Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Amtrak Cascades Mud Bay Surrey BC 08-04-2005 10-28AM

This is not really just blowing my own trumpet. I put this image on flickr back in September, and it has had nearly 500 views since then. But recently it got “faved” by someone calling themselves WSDOT. Now that is not unusual with transport fanatics. Some of my friends have been gently chided for appropriating official logos and stuff such is their devotion to certain corporate entities. But it turns out that WSDOT is just what it says it is.

We are the Washington State Department of Transportation. We get some amazing photos from crews working across the state and we thought Flickr would be a great avenue to share them with all of you.

And you can see them here. And in a rare self denying ordinance I will say nothing about BCMoT or Mainroad.

It has been a strange week in Vancouver


and I don’t just mean the weather. Quite unexpectedly, after an overcrowded protest meeting in Pitt Meadows, BC Environment Minister Barry Penner announced that there would be no transmission lines in Pinecone Burke Provincial Park. This put paid to a series of proposed run of the river hydro projects on the Upper Pitt river, and was widely applauded, except, of course, by its proponent. But if you thought that might indicate a change of direction in Victoria, you would be wrong. Equally controversial, and almost as unpopular was the province’s decision to use park land to settle an aboriginal land claim. Though this was a regional park and not a provincial park, the Metro Vancouver directors were not pleased to learn that they could do nothing. And not because the use of park land seemed to violate an earlier promise by the premier (we have all given up expecting him to keep his word) but the absence of any compensation.

We also learned this week that the Ministry of Transportation has responded to all those comments on the Environmental Assessment of the Port Mann twinning Highway #1 expansion. They did that in December, but kept quiet about it. No doubt because they had actually not responded at all, simply repeated stuff from the original submission. But the whole premise of the Gateway now seems to be in doubt as the US economy has tipped into recession, and railways, truckers and ports are all reporting a decline trade. Not in BC of course. In the US – whose trade we were supposed to be taking a bigger share of in the future. I don’t think so, Kevin

Places without cars

Zhongyang Pedestrian Street - Harbin

Turning Robson Street into a Pedestrian Mall was listed as No 5 of the things we could do. I think No 1 would be where I would put it.

Streets and squares have been pedestrianised all over the world. The image I chose for this piece happens to be Harbin in China. But there are many others I could have chosen – Monmouth (Wales), Lima (Peru), Las Ramblas in Barcelona Spain, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod – I could go on for pages like this but you get the idea.

But for some reason Vancouver doesn’t. We seem to be highly reluctant to close streets to traffic. Vancouver only had part of Granville St as a bus only mall, and I am pleased that when Canada Line construction finishes, it will be again. Wider sidewalks, and a straighter alignment for the buses, but also places for permitted vehicles to park out of the way. So it may work a bit better.

But I still do not see it as the equal of any of the huge variety of pedestrian streets around the world. I have started a flickr group just to collect images of such places. This was partly inspired by Jan Gehl’s recent lecture in Richmond. He is the Copenhagen based architect who early on in his career decided that it was the spaces between the buildings that made the difference between wanting to be there or to get through it as quickly as possible. I cannot imagine a better plan than one that reduced the amount of space in Richmond devoted to cars.

Many places use pedestrian streets to help established retailers compete against modern shopping malls. Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t have pedestrian streets is that developers and retailers here have been more successful in protecting their shopping centres. There is no doubt in my mind that for a long time Pacific Centre was winning their battle with Granville Street. But a good pedestrian street is about much more than shopping. It is about having a good reason to stop and look around. To enjoy the place and the people there. The place becomes a destination, not just a thoroughfare. And somewhere to sit and people watch turns out to be the common denominator of all the really good places without cars.

As as others have noted there are other places we have where removing cars would be a huge improvement: Granville Island for starters. CMHC may even put in an extension to the heritage streetcar to serve it.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.