Archive for November 2015
This sign, and more like it, was put up by the City of Vancouver along the Arbutus Corridor, in anticipation of the resumption of rail traffic along the CP railway line.
This particular image was taken on King Edward Avenue eastbound, just west of Arbutus Street. There is a full set of railway level crossing signals here: no barriers, of course, because the frequency of trains when they were running was so low they were not needed. But CP is required by law to maintain the signalling equipment as long as they have not formally abandoned the track. So if there was to be a train, lights would flash and bells would sound. If the equipment is, in fact working, of which I have seen no evidence. When CP’s contractors were operating rail mounted equipment near other crossings, nothing happened. Nor were flag persons present
Anyway, since these signs first appeared, no trains have run. So the sign is not necessary. In fact, redundant signs tend to reduce compliance with signs in general. Which is not a Good Idea.
This image is taken looking south at the point where the line crosses King Edward. You will notice the post and sign in the middle of the tracks, put there by the contractor to show the limit of the refurbishment work they had performed. From here down to Marine Drive/Kent Avenue track had been lifted, ballst added and graded, ties replaced, level crossings cleaned and so on. From this point north, only some desultory vegetation removal – plus the enthusiastic destruction of community gardens – had taken place. But it is clear from the state of the track that it could not support train operation in its current condition.
At crossings south of this one, the flangeways have been cleared, and in some cases timbers inserted parallel to the rails to make subsequent cleaning easier. Obviously nothing was done here.
On the other side of King Edward the blackberries are returning.
From here northwards the track is once again dissapearing under the growth.
CP were bluffing. You do not need the signs: you can start with the ones one King Ed and work north from there confident that no trains will run. It seems pretty unlikely that they will to the south either, but theoretically they could. I doubt they will.
UPDATE May 7, 2016
The City of Vancouver announced today that they had finally got a deal with CP to take over the line and turn it into a Greenway: the potential for future light rail in the longer term is not ruled out.
Gary Mason of the Globe reveals how the deal was done
July 15, 2016
The City of Vancouver’s latest update on track removal and construction of the greenway
and more photos on my flickr photostream
This is a new development that has recently been completed on Arbutus Street at 16th Avenue in Vancouver. It replaced a string of mostly single story small stores, the cinema and a bowling alley.
Here is what it looked like in April 2012. The only thing that has been kept is the sign, now above the entrance to the condominiums, around which the City Market has wrapped itself. The store occupies the most of the ground floor and has parking underneath.
The service road in front of the block that used to provide surface parking has become an open plaza currently being used to display seasonal offerings. Like the lower level elevator lobby to the parking, the goods on display appear to be just available for the taking, though I assume there must be some surveillance. The store has its own elevator to the parking level (P1) the condos have their parking on the lower levels, with the own elevator.
The overall development is only four storeys which I assume reflects the cost of providing underground parking. Two surface lots on adjacent blocks north west of Arbutus, which used to be part of the parking serving the site are now closed off, presumably for more redevelopment. Access to the underground parking is through the rear lane, whose access and agrees at each end has been rounded off to deter left turns.
There was no requirement to replace the social function provided by either the cinema or the bowling alley, both of which were going concerns, if not as financially attractive to the land owner as the offer from Cressey. The City Market is a newish Loblaw offering but with more prepared food and organic produce, aiming at the Whole Foods/Shaughnessy market. They are not competing on price with the established food stores. It is a franchise operation, run by the man who used to have the Extra Foods store in the same location.
Certainly progress in terms of densification if lacking in the diversity of uses apparent in the older picture. Consistent with the aim of increasing population in what is essentially an inner suburb, but with little opportunity for any social interaction other than retail. The City Market does have a small cafe, with real gelato even in November, and I suppose that might spread onto the patio in summer. But I do not see this as much of a destination, or especially urban.
This block, with the gas station on the other side of 16th, marks the end of what is almost continuous retail down to Broadway. There is single family residential from here to King Edward, then multi family and a small mall with a large Safeway. And that is the next major redevelopment site.
Again, this will become condos over ground level retail with underground parking. Though some of the old ladies in my building wonder about how they will deal with ground water here, as the back of the lot used to be a swamp that was filled with sand to allow for development.
