August 9, 2016
the debate is framed like it: to be against a blacktop path is to be against accessibility.
Accessibility for all activities or all abilities?
It is no secret that the debate is mainly geared by the Vancouver cycling community, and the main local organization, HUB, has made clear its vision; a cycling highway -where one can “bike from the Fraser River to False Creek in 30mn” (that makes an average speed of 20km/h+) . From there, the conversation regarding accessibility is mainly reduced to wheelchair accessibility concerns, while at the same time accessibility is understood as skate board and roller skate users inclusion.
However, if we understand accessibility as “universal access” for people with impairment of various nature, the conversation take another turn: A trail where a cyclist can zip at 25km/h becomes quickly unfriendly to people with a visual impairment . The accessibility problem is multidimensional and can’t be reduced by how comfortable it is for the small wheels.
A cycling corridor or a greenway Promenade/trail
- Scenic promenades; and
- Experential promenades
The Vancouver Seawall is a great example of scenic promenade: the emphasis and the purpose of the promenade are the views it can offer. The west Richmond dykes falls also in this category. other trails could not offer too much of a view but a more experiential aspect: the Stanley park inner trails fall in this category, as well as the Richmond Shell road trail or the Lynn valley trails (including its suspended bridge).
If the focus of a trail is a viewpoint, one would like then provide the easiest access to it, if the focus of a trail is experiential, then one would like provide the best compromise comfort/experience. That is the trail itself, and noticeably its surface shouldn’t distract of the experience, which sensorial aspect must not be neglected. A universal accessibility trail exists in Stanley park, it is Beaver lake trail :
Similar trails exist elsewhere in the region, Fitzsimmons trail in Whistler, the Panorama trail at the top of the Squamish SeatoSky Gondola or the Spirea nature trail in the Golden Ears park are among them. However some other trails, though not designed universally accessible could in fact be much more wheelchair friendly that the Stanley park’s Beaver trail (which has not keep up with the up to date standards): it is at least the case of most of the Burnaby Central park trails:
The wide and flat enough trails of the Burnaby central park offer good rolling condition, and stay in good condition during raining periods as illustrated in this Google view.
The Stanley park trails accessibility could not be up to the current standards:
What about the state of the art?
In BC, the very recently opened Great West Life trail in Prince George is pretty much the state of art:
A hard packed surface, soft enough for the knees of the elder, and still presenting good rolling capability, as well as other surface treatments, such has woodboards, provide a rich experience . It features wheel-guard where required and slope not greater than 3%. Such a trail design is the result of a cooperation with the Spinal Cord Injury-BC society.
Trail head accessibility?
It is another aspect where the Burnaby central park is hard to beat: it is directly serviced by the Skytrain (Patterson station) as well as 2 frequent transit bus routes (19 and 49). Something Stanley park can’t compete with.
What about the bikes on an universally accessible trail?
The state of the art doesn’t seem to have found a compromise much better than this:
The banning of bike from Universal accessible trail, seems to be common  for reasons previously touched. Cycling is in theory also not allowed on the “universal accessiblity” trails of Stanley park , but the rule is not well respected.
A preliminary conclusion
Our region is surrounded by trails often offering first class experience, but when time comes to find an accessible trail, the region becomes a laggard. When it is time to find an “universally accessible trail” reachable by public transit: pretty much nothing exists.
it is where the Arbutus corridor becomes a golden opportunity: it presents many characteristic required for an “universally accessible trail”, first of them, being the gentle grade, second being the experiential aspect- including the sensorial aspect capitalizing on the meandering among community gardens. third it is easily reachable by many frequent transit routes, allowing to experience it in many different ways.
It is also clear that an “universally accessible trail” vision capitalizing on the experiential aspect of a greenway is not compatible with the cycle track vision as exposed by Hub, and a compromise will need to be found.
 Arbutus Greenway Announced, Hub news, March 14, 2016
 Similarly, Accomodating visual impaired people is also the main challenge the designer of shared space has to address
 A reason why a cycle track on the Paris Petite Ceinture (a disused rail corridor) has been dismissed, as we have seen in a previous post
 It is also good at maintaining the motor skills and enhance the mental health, a reason why such surfacing are often preferred.
 It is also the case for the promenade built on the Paris Petite Ceinture, among others.
 The ravine trail is also presented as “universal accessible” by the Vancouver park board, thought it has some questionable access impediment.
