Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for June 22nd, 2007

Main drag makeover

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The new No. 3 Road
Richmond Review
By Matthew Hoekstra
Staff Reporter

Jun 21 2007

Uncreditted drawing of No 3 Road proposal

The image is very small but I reproduce it here in the hope you can see what I am drawing your attention to. I find it willfully misleading since the buildings appear to rise immediately off the back of the sidewalk on both sides of the street. Apart from a very short length at the Westminster Highway intersection, this is not true of No 3 Road. In most blocks, the buildings are set back behind surface parking – in some cases very extensive parking. In terms of “modern urban design” the only way this is going to happen is if nearly every block is completely redeveloped, which I suppose is inevitable in the very long term, but it sure won’t look like this any time soon.

The reason No 3 Road works so poorly at moving traffic is the tightness of the radius of the right hand turns cars make into these surface lots. Often the entrance is also the exit, so the car waiting to leave can pop out while the left turner pulls in. Except that so often these days they are both more like Sherman tanks than cars, and cannot pass each other easily in the tight driveway. And as the Review points out they appear to have got rid of the left turn bays too, which will also mean the left lane stops working for through traffic.

Notice too how the vertical supports of the guideway – and any trains or structures (like station buildings) are left out of the image or cleverly minimized. The gloom that will be shed by the Canada Line seems to be missing too. Which is odd because those mythical buildings on the left had side seem to be casting a shadow, while the overhead railway doesn’t. If you want to see what the real result will be go take a gander at the Millennium Line along Lougheed Highway.

And the cost for all this “least $24 million” which, if memory serves, was roughly the cost of the #98 B Line.

And then there is this priceless piece of wisdom:

Coun. Derek Dang, chair of the public works and transportation committee, wondered if Richmond is ready to embrace a pedestrian-oriented downtown when it still has long blocks and a relatively small population.

“They had similar ideas for Granville Mall,” he said. “I don’t know if it will grow up to be like that.”

Dang also wondered whether the city should be doing all the work now—especially when there isn’t clear funding sources and that costs to maintain the design could be high.

Establishing city centre precincts and building a new community centre are higher priorities, he said.

“This is beautification. We’ve done a lot of beautification over the years, but that was after we established areas. This is sort of beautification before.”

How clever to associate the idea of pedestrian environment with Granville Mall. Except of course, he is way out of date, as that area has undergone a revival of late, which even the DVBIA acknowledge. And anyway, the grottiest bit of Granville has always been the few blocks immediately north of the bridge – where there was no “pedestrianisation”.

He may not have noticed but Richmond downtown’s population is growing by leaps and bounds, not least from the new condos shooting up along No 3 Road, and streets within walking distance of the new stations. Does he seriously suggest we should leave No 3 Road ugly? As usual with Richmond’s politicians, the only thing that matters is minimizing any threat that could raise property tax.

Which they will do anyway, no matter how much extra cash comes in from developers.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 22, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Blog Updates

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I have updated the Cambie Street piece with photographs. This was inspired by a comment which included a link to a very well done virtual tour. My original instinct to avoid the area because of the traffic congestion was misplaced. It was almost empty yesterday lunchtime. South Cambie up to 41st was almost car free.

Also this morning the SFU web page has the podcasts of the “City Making in Paradise” talks so I have updated (and added to) the links in that piece. Similarly updated are the Price and Munnich lectures in the SFU City series which are also now available from their web page.

The bit about Randall O’Toole has not changed but the comments and rebuttals keep growing

If you are looking at this web page with Internet Explorer 6, it screws up the formatting, especially when I put in my own photographs. I am sorry but the only way I know at present to overcome this issue is to suggest you use IE7 or, preferably, Firefox 2.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 22, 2007 at 7:40 am

Posted in blog update