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Showing posts from August, 2010

Into the Sprawl: Spaces, Places and Popular Culture

At the beginning of August, Arcade Fire released their third album entitled The Suburbs. It's a 16-track record that has gathered much acclaim in its first month. While I'm a huge fan of the band *bias alert* this album has piqued my interest for other reasons. It's a great example of city planning critique in pop-culture. Though, the Arcade Fire aren't the first artists to critique Suburbia.

Events: Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around

I'm going to this!



Jennifer Nesselroad at 604.986.1911x3523 /

For Immediate Release / Photos Available Upon Request Pacific Arbour Speaker Series presents: Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around

Featuring David Byrne, Mayor Gregor Robertson, Amy Walker and Erick Villagomez


A CNN article on Green buildings and why they won't save the planet. A great read on how even the 'greenest' of suburbs is not sustainable. Vancouver's high housing prices are coming under fire lately. The Vancouver sun has an article here and here's a blog post entitled Vancouver: Planner's Dream, Middle Class Nightmare. You may want to read Gordon Price's response, too. I think Vancouver should try and woo New York's Janette Sadik-Khan. Take a look here at what they did to some parking space to transform them into 'Pop-up Cafes'.Some seriously beautiful things going on in New York. Imagine: A busy pedestrian/sidewalk area on one side, you in your peaceful spot in the pop-up cafe and on the other side is a bustling bike lane. Maybe I'm just dreaming of Amsterdam? Oh, and while we're on New York, Crosscut in Seattle talks about New York's splurge on cycling infrastructure.

Chinese Traffic Jam Enters Ninth Day - CBC

Wow. Check out this CBC article on an on-going nine-day traffic jam in China. If you think you have it bad in Vancouver, think again. Sadly, it seems their reasoning for the jam is based on 1960s highway building policies: Congestion is caused by insufficient space - build more highway! This is a dangerous mentality as China becomes increasingly wealthy and more people start driving and demanding more road space. Where there was once millions and millions of bicycles, the car is starting to dominate (consider the Beijing games constantly hampered by smog). Chinese cities are again trying to push people back onto their bikes.
A nine-day traffic jam in China is now more than 100 kilometres long and could last for weeks, state media reported Monday.Thousands of trucks en route to Beijing from Huai'an in the southeast have been backed up since Aug. 14, making the National Expressway 100 impassable, Xinhua News reported.A spokesman for the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau reportedly t…

Fare gates are actually Fair gates

During Jarrett Walkers lecture in Vancouver, I had the privilege to ask him a question. I asked him how he sees the debate over fare gates because it will be a debate that will becoming up much more often. At the moment, Translink is in the process of seeking bids for a smart-card and fare gate system. Check out the Buzzer Blog and the Translink website for more info on this.

Jarrett said that the fare gate debate is one that is rooted firmly in psychology because it's all about perception. It's not a debate that can easily be justified with numbers because fare evasion is difficult to calculate - you can't easily measure an absence. Jarrett then brought up two major subway systems: Paris and Berlin. Paris has fare gates and Berlin, like Vancouver, does not. He said "it’s a cultural and psychological thing, and a genuinely difficult concept with no clear answers. So there are political answers (Buzzer transcript)." Indeed, I would argue that this is tru…


Crosscut (Seattle): Bike lanes will destroy jobs! The sky is falling! Down is up! Black is white! According to the Crosscut, a proposed road-diet is 'forcing' an employer to pack up 400 employees and move elsewhere (where, apparently, cars roam free as deer). Price Tags: G.P.'s on going series called Annals of Motordom. This post talks about flying cars and, my home town, Langley. A Councillor and well known blogger, Jordan Bateman, talks about the effect of the new Golden Ears bridge on Fort Langley but some of the conclusions that he draws are a bit off. You can read my comments on the post even though much of it is me rambling/ranting. Sustainable Cities Collective: A top 20 list of urban planning success...Granville Island comes in at #7. Really? I still would like to see less cars on G.I. and the streetcar put back on it. ALSO, a post that looks at why parking regulations matter. (Related?)Re:Place: Policy, Density and Population Distribution.

Shameless Plug: Hire Me!

