February 10, 2017
The pictures above could not all refers to the same snow fall day, but every snow day convey the same story: A transit meltdown when the city seems to not spare any energy to clear the bikeway network.
The biais has been noticed by several media outlet, and seems encouraged by some which could have some influence on the city hall culture:
Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) December 06, 2016
albeit, some city staffs seem to want to make sure no tax dollars are spared toward the well being of cyclists:
But we can always improve our cycling comfort- I'll make the sure my team considers 'snow clearing bike wayfinding'… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…—
Dale Bracewell (@Dale_Bracewell) December 09, 2016
It is possible that local advocates misinterpret how the things are done in Copenhagen, where the bike lanes use to be along the city’s arterials:
The city of Vancouver explains it has 14 “priority” route: in fact, it has 14 route, period: one of them looks like:
Only ~50% of this route cover either a truck route or a frequent transit network route. and the crux of the underwhelming Vancouver snow response lies here: there is virtually no route priotization which leads to high inefficienies in the way snow removal equipment are deployed.
the above map covers the frequent transit network, major truck route, hospital access, and the municipal “Disaster response” routes in the city limits: that represents ~200km of streets: 14 snow plowers can clear this entire network, one lane/direction, in ~1 hour (assuming a ~30km/h snow plow average speed): On friday, February 3rd, the total snow accumulation was ~12cm, falling at a rate of less than ~1cm/hr on average, and still the city let much more than 5cm of snow to accumulate on the main arterials such as Granville where the transit service was halted several time during the day…same on 41st and 49th avenue to speak only of few I have been made aware, not discounting the bus 20 was still not able to make south of 54th on February 8th. A similar transit meltdown occured on Monday 6th, total snow precipitation for the day: 7cm!
another problem could be due to the deployment procedure of the snow plowing equipments: plowing takes place if there is more than 5cm of snow accumulation. The 5cm trigger is the same as in Toronto, however the level of water content in snow tend to be 50% higher on the west coast, so that the same level of snow precipitation leads to significantly more slushy condition in Vancouver than in Toronto …. Also, Toronto deploys snow plowing equipment as soon as 2cm of snow accumulates on its expressway networks.
 this is extrapolated from USA data. for more information on the relative level of water content in snow, see Martin Baxter: Snow to liquid ratio, climatology and forecast methodologies, 2005
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.
August 8, 2016
This Vancouver rail corridor used to be double tracked, and saw passenger service from 1902 to 1954. The last commercial train has been seen in 2001. The asset has been considered very early for a North South rail transit line: A more direct alignment via Cambie, has been preferred for the Canada line circa 2006. That was closing a chapter…However the track was still there, and the hope of a local tram has always stay alive in some circles: the 2010 Olympic line demonstration was giving reason for hope…and CP rail was wanting to bank on its precious real estate. After a bit of bullying by CP rail, in order to get a fair price, the city agreed to purchase the corridor for $55M in March 2016, openinga ew chapter:
The Arbutus corridor was a defacto Greenway:
Like many disused railway corridors, a greenway was a logical option for a corridor presenting some natural qualities. However where usually the authorities capitalize on the specificity of such assets, the city of Vancouver has decided to destroy it: A destruction in 2 steps :
Destroying the memory of the place
It has been vague promises of reusing the corridor for a rail transit by the City, but this quickly vansihed, and instead to see a preservation of what make this corridor apart and a reminder of its potential alternative uses, it quickly appeared that the city had negociated the removal of all things related to the railway. That is certainly one of the safest mean to kill any prospect of reactivation of this corridor as a future rail transit corridor (1), it is also a a first blunt to the soul of the place.
Destroying the feel of the place
Many disused urban railway corridors exhale a specific atmosphere found nowhere else in a city, which people growth to appreciate and like it. It was also the case for the Arbutus corridor, something Patrick Condon has worded as “People have gotten quite used to the Arbutus Corridor as kind of a romantic landscape — the kind of unkempt quality of it. it’s level of decay has become something that people kind of like…” , what reflects pretty much the position of the current Paris city council, especially as expressed by Christophe Najdovski, the councilor in charge of transportation and public space of Paris, who want to preserve “the mystery and magic” of the Petite ceinture, a disused railway in Paris .
