Category Archives: Urban Planning

My Cheeky Response to Every Bike Lane Rant I’ve Ever Read

Little rally against bike lanes in KitsI’m a motorist. I have a driver’s license and I occasionally drive a motor vehicle.

Obviously I have nothing against people driving cars in Vancouver. I fully support car roads. I’m just against cars using the roads that I want to ride my bike on. There’s a major arterial 5 blocks away. Why can’t cars stay on that street?

The few motorists I see using my local street are always breaking the law. They speed, they roll through stop signs, and they talk on their cellphone. Until they learn to follow the rules, we shouldn’t be building any more roads.

I’m worried that adding more cars to my local street will decrease the price of my million dollar home. Who will want to live here when the street is clogged with noisy, smelly vehicles? Worse, when traffic shifts from neighbouring streets to my street, it will probably increase the price of someone else’s million dollar home. It’s not fair.

City Council is putting in streets, roads, and alleys without proper consultation. I went to 5 meetings where I yelled at the traffic engineers. They obviously didn’t listen. The process is flawed, which is why I suggest we delay any action until we come up with a plan that is unanimously supported. If it takes forever, great. I lied when I said I supported roads for motorists anyway.

Photo by Brent Granby.

Improved Cambie Bridge Cycling Connections

CambieBridgeBikeImprovements
The engineers working at the City of Vancouver are awesome. Check out the proposed redesign for the north end of the Cambie Bridge. A two-way separated bike lane is planned to connect with the bike lanes on Beatty. Currently, the only connection for southbound cyclists is along the sidewalk. These improvements will make the route much safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

There’s also improvements planned for Richards Street and the Canada Line Bridge. The details are buried in this report to city council (PDF).

Adanac Bikeway Improvements

Adanac Bikeway Improvements Snapshot
The City of Vancouver is looking to upgrade one of its busiest bike routes, Adanac/Union. Although the project hasn’t garnered the same media attention as the proposed greenway along Cornwall, this is a very exciting project for cyclists. I use the route everyday on my commute to work, and I think the changes will go a long way to making it safer.

According to the City’s numbers, the route is used for 4000 bike trips and 5000 car trips per day. The city is proposing a number of improvements to reduce traffic and physically separate bikes.

The biggest changes involve restricting car traffic along Union between Quebec and Main, creating separated bike lanes for large stretches, and improving bike signals at the traffic lights. My usual bike route takes me along Union between Quebec and Main, so I’m excited that cars will largely be removed from that stretch. West of Quebec, a two-way, separated bike lane will connect with the Carall Street Greenway. East of Main, parking will be used to shield bikes from traffic.

More information is available on the City’s website and there’s a quick survey you can fill out.

Consultation on Kitsilano’s First Separated Bike Lane

Point Grey Road Bike RouteThe City of Vancouver is collecting feedback on improvements to Cornwall and Point Grey Road in Kitsilano. The possibility of a new separated bike lane has garnered most of the attention in the media so far, but opportunities to improve the pedestrian experience are also important. I bike and run that route a lot and the lack of sidewalk space is just as concerning to me as the harrowing traffic when I’m cycling. The Running Room has been pushing its members to give feedback, so this isn’t just about cyclists.

If you want to offer feedback, there are two more open houses: January 31, 7-9pm at Queen Mary Elementary School and February 2, 10am-2pm at Kitsilano Community Centre. You can also fill out an online survey.

Burrard Intersection RealignmentThere’s a few competing ideas the city is considering. The more interesting ones include a realignment of the intersection at Burrard and Cornwall that will make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street. There’s a potential separated bike lane along Cornwall (the scariest section to bike), which could be the first separated bike lane outside of downtown. And farther west, along Point Grey Road, one idea is to expand two parks across the street creating road closures that will limit traffic to locals and cyclists.

End of Blacktop Politics – Peak Car Use in Vancouver


For the past 40 years, the car has been king and BC politicians have been promising shiny, new (and expensive) highways, bridges, and expressways to get elected. It’s been known as ‘blacktop politics‘, and although it never delivered on its promise of congestion-free commuting, it has never been a losing strategy for politicians.

But that’s beginning to change. There are two transportation visions being floated for the Lower Mainland. Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal government think expanded highways are the future. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and city council think expanded public transit, encouraging people to walk and cycle, and discouraging car use is a better plan.

It’s a big shift, but there are reasons to think the era of the car is coming to an end. Car use has peaked in many western countries, driven by high gas prices and young people who would rather spend their commute on a bus with their cellphone then behind the wheel of a car in traffic. In Downtown Vancouver, current traffic volumes are the same as they were in 1965!

The Sightline Institute has been documenting peak car use in the Pacific Northwest with a series of posts entitled Dude, Where Are My Cars? The most recent post shows that traffic on the Port Mann Bridge peaked in 2005, and yet the Liberals spent $3.3 billion building the widest bridge in the world (10 lanes, 65 meters) to replace it. Now, Premier Christy Clark is promising to expand the Massey Tunnel, which saw volumes peak in 2004. (Data from Ministry of Transportation – missing two years from 2000-2001).

Vancouver (and the region) has a growing population, and people are still commuting and traveling, they’re just using public transit and cycling instead of a car. Transit use is at an all-time high, and there’s a huge latent demand for new rapid transit projects. The Canada Line is years ahead of its ridership projections, averaging 110,000 passengers a day. Cycling is the fastest growing mode of transportation in Vancouver, and 4.1% of all trips are now done on a bike (1.9% in Greater Vancouver).

Politicians need to realize that our transportation future is not in wider bridges or bigger tunnels, but in more trains and bike lanes. There is a world-wide shift occurring away from the car. In Italy, last year more bikes were sold than cars for the first time since World War 2. In Australia, vehicle use is at the same level as 1992 and people are questioning the governments spending on highways. It’s time we start building for the future.

New York: Walking the High Line

The High Line
One of the highlights of our trip to New York was walking the High Line, a formerly abandoned, elevated train line in Chelsea that has been turned into an urban park/greenway. We visited on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon in October, and the High Line was packed with locals and tourists.

High Line Experience

The design detail that went into redeveloping the High Line is awesome. There are so many little touches that make it an interesting stretch to walk. If you look down, you’ll see remnants of railroad tracks and rugged shrubs and flowers. If you look up, you’ll see old brick buildings undergoing renovations to keep up with the interest the High Line has spurred in the area.

Benches on the High Line

There is plenty of seating along the route to stop, eat, read a book, or people watch.

Walking the High Line

High Line and London Terrace Gardens Natural Beauty on the High Line Highline Maintenance Trike Drinking Contraband Soda Undeveloped High Line New York Vertical Parking Lot

Visions for the Viaducts


Vancouver’s Director of Planning, Brent Toderian, has a good summary of the recently completed re:CONNECT competition that envisioned alternatives to Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts.

The picture above is from my favourite submission, #71 -Viaducts = Parks+. I like the water and parks stretching toward Strathcona, but the most interesting feature is the tiered park that moves through the 3rd story of the buildings along the waterfront.