And, in case you notice any difference with formatting in this post it is the first time I have used the WordPress app for Mac.
It is not often that I post these days. And is even less often that I simply cut and paste a press release. But while their headline wasn’t a grabber, that extract I used as the title struck me.
And, of course, for far too many people the whole idea of “road safety” is a bit of a yawn. They tend to be the sort of people who still talk about “accidents”. No doubt one of them was driving the car that overtook us on the wrong side on 49th Avenue at Granville on Monday night around 6pm. Because my partner was not driving at the posted speed but at one suited to the conditions – dark and raining heavily.
Road Safety: More Funding, Coordination Needed for the Poorest Countries
BRASILIA, Brazil, November 17, 2015 – Developing countries can make big gains in improving road safety with more funding and coordination to scale up interventions that deliver proven results, World Bank officials said ahead of a global conference.
Led by Managing Director Bertrand Badré and Senior Director Pierre Guislain, a World Bank delegation will participate in the 2nd Global High Level Conference on Road Safety on November 18-19 in Brasilia. They will discuss with clients, partners, and potential donors how best to scale up action, funding, and overall impact so that the poorest countries can see more progress.
The latest Global Status Report on Road Safety estimates that road deaths have leveled off since 2007. But they remain unacceptably high, at 1.25 million deaths and 50 million injuries a year. This is more deaths than from malaria or tuberculosis; and if trends continue, the number of traffic-related deaths could surpass those from HIV-AIDS by 2020.
Road injuries are the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 29. Deaths and injuries in low- and middle-income countries are estimated to reduce GDP by 3 to 5%, often affecting the poorest. Since 2010, low-income countries have had higher average road deaths than middle-income countries. Africa remains the region with the highest death rates as of 2013, at 52% above the global average. All other regions reported a lower rate in 2013, the last year for which data is available.
“Both the public and private sectors need to step up efforts to meet the Global Goals’ ambitious target for 2020: reducing by half the number of road-related deaths” said World Bank’s Managing Director Bertrand Badré. “We must shift from stabilizing to dramatically reducing road deaths. This will require more commitment, scaled-up action, and dedicated funding.”
Over the past 10 years, the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) has promoted global knowledge sharing and multi-sectoral interventions with support from the UK, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the FIA Foundation. All World Bank road projects today include a safety component, and its lending targeted at road safety has increased more than 300%, from $56 million in FY 2006 to $239 million in FY 2015.
The GRSF seeks to expand its donor base to increase its global impact. It currently supports 44 projects in 26 countries. The focus includes road safety design and infrastructure, institutional capacity, legislation, policing and enforcement, behavior change by motorists and pedestrians, as well as safer cars and effective post-crash response.
GRSF funding and technical assistance is helping countries achieve significant results, including:
· Assessment of some 40,000 kilometers of high-risk roads in 13 countries, with potential to save 280,000 lives and reduce serious injuries over a 20-year period.
· A 35% drop in traffic-deaths on project roads in Argentina since 2011, and an 11% reduction in deaths along project corridors in Nigeria.
· Better institutional capacity for road safety management in many countries, including Brazil, China, India, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, and Tanzania.
· Regional impact across Latin America through the Ibero-American Road Safety Observatory.
The results show that more hands-on partnership with committed governments, the private sector, and other partners can accelerate change and save precious lives.
“We are committed to helping countries halve the number of road fatalities and injuries, and we look forward to new partners who can join us in the Global Road Safety Facility,” said Pierre Guislain, Senior Director for the World Bank’s Transport & ICT Global Practice. “The international community needs to focus on the plight of low-income countries, which have just 1% of cars and 12% of the global population but suffer 16% of total deaths from road crashes.”
I have been seeing links to this report in various places. But not, so far anyway, this map.
So just to let you know, I got the information about this map from Next City. And after I got a download of the screenshot above this communication from climatecentral.org came by email
- photo-realistic sea level images that you can easily embed on your site, or broadcast, with attribution. Or download the same hi-res images via this page
- Google Earth ‘3D fly-over’ video tours showing effects of sea level rise on global cities under contrasting warming scenarios
- our global report with statistics for cities around the world, including analysis of population on implicated land
- interview clips with lead scientist Dr. Benjamin Strauss
If you do so, we simply ask that you provide a credit to Climate Central, and include a link to us (sealevel.climatecentral.org) when posting online.
