Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for October 2nd, 2006

City ‘road diet’ plans moving ahead

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Welcome to the Royal City Record Now – News

The use of the term “Greenway” is a little odd in this context, but it does link up to the Central Valley Greenway, a key part of the Urban Transportation Showcase Program.

This section of Columbia Street has been posted at 30k/hr for some years, though compliance is about as poor as you would expect. Trucks are required to divert alongside the railway tracks along Front Street, which does seem to work, unless there is a train blocking a level crossing. As a shopping street, it is pretty grim, although Army and Navy, a cut price “department store” still acts as an anchor and draw. The towers are residential, and office space is mostly two or three storey, “over the shop” type serving mostly local needs. Given its central location, it is surprising that it is not more of an important centre.

Front Street itself has a speciality role as “antiques row”, though the gloom cast by the multi-storey parking structure over the road does not help. At one end, the old station (now a restaurant) the public market and the casino act as magnets. But there is not much at the other end. Though the conversion of one of the grimmer provincial institutions into a housing development may help.

What has been wrong with New Westminster, according to its council, is that everybody drives through on their way to somewhere else. At one time this would have been seen a as locational advantage for all kinds of businesses. Maybe car ownership has killed central place theory?

I will be watching this one. Hopefully, once it has been shown that reducing the road width to two lanes can be made to work, then there will be more space for pedestrians, and, more importantly, for people to sit and watch the passing parade. Sadly, we have become so obsessed with moving on the street people (of which New West seems to have more than it’s fair share) that there is very little civilised space to linger in most centres in the region. But any cursory glance at the best pedestrian spaces will show that space for people to park themselves is much more important than spaces to park their cars (back in or otherwise).

Written by Stephen Rees

October 2, 2006 at 11:07 am