Not long time ago, Jarret Walker has written a post explaining the value of the isochrone maps, he presents as freedom maps: The freedom measure here is not that much about mobility than access: “how many new choices – jobs, shopping, schools, houses of worship or philosophy, sports facilities, and so on, are brought within a given travel time of how many people”-by a proposed project.

When it is time to build a new bridge across a river, this concept is usually clearly understood. When it is time to build a new transit line, it is far less the case, and eventually in Metro Vancouver it quickly boils down to who gonna get its fair share of rail tracks… that eventually dues to the fact that transit investments are not understood as transportation ones. Here below is an example of what additional freedom can be brought by a Broadway Skytrain (all isochrones are rough approximate and generated with mapnificent).

Approximation of how much more destination (in purple) can be reached in 15mn from Cambie#Broadway

What is also very important to understand is that a transit project is not necessarily reduced to serve the people living in its immediate vicinity:


30mn Isochrone from Richmond Brighouse, New Westminster, Lougheed and metrotown: in purple, approximation with the Broadway line

The isochrone maps above are with a commute time of 30mn on way (average commute time). As presented above, they carry little more value than improved mobility, in the term of how much more square km of area become more accessible: a good metric for urban sprawl, but not necessarily for economic value of the project and development sustainability

To measure how much the accessibility is improved for how many, integration of different density maps are needed:

metro population density map and vancouver job density map

All that and more give how much new opportunities are provided for how many people.
Translink certainly use the above datas to predict the ridership of any transit project, but the presentation of it under a “map of freedom”, can eventually allow a better visual grasp of the potential, influence, and sensitivity to land planning of the investment.

To be sure, you have to agree with the premise, that giving opportunities access to people is a good thing:

Compact development and constrained development

In some circles idealizing a certain past, people could tend to confound these 2 notions: A urban form constraining the opportunity options, be to learn, work… is per nature demanding to its residents to do some sacrifices. Conversely, an employer having access to a smaller labor pool will have less chance to find an adequate match. That provides in fine an economy not capitalizing on its talents, hence unable to perform as well as it should….and the purpose of any transport investment in history has been to improve the economy efficiency of the regions it connects.

A compact development can be achieved by constraint-i.e. lack of communication link- or by well designed communication links, where people want live at some specific nodes, because it is where they get the maximum freedom, in term of opportunity to work, learn, shop…It is eventually what the isochrones above represent: Some regional town centers become more attractive because a Broadway line gives them

  • Better connection connection between each other, that is noticeably the case of Richmond and Lougheed (and beyond Tricities),
  • Access to the central Broadway area, which is the second concentration of job in Metro Vancouver after Downtown.

The regional benefits of the Broadway line are undeniable, and probably are much greater than the local benefits, but can the served area accommodate further population/job growth?

Development potential

in those matter “land use” planning is key, and it is a common misconception that growth needs to be accommodated by further sprawl. The connected areas still have lot of reserve for infilling and densification, which can be leveraged on both potential future rapid transit stations and arterials serviced by local bus routes [1]- Not only in Vancouver, but also in the regional nodes benefiting of the Broadway line, as seen before

Broadway at Fraser;in bad need of revitalization; offers tremendous opportunities for densification among other

The question is hence more how to enable this potential, which need to be quantified, this to allow the best return on investment.


[1] In that respect, See also What Would It Take? Carbon Neutral Cities, Jeremy Falud, February 15, 2012 (and “key quotes” at pricetag ) and “Creating Places for People — The Melbourne Experiences“, Rob Adams, at SFU October 4, 2011

The scramble intersection has been officially opened with much fanfare on November 15th, by Mayor Malcolm Brodie [3]

The pedestrian scramble sit at Moncton and Number 1 intersection, in Steveston

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[1].

The good

  • 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

Good attention has been given to some details. Notice the ropes as the main theme for the treatment of the improvments

The Bad

  • Not much consideration has been given to Wheelchairs and strollers, and the implementation of the traffic signals impedes seriously their movement on the sidewalk
  • The opportunity to improve the pedestrian experience, this by installing bulges, narrowing the roadway has not been taken.
  • When come the signal to reduce the motorist "confusion", all the good intentions are lost, and here it is basically not really possible for a wheelchair to stay on the sidewalk (left picture). The pedestrian realm could have extended on the parking lane (using a bulge): it didn't (right)

    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 [1].