So, having done that I think I have fulfilled any obligation I incurred. I am a bit surprised, and disappointed, that there does not seem to have been much take up of this information by the mainstream media. And that some of the links I have followed that seemed to address the report did show just how so much of Metro Vancouver is going to be under water. So I hope that this posting will inspire some better efforts by the people who read this blog.
The subject matter has, of course, been covered here in the past. And my frustration that, when I lived in Richmond, there seemed to be such a complacent attitude towards sea level rise.
The title is a direct quote from Yves Desjardins-Siciliano who is the CEO of VIA Rail. The story comes from the Huffington Post citing the Financial Post and the Windsor Star. It sets out the case for a separate passenger only railway between Toronto and Montreal, which would significantly increase the speed and reliability of rail service but would not be as expensive a full blown High Speed Rail (HSR). Given the financial position of VIA, and the nature of the demand in the corridor, this proposal would be Good Enough. HSR is a good example of the best being the enemy of the good. It has been studied extensively – I worked on one such study as a consultant back in the 1990’s – and so far nothing has been done in terms of improving VIA rail’s current service or winning people back to rail from short distance air or driving. It did surprise me, when I first came to Canada, that intercity buses were often faster than passenger trains.
It pains me a little that electrification is still seen as a dispensable option but actually I have to admit that a modern diesel electric locomotive can be very energy efficient. I just happen to think that since Ontario has done such a good job of getting rid of its coal fired power stations, the greenhouse gas reduction argument should be given much more weight. There are also a couple of considerable advantages of an electric train. First, electric trains can climb much better than diesels: they don’t weigh nearly as much, as they don’t have to carry the generator or the fuel. So lines purpose built for modern electric trains can have steeper grades, and often that means they can be straighter, which also helps increase speeds. Secondly, the energy used in braking can be captured and returned to the power supply line for the the use of other trains. Regenerative braking captures a lot of the energy that is otherwise lost as heat. Electric trains can also decelerate and accelerate much better than diesels, so dealing with intermediate stops is not such an issue in overall travel time. I would hope that the design of intermediate stations would permit fast trains to pass stationary ones, so that even if it is not actual HSR, there could still be some non-stop service between the two major centres, to improve competitiveness with air. However, given the way that the population is distributed across sprawling suburbs, centre to centre may not be the most important tool to attract traffic. Large Park and Ride lots, on the other hand, will be essential.
I have not seen any of the analysis that VIA has used to come up with the costs of its proposed separate line compared to a HSR, but there has to be a lot in common between the two. Land costs will be very similar, I think. It also seems sensible to eliminate level crossings – and to fence the entire line – just to increase safety. You have to do that for HSR, but if those components were omitted for a conventional speed line that might explain some of the price difference. While I am in favour of getting the costs down, this would seem to me to be very hard to defend when it comes to public consultation.
The constraints of the 140 character limit meant that this observation by Jeff Speck got spread over two tweets. But instead of retweeting I decided to make it a blog post.
“When we built our new house in Washington, we too did our best to clear the shelves of the sustainability store.
Yet, all of our green gadgets cumulatively contribute only a fraction of what we save by living in a walkable neighborhood.”
This is pretty much what was established by the BC Energy Aware Committee many years ago – and BC Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources Energy Efficiency Branch even earlier. Yes, you can save energy by buying better windows, and putting more insulation in the roof. But simply giving up one of those cars and walking to more of your destinations will save far more. Our built environment is based on the idea of energy that is “too cheap to meter” and that was a chimera. We are still stuck with that – not just as a desirable form but one that many of us will be forced to live in for a long time. And much of the battles that get fought over issues like transit funding or bike lanes stem from our attachment to the image of the place we thought that we had been promised.
And here are two more (November 4)
“Trading all your incandescent bulbs for energy-savers conserves as much carbon per year as living in a walkable neighborhood does per week.”
“The most green home (with Prius) in sprawl still spews more carbon than the least green home in a walkable neighborhood. (EPA)”