December 19, 2011
The scramble intersection has been officially opened with much fanfare on November 15th, by Mayor Malcolm Brodie 
But, the real story is not so much the pedestrian scramble than the new traffic light which will have certainly consummed the bulk of the $600,000 budget allocated to this intersection “improvement” .
- It is a raised intersection, usually signalling to the motorist it is entering in a pedestrian oriented environment
- The treatment of the crosswalks and bollards shows careful attention intended to rise the profile of this intersection
The real story
Before the traffic light, and its adjoined pedestrian scramble, it was a 4 ways stop:
- both pedestrian and vehicular traffic could become fairly heavy in some summers week-end, but nothing comparable to what we can witness in Granville Island at anytime.
- And like in Granville Island, most of the vehicular traffic is generated by parking lookers, and so most of the traffic is turning either right or left at the intersection…
The consequence of the last observation is that right and left turn traffic can be impeded by the pedestrian traffic…The Richmond traffic engineers will have found, that blocking all pedestrians movement during vehicular movement was the best thing to do…and here is the rational for the scramble.
It is sold to the public as follow: The previous configuration (4 ways stop), where politeness’rules applied (i.e. like in Granville island), was judged “confusing” by the Richmond traffic engineers .
If you believe that the lack of rules for pedestrian is creating congestion in Granville and makes it unsafe, you will cheer for the Richmond’s “traffic improvement” as a step in the right direction.
…On the other side, if you believe in the shared space concept followed by a growing number of European towns, noticeably because “When you don’t exactly know who has right of way, you tend to seek eye contact with other road users” and “You automatically reduce your speed, you have contact with other people and you take greater care” , you will eventualy consider that the roadwork at Number 1 and Moncton, is much closer to a 600K waste than an improvement…
 No.1 Road and Moncton Street Intersection and Surrounding pedestrian crosswalk improvments Victor Wei, Transportation department, April 21, 2011, Richmond CA. Notice that this lst reference states that “based on the pedestrians and vehicles traffic volumes, a a traffic signal is warranted at this intersection” without substanciating those “volumes”. A reference is done to a mysterious study (Stevenson Village Traffic and parking improvement, Victor Wei, Transportation department, August 31, 2009) which didn’t provide any substance either.
Pedestrian Crosswalk Improvement Project, Communication from Richmond CityHall, 2011.
European Towns Remove Traffic Signs to Make Streets Safer, Deutsche Welle, August 27, 2006
 Beside numerous news report, there is generally a strong advocacy for scramble interest in some circle, like at vpsn, and, eventually via spacing Vancouver, you will find some opinion in the Vancouver Openfile blog (which in our viewpoint is misleaded by the fact it seems to fail to make the difference between Yonge and Dundas in Toronto center and the “Steveston village” context in Richmond) or InSteveston and a more critical appreciation by a Richmond’s blogger
May 4, 2011
BC building code has been changed in 2009 to go over 4 storey building, and Remy builder was taking advantage of it to build a 6 storey woodframe buildings complex along Cambie in Richmond 
Was the Campbell government move to support the BC forestry industry done a the expense of the public safety?
Richmond fire department had expressed concerns, Campbell had dismissed them…
Still, tuesday night the yet to complete buildings were on fire…
…raising lot of questions.
 Timber line reaches new height with wood condos VancouverSun, march 24, 2011.
April 29, 2011
The vancouversun has a story about a man claiming it is not clear enough to where you have to validate your ticket. He could have a point:
Whether you are a bit distracted, it can be very easy to find yourself without properly validated ticket on the train. Not only nowhere there is a physical line reminding you to validate your ticket, but ticket validators are rather hidden in some stations. without going to turnstiles, that doesn’t need to be as I have already mentioned here
December 1, 2010
For purpose of illustration, below is a map overlaid with the traffic volume on the main bridges of the Vancouver area.