    Conclusion

    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[2], you will eventualy consider that the roadwork at Number 1 and Moncton, is much closer to a 600K waste than an improvement…


    [1] 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.

    [2]European Towns Remove Traffic Signs to Make Streets Safer, Deutsche Welle, August 27, 2006

    [3] 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

    .

    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:

    Brighouse station: ticket vending machines are easy to spot, but where are the ticket validators machines?

    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

    .

    smartcard access to the subway of Rennes, France, is done without turnstile. Nevertheless, notice how the smartcard readers are placed in proeminent position on the farepaid zone line. credit photo wikipedia

    …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…

    A B&W sign seems to indicate a bike lane, motorists have a different opinion. A green sign indicates direction against common sense that cyclists also rightfully ignore.

    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 [5]

    … But Richmond replaces the bike lanes when it is most needed, by one of its avatar, the sharrow, as seen below:

    horizontal Chevron marking is usually reserved for shared road, carrying calmed or low level of traffic. In Richmond, they are also found on main axis, with predictable effect

    As explained by New York City DOT engineers [3], 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:

    The richmond bike lanes network has lot of critical missing links

    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:

    bicycle access to the Bridgeport station doesn't seem to have been well considered

    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.

    The 12 meters wide road was judged a bit too narrow to put 2 bike lanes in addition of 2 general traffic ones, so one of them end up on the sidewalk! Notice how the shared path sign is hiding the stop...and which path is shared?

    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 great canadian Way and Sea Island way interstection from satellite or how the cyclist can evolve from West to East?

    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:

    Right at the intersection, the sign tell you that you will have to tun right where the lane merge, but to stay on the road for the time being

    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:

    after proceeding to where the lanes merge, the sign tell you to turn right to take the bike path, but how the bike is expected to do it

    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

    this traffic light goes green only if a car approach it, if you are a cyclist, you have to count on luck, and be prepared to waste tremendous amount of time...for sure another option exist!

    The right turn lane…
    …or how to make a cyclist like a pin in the middle of a bowling lane

    Richmond bike lanes disposition put cyclist in treacherous spot in most of the city intersection

    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 [4]

    Obviously, there is some better way to implement bike lane with advanced right turn lane, and generally, they are implemented like below in Europe

    the cyclist doesn't need to be in the middle of traffic to cross an intersection. bike lane is protected by horizontal yielding marking giving priority to the cyclist (what is the law in most of European juridiction)...In North America, additional signage as seen in Portland, OR or Vancouver, BC could be necessary (right)

    because the “yield to cyclist” could be not obvious to the BC motorist [1] and horizontal “yield” marking less frequent here than in Europe could be not as well understood [2], 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.

    Conclusion

    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.


    [1] 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.

    [2] 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[3].

    [3] NYC DOT explains Bike Lanes in the Big Apple

    [4] number from www.bikesense.bc.ca

    [5] It is what is required by the BC motor vehicle act section 158

    A bus stop on the Hwy 99

    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:


    While there is a bus shelter, a luxury rarely spotted in Richmond, no one has really thought that people could walk to it!

    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 [1]. 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 [2].


    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 [3] : 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


    [1] B.C. pilots dynamic transit display, Jennifer Kavur, 09 Aug 2010, ComputerWorld Canada

    [2] 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.

    [3] Southbound Hwy 99 HOV lane opens to more commuters, Press release, AUg 29, 2008, BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

    Steveston

    August 30, 2010

    Steveston can offer a bucolic retreat, step of the city, easily accessible by bus from Richmond brighouse (like pretty frequent 410)

    some warehouse asking for restoration on the south dike. the beefs you can see pasturing when on the west dike, come from the Steves farm

    But the main reason to come there will be to stroll and shop on its fishermen wharf, which can be pretty busy when fish is announced as abundant like in this season for the sockeye.

    To be sure it is not Sai Kung next to Hong Kong, but it is probably the best place in BC, where to buy fish directly from the boat, or for that matter to be able to buy local sea-food in a BC fishing community, what can be very challenging, when not possible, legally, at all, in other BC fishing localities.

    Apparently, disregarding the catch of the day, the Vancouverite will like to head here to enjoy a fish and chips. Nevertheless, the Steveston food scene has matured a bit in the recent years and you will be able to find some more decent food proposition, like at the Tapenade restaurant which could be to the fish and chip, what the DB bistro is to the hamburger. In the meantimes, local learn happily how to make the best use of their resource what is certainly promising for the future of the community.