Beyond Paris, many other cities capitalize on the experiental side of their assets, that is the case for the Shell road trail in Richmond as stated by the city website:
“The Shell Road Trail is long interior trail that runs north/south along the Shell Road corridor from Alderbridge Way to Williams Road. This interior trail has a distinctly rural feel to it with tall trees and shrubs lining both sides of it, making it a unique trail experience in an urban City Centre.”
The Richmond Shell road trail, and the Colombes “voie verte” (greenway) illustrated below:
The Vancouver official development plan for Arbutus was also not far of this vision, since it was designating it as a greenways, including without limitation :
- (i) pedestrian paths, including without limitation urban walks, environmental demonstration
trails, heritage walks and nature trails; and
- (ii) cyclist paths.
The challenge for the designer of such places is to preserve their specificities and feels, while making them accessible to people of all ages and abilities… In the name of the later, Vancouver has simply destroyed the former:
Under public outrage, the city has potentially recognized the insentivity of its position and halted work…temporarily…
Does other solutions were possible?
Yes and it is not even too late to apply them, but what is almost sure is that the corridor has already lost its cachet: whatever final design will be – and it could be a nice one – it is poised to be more bland and artificial since it will be build of a blank state. The soul of the place is lost and, and it is not something designers are armed to restore. The end result is that the whole city will be poorer in diveristy of experience
The main issue now is the treatment of the surface path: it is the object of another post
 It is one of the reason why Paris took the complete opposite step for the Petite Ceinture, as we have seen in a previous post
 Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan (Adopted by By-law No. 8249, July 25, 2000), city of Vancouver
 Arbutus’ asphalt greenway not paved with good intentions, critics say, Matt Robinson, VancouverSUn, August 3 2016, Vancouver
 City paves way for Arbutus Greenway, Naoibh O’Connor, Vancourier, August 2, 2016, Vancouver
 Petite ceinture : faire le tour de Paris à vélo et autres fantasmes, rue89, September 25th, 2013
A couple of thoughs on this rezoning process.
In 2014, the city decided “the neighborood didn’t developed as expected: let’s do something about it”. The city never admitted that the whole process was triggered by Westbank wanting to build a 30+ storey building at 5050 Joyce street . (Instead, it rationalized it on the TransLink’s planned upgrade of the Joyce-Collingwood Skytrain Station  , as an opportunity to review its zoning policy)…and still… it was the right think to do (and there is no harm to admit it!)
- don’t consider the Westbank application for spot rezoning, but don’t reject it outright either – rather contextualize it in an community plan.
Considering that the previous Joyce-Collingwood Station Area Plan dated back 1987, and considering that effectively, beside the Collingwood village, which has became a posterchild for successful Transit Oriented Development , no much has happened elsewhere- some update was necessary.
The apriori limited area concerned by the rezoning makes also relatively good sense:
- In the context of the Westbank application, you don’t necessarily want to have a community plan taking years to take shape
- The transit station precinct specificity is in fine recognized by the perimeter of the rezoning, and this eventually allows to reach a quicker form of consensus (It is a natural density node) .
The city engagement processus.
