Stephen Rees's blog

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

Calming Point Grey

with 13 comments

I did not get an invitation to the event yesterday morning, but I saw it on tv later. By the time I got there – early afternoon – everything was calm and peaceful again.

"Chip Wilson Way"

The NPA organized protest at the Point Grey closure left behind this reminder that Councillor George Affleck accused Vision Vancouver of being politically motivated – not to provide a bikeway but remove traffic in a neighbourhood populated by wealthy Vision supporters. He also pointed out that the Mayor’s own home is nearby – which he claimed as “interesting”
see… for raw footage of the interview. It was not broadcast in its entirety.

Affleck made himself look very silly by announcing that if an NPA Council is elected this year, this scheme would be removed. Deciding that removing through traffic from a residential street will not work before the idea had had any time to be observed seems foolish. He will of course be proved wrong simply because of the law of urban traffic – it expands and contracts to fill the space available. Just as protected bike lanes on Burrard Bridge – and elsewhere in downtown – have not produced the traffic disasters predicted for them, neither will this one. Life in this neighbourhood will have been improved considerably – the connection of Tatlow Park to Volunteer Park across what is now a street is a brilliant idea and one which has been requested by the people who live in and visit the area for many years. The map below shows what has actually been implemented.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 4.43.06 PM

It really is very modest. For people driving cars, there is still access to every property, park and facility. The map is from the City web site  and there is also an explanation here.

Even so I saw one car driver decide to drive the wrong way along the one way section and another make an illegal right turn through a No Entry (except bikes) sign. Quite what actual impact doing a U turn at high speed is supposed to convey I have no idea. Shouting at the flag people who were protecting city workers installing the new traffic devices seems even sillier.

UPDATE I recommend an article in Huffington Post by a local cyclist which looks into the realities of bike lanes versus the politics.

Point Grey Road was never designed to be an arterial. The road became a “rat run”. Using Alma as the connection it allowed people moving between the western end of  West Side to avoid 4th Avenue to get through Cornwall to Burrard. It wasn’t actually much faster if you drive at  legal speeds. Point Grey was already signed at 30 km/hr – and no-one seemed to comply with that. The process of adjustment to the loss of  what was seen as a “short cut” will be rapid. Within the next few days, trip making will have been adjusted. Suggesting otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of the drivers!  The international experience (rtf) of evaporating traffic (pdf) is extensive.

I have uploaded a set of photos to flickr. They are shown here in order – so on the map above they run left to right – or west (from Jericho) to east (to MacDonald)

Entrance to Jericho Beach

Entrance to Jericho Beach

Angle parking to the left has been removed and replaced by the bikeway which then turns into the park to connect up to the seashore route.

Jericho Park

The reverse angle to the previous shot. It looks like the angle parking will be eliminated – except perhaps for the lifeguards. There is a turning area at the the dead end, and paid parking (summer only) to the left.

City Gradall

Bike lane construction replacing angle parking

Bike lane construction

Wallace St to the left

Highbury Street

Highbury Street

Hastings Mill Park to the left – protected two way bike path constructed – angle parking replaced by parallel parking

Hastings Mill Park

Hastings Mill Park

Alma Street

Alma Street

One way section east from Alma

One way section east from Alma

Centre line removed

Centre line removed





No Entry except bicycles
Looking west at Waterloo



Traffic diverter: eastbound vehicles must turn right (south) only bikes can proceed. Westbound traffic can proceed or turn left. At this point I observed a woman in an older car drive straight through on the wrong side of the road.

New Traffic Island

New Traffic Island

Temporary New Jersey Barriers prevent traffic from First and Trutch from turning onto Point Grey – and vice versa

Road closed

From Bayswater eastwards access only – no through road to MacDonald

This will be parkland

Tatlow and Volunteer Parks will be connected and much roadway removed

Volunteer from Tatlow

Calmed Point Grey Road

2:51pm – and I have never seen this road at this time of day this quiet. Traffic calming for residential streets in other cities is something residents demand – not protest about. The NPA line is that this road belongs to all the citizens of Vancouver and hence anyone should be able to drive on it whenever they feel like it.

I wonder how long that video will stay up

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.59.19 AM

A tweet this morning (around 10:30am) from a staunch conservative

And even the (paywalled) Province admits 

“The closure did not appear to impact major arteries. TransLink said buses in the area did not experience significant delays, even during rush hour.”

Written by Stephen Rees

January 21, 2014 at 8:45 am

Posted in Traffic

13 Responses

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  1. That video speaks to how dangerously and stupidly people drive rather than how safe Point Grey Road is…

    Talk about a lot of angst over nothing.


    January 21, 2014 at 8:52 am

  2. Residents of the area should be celebrating the peace and quiet, cleaner air and nice boost to their property values.


    January 21, 2014 at 11:06 am

  3. How long until the city replaces those highway dividers with something more attractive, like a true curbed median. The warzone ambiance surely can’t help with pro-bike PR.


    January 21, 2014 at 1:43 pm

  4. The approach adopted in New York City was based on paint and oil drums – then gradually upgraded to more permanent features once it is clear to everyone that the new arrangements work well. Possibly some interim adjustments are needed – but are easy to do before more permanent arrangements are made. Vancouver now has plenty of experience of what does and does not work. However, there are still lots of traffic circles – which manifestly do not work – and not many roundabouts which work very well indeed (see for example UBC W16th and Wesbrook Mall). For experience with bike lanes see the Huff Post article I inserted a link to above.

    Stephen Rees

    January 22, 2014 at 9:46 am

  5. Nice to see this! Here in Nanaimo (where traffic is by comparison already much less) there are similar issues of non-arterial roads being used as shortcuts, i would love to see those changed to no-through streets or selective one way, etc. Meanwhile the city is widening an existing arterial road which currently operates far below capacity, adding a connector to an adjacent highway, and in the end it will mean more traffic of course, and people taking newly available “shortcuts” through previously quiet residential areas. madness.


    January 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm

  6. The City of Vancouver has been doing traffic calming to deter through traffic from residential areas for many years. Most of the West End of downtown has diverters diagonally across intersections and short stretches of pedestrian only streets.

    Stephen Rees

    January 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm

  7. The traffic circle at Wesbrook and 16th is laughable. A nice idea but horribly implemented. Other than that I agree with every point you have made Stephen.


    January 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm

  8. I think it is very sad that you do NOT understand the difference between a traffic circle and a roundabout. Try this link to help you understand why your comment is so ill informed.

    Stephen Rees

    January 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm

  9. I think the roundabout at UBC is intimidating for casual cyclists, including anyone who’s too timid to take a lane.


    January 22, 2014 at 9:41 pm

  10. It is rather sad that there are still people in Vancouver that are totally unaware—in 2014– that thousands and thousands of towns in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America, Australia, New Zealand and even some towns in the US, have adopted all sorts of traffic calming and traffic reductions solutions, car-free areas and more, starting, for many, in the late 60s-early 70s.
    And its not as if all these towns didn’t have lots of cars..they do..but their citizens have eventually understood that the right of driving a car anywhere, anytime, in a town wasn’t written in their country constitution.

    When Portland started to build LRT tracks right downtown it was pandemonium at first, then motorists got used to it. I only go there a couple of times a year but we have always found it very easy to drive downtown, even next to their huge LRT, or next to bikes…(having most streets going one way only helps, I think)

    Red frog

    January 22, 2014 at 10:08 pm

  11. I can’t wait to ride the new route! Sure, there are already bike routes from Cypress to Jericho, but the zig-zagging route is bumpy (poorly maintained road surface) and, as you move further west, dangerous at intersections. When it gets busy, the street is sometimes too narrow and fraught with dangers to allow cyclists a safe passing distance between each other (especially if you’re riding two by two), let alone throwing cars into the mix. I’d forgotten about the lack of safety on that route til I saw your pictures and realised how thrilled I’m going to be to have a safe — and beautiful — path to ride on.

    Erika Rathje

    January 23, 2014 at 9:39 pm

  12. The only reason round a bouts don’t work is that we’re too stupid to know how to drive in them. Don’t believe me? Youtube: 4 Way Stop Vs Roundabout – Mythbusters

    Shephard Ashmore

    February 14, 2014 at 11:37 pm

  13. Here’s the link to myth busters They do get a higher volume throughput. And they do it without the splitter islands on each arm and the yield signs which make the well designed roundabout distinct from the traffic circle.

    Roundabouts do work. Traffic circles don’t work.

    You can see well designed roundabouts working at UBC. They work because they have yield signs – traffic must not enter the circle until it is clear. Traffic circles are based on the false notion of “give way on the right” i.e. traffic in the circle has to give way to those entering it. Instant gridlock.

    4 way stop is based on the idea that all road users are idiots who must follow every rule to the letter even when it makes no sense. You are supposed to stop even when there is no other traffic in sight. Roundabouts assume that people are capable of judging a safe gap in the traffic. As long as roundabouts are properly designed this gap acceptance idea is intuitive.

    For a total failure see also right turns at freeway exits that are supposed to be free flowing onto the intersecting street – Highway 99 southbound at Steveston Highway for instance. The turn off the freeway has no sign or line across the road as there is one lane westbound across the bridge which becomes two lanes where the traffic leaving the freeway joins it. Idiots stop there.

    Even if the volumes were not higher, roundabouts are better than four way stops because not only are collisions less in number, but those collisions are now glancing blows not T bones, so much less severe.

    Stephen Rees

    February 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm

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