Some comments on it:
- Traffic volume distribution is hourly, for weekday, and estimated when data is not available 
- truck traffic on Knight bridge is estimated at 15% of the overall traffic
- Red line indicate the capacity of the bridge, assuming a 1400 vehicle/hr capacity per lane
- For bridge over the Fraser, A suggested Congestion pricing toll  has been added in yellow
below is the tabulaton of weekday daily traffic, and source for the considered bridge
|Arthur Laing Bridge||YVR||4||84,000 |
|Oak Bridge||Province||4||80,700 |
|Knight Bridge||Translink||4||99,500 |
|QueensBorough Bridge||Province||4||84,000 |
|George Massey Tunnel||Province||4||89,500 |
|Alex Fraser Bridge||Province||6||117,500 |
|Pattullo Bridge||Translink||4||74,500 |
|Port Mann Bridge||Province||5||116,000 |
|Iron Workers Bridge||Province||6||127,400 |
|Lions gate Bridge||Province||3||63,000 |
Comments on the Congestion pricing data
They come from the thesis of Peter Wightman , which is the most complete work I have uncovered on the topic applied on the Vancouver area, but still limited on the Fraser crossing bridges.
- toll is applied once the traffic volume exceed the road capacity
- Price elasticity demand is assumed at -0.2 peak hours, and -0.25 off peak, That is pricing evaluation has been done in 2006, assuming the transit option of the time, i.e. no Canada line and no transit over Port Mann bridge. Another study suggests a price elasticity demand closer to 0.35, in case of improved transit (i.e. Congestion regulation could be achieved with significant lower toll that those envisioned by , and revenue of congestion pricing too)
For information, below are the estimated revenue of congestion pricing, in the case of all bridge crossing the Fraser tolled (this assuming the 2006 situation, and a relatively low elasticity of -0.2 peak, and -0.25 off peak period) according to .
|Bridge||daily revenue (South dir)||daily revenue (North dir)|
|George Massey Tunnel||89,600||64,400|
|Alex Fraser Bridge||126,000||67,200|
|Port Mann Bridge||271,600||90,300|
It is worth to note that congestion pricing could apply only when bridge reach capacity. At the exception of the Port Mann bridge West bound, that is an average of only 4 hours per bridge (or put in other way, crossing a bridge could be free 20hours per day),… but still generating close to 200 millions of annual revenue only on the bridge crossing the Fraser river.
it is also worth to notice that under a congestion pricing scheme as proposed by , the Port Mann bridge toll could have been lower than the one considered by the province (in green on the map above) most of the time…and the Pattullo bridge needs to be tolled less than 3hrs per day (per direction).
 Number from BC MOT as of Sept 2010 (weekday average on the month
 Number from Bridging the Infrastructure Gap, Get Moving BC, Sept 2008. Data are mostly from 2006
 I got hourly distribution only for BC MOT bridge, hourly distribution is estimated for other bridge to provide an idea of level of congestion on them (and eventually pricing level/period). While data Provincial bidge are from 2010, and other bridge from 2006, it has been no noticeable increase in traffic in the interim, what is consistent with a longer trend already exhibited in a gateway program definition report of january 2006
 There is a discrepancy with number from the MovingBC report eventually due to the fact, that the authors of this report overlooked the fact that the traffic counter is installed south of the Sea Island exit ramp on the Highway 99 south bound. That explains why there is a traffic increase on that bridge
 From Freeway to feeway: Congestion pricing policies for BC’s Fraser River crossing, Peter Wightman, Simon Fraser University, 2008
 Estimating Commuter Mode choice: A discrete choice Analysis impact of road pricing and parking charge, Washbrook, Haider and Jaccard, Transportation, 2006.
 Toll for new Port Mann Bridge will be $5.15 for casual users, Damian Inwood, The province, June 2010.