    Richmond’s Mayor Malcolm Brodie learn from Tojo‘s nephew and aid, how to prepare local sea food at a cooking demonstration during the wild bc sea food fest.

    But there is still some strange things in Stevenson. the urban landscape, while showing historic potential, seems to be under exploited and the pedestrian seems to be object of little if any consideration. Indeed, in some instance sidewalk, right in front of the fishermen wharf can be lacking. That is not inviting to stay a bit longer, to explore other streets.


    The streetscape could be significantly more friendly, for the good of the community. Bayview street at the fishermen wharf could be more inviting to ‘soft mode’, like pedestrian and cyclist, using maybe a more shared streetscape.

    the transit rider will arrive via the depressing Chatham street. Used mostly as a parking lot, this street present no interest : folk will head quickly south toward the riverside, and will be relieved to find Moncton street enroute, which seems to do fairly well, thanks to having a critical mass and combination of keys business, and looking more a rural “main street”. but it is still not as appealing as it should be

    Asphalt has became the dominant element of Moncton street: may be narrower lanes to the benefit of more comfortable sidewalk and tree lining could improve the street experience, in addition to provide some traffic calming….also burying the electric wires could help. (credit photo KwantlenChronicle.ca).

    that being said, Saturday was a good day for Steveston, and not only for fishermen.

    May be, synonym of “bohemian sophistication”, Steveston has a real baker at RomaniaBread, making probably one of the best bread around (he bakes real pain de campagne what is pretty rare to find, especially good one which can last several days). he got a good day.

    Viaduct des arts, Paris

    Viaduct des arts, Paris

    Rail viaducts have being a fixture in numerous cities since the introduction of the railway. They can be considered as an urban blight and objectively often disrupt the urban fabric, but here we present some examples showing that it can be different. Surprisingly enough, it seems that it is a reconsideration of the purpose of disused viaduct in the city [2] which has lead to rethink of its urban integration. Typically this consist to bring, under the viaduct, urban activities contributing to the street life: That means not considering the Viaduct as part of the street itself, but as a building lining up the public space.

    Vienna, Austria
    Viaduct in “median”


    A viaduct in Vienna, once a barrier in the middle of an artery, now is a building lining streets on its both sides. Note how the shops lining the street capitalize on the once a median separation (credit photo: Architekten Tillner)

    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    A Viaduct lining up a park

    In Buenos Aires, the viaduct function, is enhanced by street life contributing activities. Again here the barrier nature of the viaduct is fully assumed, separating a park of its urban environment, and eventually reinforced, with this viaduct arch reconsidered as a “passage”, clearly indicating the “human scale” nature of the expected traffic and enforcing the “oasis” feeling of the park (credit photo Polycentric Linear City)

    London, UK

    Wotton Street, The structure on the right is a viaduct!


    Only around 50% of the londonian Tube is underground. this and the numerous railway network left the British capitale heavily sliced by Viaduct “cut”. Lately tremendous effort has been taken to address the issue, as witnessed by the project “Light at the End of the Tunnel” in the context of the “crossriver partner ship program”

    Paris, France
    Beside the much acclaimed viaduct des arts (a former railway viaduct), Paris is also well furnished in metro viaduct. They offer to us an opportunities to showcase some idea eventually not working that “well” when you treat the space under viaduct as public space.

    The Viaduct of Bercy in Paris, while offering an appealing look doesn’t work that well as a bike path host: the cyclist has basically no visibility, and the “enclosed” nature of the viaduct prevent natural washing of the pavement (credit photo: zagreus)


    The space below Paris viaduct is rarely appropriated by the public, one reason could be due to the fact that the steel girder structure is pretty noisy on train passage. The fact that the space is in the median line of boulevard is not helping to draw public naturally. bike path could make a better use, but viaduct piles are as many hazard limiting the visibility of the cyclist (one will note that the Richmond viaduct turn out to be more appropriate to such an use) (credit photo, Duncjam and moonmeister)

    One will find some other example on the web [3], but the one exhibited here tend to demonstrate that the integration of a viaduct in the urban fabric is something perfectly doable, backing the effort done on the Richmond viaduct.