November 3, 2014
Some numbers extracted from the Translink GTFS feed  (for the day of Sept 5th, 2014), for the 2km segment between Hasting and Broadway. The current average speed is ~11.5km/h, could be increased to ~15km/h with a bus lane…or reduced to ~9km/h according to the tradeoff done to implement bike paths
- number of #20 runs: 304 (but I counted only 276 between Broadway and Hasting) requiring a minimum of 19 vehicles in revenue service 
- time and speed between Broadway and Hasting :
- ~15,700 annual operating hours meaning $1.57 millions in annual operating cost (at $100/hr, in line with )
|Min time||Average time||Max time|
|Max speed||Average speed||Min speed|
bus lane Impact on Commercial Drive
We are considering the previously presented Commercial Drive proposal as illustrated below
- This bus lane, featuring clearly marked corridors (protected in one direction) and transit priority signal, suggests that average speed typical of BRT or urban LRT could be achieved: that is ~20km/h.
- That said, noticeabily because the stop are closely spaced, an average speed of 15km/h could be more realisticaly and conservatively achieved:
- That is roughly the average speed of the bus 20 outside the Commercial Drive segment.
Annual operating cost
|average speed||Average time||Annual operating cost|
The potential operating cost saving is in the tune of of $300,000 to $600,000/year.
Similar configurations, be on Davie or Robson, suggest a reduction of the average speed to ~9km/h; That could increase the route 20 operating cost by $400,000/year:
- the bus+bike lanes proposal is conductive of $1 Million in operating cost saving versus a proposal favoring street parking over transit.
A bus lane + traffic signal priority, allows an increase in the bus schedule reliability: lay over can be reduced accordingly, increasing the operating saving
Operating cost is only part of the picture:
the slower a bus route is, the more buses are required at same frequency/seat capacity:
The bus requirement is compounded by two conflating issues:
On the route 20, afternoon peak hour traffic cost ~4 buses:
A bus lane, making transit more immune to traffic congestion, allows to reduce drastically the peak hour buses requirement (in our example, the average speed maintained at ~15km/h, vs 9.5km/h currently in peak hour)
Adding a peak hour bus is a very expensive proposition: it means (to preserve spare ratio, and other contingency)
- the Purchase of an additional bus
- Adding storage capacity for this bus (even if in use 20mn a day)
- Adding maintenance cost
- adding a driver on payroll and all ancilliairy cost (training, administration)
According to a conversation with a former Toronto Transit Commission employee, the TTC is costing an additional peak hour bus at $100,000 a year (that is for a 40footer, typically sold a ~$300,000)
It is worth to note that Translink is in very short supply of articulated trolleybus, estimated each at $1M
It is no secret that the faster a transit service is, the more ridership it will attract. That has been again recently verified in Seattle, with a quasi linear relationship:
- an increase of 20% in speed is conductive of a similar increase in the ridership, which de facto increase the bus operator revenue
This coumpounded to lower operating cost makes Transit much more financially sustainable.
When all the effects are combined, it is relatively conservative to estimate that a bike lane, done at the expense of transit on Commerical, could end up to cost more than $1 million/year to Translink, when compared to a solution improving both
…and here we have analyzed only the direct cost for Translink…
 New markings aim to keep drivers out of Battery Street bus lane, Aubrey Cohen, SeattlePi- Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
 That makes the route 20 the 4th most frequent bus route of the network, behind route 99,9 and 41.
 See our reference spreadsheet (which has been updated with the 2014 data) for further detail.
 We use here the hourly operating cost as stated in the 2013 Bus Service Performance Review (see Annex A): it is worth to note that this hourly operating cost doesn’t include neither bus lay over and dead end trips. It doesn’t differentiate artics buses from standard ones too: the $100 mark is a very significant under estimate of the real operating cost of a route. A $180 per customer hour service could be closer to reality as we have seen before.
