Monday, July 19, 2010

SFU Lecture - Jarrett Walker

New Lecture:


August 4, 7 pm
Venue: SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Admission is free; reservations are required.
Reserve at

As transit becomes more popular, many cities are having intense and often bitter quarrels about what kind of transit to build or operate. Working from his 20 years of experience as a transit planning consultant, Jarrett Walker examines some of the most common confusions that affect debates about transit, and that often lead to disappointing outcomes. He then suggests strategies for clarifying transit debates, by recognizing the unavoidable “hard choices” that arise from transit’s intrinsic geometry and costs.

Jarrett Walker is a consultant specialising in transit network design and policy, with 20 years experience on four continents. He grew up in Portland and has been based in Portland, San Francisco, and Vancouver. Currently, he is a Principal Consultant for McCormick Rankin Cagney, based in Sydney, Australia. He holds a Ph.D from Stanford University and writes the popular transit weblog

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Metropolis by Rob Carter - Last 3 minutes from Rob Carter on Vimeo.

For the full video: Rob Carter

Active Transportation and Comparing Costs

I have been doing a lot of reading lately on bicycle infrastructure and related programs and policies (Pedaling Revolution). I am also the new Bicycling Transportation Coordinator for Vancouver Public Spaces Network. So, I have got bikes-on-the-brain. As someone who's relatively new to riding, I'm a huge supporter of Vancouver's effort to make cycling have a  much larger role in our transportation network.

This has also lead me to reading up on 'Active Transportation'. This is, of course, transportation that uses the human body...but not in that creepy Matrix-machines-sucking-human-energy-way. Rather than relying on your car (fossil fuels, etc.) to convey you to your destinations, bike instead. It's a zero emission solution that can also be a hassle free, cheap alternative to your car...oh, and you get exercise, too.

Public Health Agency Canada (under Health Canada), supports Active Transportation policies and has some great information. They even ask you to consider choosing a neighbourhood that promotes active transportation and suggests that you check out the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation website Comparing Neighbourhoods For Sustainable Features.

If you click on Vancouver, it'll show you some interesting facts about living in the Lower Mainland. For instance, costs of living in the City vs. the Suburbs if you own or rent. See below:

This information was taken from the 2001 census. One of the huge savings from living in the city, especially if you live close to work, is that you often don't have the same transportation costs as those in post-50s suburbs where single use, low-density zoning has gone awry. There are other cost savings in the city. For one, houses are often smaller and more efficient. If you rent, you have little to no maintenance costs.

Here's another great chart:

Notice the huge difference in jobs within 5km from home. 970 for a place like Langley, compared to 229, 000 for Kits. People in the 'burbs do a lot of driving and own more cars than those in the city. According to the CMHC, if you drive 18, 000km/year, the cost of owning and operating a car in Canada is $9, 000. Imagine what you could do with $9, 000!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jack Poole Plaza

I ended up reading my book, Pedaling Revolution by Jeff Mapes, in Jack Poole Plaza for a few hours today. I wandered under one of those glass-shade benches and sat down with my back against the steel beam. As I read, I occasionally glanced up to take in the plaza. As a public space it's very poorly designed, in my opinion. For one, the separate levels make accessibility an issue even though the levels meet at certain points. The seating is designed to look at the water or at the city and not into the plaza (the only seats that people used were the reclining seats that looked towards coal harbour). Another reason is that there's nothing really holding people in the plaza. Most people, in true Vancouver fashion, gravitate towards the edges - the ocean view or the Olympic Cauldron (neither held much interest save for a few photo ops). I'd hope to see table and chairs and people having coffee or eating their meals.

The only people who attempted to use the plaza were 6 teenage boys around 13-15 years old. They were skateboarding and jumping over the steps that lead from one level to the next. After 10 minutes, 2 security guards from the Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) came and told the boys to leave. At first the boys seemed to ignore them but then were 'convinced' to leave when another 2 guards showed up.

This perplexed me for a moment. Then I realized that I had been reading and relaxing for several hours on private property. It struck me that such a prominent piece of the city was owned by VCC which is part of the seawall (Vancouver's living room, so to speak) and contains the cauldron which is perhaps one of the most prominent public symbols in the city (though, arguably owned by VANOC). I googled to find a bit more information on Jack Poole Plaza and I found that the VCC site has a whole set of guidelines for 'using' the plaza. You can find it here.
We welcome inquiries for booking the Jack Poole Plaza for special events. The Plaza is also available for community use to eligible community users a minimum of 3 days per month based on availability. An eligible community user is a society incorporated under the Society Act of British Columbia, or a not for profit corporation incorporated under a federal statute for not for profit entities and must operate a non-profit entity in the City of Vancouver and has social, cultural or community purposes.
With public space in a city a dwindling resource, this was one that could have been great. Don't get me wrong, it's not totally bad but it's not public, accessible, or welcoming.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Central Valley Greenway

Two days ago, I biked the Central Valley Greenway (CVG) for the first time. For those that don't know the CGV is a trail that goes from Science World to New Westminster Quay. The Greenway consists of separated paved and unpaved surfaces and on-road shoulder bike lanes.

I started at my place near Metrotown and traveled North, eventually joining the trail at Willingdon just passed Highway 1. For the most part, I was impressed at separated paths but there was a gravel section that was under construction or is being re-routed because it went through a dump with paper and garbage strewn everywhere. I didn't notice any lighting in this section either.

When I got to the junction of the CVG and the Cariboo trail, I accidentally took the Caribou trail. There was insufficient signage at this juncture and it could use a couple of clear signs because the path diverges into pedestrian and bike only. *edit* I actually called Translink at this point because I thought since they manage the CVG they could help me find my way back onto it. The Translink Service Agent had no idea what it was and I had to direct them to their OWN website to find information on it. My phone cut out and I was left to my own devices. I managed to back track and took the correct left turn onto the CVG and continued to New West.

On the way, I met a lady who bikes to work and it was her first time taking the CVG and she was astonished that it actually shaved 10 to 20 minutes from her commute. She was a bit more seasoned in cycling than I am and she's done the trek from Victoria to Edmonton 3 times. 

Overall, I think it took me a few hours...even with the detour. It would be nice to make the New West downtown section separated or a the very least they should paint the lanes a different colour on this very busy stretch of road.

*edit* I also think that Translink Agents should be able to help you with bike paths as well as other things. An official bike path app would be great!