October 23, 2010
…or a bike commuting adventure in Richmond
Richmond with its flat land should be a paradise for cyclists, and indeed it offers interesting trails on the dykes and elsewhere. Stephen Rees has extensively covered them and others Richmond related cycling issues in a serie of posts [sr1][sr2][sr4], so here is another view focusing more on utility cycling, that is basically cycling to go to work/study. Below is a snapshot of what makes such cycling an adventurous proposition in Richmond
The bike lanes or lack of…
It is not the least advantage of a cycle lane to behave like a legal, safe, and comfortable queue jumper, avoiding inhalation of polluted air by cyclists on congested road, and making this mode more competitive with other commuting choice.
|It makes little sense to promote cycling by asking cyclist to breath car exhaust in middle of traffic congestion |
… But Richmond replaces the bike lanes when it is most needed, by one of its avatar, the sharrow, as seen below:
As explained by New York City DOT engineers , when there is not enough right of way to implement a dedicated lane or traffic is light and calm enough to justify a shared street, a chevron marking (also called sharrow) could be used raise awareness of motorist…Richmond still has to learn how to use appropriate horizontal marking for bike facilities
The network or lack of…
Richmond city provides a cycling map, where the simple fact to draw a bike on a road, seems to justify the classification of it as a bike lane. A ground survey of the bike lane could lead to the more realistic map below:
basically, the Richmond city center is serviced by a a backbone of 2 bike lanes, the north-south bike lane,along the path of the former interurban (gardencity, Granville and railway) and on the east of Garden city by an East-West bike lane along Westmintser hwy.
In despite of some commendable effort in the right direction, like the raised bike lane on the road 3, bike lanes are still fairly disconnected and basically don’t provide much needed connections to the Canada line or the Kwantlen college.
Connection to the Bridgeport station
Nevertheless, Bridgeport station is reachable by a bike lane connected to the rest of the network… at least up to a certain point:
Connection to the Canada line bridge
A recent addition to the bike lanes netwok has been the connection of the Canada line bridge to the rest of the bike network through Van Horne road in an industrial precinct…but probably that the 12 meters wide road was judged still on the narrow side, so a bike lane takes place in only one direction! (opposite direction is a shared path).
Notice that in general cyclists use an alternative and more pleasant route via Riverport road.
Better to ignore the signage
At Great Canadian way and Sea island way intersection, cyclists are the object of less care than the landscaping, and a cyclist following sign could put himself in an uncomfortable if not outright unsafe spot.
First a satellite view of the situation
The cyclist travelling from West to East on Sea island Way will encounter a suite of sign designed to his attention. A first sign suggest he will have to do a right tun where the on ramp lane merge. The sign indicates that the cyclist should be still on the road:
A second sign seems to disagree with the first one, since it assumes that the cyclist should be on the sidewalk, and then suggest a very strange procedure to the cyclist obeying to the first one:
Law abiding cyclist need to be lucky…
or prepared to spend very very long time…at ever red light. This is due to the fact that most of the secondary roads have traffic light activated by induction loop…not triggered by bike
The right turn lane…
…or how to make a cyclist like a pin in the middle of a bowling lane
As the above picture illustrates, advanced right turn lane gives way to probably the most disconcerting disposition of bike lanes, de facto defeating the purpose of those bike lanes, which is to provide a secure environment to the cyclist.
Motorists seems unsure on the way to negotiate a right turn with a bike lane in the middle of the road: some will pass a cyclist on the right… some others on the left before tail gating the bike….
In Richmond, yield to cyclist is definitely not an option!
Needless to say, intersections in BC (most of them arranged as above), are especially treacherous for cyclist, where more than 60% of the accidents happen, and going straight seems the most dangerous proposition for a cyclist 
Obviously, there is some better way to implement bike lane with advanced right turn lane, and generally, they are implemented like below in Europe
because the “yield to cyclist” could be not obvious to the BC motorist  and horizontal “yield” marking less frequent here than in Europe could be not as well understood , additional vertical sign, nowadays rarely seen in Europe, could be required here
In cyclist friendly jurisdictions, Yield to cyclist is the only option!
…and not surprisingly, those jurisdictions have usually much safer road safety record than BC.
Richmond BC, is like a child learning to bike. It seems to be full of good intention, but lack of understanding and method. European cities was not much different a quarter century ago, it is just that Richmond needs to work much harder in order to not fall behind.
 While, it is generally the law to yield to cyclist, like to pedestrian, on a right turn in Europe, law seems to be far less consistent across North american jurisdictions which usually don’t treat cyclist as a vulnerable user of the road, see bike lane and right turn difference in Oregon and California or, for a more awkward regulation, the Ontario MTO explicitly indicates that right turning vehicles have priority on cyclists.
