Some park’s geometry considerations

October 28, 2013

Some people ask,

Many parks have bike paths, or scenic drives. Some have even a train, what is the problem with Kits beach?

Bike path at Trout Lake and motor road at Stanley park - credit photo left (1), right (3)

The problem is one of geometry:

  • A park needs to be accessible
    • The larger a park is, the more it needs to have access infrastructure, if one want to see it “used”.
  • The smaller is the park, the more a new infrastructure impacts it

Trout Lake is not only much bigger than Kits beach park (overlayed on it), but it has also a square shape, when Kits beach is a “strip park”. Notice also that there is no continuous street on the East side of the park (where the bike path is)

According to what is measured, the impact of a bike path along Kits beach (around 1.1km) is between 2.5% of the total park area to 10% of the effective green space (vegetation):

The different space allocation of Kitsilano park. A bike path can have a significant impact on the useability of the park

In comparison, John Hendry park (Trout lake) is 27Ha and has a ~900m bike path. Kits beach a 50% smaller park, could have a bike path 40% longer than John Hendry park. The Trout lake bike path occupies roughly 1% of the park area. A number order of magnitude lower than in the Kitsilano Beach case

  • Some shapes are better than other

Comparing surfaces area disregarding their shapes is missing the most critical informations on the quality of the space

paved area (grey) surface  is the same in the left and right case. but no volleyball court fit in the left one, when 2 fit in the right one

paved area (grey) surface is the same in the left and right case.
but no volleyball court fit in the left one, when 2 fit in the right one

Kitsilano is a narrow “strip park”, which usuability can be quickly compromised, if it can’t offer swaths of grass of sufficient size for spontaneous activities, usually occuring on grass that is ball games but not only; spontaneous activities typically occur on space with non defined use.

SlacklinerCollingwoodPark

Kids playing soccer, young practicing Slacklining: a sample of many spontaneous activity observed this week-end at Collingwood park, all of them requring swath of grass of sufficient size

A good picnic site, in addition of a good view, also requires an agreable environment able to maintain a minimun of “social distance”, with other people and activities…what requires a certain size, too

One of the problem with a bike path into Kitsilano park, as initially approved by the park board [2], is that it will impact other activities justifying a park in the first place. If the park board proceeds as it wants, there is no doubt, the bike path will be successful, but that also means, that our seaside will become increasingly homogeneous, geared toward the enjoyment of cycling only, instead to offer a wide and diverse range of recreational activities

Fortunately, it is possible to provide a safe and scenic ride to cyclists, with minimal impact to the park, and its current usages, as we have seen here and in more detail, there. The question rest, does the Park board will finally listen?


[1] twitter user neil21

[2] Seaside Greenway Improvements,Vancouver Park Board, Oct 1st, 2013

[3] flickr user keepitsurreal

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One Response to “Some park’s geometry considerations”


  1. […] The dual carriageway is there, albeit on a short section, where downhill bikes can accumulate lot of speed (the reason for the “freeway”?). That is a point for the bike freeway qualification. Unfortunately it is also at the most convoited picnic area site…If the project proceeds ahead, picnickers will be seperated from the shore by no less than 3 rows of paths…and the bike path take more space than we have initialed thought […]


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