- A walk and “round table” was organised in December 2014, from there a diagnostic was “done”, which leaded to a first report
- A workshop was organized on June 20, 2015 in 2 different sessions ( land use and building form, in one session and transportation in another one)
In this well attented workshop, the participants suggested different building typology for differents areas:
I have attended it, and in my recollection, the exercise turned out to be fairly consensual: the Marine drive development was seen by many as a good way to illustrates the desirable building form (and scale) for the Joyce station immediate vicinity, with transition zone formed by mid-rise and townhouse stitching it with the predominant Single family house area. The Transportation workshop was relatively uneventful. After an “open house” held in July 2015, where the city staff presented its recollection of the above, the Vancouver planners proposed 3 differents zoning options (the difference residing essentially in the heigh of the high rise immediatly adjacent to Joyce Station). on October 20, 2015. Below is an illustration of the most ambitious proposal (highest tower):
Up to October 20, the things was rolling out surpinsigly smoothly. However, on october 20, at the location the city staff was unveiling its rezoning proposals, it was also an unadvertised “open house” hosted by Westbank to present its formal 5050 Joyce street application. That was unfortunate enough and proven to be a turning point:
Quickly enough, some people “organizing on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples” launched a curiously worded petition and a new organisation popped-up Jara, with very certainly many well intentioned activists. Beside their concerns on “affordable housing”, it has always been hard to understand their ultimate motivations (their last post doesn’t help either), leading them to adopt a rather confrontational approach with the city consultation efforts .
It is possible the people at Jara was not aware of the early stage of the consultation process: The city didn’t seem to have put lot of effort at reaching the neighborood , something Jara has been kind to correct. Jara has been pretty active at engaging the local citizens, and look to have engaged in some efforts overlapping the city’s organised workshop, and has produced its own report, however it seems to not have helped to dispell some misconceptions such as “rezoning = expropriation“
That eventually leaded to another apriori more controversial open house on April 6, 2016:
The tension was quickly diffused by breaking the attendance in small group, preventing a town hall meeting showdow: the attendance turned out to have more questions that recriminations. However, where the attendance seems to agree is on the question of the benefits occuring from rezoning:
The neighborhood has accepted very significant densification. The Wall centre at Central park, has generated ~$12M in CAC + DCC, this in addition of the CNH annex and Mosaic space , from which apparently not a single cent has yet been spent in the neighborhood … So it is certainly possible the neighborhood feels short changed on the topic. Explaining that the neigborly community centers, such as Killarney, a 30mn walk away, can serve Joyce Collingwood is probably unsatisfactory. It is not that the question of community amenities is new , but the expectation is to have those amenities such as swimming pool or ice rink, or even public libraries coming right in the neighborood accepting very signifcant densification; an almost pre-requisite for “density well done”
The draft plan presentation and the 3d model
The 3d virtual model previously presented in this post was a private initiative: it is my belief that the city should have shared its 3d model with the public (that to allowing the public to interact with it directly). The city presenting a 3d printing to illustrate the envisioned change is very welcome: It is an important tool to help the conversation…thought the model has arrived a bit late in the rezoning conversation (the city planner mentioned, the 3d model was only ready on Friday May 27, 2016), we just hope the city will make larger use of such tools (3d computer model and 3d printing) in the future.
The evil is in the details
I must admit, a final workshop to discuss the details of the plan (that is not questioning its general thrust, and densification objective which has been the object of previous workshops) could have been welcome: That will be the object of another post presenting the ideas shared with the city
The plan is scheduled to go beyond council on June 14 or 15th, 2016 – In the meantime, properties concerned by the rezoning have started to appear on MLS: the asking price is around 100% above assessed price (vs 20-30% for other properties in the neighborhood), all this “land lift” is something which will not be availbale for CAC (a direct consequence of the opacity of the city’s CAC policy, which is object of backroom deal)
 I have been made aware by a local mailing list relaying the Collingwood Neighborood House messages, but the city didn’t seem to have advertised the rezoning in the local flyer, the Renfrew Collingwood community news , neither at the Joyce station or other busy areas.
 this 3d model is freely accessible on the sketchup library site can be dowloaded in Google earth…and printed in 3d too…
 Westbank conducted an Open house on February 19, 2014 to gather feedback on its first prosoal. Westbank purchased the land for $9,930,000 in 2014 according to Colliers Canada
 Some observer will have noticed that the Joyce cCollingwood get a signficant upgrade in the years 2011-213 to accomodate the Compass card gate: most of it has been recently demolished, see more on the Metrobabel blog
 This Transit oriented DEvelopment has been the object of numerous study, as well as having attracted the attention of several blog, such as Fraseropolois.
