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Showing posts from 2012

Videos: Transit Activity in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, NYC, and LA.

So I managed to get a flu or cold or something on Christmas Day so I'm home sick from work. Here's what's keeping me entertained: 

On being a pedestrian

In the last few weeks, Metro Vancouver was confronted with the sad reality that our streets are hostile environments to people where, within a short period of time, more than 5 people were struck by vehicles. A Vancouver Police Department spokesperson said, almost too bluntly as to imply it was business as usual, that multiple pedestrians are struck daily. This is unacceptable.

There should be no debate: our streets must be safe for all users. We can go back and forth over who's to blame for certain accidents but it's usually the pedestrian or cyclist that ends up hurt or worse, dead. Our way of thinking focuses blame on the minority road users for not following the rules or, more ridiculously, not wearing 'safety' gear when out for a walk at night. Blame the victim has to stop. No one deserved to be killed or maimed by a car. We live with a transportation system that favours automobile travel over all other modes. Human nature doesn't change with the mode that you…

Photo: Kits under water

What if Sandy happened to Vancouver?

Here's what we'd be looking at if we had 13' (4m) storm surge in Vancouver....

Sandy and New York's Transit System

Last night, like many of you, I watched Sandy pummel the east coast. As it descended upon New York City, twitter began to flow with pictures and stories, all of which seem to come straight out of a bad Hollywood disaster film.


Explosions, fires, wind, and flooding ravaged New York City. I cannot imagine the efforts that will be needed to clean up and get back to normal. In particular, the city's transit system seems hard hit. Salt water and subways DO NOT mix. In a city that relied heavily on its transit system, this is huge. The Atlantic points out that they've even predicted an event of this type would happen in a report that was released last year.

The researchers estimate that, after a storm of this magnitude, it could take the subway system about 21 days to get working at 90 percent functionality. If all potential damage is considered, Jacob and colleagues warn that timeline could increase to several months, and that "permanent restoration of the system to the full r…

An Idea: The Urbanarium

A few weeks ago, the Museum of Vancouver hosted a great event part of a series called Built City. It featured Ray Spaxman and Brent Toderian, talking retrospectively about their times as Vancouver's city planners. It was really interesting to listen to what each of them had to say regarding their career.

I had never heard much about Spaxman (my bad) but he instantly captivated me. He spoke of planning with principles, the difference between managing and leading and, overall, is incredibly humble. He spoke of something he called an 'Urbanarium' (judging buy audience reaction, he's spoken about it many times before). He described as a place with a model of the city where one can learn about cities with a bird's eye perspective:
An urbanarium is an idea that Ray Spaxman and a group of private planners and architects conceived in the early 1980's that was unfortunately never followed through. The idea was to build a scale model of downtown Vancouver, including Fals…

New York, I Love You: Part Two

Check out my newest NYC post on Urban Studies: High Life, High Line: A Beautiful Curse

Boomerang vs Boomers

Canada’s nests aren’t quite as empty as they’re supposed to be, data from the 2011 census shows. Some 42.3 per cent of young adults aged 20-29 are living with their parents, down slightly from 42.5 per cent in 2006 — but still well above the level of 26.9 per cent in 1981. Boomerang kids mean empty nests not quite so empty: Census
Almost 50% of my generation is still living at home. This isn't neccessarily a problem but it does highlight the need to re-think or at least re-examine our generation's situation.

Translink's 2013 Base Plan: A lesson in contrasts

There couldn't be a further disconnect between the picture above and this headline if you tried: TransLink to scrap much of expansion plans

The picture is from the announcement last week made by the BC Minister of Transportation, Mary Polak, on the reduced toll on the new Port Mann Bridge. The sad headline is from this week when Translink announced that its revenue will not be enough to continue with service expansion and will be reducing services in some cases. You can read about the sad affair on the Buzzer blog: Translink's 2013 draft base plan.

