Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

One picture worth a thousand words

with 6 comments

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 11.21.52 AM

This image comes from the South Delta Leader – and their credit simply reads “via Twitter”

Written by Stephen Rees

May 9, 2013 at 11:27 am

6 Responses

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  1. Shouldn’t that sign say “Help submerge Richmond and Delta”?

    Eric Doherty

    May 9, 2013 at 11:29 am

  2. “Help us bury our heads in the mud.”

    MB

    May 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm

  3. OK Rees bloggers. Let’s get down to the facts: affordable housing, livable streets and walkable neighbourhoods. I’ve just posted a Google image from Joyce station that suggests that we are no where near getting it right. What’s up?

    http://wp.me/p1yj4U-cQ

    [Moderator: I have corrected the spelling of my own name in this comment]

    lewis n. villegas

    May 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm

  4. Joyce-Collingwood is one of the few areas along the Expo Line in the City of Vancouver that has actually seen a change in land use in response to “rapid transit”. The area was formerly zoned industrial and it was only because of the developer’s pressure that it changed. He persuaded the council of the day to relax their parking standards – in return for an increased contribution towards the community – in this case a new Community Centre.

    The route chosen for the SkyTrain was the former BC Hydro/BC Electric right of way. And the proximity of the houses to those tracks predates the construction of the elevated guideway (in this location in transition to a cut). So the point of view of the image does not really reflect what was planned or changed by the coming of the SkyTrain.

    At the next stations along the Expo line towards downtown – 29th Avenue and Nanaimo – no change in land use or density was tolerated by the community. What’s up there? NIMBYism.

    Stephen Rees

    May 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm

  5. Walkable neighbourhoods has never meant that ALL the streets in a neighbourhood will offer a 100% pleasant and uplifting experience.

    I can think of numerous blocks of numerous streets in Paris and Bordeaux (to name only 2 of many towns I know well) where one side is nothing but the blank wall of a hospital, or high school or some other ancient government building.
    But walk a block to another street and everything changes: numerous small stores, cafes etc.

    It is the same in the Joyce area.
    The photo posted is misleading. The blank wall in the photo is a short one and, on either sides of it, there are views under the SkyTrain guideway to whatever is on the other side.
    One block South (of that short blank wall under the guideway) there are buildings with some greenery etc.

    Some of the most walkable streets in Europe and Japan, for example, are narrow and–objectively–not pretty at all….yet, to me, they have a vibrancy and a charm in their esthetic disorder that I find infinitely more pleasant than so many bland and sterile streets in the most expensive areas of Vancouver—despite their manicured lawns and monster houses.

    Red frog

    May 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm

  6. Thank you Stephen, Voony, et al who posted on the link I provided above.

    I’ll take up Red frogs points here.

    As kids, one of our favorite walks in Montevideo was around the full city block occupied by the penitentiary. As in other cities all over the world, the sidewalks in Montevideo are tiled rather than concrete. So my brother and I would speculate that any raised tile we found on our walk around the walls of the jail might actually be the work of a tunnel digger working from the inside about to punch through to freedom.

    But Montevideo was designed for the walking experience of place, rather than to maximize automobile movements. The scale of the block (typically 100 x 100 m) is one important metric supporting that paradigm.

    We can’t say the same about Vancouver. It is as if the platting here perfectly anticipated the automobile with the rear lane for accessing the garage; the rectangular block with a lower number of intersections per mile if driving parallel to the long axis; and the 1/2-mile spacing of the arterials.

    Then, when we turn to Joyce Skytrain the point of the photograph is not the blank wall (I posted the reverse view as suggested by Voony). It is the ENTIRE structure of the Skytrain system. Here I do part ways with many on this blog. I really don’t see No3 Road as a good implementation. And, that opinion does not change from the BRT system that Skytrain replaced (after what seemed like too short a trial for BRT).

    The BRT No3 Road first. If BRT goes on Broadway and the same scale is achieved (with fences; barrier curbs; curving lanes; etc.) then Broadway will be lost. No3 Road was an automobile desert when the BRT went in and so no one was around to notice or complain. Vancouver Broadway will be a different story.

    The Skytrian. I mean really, does anybody really believe that the system works inside the city??? Grade separation? If it is necessary then it means subway. Blocking the view of the sky; erecting those out of scale structures down the middle of neighbourhoods; then plonking the ridiculous stations in the sky (and giving Brentwood a design award? For what? Best Fascist architecture since Mussolini or Franco?)?

    No. We’ve miscalculated the problem and badly botched the solution.

    The proof is in the pudding. In the quality of the resulting public realm; in the ability of the neighbourhood to support social functioning; and in the affordability of the housing that gets built.

    It’s FUBAR.

    The way out of this morass is for us to roll up our sleeves; come together over a conversation about values of community and values of place; and about how to make the technology the server not the boss.

    It’s plain common sense. And most of the options are a lot less expensive than Skytrain. I’m reporting 48 stations built so far (Evergreen still to come):

    Expo 20 stations
    Mille 13 (stations not shared)
    Canada 15 stations

    We can house 90,000 people within a 10 minute walk of each station; house a total population of 4.3 million; and not build higher than 3.5 stories. 33 feet, that is, or 10 meters. Now, the street ROW will have to increase to 99 feet to ensure solar penetration year long; but that is easily accomplished with standard set-backs. The additional space can go to moving us away from the ridiculous 5-foot wide sidewalk that is only good for walking two-by-two or indian file when we encounter someone coming in the opposite direction.

    In any case, with 50+ stations built in the next couple of years, we’ve provided more than enough capacity for the next hundred years. But we still need more. That’s odd…

    In reply to Voony I mentioned Blvd. Saint-Germaine clogged with cars in a city that boasts one of the best subway systems in the world; RER commuter rail; and 4 LRT lines. How come so many cars on the Peripherique?

    What is the relationship between all those condo towers and the skyrocketing price of housing in our region? I thought the equation was transit = fast & efficient & GHG-free access to affordable housing spread region wide.

    It’s our watch. How come we are not delivering on the promise?

    That’s what I see when I look at Joyce Skytrain—and all the rest of them—and rather than TOD, I see NOT-TOD.

    lewis n. villegas

    May 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm


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