 European countries, and more generally country adopting the Vienna convention road signage, use thick dashed lane as a horizontal “yield line” marking, the equivalent in North america is usually a line of triangle, used in New York City as illustrated in the video of the NYC DOT.
 number from www.bikesense.bc.ca
 It is what is required by the BC motor vehicle act section 158
September 1, 2010
updated September 3rd
At the 99 interchange with Steveston Hwy, you can catch one of the suburban bus running on the Hwy 99. It can be a traumatizing experience, especially in the south direction:
Eventually to improve the waiting experience, the MOT has installed a 46” screen, on a lamppost, providing residual light at night for the bus stop (to be sure the purpose of the original lamppost is to provide light to the road)
It is part of a pilot project, supposed to give real time information to the transit user . In fact the later one will often see the messages illustrated below.
the route 620 and 404 being not operated by suburban bus Orion V, the transit rider will get no information, real time or not, for them. Notice that the map, apparently a Google road map, display the route covered by the real time system, but no bus routes are displayed at all! Notice also the “quick and dirty” look of the installation: it is really a pilot project
for other bus routes, the system doesn’t give any information, when no bus are present on the route covered by the system, i.e. Bridgeport to Steveston Hwy. To relieve your patience, you can watch the real time video of the bus stop you are waiting at
Imagine,a departure screen at the airport, which warms as some flights are not displayed at all, and giving no information on some other flights because their plane is not en route!
That is what the MOT pilot project is doing for the bus information. We are relieved it is still a “pilot” project, because there is certainly lot of room for improvement.
This project, while looking a nice intention, raises lot of questions:
- Why a pilot project? is real time bus information such a breakthrough technology, requiring “pilot” project those days?
- The project, technologically different of the Main street one, rely on a private network:
Why use a private network, when there is no lack of 3G providers covering not only the freeway corridor but all the metro area, able to provide communication link between the buses and a data processing center?
but the big question is:
- Why it is a project from the province and not Translink, which could be expected to be the relevant agency to drive such project?
The Hwy 99 bus stop premises being probably under MOT jurisdiction, why the MOT is not trying to improve it first?
An interchange doesn’t need to be dull, as the picture below can witness. More than that, studies could tend to correlate beautifully landscaped highway with safer highway .
this nicely landscaped plot is the Highway 10 and 210 interchange in Redlands, CA. and there is no bus stop here, so it is only for motorist to enjoy the view (credit photo zIDEAz)
the information pilot project come in addition of an HOV lane currently under construction on the Hwy 99 North bound and the extension of the southbound one, north of Westminster bridge.
There is no doubt that significant dollars are spent to improve ths bus experience on the Hwy 99 north of the George Massey Tunnel, and there is no doubt that improvement are needed
the Highway 99 at Westminster Road (left) and Blundell (right) around 1pm weekdays. Westminster road bridge is currently a bottle neck, since the HOV southbound start only south of the bridge. The extension of it north of the bridge will be a welcome relieve… the buses share the current HOV lane with vehicle of 2 occupants or more. According to the MOT, that has no effect on the buses operations  : on the picture, the traffic on the HOV lane move at around 40km/h for a posted limit of 80km/h…
Transit advocates should apriori applaude such initiatives, but they left a sour taste: Why?
From the Highway 99, we are seeing erected components which could raise the hwy 99 as a corridor for a BRT or for buses with a high level of service. Unfortunately those initiatives lacking of coordination, starting by the apparent non implication of the transit agency, Translink, will probably provide a result inferior to what it could have been, whether a more integrated goal could have been followed, for the same overall budget
 B.C. pilots dynamic transit display, Jennifer Kavur, 09 Aug 2010, ComputerWorld Canada
 Landscape improvement impacts on roadside safety in Texas, J. H. Moka, H. C. Landphair b, and J. R. Naderi, Landscape and Urban Planning 78 (2006) pp263–274.
 Southbound Hwy 99 HOV lane opens to more commuters, Press release, AUg 29, 2008, BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure