Stephen Rees's blog

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

In the News : CBC: Car-free Sundays proposed for some Vancouver streets

with 11 comments

In the News : CBC: Car-free Sundays proposed for some Vancouver streets.

I got this from Andrea’s own blog via facebook. Boy I am getting to be a social media convert.

This comes up at the December 16 meeting and if you live in Vancouver I think it would be a  great help to drop Mayor and Council mayorandcouncil(at) a line to let them know how you feel.

Annual car-free days have become common in cities around the world, but making every summer Sunday car-free is still a new idea for most places. New York City ran a similar experiment in Manhattan last summer and Bogota, Colombia, has had car-free Sundays for decades.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 12, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Posted in car free day

11 Responses

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  1. How does finding this on Andrea’s blog make this a case for social media? It came from the CBC, not exactly an obscure or alternative source.


    December 12, 2008 at 9:49 pm

  2. I have a whole bunch of photos I took of cities in Europe, Japan and even China, with streets and squares that are car-free everyday of the year, at least during the day (in many places people do live above the shops so they are allowed to park their car in front of the building at night (the streets are closed at all the intersections with streets allowing cars by posts that go up/ down with a swipe of a card). Quite a few towns have done this for 30 years or more and the stores are thriving. Oh Vancouver businessmen of little faith and eve nsmallerexperience! car-free days in these towns means that MANY MORE streets are closed off one Sunday per year or once Sunday per month or..

    Red frog

    December 13, 2008 at 1:58 am

  3. I’m just wondering how this would work. Most of Vancouver is based various streets, and their major streets. Like main street, where most of the people that frequent the shops and restaurants are people who walk to the street in the first place. So what purpose other than to irritate drivers and busers would these car-free days have?


    December 13, 2008 at 9:47 am

  4. L – I found it on facebook – and social media are not exactly “obscure”

    Stephen Rees

    December 13, 2008 at 10:22 am

  5. M – well done. I could not have made up a better, more self-centred comment if I had tried. Of course, the only possible reason could be that someone somewhere wants to irritate you. Never for a moment consider that there might be some offsetting benefit. Just concentrate on the fact that you might be delayed a little.

    I am told that I should cultivate “calm indifference” towards negativity. Sorry, I failed this time. I will try harder in future

    Stephen Rees

    December 13, 2008 at 11:06 am

  6. They’re really just street festivals or block parties – but using politicized branding.

    Should liven up a lot of neighbourhoods – hopefully the costs of organizing etc. don’t hamper them (i.e. Greek Days was cancelled for a number of years due to high costs (insurance costs, I think))

    Ron C.

    December 13, 2008 at 4:40 pm

  7. I was just commenting while this has been done in the past, I was wondering what the costs of such a festival, EG Kit’s Days, which was positive festival for Kitsilano, but basically met it’s demise because it was highly dependent on volunteers and large amounts of sponsorship. Over the the benefits for communities that already get people walking to them and begging for parking at the best of times. Closing off streets is a very expensive affair, not to mention irritating drivers that use major throughways to get to work. Or would you rather have those motorists taking residential streets?

    I’m all for the idea of community-based car free days, it’s just that Vancouver as it’s set up now is and never designed for closing off chunks of road. Which is all you’ll ever hear about car-free days on the mainstream media because it’s negative and people like negative news.


    December 13, 2008 at 11:18 pm

  8. So Vancouver was never designed for closing off chunks of roads??? my birthplace has streets (the 2 current main shopping streets) that were built in Roman times. Most downtown streets were built in medieval times and big avenues were built in the 18th century. Most of the downtown buildings are 18th century, some are much older. Yet that town has a sizable thriving pedestrian area since the mid 1970s. Not one car-free day here and there but everyday of the year. There are thousands of towns around the world, much older than Vancouver, that have car-free streets all year round and they manage very well even though these old towns don’t have the very convenient grid lay-out of Vancouver that make shunting off cars to another street so very easy. Those in Vancouver that don’t believe in car-free streets should go out more. Don’t say that something isn’t possible if you haven’t seen it done elsewhere.

    Red frog

    December 14, 2008 at 12:28 am

  9. Please check
    for a map of “Car-free Sundays” that take place the first Sundays of each month between 10 am and 7 pm-May to Sept- and from 10 am to 6 pm-October to April. The area covers 50 hectares. The LRT and some buses are allowed. I apologize for highlighting Bordeaux but info about other towns-especially with maps–are hard to get. The lists found on the internet of cities with car-free days and those with car-free area all year long are unfortunately very basic and don’t include many towns I have visited.

    Red frog

    December 14, 2008 at 12:48 pm

  10. “Closing off streets is a very expensive affair,….”

    Car-free Commercial Drive has been doing it for four years now with no corporate sponsors, little money from the city and no deficit. It is one of the most successful festivals in the city from a financial perspective.

    Last year it was expanded to Main and Denman and again was very successful. Not sure how you missed all this, M.

    And now businesses are actually calling from the streets to be shut down to cars:


    December 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm

  11. This is such a fantastic idea. I live a few houses in from Commercial and I really want this for my neighbourhood.

    In Montreal they block off Saint Laurent every Sunday. Because it was a permanent event, it was worthwhile for the shopkeepers to build light infrastructure to make it easier and level for them to extend their shops and restaurants out into the first lane of traffic.

    Incidentally, the City of Vancouver missed a real opportunity in its improvements to Main St. and Commercial in Vancouver. Check out what they did on Saint Laurent:

    On-street bike racks, electrical plugs for public events, sidewalks widened by 75 cm.


    December 20, 2008 at 9:50 am

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