What they've stated as 'financial challenge' should really be translated as 'political failure'. The fact that our Minister is posing with car, on the world's widest bridge (at 65m wide...last holder of that title was only 49m wide), at a highway expansion project well into the billions of dollars, and yet we can't find the money to provide equitable bus service for our region shows where this government…

In Memoriam: Isaak Kornelsen

This is Isaak. I sat beside him on my train ride from New York City to Montreal. Over that long journey, we talked about a lot of things. He told me about what he wanted to do in life and that he was looking forward to going to Sweden for a bit. I could tell that he was bright person and a good friend.

He was visiting New York and was on his way up to Montreal enjoy the Osheaga music festival which was a coincidence since I was doing the same thing. When we got to Montreal, we exchanged numbers so we could meet up at the festival, however, Osheaga was so big and hectic that while we did text each other, the meet-up never happened. I did get to wish him a safe journey home.



I just learned that on Monday Isaak was killed in an accident. He was biking along Whyte Avenue in Edmonton when he clipped a parked truck's mirror, lost control and fell under a moving cement truck.

I only knew him for a day. I can't imagine what his friends and family feel. This world has undoubtedly lost…

TransitLive: If you're a transit nerd, you'll love this!

You can now watch transit in Regina LIVE on the internet. It's actually oddly soothing. Take a look!


Urban Prototyping

By now you may have seen these design by Softwalks to transform sidewalk sheds/construction sites in more humane places. Take a look at this short video:
Softwalks: Innovation by Design from Bland Hoke on Vimeo.
Such a simple idea/design with a wonderful impact. It's little projects like these that cities should most definitely encourage.
Vancouver has finally gotten on the 'Parklet' program this year with Robson Street's 'Urban Pasture' (parallel park near Main Street was their first attempt).
I think this one area of urban intervention/DIY urbanism that Vancouver tends to be too cautious experimenting with. Viva Vancouver has done an outstanding job with Picnurbia last year and Pop-Rocks this year but rather than being the innovator, Vancouver tends to follow suit a few years later.
 San Francisco on the other hand seems to be a city with serious urban ambitions. The Atlantic Cities has a post on The Next Generation of DIY Urbanism Projects in which they …

New York, I love you: Part One

From July 25 to August 2, I was in New York City for the first time. I flew from Vancouver, with a quick stop in Toronto, to La Guardia and I got a spectacular fly-over of the city.


The city from above is a wonderful view. You get to see the patterns and shapes of urban living that we never really think about on the ground but are coerced into navigating everyday: the culmination of centuries of human activity. I don't want to write a big giant post so I'm going to break my experiences into more manageable chunks. First up: Brooklyn.

I was really lucky to stay in an apartment in Brooklyn (Park Slope). I rented a room from a wonderful designer for $50 a night and it was my first time using airbnb AND it came with a great perk: a bike!


 The neighbourhood, like most of them in New York that got to see, consisted of low-rise apartment blocks (walk-ups). All of which utilized the most they could from the lot space, meaning no front yard or unnecessary embellishments. But, what I di…

Vancouver as No Fun City: Is Liquor a Cultural Lubricant?

Check out my post on Urban Studies!

Vancouver is often called the City of Glass. While it is a title bestowed upon it mostly based on the city’s prominent slender glass condominium towers, it also alludes to the way in which municipal and provincial regulations enforce the idea that it is also a fragile city. This conservative attitude towards urban living is translated on the street-level as “No Fun City”. Indeed, this idea plays a significant part in Vancouver’s cultural narrative.

Sustainable Development is like...

Dialogue Notes

Last week I was on a community dialogue panel along with Faye Wightman, President and CEO of the Vancouver Foundation, and Paula Carr, Community Strategist at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House. Each of us gave a 5 minute 'presentation' from our own perspectives relating to social connections and the Vancouver Foundation's recent report which found that a lot of us in Metro Vancouver feel lonely or isolated.