As part of my quest to get into the Urban Planning field, I'm looking for a job that can start me on the right career path. I've added my resume as a page to this site (Good idea/bad idea?) If you know anyone that is looking for a great team player let me know!

Debate: Cycling

Over the last week I've been debating all things cycling on facebook and on Translink's Buzzer Blog. If you want, you can read the post I've been commenting on here. Jhenifer Pabillano, the site's editor, injected some great and impartial facts into the debate that I would like to share (Disclaimer: *** Translink in no way endorses any position and what was posted was based on research that they know of ***):

Info on travel patterns in downtown Vancouver - First: TransLink doesn’t tell municipalities how to allocate their road space, so it’s not up to us how municipalities choose to use their roads.

- There is some data that provides context for the City of Vancouver’s decision to pursue bike lanes, including:
—–Private vehicle trips to Downtown Vancouver have been falling both in absolute terms and in comparison to other modes. Between 1992 and 2004, total trips to the Central Business District increased by 22% while private vehicle trips decreased by 7%. Sinc…

Canada Line: Expansion

In regards to my post about the Canada Line's (CL) first birthday, I looked into its design and how it's supposed to handle expansion. While I tried search for an 'official plan,' I managed to gather some more informal information. According to a post from the Seattle Transit Blog, the CL's platforms are 40m (I believe that the Expo Line's are 80m since a 6-car train is 72m). This length is expandable by 10m, to 50m. In doing to, they can fit an extra car in between the two cars that a station can currently hold. Not much of an expansion plan - and I don't think I want to hear how much it costs to lengthen the stations further. Hopefully it will be a while before they get to that point. I had also heard a rumor that since everything is automated they can run two 2-car trains (4 cars) together and have their front and back ends stick outside the stations and then only doors with access to the platforms open. I do not want to see the mess that turns into.

Smart Parking: Supply and Demand

San Francisco is rolling out new parking meters that are able to detect the amount of open spaces and calculate the parking rate based on demand. Ideally, smart prices should always ensure that there are open spots - as long as you're willing to pay for them. Engadget has the story:
San Francisco has been working on making parking "smarter" for quite a while now, and it's just recently taken another big step in that direction by starting to replace over 5,000 older parking meters with the snazzy new model pictured above. Those will not only let you pay with a credit or debit card (and soon a special SFMTA card), but automatically adjust parking rates based on supply and demand, which means you could pay anywhere from $0.25 to $6.00 an hour depending on how many free spaces there are. Those rates are determined with the aid of some sensors that keep a constant watch on parking spaces, which also means you'll be able to check for free spaces in an area on y…

Canada Line is One, Plus 100,000!

Congrats to the Canada Line, you're almost one! And, like an energetic one year old, you've found your legs.
I've ridden the Canada Line many times and found that every time I used it, no matter what time of day it was, it seemed crowded. Well, apparently they've hit 100,000+ users a day in June. This wasn't expected until 2013. This means that they're bringing in extra revenue and that they should hit their break-even point sooner than 2025. More at Frances Bula's Blog.
But, is there room for growth? I want to look into how they plan to handle more passengers over the next 25 years. Remember, stations were shortened to reduce costs and can only handle one two-car train. Frequency is also a problem since it's a split line (and I assume they can't change that given that YVR has invested a lot of money into the line). To be investigated!

Lecture: Transit Debates

Tonight I had the honour and the privileged to attend a free lecture by Jarrett Walker (Human Transit) at SFU's Harbour Center campus. You can find information on the lecture here. Jarrett explained that he is out there to explain ideas and solutions and to not promote them. We can call him a Transit Philosopher of sorts.

In a nutshell, Jarrett explained some of the background behind transit debates. I'm going to provide you with the notes that I took (I hope I can adequately convey his basic ideas).

Jarrett explained a lot of thing using a 'spectrum of authority' from individual to universal - why is it that we are convinced that what we think is true? It falls on this spectrum:

my feelings our feelings culture psychology biologyphysicsgeometry and math
Here's what he means by each category:
Geometry and math: things that are true anywhere in the universe. 3+2=5, etc. Physics: laws that are true not only on earth by perhaps the universe. Biology: things that are t…