 It seems that the average speed of the route 20 is decreasing year over year, almost 10% reduction in the last 7 years according to our spreadsheet  (which also depends of the Translink data quality): A probable consequence of the city council inaction on Transit front
November 12, 2013
Most of the below come from Megan Carvell Davis affidavit in . She had already stated the issue in a comment on the bike lane vs the park post, but then unaware of the covenant exact terms, I have no commented on that before. The below is under the light of this covenant attached in :
Some historical context
The land known now as Hadden park (originally given to CPR as a provincial crown grant in 1886) was promised to be a harbour, according to the CPR wishes:
The CPR always had some development plans for this Kitsilano area, and those encountered opposition at the time (“already many nimby there!”): Even the park board objected to see this area (the land east of Chestnut, was also slated to be an indian reserve by the federal government), to be turned into a major facility for shipping, this in July 1919 . The area was then looking like below:
“According to the 1933 journal of Major J.S. Matthews, Vancouver’s first city archivist, on his final trip to Vancouver in 1928,
Mr Harvey Hadden, a real estate business man from London, expressed the view that he would “like to do something for Vancouver which had done so well for him-in his real estate investments”. Hadden accepted the proposal of his former architect and friend, Mr S. M. Eveleigh that there should be a waterfront park connecting the Kitsilano Indian Reserve to Kitsilan Beach.” 
In October 1928, Mr Hadden, gave for a $1 and subject to a covenant, to the city of Vancouver, the properties he had just purchased from the CPR. That is block 136 and 137 (DL 526), then valued at $41,000, are shown below:
The city accepted the gift, and the covenant.
Hadden park, as we know today, consists of
- Block 136 and 137 (DL 526) as donated by Mr Harvey Hadden
- “Closed road” Maple and Cypress, North of Ogden, on April 27, 1931
- “water lots” 5780 and 5781 granted by the Province of british columbia, on June 12, 1935
- The Centennial Totem pole erected in October 1958, is in the Cypress ROW north of Ogden
- Part of those land has been filled up, noticeabily to erect the maritime museum in 1958, and the unleashed dog area is also on this area
The term of the Hadden Trust are that Hadden Park (that is stricto senso applying to block 136 and block 137 as illustrated above)
- “shall be used as and for a Public Park or recreation ground and not for any other purpose whatsoever”
- “shall be improved and put in shape as a public park or recreation ground, but in carrying out such improvements the Board of Park Commissioners shall keep the property as near as possible in its present state of nature subject to such alterations or changes as may be reasonable necessary for its preservation and for the safety and enjoyment of the public. it being the desire of the grantor that those using the Park shall as far as reasonably may be enjoy the same in its natural state and condition”
The maritime museum
In the 1950’s, the city had acquired the St Roch vessel and was looking for a place to moor and preserve it.
After much controversy, a decision was made to house the St Roch into a new building: the maritime museum. This will be built circa 1958, on land granted by the Province in 1935: The “water lots” 5780 and 5781 have been partially filled for that purpose, and that has been considered at one point as not violating the covenant by the city . The fact that the blocks 136 and 137, have lost de facto, their waterfront status, is considered as a violation of the riparian right of the said blocks, this, according to the Hadden park conservators .
The dog off-leash area
The covenant, stipulates that “the grantee shall use and maintain the properties for park purposes and the beach for bathing more especially for women and children”. In 1998, the park board approved Hadden Park Beach as an off-leash dog area, while that dogs are not allowed on bathing beaches, according to the park bylaws .
The enforcement of the covenant in that matter per-suppose, that the blocks 136 and 137 have riparian right, but the city viewpoint could be that:
Mr Hadden rights did not extend below high water mark as he did not hold title to the water lot which was at that time in the name of the crown. He therefore had no power to convey any rights with respect to bathing on the beach .
The letter and the spirit of the covenant
The spirit of the covenant could not have been respected that well, but so far the letter of the covenant has been relatively well respected (neither the maritime museum, nor the totem pole are on properties donated by Hadden). Basically, the only alteration the properties has seen since 1928, has been the installation of benches (already there circa ~1940), and can be considered, as a reasonnable alteration forward a better enjoyment of the park. The construction of a bike path, directly on block 136-137 could certainly set a major precedent:
Main source is the lawsuit filled by Megan Carvell Davis 
 lawsuit filled by Megan-Carvell-Davis-vs-City-of-Vancouver, on Nov 4th, 2013
 park by laws City of Vancouver, Jan 1st, 2008.
 Corporation counsel letter to city, November 20th, 1957, as attached in 
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?
The problem is one of geometry:
- A park needs to be accessible
- The smaller is the park, the more a new infrastructure impacts it
- The larger a park is, the more it needs to have access infrastructure, if one want to see it “used”.
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):
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
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.