    [1] Light at the end of the tunnel: Transforming railway viaducts in central London

    [2] from the viaduct des arts in Paris to the HighLine in New York, there are numerous of disused viaduct going thru a renaissance life, with usually the patform being transformed in a green public space ( a list of some projects)

    [3] Noticeabily The reader will find other similar example for Berlin at the HumanTransit blog, and more generally could like to take a look at a dedicated thread on skyscrapercity forum

    The Gordon’s Lanes

    March 5, 2010

    recently the BC government made some budget announcement concerning transportation [7] and transit observers will have noticed a shortage of funding for “number one priority” transit project when the deep unbalance between transit and road investment could call for a better equilibrium as we have already noticed…but to add insult to injury, the government is not hesitating to make up the number for transit…and the Gordon’s Lanes illustrate how.

    These Gordon’s Lanes are the bus lanes announced with great fanfares (and funded at 50% by the provincial government):

    • 16$ millions for a “bus lane” on highway 7 in Pitt Meadows [1] where there is no bus route
    • 13$ millions for a “bus lane” on Highway 99 in Surrey [2] where there is only one regular bus route serviced every 15mn [3] and little congestion

    Every one in Lower Mainland, with a little sense of observation, can easily think of way better transit investment [4]: If the government was serious about transit it could have easily found some investment bringing more bang for the buck!

    So what is the real reason of those bus lanes?


    Those Bus lanes will be also HOV one obviously!

    Not that there is something wrong with it, but what is certainly wrong is to tout an investment as “transit” when the obvious reason is only to create more road capacity, which will be marginally used by public transit services if any.
    Where the cynicism of government proves to be boundless is that it will fund this road investment from earmarked “transit money” [6]

    .

    The Gordon’s bus lanes fallacy shows how our shameless government is willing to ostensibly burn our tax money on complete useless project while it refuses to address real pressing public transit need. This strategy will accredits the idea in the general public that public transit is no more than a waste of tax payer money…
    It shows that the contempt of our Government for the public transit matter is even worse that most could suspect


    [7] Prime minister, premier announce 15 new projects, March 1st, 2010

    [1] Governments partner to create jobs, stimulate economy- 174 B.C. infrastructure projects to be funded. Sept 24, 2009

    [2] Ottawa and Victoria invest $35.4 million in B.C. transportation upgrades, March 2nd 2010, Business In Vancouver

    [3] it is the bus 351, Crescent Beach, Bridgeport. route 352 and 354 are peak service only

    [4] Examples of sounder investment include the Surrey 399B line (which has been ditched due to lack of funding) or improvement of the bus traffic on Highway 99 in its Richmond part : for example the Hy 99 North bound doesn’t have bus lanes south of Westminster highway, there is no queue jumper at the Bridgeport exit, used by all suburban buses connecting with Canada line, ..investment here could benefit to the existing bus route targeted by the government funding among other converging to Bridgeport station. One could also give a look at the 699B line idea to foster an attractive transit presence in our suburbs…

    [5] Eventually the government will deny it (remember the HST?), but there is no doubt on the fate of under used lanes

    [6] The Blog follower will have also noted that the “hydrogen bus” experiment is funded from transit “earmarked money”…

    A Viaduct in Richmond

    February 15, 2010

    Or an example of an elevated Guideway working  well [1][2].

    The urban setting of the Westminster road restrain vision on  the viaduct reducing its intrusiveness feeling.

    On Number 3  at Westminster road, the viaduct on one side of the road is balanced by High rise building lining the street on the other.

    Number 3 near Brighouse: the viaduct is “kissing” the buildings, acting like a Canopy from a pedestrian experience.

    Have you noticed it? When the Viaduct is close enough of the background building (built afterward) it tend to blend easier with it.

    The pedestrian experience: Note the dressing of the Viaduct pillar by greenary. The viaduct pillar also separate the pedestrian space from the motorized one.

    Number 3 is still dotted by numerous strip malls , where the viaduct doesn’t necessary help to improve the visual experience,  except at night (picture at  lansdowne mall). the space below viaduct is also used to exhibit some sculptures.

    On daytime, the pedestrian experience can be particularly pleasant, with the viaduct pillars contributing to form a buffer zone with the motorized traffic. Note that a bikpath is also sitting under the viaduct (photo credit: Richard).

    thumbs up for Richmond!

