Ken Ohrn sends in the latest.  First the crazy good:

Here’s the intersection of Stephens, looking east along the new Point Grey Road.   It is replete with a bicycle turn lane for those heading south.  Yowie!  Crews were out in several locations, working on roadway markings for the new PGR — and here are some samples.

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And here’s something that drives me crazy.  After all the effort and all the work and all the nastiness (that still exists) in order to get safe cycling infrastructure, this person rides on the sidewalk and not the bike lane.  And yes, I watched as she skirted the recycle bin, garbage can and pedestrian before continuing on her way.

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The intersection at Stephens – connecting PGR with the York bikeway – is now complete (map here):

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It used to look like this:

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So the neighbourhood gets a traffic-calmed street and a few slices of green space.  And something more.

A gardener.

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This is Julie Marzolf, a nearby resident, trying to lay in plants she purchased for a landscape design she came up with (and agreed to by the city).  I say “trying to” – because she keeps getting interrupted by people like me asking to take her photo, and then we start a conversation, and her neighbour shows up and joins in, and then her husband comes by, and another passer-by asks what’s going on …

Well, that’s what happens when you give people an opportunity to connect.

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And guess what, there’s already talk about planning special events for the Folk Music Festival, when thousands are expected to ride PGR to Jericho.

This is a city that often bemoans the loss of connectedness, of increasing loneliness, of empty houses and condos, and grieves for a Vancouver that seems to be disappearing with every demolished house that was once a home.

Community, however, is something that can always be nurtured, assuming there are small places to plant the seedlings.

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The Point Grey Road improvements are just about the complete.  You can almost hear the final pieces click into place.  You can certainly see the increased volumes:

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This last week has seen the construction of works on what was probably the most difficult stretch to design and negotiate – the 2600-2800 blocks of Point Grey Road (map here).  The residents on the north side had a legitimate concern: all their driveways emptied on to a busy stretch of PGR that looked like this:

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And as of this week, looks like this:

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To exit their driveways, residents must now cross the separated bike lane and then turn into traffic, and some were not at all happy with this arrangement.  During the hearings before council, they made their views abundantly clear, and were annoyed, I think, that their needs weren’t given first priority.

The problem, however, is that these three blocks are critical for connecting the Seaside Greenway through east Kitsilano with the traffic-calmed section of PGR.  Without this separated section, there is no way you would see this:

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Only road warriors and pelotons were comfortable being mixed in with the arterial traffic – and now there’s safe and separated space for all ages and abilities.  The only problem reported so far is the slight lip on the driveway cuts that can destabilize a novice cyclist.

The result on the whole is a superb piece of traffic engineering: realigning a constrained right-of-way while accommodating all the users, and doing it with flair.  There is no need for signage to figure out where you’re supposed to be.  The experience is seamless, intuitive and attractive, from the beautiful side-street of PGR north of Cornwall, to the separated path along the arterial, to the extended park at Tatlow that announces you’ve entered the mixed section of PGR where bike and foot are truly the dominant modes of travel:

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A sunny holiday weekend in May, even before the final construction equipment has left the scene, might not be the definitive moment to declare that PGR is a fait accompli.  But no one is going to insist that all this should be torn out in order to restore the previous traffic conditions – except perhaps a fringe political party like Cedar.  And maybe not even them.  The NPA, though, had better figure out how it’s going to walk back Councillor George Affleck’s declaration that it would effectively be the first party since the Second World War to plough over park space and lay asphalt to convenience the automobile.

The political question, though, is this: Will Vision declare victory, and celebrate the success of what was one of the hottest issues in their term – one where they alienated even some of their supporters, and left a feeling among others that they had overreached, forced through a pre-conceived project and failed to listen to those opposed in any meaningful way.  The sense at the moment is that they won’t make a big deal of PGR, even if it turns out to be a success by mid-summer.

But there’s a reason why others should.  It’s not in Vancouver where the controversy has its most negative effects; it’s in the other municipalities in the region where their leaders take a measure of what has happened here, and decide, no, they’d rather not wade into bike-lane whirlpools.  As a result, a commitment to active transportation and the needed infrastructure falls off the agenda.

It’s most clear in a municipality like West Vancouver – where many of those most opposed to what has happened in Vancouver actually live.  Except they can’t vote here.  Their council, however, seems to fear unleashing any of the hostility that might get transferred across the water.  It’s evident when a cyclist comes off the Lions Gate Bridge and follows the signage to West Van, to be greeted with this:

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They make it pretty clear that they’re not going out of their way to accommodate anyone who might need more room that would have to be taken from the dominant user of the road. 

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The story behind today’s first post – from Chris Bruntlett:

When our family woke up on Mother’s Day, the sun was shining, so we decided to hit the beach on our bicycles; a cherished summer tradition of ours. This time, however, we had one additional location at our disposal; a place we haven’t been able to visit by bike the entire time we’ve called Vancouver home: Jericho Beach.

 

Needless to say, this was our first opportunity to cycle the new Point Grey Road, and in the glorious May sunshine, the recent upgrades felt nothing short of transformational.

 There was a diverse range of ages and backgrounds making use of the shared space: walking their dogs, hanging out in the parks, riding their bicycles, and yes, even taking out their convertible for a scenic drive. I was overwhelmed with how much more human the street felt: everyone was smiling and interacting, regularly stopping to chat with friends, acquaintances, or total strangers; as we did, on three separate occasions.

 

You can find the words and pictures of the whole trip at Vancouver Is Awesome.

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