COVID Place making
April 14, 2020

Tactical Urbanism as Government Policy

A report from Forbes (‘Capitalist Tool’) of all sources:

Cities as diverse as Berlin and Bogotá are using so-called “tactical urbanism” to take road space from cars overnight and give it to people on foot and on bicycles to keep key workers moving—safely—during lockdown. Now New Zealand has become the first country to provide funding to make tactical urbanism into official government policy during the coronavirus pandemic. …

Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter has invited cities in New Zealand to apply for 90% funding to widen sidewalks and carve out temporary cycleways, measures that can be put in place in hours and days rather than the weeks and months that it can often take to install such infrastructure.

So far, no councillor in Vancouver has been reported as advocating for anything similar.  At this point, it looks like Beach Avenue is all they intend to do for the foreseeable future.

Sigh.  Sometimes I wish the Green city councillors and Park Board commissioners were actually green.

 

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Helen Clark was the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999-2008, during which time proportional representation was the electoral system used for the vote. (It still is.)

She’ll share her experiences in Vancouver on June 25, with Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason.

WHEN: June 25, 2018 at 6:30pm – 8:30pm
WHERE: SFU Segal Building, 500 Granville St, Vancouver

Sign up here.

More information about MMP, including a handy video, follows.

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The New Zealand Police have approached recruiting 400 new police officers in a different way by filming “real-life social experiment” videos involving urban issues that officers deal with. Some of the videos highlight individuals at risk, including the first in the series where a young boy is eating food out of a trash bin. The video shows the real passers-by who ignored the little boy, and highlights the women that stopped to speak to the young actor.
“Police want to attract more women, Māori, Pacific Islanders, and people from all other ethnicities and backgrounds to better reflect the communities we serve,” Commissioner of New Zealand Police Mike Bush told Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service.We have filmed a series of real-life social experiment scenarios exploring issues our officers deal with daily — involving the safety of the young and the vulnerable people in our communities.”
The latest in the series is going viral~it’s a James Bond look at New Zealand policing, but also gives a glimpse of Kiwi  downtown and suburban, streets, a pedestrian crossing, and a police cat. Seriously.  “Filled with kilted drummers, pelvic-thrusting dance parties and entirely gratuitous flipping stunts, the quirky clip features about 70 officers trying to lure in new coworkers through the nearly 3-minute-long video’s fresh approach.”
You can view the video below or here.

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From stuff NZ: 
The $630 million Kapiti expressway has actually doubled the amount of time it takes to commute into Wellington during the morning rush, some motorists say.
One Kapiti Coast resident believes the morning crawl into the capital is now so bad that she is vowing to use the train instead, even though it will cost her $100 more a month. …

The problem is that while the new four-lane expressway between Mackays Crossing and Peka Peka has shaved minutes off the journey through the Kapiti Coast, it has also created a traffic bottleneck where it connects to the old two-lane State Highway 1, just north of Paekakariki.
The counter-argument, of course, will be that the problem can be solved with more widenings and roads.  Which is exactly the case here:
Neil Walker, the transport agency’s Wellington highways manager, acknowledged earlier this month that congestion at Mackays Crossing was likely to continue until the Transmission Gully motorway was built.
 

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It’s easy to forget how important motordom was to the 20th century and how it was really seen as the progressive way forward to modernity.
This 1955 film clip from New Zealand is a four-minute feature on safety improvements for the one hundred mile highway between Porirua and Wanganui. Looking to eliminate road accidents, the Transport Department and the National Road Board experimented with several novel ideas-like putting a stripe down the highway to delineate which sides the car should travel on, measuring curves for speed and using “microwave” radar detectors. Take a quick drive down the “guinea pig highway” when the car was king by accessing the video here.