    And the stations

    The Canada line station  have got their fair share of critics, too short, blend architecture,…But they seems to past the test of  heavy usage, thanks eventually to  deep platforms, and also present numerous positive upside: let’s see below:

    The viaduct pillar is here used as an advertising opportunity, cyclists take advantage of the weather protection provided by the viaduct, and visibility from a station offering lot of transparency and safety feeling (for  bike parking also)

    The station platform offer a pleasant waiting experience.  warm and  good quality material  is contributing toward it. Transparency provide a safety feeling as well as keeping the station in symbiotic with its urban environment.

    The Canada line stations are short (40m), but paradoxally this eventually help to their integration in the  environment: their footprint is small, and couldn’t be larger than a “tram station”. The complete transparency of the station doesn’t separate the waiter of its surrounding

    The entrance of Aberdeen at night:  The station is right along the street, the pedestrian is supposed to contourn it by the East (left side of the picture): this aspect doesn’t work that well: pedestrian tend to walk on the bikeway, eventually because the experience is otherwise quite unpleasant (lack of lighting, construction site), eventually the extension of the Aberdeen Mall will correct this issue (the location of the bike rack behind the entrance is also questionable since it doesn’t provide the safety feeling of the passer-by eye looking at the bikes like  we have at Brighouse but provide weather protection).

    [1] this  to provide illustration in support of a discussion on the Stephen Rees blog , as well as one of the Jarret Walker blog.

    [2] One would like also read the an entry relative to richmond on the Gordon price’s blog

    The latest draft of the Regional Growth Strategy Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our future was released for public comment in November 2009 and Metro Vancouver is seeking comments until February 5, 2010.

    Reading this document, it appears that the zone defined as “agriculture area” by the regional Growth Strategy doesn’t encompass all of the Agricultural Land reserve set by the Province, so in that instance, the Region set a let ambitious goal for itself than the Province set for it.

    More of concerns are the Richmond’s Garden city lands -an 136 square foot block sitting next to Garden city Road and Westminster Highway- and the National Defense lands connecting the former to the Richmond Nature park, both zoned as ALR by the Province, become the object of no specific zoning under the regional Growth Strategy.

    Simple mistake

    You could think it is a simple omission of Metro Vancouver, which should be corrected in the final version…

    When the issue has been raised at the Richmond public meeting held by Metro Vancouver[1], the answer given by the Metro Vancouver Chief Administrative Officer, Johnny Carline, has been that “Metro Vancouver includes land in -agriculture area- at the request of the municipality [not the ALC]“, so the puck come into Richmond city Hall. The Richmond’s mayor, Malcolm Brodie, then attending the meeting didn’t commented on the issue…

    In fact it could be possible that the city of Richmond has some plans not very compatible with agriculture or park land use for the said area.

    Previously, it has floated the idea of an Trade and Exhbition Centre. Thought that the area is central in Richmond, it is neither

    • in the immediate, walkable, vicinity of the Canada line stations,
    • in the immediate, walkable, vicinity of Richmond’s major hotels
    • and in the immediate access to highway 99 or other highways servicing Richmond

    so one could have think of a better location for such a development to minimize the traffic impact, Fortunately this plan died in front of the ALC which declined to rezone the ALR [2], but Richmond could have others plan in the card,…if not why not accept the ALR classification?

    This land, still central, associated with the National Defense land has the potential to be part of a green corridor, or greenway, to the more widely open agriculture area of Richmond. Green corridor concept is an important one from an ecological and social perspective:

    • it presents an ecological continuum, allowing species to frequent an area otherwise not vast enough to sustain them (think of deer or other large mammal for example, but also smaller species)
    • The point above allow the urban population to interact more naturally with their surrounding environment. The nature presenting itself in the city invite the citizen to explore further unlimited area, by feet or bike (read “instead to drive to bike in nature”)
    • The preserved and sustainable nature, here mostly bog, creates a sense of connection with the original place (in this following the good example of the Terra Nova rural park)
    • the preceding points foster a new relationship with our surrounding environment able to enhance the livability of the city

    Fortunately, some People [3] in Richmond having some goods ideas for the future Garden city land have organized themselves around a coalition to save Garden city land of human predation and expose all the intricacies of the problem on their site and blog. Visit them and don’t forget to give your feedback to Metro Vancouver before Friday!

    [1] Minute of a Decision of the Provincial Agricultural land commission, February 10, 2009

    [2] Richmond meeting on the Regional Growth Strategy, Thursday, January 21, 2010

    [3] We should also mention Olga Tkatcheva’s letter alerting the Richmond council of the unfortunate “omission”.

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