I talked about my experience with #space98 and how I came to realize (after visiting Portland) that sometimes we are the one's we're waiting for - that is, don't wait for someone else or the City to do that thing you wanted to do. It seems our region has a lack of self-esteem. The report found that:
Many people in metro Vancouver are retreating from community life. In the past year, most of us have not participated in neighbourhood and community activities. It isn’t a lack of time that stops people from getting involved. The most often-cited reason for …

Dialogue: Building Community - Social Connections Matter

Hey all,
Tomorrow, I'll be a panelist for Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Foundation's dialogue event in Richmond (easily accessible by Canada Line). Here's the deets:
Building Community - Social Connections Matter July 04, 2012 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM (lunch from 11:30 am - 12:00 pm) Richmond Cultural Centre 180-7700 Minoru Gate, Richmond By many accounts the Metro Vancouver region is on the fast track to sustainability, renowned for being “green”, embracing diversity and scoring high in terms of livability. But new research by the Vancouver Foundation suggests that people in the region may be feeling a sense of isolation – a lack of connection to their neighbours, to their community and by extension to their city and region – a finding that has the potential to undermine even the best sustainability efforts. What factors are contributing to this trend - our planning approaches and patterns of growth? Our growing population, or increasingly multicultural population? The transi…

Velo-City 2012 and more!

Whoa - I've been a busy bee lately. FT work, 8 hours of school/week and I have some other fun stuff coming up.

Tomorrow at Velo-City, I'll be presenting on the topic of Youth Engagement in Transportation Planning. My presentation partner and I hope to raise some interesting points and suggest some tactics to egaging an important and diverse demographic. Session starts at 3:00PM:
 Here's the title slide (because I think it's sexy):
If you're at the Conference on Tuesday send me a tweet and we'll meet up (@pre_planner). I work FT so I may not be able to attend much of the rest conference (gotta pay the bills+tuition, yo!)

My next speaking engagement will be for Metro Vancouver and the Vancouver Foundation on July 4th in Richmond: Building Community - Social Connections Matter. You have to register to attend.

As the only 'youth' speaker, it should be an interesting and worthwhile series.

Liquor: Cultural Lubricant?

I'm currently in a class in my program that's discussing the topic of art and culture in the city and I'm working on a bit of a small research paper. Personally, I’ve always been interested in Vancouver’s live music and live performance (improv, theatre, etc.) scene and the lack of space or venues. I feel like pressures in the City are working against such artistic ventures – in particular outdated or unnecessarily burdensome regulations. Recently silly alcohol regulations have come into the spotlight with the Rio Theatre and the EXP bar.
For venues, liquor sales are an important revenue stream. For bands or performers renting a space or throwing a show, liquor sales can be equally important. I want to argue then that over-regulation and liquor licensing restrictions restrict Vancouver's creative scene. Is liquor a cultural lubricant?

The Tyee did an excellent piece titled Vancouver's Creative Space Crunch:
"Because it's so difficult to get things like liqu…

Vancouver's First Public Bike Repair Station...Almost...

Here's an update on the #space98 project.

I've applied for a neighbourhood grant in the range of $1000 and I've been in discussion with Urban Racks - they supply some of Vancouver's bike infrastructure. Word is still out on the grant but Urban Racks has generously agreed to help me and they will also supply bike racks and some of the cost for what could be Vancouver's first public bike repair station! Amazing, right?

I sent this proposal to the City of Vancouver, Translink, and some community partners a few weeks ago (I followed up a week ago, as well) but I've yet to hear a word from the City or Translink. I think this is a HUGE opportunity for Vancouver and great publicity since Velo-City will be here soon. I have high hopes the City will move quickly on this. I'm also looking for a community partner to take charge of the station's upkeep (perhaps in exchange for publicity/advertising a logo, etc.). If you know of a bike shop or organization, tweet …

Manifs Casseroles: Vancouver

Tonight I banged my pot with hundreds of other people and marched through the streets of Vancouver. Our sound - a sound that started in Quebec and that now echoes across the globe - resonated across the city. We wanted to be heard and we were. 


We marched because we wanted stand in solidarity with Quebec students. I marched because I believe our generation needs to speak up NOW.


Just from what media coverage these protest are getting, it seems this is predominately (though, not exclusively) a youth movement. It's about more than tuition now - Quebec crossed that line long ago. What we're learning right now is that when a Quebecers oppose the Quebec government, they're no longer Quebecers; when a Canadians opposed the Canadian government, they're no longer Canadians. We must and should speak truth to power. We are utilizing our democratic rights and expressing our anger, frustration and even hope. 

Why does this matter to me? It matters to me because decisions are being ma…