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 , 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?
 twitter user neil21
 Seaside Greenway Improvements,Vancouver Park Board, Oct 1st, 2013
 flickr user keepitsurreal
October 16, 2013
…Or should a bike lane be built at any price…
The Vancouver park board, seems to believe that the public consulation on the Cornwall-Point Grey bike lane, makes a similar public engagement redundant when comes the time to design a seaside bikelane at Kitsilano Beach. Instead, an intercept survey was chosen: the following question was asked to 370 “park users” :
|Our goal is to make walking and cycling in and through the parks safer, more convenient, and more comfortable – without compromising the many ways, people use the park. Do you support this goal?|
95% naturally supported this laudable goal…but does that give license to the park board to aprove anything, as long as it is called a bike lane, as it has done on October 7th by approving a $2.2 million path bisecting the Kitsilano park?
The need for a bike lane
There is no question that Kitsilano park is very well used: bikes and pedestrians cohabitation on the current seaside path is problematic. In an effort to reduce conflicts, cyclists are asked to dismount on the stretch along the beach itself on busy days… Some cyclists comply….
There is no question either that cyclists are here overwhelmingly on a leisure trip, looking at a seaside experience:
- the fact that a route thru Kits point is unconvenient to commuter cyclist is a reason why it has not been pursued by the Cornwall-Point Grey team 
- The selected route, York, didn’t remove the need to improve cycling facilities for recreational user looking at a seaside experience.
This was recognized in the Cornwall-Point Grey consultation, deferring improvment to the existing seaside greenway between Balsam and Burrard to further consultation with park users ….
Instead of “improvments” to the existing path, the park board is preferring to build a new one, albeit a reasonnable option…but which is proceeding without consultation:
…That is the most detailled map provided by the Park board staff ….it was considered good enough by the Vancouver park board to approve the project on October 7,2013.
The alignment raises several questions:
- it doesn’t connect in any meaningful way with the York Avenue bike lane
- it seems to multiply the zone of conflicts rather than to reduce them between the foot of Yew street and the Boathouse restaurant (this part of the park is heavily used by sun bathers)
- In other part of the park, it “sterilizes” large swath of the park, that is bisecting the park in such way that some part become practically unsuable as illustrated below -where a ~10 meter wide strip is made unavailable for usual park use:
- That could be done at Balsam street on the West side, but more importantly at either Yew street or Arbutus street on the East side
The bike lane could have been put on Arbutus street, a neighborood street in Kits point, but apparently the park board has considered the 66feet wide street too narrow for adding a bike lane:
A similar observation could be done at Hadden park, where cyclist are already separated of the sea by the Maritime musseum, and where a bike path on Ogden avenue could not compromise the seaside experience either:
In both case, it requests to suppress some parking spots. Something the park board seems wary to do, in fact the report mentions :
The parking lot at the foot of McNicholl Street will be reduced but leave twenty spots, including ten with waterfront views. Impact on parking revenues is considered to be negligible.
Should we be relieved that no parking spot with water front view has been endangered by the bike lane?
Beyond the park board, here lies the problem of the party ruling Vancouver: As we have noticed before, their bike lanes agenda, is a single and narrow minded one…it is one consisting of laying down bike lanes at the exclusion of any other considerations and for that, it follows the path of least resistance, instead to make clear choice:
- Reallocating space for cyclits at the expense of the car, and not other vulnerable users
Everything needs to give way to the bike lane.
The connection between Hadden park (Ogdon Avenue) and Kitsilano beach (Arbutus) should have been open to discussion: Does a bend to follow as close as possible the shoreline (like done in the proposal) is really necessary?
- One should weight the benefits of a brief moment of extra scenery for cyclists against the costs of eliminating prime space for picnickers, and constructing a longer and convoluted route (eventually preventing cyclists to spread out further west
Thought that the usual suspects will be against the kitsilano bike lane for the sake to be against a bike lane, they will feel conforted in their battle by being joined by people coming of a quarter which should haven’t been bothered: the defensors of our parks….
One doesn’t need to be against bike lanes, to recognize, once again, tha lack of judgement from the Vancouver park board: Eventually due to lack of proper consultation, this bike lane suffering of lack of though is ill conceived (*).
We already hear the unconditional supporters of bike lanes pointing at the successfully used bike lane to prove us wrong…Exactly same logic could apply whether the park board had elected to build a parking lot instead of a bike lane.
(*) To be sure it is a done deal suffering no discussion 
 Seaside Greenway Improvements,Vancouver Park Board, Oct 1st, 2013
 Seaside Greenway Completion and York Bikeway (Phase 1 of Point Grey-Cornwall Active Transportation Corridor),General Manager of Engineering Services, City of Vancouver, July 16, 2013
 Kits Beach bike path a done deal, Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier – October 15, 2013