Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mid-Block Pedestrian Corridors

Vancouver has exceptionally large blocks compared to what I am used to back home.  Jane Jacobs stated that long blocks can lead to the stagnation of blocks.  Since the blocks are longer, this funnels pedestrians down fewer and fewer routes since it is not convenient to try different routes.  This can lead to a lack of dispersed mixed use throughout the neighbourhood.


One thing you will notice in the Davie village are these great mid-block pedestrian corridors that break up the impenetrable wall of buildings.  Although the blocks are long on Davie Street, these corridors provide people with various routes to access the neighbourhood and Davie Street.  These mid-block corridors are also great because they only allow the neighbourhood permeability for pedestrians, maintaining the compactness of the area and the intimacy of the streetscape.


Between Thurlow and Bute Streets


Between Bute and Jervis Streets

ImageBetween Jervis and Bute Streets


Bicycle Parking Corrals are Good for Business

New York city, as always is being extremely innovative when it comes to cycling infrastructure improvements.  This video demonstrates some the benefits of on street corral bike parking.  


This is something that Vancouver has mastered on the downtown Dunsmuir and Hornby separated bike lanes.  If you look at the above photo of a bike corral at Dunsmuir and Seymour Streets separating the traffic from the separated bike lane.  The on street bike corral is full, and there is a sidewalk bike loop that is empty, perhaps indicating that people do prefer to park in the corral.  

Bike corrals have a number of economic benefits.  They eliminate the quasi-confusing legibility of the streetscape.  Sidewalk parking encourages people to cycle on the sidewalk in order to get to the parking.  Replacing a parking stall with bicycle parking removes cycling and parked bicycle from the sidewalk, creating a safer pedestrian environment, providing more room for businesses to set up patios and more room for shoppers to move around.  They also improve the number client parking stalls from 1 to 16, and the potential for providing the “golden” client parking spots right at the doorstep.  This info-graphic about Portland corrals shows that having a bike corral in front of your business is good for business since it makes your business seem distinctive and sends people a message that you are willing to support cycling.  

It can also be good for business to provide more bicycle parking in front of your business since many studies are finding that cyclists shop more frequently and spend more overall that vehicular shoppers.

Bike corrals also make it easier and less confusing to cycle, thus making it easier for people to choose cycling as their main mode of transportation.  These corrals also make it legible and easier to find bike parking, and getting potential customers off their bikes and into your store to generate revenue.  As the New York article also states,it can provide a inexpensive buffer between the cycle lane and the traffic which makes it safer for cycling.  


Sidewalk Cycling – Don’t Blame the Cyclist, Blame the lack of Cycling Infrastructure

A while ago I read this article from the Tyee, ranting about cycling on the sidewalks.  I agree that cyclists shouldn’t be on the sidewalks as well.  However the author is placing the blame on the cyclists which is unfair.  Usually if there are people cycling on the sidewalk this is because there is insufficient cycling infrastructure that makes cyclists feel extremely unsafe on the road. The author also describes how one person cycling on the sidewalk was rude to someone in a wheel chair.  This was a rude person and not a rude cyclist, I would advise the author not to paint all cyclists with the same broad stroke.


Cycling infrastructure is often designed in confusing manners that shift from various formats.  Take the image above, where after crossing the Burrard Bridge you are forced back on to the road (By the way this is one of the most dangerous cycling intersections I have come across with the blind corner).

I was on a walk shop for the new West End community plan where they stated that people will often cycle on the sidewalk coming from the English Bay sea wall to the east end of Denman street.  One participant stated that they don’t blame them, as who would want to ride on Denman street when there are the buses and heavy traffic like the photo below.


If you want cyclists off the street we need to start focusing on the right thing.  Instead of penalizing cyclists for wanting to be safe, possibly discouraging them from cycling again, the city needs to provide the appropriate infrastructure for women, children and men ages 8-80 to feel safe.  We as citizens need to realize it is up to the city to provide the correct infrastructure, and lobby them to do so.


Commuting to Downtown Edmonton is Up

Good news for my hometown Edmonton, the number of commuting trips downtown are up.  As usual the newspaper article is a little uncertain where they are getting the numbers from, but it appears to be a city of Edmonton transportation survey.  The total trips downtown are up by 24% from 2009.  And the total percentage of trips by LRT or bus are up by 3%.  This means that not only is the revitalization of Edmonton’s downtown starting to pay off, but the investments in transit are also paying off as well.  This makes it easier to support new LRT and transit funding especially with the opening of the North LRT line to Nait in 2014 and the SE LRT line from Millwoods in 2019.  This is great news for a beautiful downtown that has seen its fair share of bad news in the 1980’s.  


About 49,600 commuters stayed in Edmonton’s core during a typical weekday last September, up 24 per cent from a similar study done in 2009, according to the central business district cordon count released last month.

Just over half this group made the trip in private vehicles, down from slightly less than two-thirds three years ago, while the number travelling by bus or LRT rose to 42 per cent from 39 per cent.

Referendums on Transportation Projects a Bad Idea

Recent Vancourier article with the Vancouver Mayor Robertson about the BC liberals idea of a transit referendum.  I agree that a referendum would be a bad idea that would stall progress on transit expansion to benefit a relative few.  Where is the scrutiny of large roadway infrastructure projects?  Why can we not put a moratorium of road projects for a few years to get multiple much needed transit projects done and then gauge the roadway requirements based on the congestion relief that the new transit improvements brought?  Provincial and federal governments also need to provide municipalities and regions with more control and stable funding for transit projects.  We need to make transit an election issue due to its importance to city economies and functionality.

“It’s ridiculous to put major projects before referendum,” the mayor told the Courier. “We haven’t done that with any recent major projects — from B.C. Place to the Port Mann Bridge. We need to get going on these transit projects. They’re big investments but we have consensus among mayors across the region — directly elected to represent our communities.”



Road pricing, a vehicle levy, property taxes and the carbon tax are among sources discussed publicly by various mayors, including Robertson, who said the mayors need “a stronger voice” in the governance of TransLink to set transit priorities.

“If we take years to do referendums and second guess the needs on the ground, that does not serve our city,” said the mayor, pointing to California where referendums have paralyzed projects.

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You are public vibrancy!

I was discussing public space vibrancy with my fiance the other day, when it hit us.  We all have a simple way to create vibrancy.

If each and every one of use were all to get out of the house instead of staying in and watching TV, our public spaces would dramatically different.  We become vibrancy!

It doesn’t take much, you just have to walk to your local coffee shop and order a $2 coffee tea, biscuit, or cookie!  You could sit in the window seat and people watch.  You just have to smile at someone you pass by.  You just need to take a 10, 15, or 30 minute walk around your neighbourhood.  All of the sudden you have done a better job than the grand schemes of urban designer or planner could wish to do.  You have become an active participant in your surroundings, and collectively with other public participants constantly define and redefine the meaning, purpose and uses of your urban spaces.

So please take 30 minutes of your day, explore new spaces and perspectives of your city on a leisurely amble through your neighbourhood, buy that $5 ice cream, drink, or coffee.  Become vibrancy itself.