 This is a striking difference with the Grandview woodland rezoning process, where the Commercial-Broadway station precinct is considered as no more than a sub-zone of the Grandview Woodland community. As such this precinct of regional interest (intersection of 2 rapid transit line) has been bogged down by local concerns which are trumping the general interest.
 Apparently the city, would like to use the CACs toward the building of a passerelle over boundary Rd: it doesn’t seem to be a request from the community and we don’t think it is a right use of the local CAC $: we will hopefully elaborate on it in a later post
June 2, 2015
Beside the removal of the accident prone slip lanes, and the reopening to pedestrians of the East side of the bridge deck; granted by a new bike lane; there is little improvement for the cyclists and pedestrians: Many connectivity options are still forbidden, either by law or by design:
Notice that the design allows to do a left hook turn from Burard Northbound, or Pacific Westbound since the intersection presents a Dutch interesection characteristic on its North side
Notice that the design allows to do a left hook turn from Burard Northbound, or Pacific Westbound since the intersection presents a Dutch interesection characteristic on its North side
- Same could be possible on the South side, albeit at the price to add a traffic signal cycle, to allow unimpeded bike/pedestrian East-West movement on the South side of Pacific. (but what are the priority of the city?)
- Alternately, the construction of ramps to allow to use the bridge underpass (lane on the south side of Pacific), could provide a solution if such is possible
Worth also to note that the planters separating the bike lane on Burrard Street would be gone:
- Such planters are insulating the bike path too much of its environment, what create a safety hazard at interesection
That said such a wrong step seems to be taken on Pacific
All in all, due to the non addressing of prohibited turns for active travel mode, the proposal looks more as a missed opportunity to improve connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians than a real improvment: in some sort, the whole exercise seems more guided by the ideological desire to remove a lane of traffic on the Burrrad bridge than anything else.
All that could be not that bad if the proposal was not used as a weapon to attack the city buses once again.
The Transit issue
When the West side bike lane has been built in 2009, the southbound bus stop at Pacific#Burrard has been decommissioned: another bus stop has been implemented at Burnaby#Burrard. Especially due to the steep terrain nature in the vicinity , that has defacto put the south side of Pacific street out of reach of the Burrard buses, hence the Frequent Transit network, while he Burnaby bus stop is widely redundant with the Davie bus stop in term of coverage:
Far to improve this dire situation, it is suggested to make it worse, by relocating the Burnaby bus stop ever farther away: the new Burnaby bus stop could be a mere 30 meter away of the Davie bus stop!
Because the city so far has conceived its bike lane at the expense of Transit. The “legacy” bike lane on most of Burrard looks like below:
An obviously less than ideal pattern, which call for correction: a protected bike lane. That is good, but on the city watch, it is apparently not compatible with a bus stop. Of course it doesn’t need to be…even in Vancouver:
Several ways to address the bike+bus interaction exist, as noticed by Jarret Walker. As him, we prefer a “table” or shared space solutions for the bike lane that alert the cyclist to yield to peds in this situation, as we have seen before:
It looks the city is more leaning toward a floating island concept, which is at least considered for the Burrard#Pacific Northbound bus stop: the important is to see the access to transit to be addressed. What is possible for the North bound bus stops, must certainly be too for the South bound bus stops
In the present case, it looks like the removal of the slip lanes allow for ample room at the south-West intersection to implement a floating island concept with a bus bay (to not impediment traffic) as suggested in the second illustration of this post.
In any case, the lack of connectivity improvement for cyclists and more critically, the absence of consideration for transit, make the city proposal a bad one. On a positive note, those shortcomings are relatively easy to address and we are hopeful to see the proposal modified in a postive direction
 a rule of thumb is to consider that 10 meters elevation change is equivalent, be in time or energy, to 100 meters distance on flat (e.g. the Grouse Grind hike is 2.8km long but with an elevation change of 853meter: that is equivalent to a hike of 11.43km (2.9km+ 10*0.853km) on a flat terrain.
 See also the discussion on Pricetags