April 5, 2017

Recent Developments 7b – Arbutus Greenway in Transition

Recent development that was designed to face the Arbutus corridor, even when it was unused, decrepit, weed-strewn and rusting, was the right decision. Offices and suites facing the greenway will be the most valuable.

The temporary path is not complete. Jersey barriers block the way at the cross-streets; signs say pedestrians and cyclists should not do the obvious thing and cross the arterials at mid-block.  Instead, jog down to the signaled intersections.  Which they don’t.

They do the obvious thing.

Arbutus has been transformed once already.

And there’s lots more to come.


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The new paved pathway of the Arbutus Greenway pushes beyond Burrard, into the near-nameless neighbourhood north of Broadway. (Burrard Slopes, I think, but so bland.)

You can already see how the greenway is becoming the organizing open space for this neighbourhood, particularly with the new kid’s park on the curve, just before the Fir Street off-ramp of the Granville Bridge.

At this point, the pavement ends at Fir:

Beyond is the critical link that extends the greenway to Granville Island and Seaside (see dotted line on map above).  When completed, the AB then becomes the Kitsilano and west-side active-transportation connector to False Creek – and the network effect will balloon the use of the corridor.  Like any manifestation of induced demand, this is not to be under-estimated.

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Discovering the new Arbutus asphalt path – almost road-width – is like revisiting the 1990s in Vancouver, when the City was opening stretches of new seawall, particularly along North False Creek and Coal Harbour.  A time of discovery – new routes, more connections, an expanding network for alternative transportation.
The first extension of the seawall was also a temporary path, just asphalt and a chain-link fence, strung along the shoreline of the Expo site prior to its sale, laid down around 1990.  It stayed that way until the development of David Lam Park – when we experienced the new standard of active-transportation planning: a separated cycle track.
More kilometres of the now-named Seaside route followed, connecting False Creek to Coal Harbour – all built to the highest standards then devised.
Arbutus is in that tradition.  The finished design will come, and it will likely be terrific.  But in the meantime … immediate access, and a new mental map of our city and its neighbourhoods.

I discovered the latest expansion of the Arbutus pathway north from Broadway when cycling uphill on up Burrard past 4th on the separated lane snuck in by the engineers – and there it was.  Fresh asphalt!  The shock of the new. So perfect in its unflawed inky blackness.
Not even technically open, it’s too enticing not to be explored.

The new will fade, softened by nature, cultivated by the gardeners who are already colonizing the verges.

The future of the greenway as a cross-city corridor is settled.  The Arbutus Greenway isn’t going to become just extensions of the surrounding neighbourhoods, limited in use and accessibility.  Other people from other places, all part of a connected network of greenways, will be flowing through, on their way to other places.

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Don’t you love a city where people care so passionately about public improvements.

That’s the polite way of putting it.  Once again the culture/political war is being waged on Point Grey Road – as demonstrated over at The Tyee, where the comments to Patrick Condon’s column on a “Lighter Shade of Green” for PGR are closing in on 200.  Mostly unpleasant.
But has Ken Ohrn noted in previous posts, there is a charming little construction that says something nicer about this neighbourhood.  If you’re not careful, you might cycle by it without noticing:

It’s the ‘bricks and mortar’ version of an online ‘gifting, sharing and trading’ platform –

Leave a gift, take a gift – just nothing broken, dangerous or illegal.
The book titles alone tell you that you’re in Kitsilano:

So do the sticky-post sentiments:

Once the PGR is completed, people will, as usual, wonder what all the yelling was about, and why a few in this spoiled place could be so short-sighted about something that makes it so much better.
We can only hope as that as we deal with the problems of our own success, and the inequity that has resulted, we won’t lose the qualities that made a community free store possible.

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“Every time we go through this, it seems to be the same pattern. There’s predictions there’s going to be ‘Carmageddon,’” Price said. “Every time it doesn’t happen. And then we go on to the next one, and have to go through the whole cycle again.”

– Gordon Price, SFU City Program, in The Province


Today in Metro:

A year and half after the city raised an uproar by shutting a stretch of Point Grey Road to vehicles to make way for a bike lane, travel time for buses and cars is almost identical to what it was before the closure, according to data released Monday.

The city monitored how re-routing extra cars to Macdonald Street would affect the 22 bus re-route using “extremely detailed” GPS data and found travel times to be “so similar it’s hard to say whether there’s a change,” said Lon LaClaire, Vancouver’s acting director of transportation. “

“It’s pretty much the same,” LaClaire said. “There’s no real interesting story there.”


But of course the interesting story here is that there’s no interesting story.  Imagine if the delay had been even 5 minutes.  Carmageddon!

It’s so frustrating when confident predictions of bad things don’t happen, but it’s important to acknowledge for the next proposal of a greenway or bike lane.  Let’s see if we get any.

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