parrot, Granville Island

A fall afternoon in 1979; Granville Island had recently opened.  A year earlier I had arrived from Victoria.

Sitting exactly here with an unexpected view, sipping one of my first espressos, looking out on to a still-industrial creek False Creek, watching boats and people, I thought: Yup, this is the right place.


(For full image, click on title.)

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Pan flutes by Edgar Manuela, Granville Island.

The sound of Muenala`s pan flutes vibrating in the reverberating spaces of the Granville Bridge will always be the sound of Granville Island for many. The Ecuadorian has been playing those spaces below the bridge for … how long?

(For full image, click on title.)

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November 23, 2018

This sign is on a main motor vehicle thoroughfare on Granville Island.

It’s a bit ambiguous, but judging from recent pedestrian campaigns, the administrators are aiming the message at those oblivious waddlers among the duck population.

They’re probably colourful enough, what with the fancy feathers and all, so no earnest exhortations about wearing neon-lime-green vests.

But I am surprised that the ducks aren’t pictured waving little flags in their bills.

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From Granville Island 2040:

Help Shape the Future of Transportation on Granville Island We want your input as we develop a transportation strategy for Granville Island.
CMHC-Granville Island is moving forward on a key pillar of the Granville Island 2040 vision that aims to “Improve Access” to the island. In order to realize this vision, we are creating a transportation strategy that will outline a set of coordinated policies to increase access and convenience for all modes of transport.
We have prepared a draft version of this strategy and are now sharing it with the public in order to solicit their feedback, which will be incorporated into the final version.
We encourage you to read the draft Transportation Strategy and tell us what you think by completing the survey before April 8, 2018.


Gord Price: Having been a member of the advisory council for GI2040 with a particular interest in transportation, I confess that I’m a bit disappointed with the draft.  My particular and emphatic input was on the need to rethink the street design of Granville Island.  This is as much an urban- design question as transportation management – but it is essential in thinking about some predictable changes on the Island.
Granville Island, when it opened in 1979, had a startling street design by the standards of the time: no curbs, no sidewalks, no painted lines, no separation of modes; piping and street furniture were used to define space. It assumed people and vehicles could mix if everyone used common sense.
It would never have been approved by City Engineering, but GI was under the control of the Feds.  Hotson and Bakker, the young architects assigned on the project, argued that their approach would maintain the tradition of the Island, save money – and anyway, it wasn’t likely that many people would be on the Island at any one time.  But even with GI’s huge popularity, the design still worked.  With few accidents, it arguably may be even safer than tradition design.
Today, that achievement still needs to be acknowledged – but it may not work for the future of the Island as new pressures and others changes are implemented.
Here are some of the issues:
(1) Granville Island is still car-centric.  The one-way triangle for vehicles may be necessary to handle traffic, but it means bicycles must take long out-of-the-way routes rather than go directly to a destination – for instance from the Anderson Road entrance to the Public Market.  Or cycle against vehicle traffic, presumably illegally.
(2) With the upgrades of greenway routes to the island, particularly South Shore Seaside and Arbutus, GI will be an anomaly.  Parents, in particular, who may feel comfortable having their kids cycle to the Island on safe and separated routes will find they have to navigate mixed congested traffic when they get there – particularly on Anderson, with its complicated entrance, cross traffic and too-narrow lanes.  

(3) With the construction of the Alder Bay Bridge on the east, connection to the Arbutus Greenway on the southwest and Burrard Bridge/Kits to the west, GI will no longer be a destination cul-de-sac; it will be part of a high-traffic interchange with a need for two-way passage, particularly on Cartwright.
The question of how Granville Island can adopt its street design for this new scale of use goes unaddressed in the draft plan.  Presumably, the conflicts will be addressed as they emerge, particularly with the design of the Alder Bay Bridge.  But it would be better to at least identify the issue and begin to explore some options.

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