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An article in the New Zealand Herald  notes how diminished the pedestrian is for road space in that country.  Lynley Hood is a researcher in Dunedin who is losing her sight and has started a petition asking the government to reduce the number of pedestrians killed on New Zealand roads. In New Zealand pedestrians do not have priority over motor vehicles when crossing side roads and intersections.
Between 2006 and 2015 384 pedestrians were killed on New Zealand roads. Ninety cyclists were killed during the same time. Dr. Hood notes that the government “has more than $350 million invested in a Cycling Safety Action Plan. There is no pedestrian safety plan.” Thirty per cent of the pedestrians killed on the roads were 65 years and older. Ms. Hood notes that the 104 seniors in that 30 per cent of  pedestrians were more than the total of cyclists killed, but that no special funding was available to ameliorate the cause of this carnage.
Ms. Hood had little interest in her work except from New Zealand’s chief coroner. Since the senior population in New Zealand will double in the next two decades that means the pedestrian death rate could also double.
Older people need to walk for exercise, Dr Hood said, and they have to cross roads. They are more unstable, move more slowly and are likely to have sight and hearing problems.When crossing a road they have no protection, and they are generally poorer judges of speed and distance. What’s needed is some commitment by Government to pedestrian safety. There are a lot of young traffic designers who would leap at the chance of tackling the challenge if Government put some money into it. We’re not all petrolheads.”

In New Zealand anything that is not a motorized vehicle uses the sidewalk including scooters, skateboards, mobility scooters and Segways as well as walkers. There is no set standard for width, design, surface or grade. In a country with a population size similar to British Columbia’s it is time for motordom to accept the right of all users, and to give pedestrians the priority for safe access across roads.

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From the Daily Scot:

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Profiling Christchurch, New Zealand’s Gap Filler Program

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When faced with the devastation of virtually losing their city overnight due to a series of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, Christchurch residents, council, design community and volunteer groups like Gap Filler began a spirited city beautification project using simple and affordable tactical urbanism techniques.  The results are fun, interactive and flexible.
Want to screen the damaged fenced off buildings.  Why not a row of movable street trees?

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Oh, and that required chain link fence to keep people out of the rubble.  Well, why not cover it with colourful art pieces?

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Oversized furniture for all age groups to linger and climb on – done.  Let’s paint the pavement while we are at it.

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Lessons for Vancouver:  Try it out in a simple and cost-effective way.  Be bold, colourful and listen to feedback.  Document it, and let the precedents inspire your permanent public realm designs.

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From the Daily Scot:

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Many may recall the powerful earthquakes that struck Christchurch, New Zealand in 2010 and 2011 virtually wiping out the Central Business District.  It hit close to home for me; I was living in Auckland at the time and my stepfather’s house in Christchurch was damaged beyond repair.
But as most communities do in the wake of disaster, Cantabrians banded together to slowly rebuild their city anyway they could.  Between the planning process/bureaucracy and the ultimate rebuild there’s an agonizing gap.
Behold: Gap Filler.
Here’s a description from their website:

Gap Filler is a creative urban regeneration initiative that facilitates a wide range of temporary projects, events, installations and amenities in the city…  These short-term and comparatively small-scale projects are far less risky than new permanent developments – and consequently opens up opportunities for experimentation …
By recycling materials, teaming up with suppliers, harnessing volunteer power and being creative, Gap Filler proves that the regeneration of the city does not rely solely on large-scale developments by the private or public sectors. …
Ultimately, Gap Filler aims to innovate, lead and nurture people and ideas; contributing to conversations about city-making and urbanism in the 21st century.

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I love tactile urbanism and the idea of quickly testing things in the public realm that are cost-effective and well-programmed for great simple placemaking.

 

The Pallet Pavilion

created by Gap Filler in Christchurch was a standout for programming and simplicity.

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Whats behind this stack on colourful wood pallets?  Enter and see …

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On this day the stage was occupied by a Sunday afternoon Orchestra

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Programming for the space is well thought out and flexible, accommodating a range of events.

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Refreshments are serviced from this old camping trailer.

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Movable tree planters add shade and greenery in addition to the portable umbrellas.

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As popular as the Pallet Pavilion was, it was eventually taken down to make for a building on the gravel lot it sat on.  That’s the nature of Gap Filler: temporary interventions plugging the gaps in Christchurch’s urban fabric.
I can’t help but think why we aren’t trying this in the Vancouver area?  What about all that space on the Southside of False Creek?  Or take it to the suburbs … empty lots, leftover spaces, the potential for stimulating neglected areas is huge.
Stay tune for more Gap Fillers in a community near you.

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