Stephen Rees's blog

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

Toderian and Montgomery on The National

with 3 comments

I need something hopeful. The debate over the “transit tax” is debilitating. So this big chunk of last night’s CBC tv news cheered me up this morning. I know that here I am preaching to the converted, and I must admit I do not watch tv news late in the evening. Good thing about this being on YouTube is you can watch it anytime and pass along the link.

I would like an escalator to Kerrisdale please, but leave me Ravine Park for the stroll back. Or add a slide.  A few bike escalators would get me riding again I think. So far there is only one in Trompe, Norway.  Gondolas for SFU – but why not New West or North Van too? Escalators should go in there too, of course. And can you imagine the row if someone dared suggest improving access to/from Wreck Beach? But we seem to tolerate the continued existence of a wide divided highway around Pacific Spirit Park. (From the video above “If you build a wide road people will drive faster…”)

We have been waiting for the sad old Arbutus shopping centre to be transformed into a mixed use hub for many years. The locals just grumble about what it would do to the drainage. The existing “recreation centre” in the basement of the mall looks like it may close as all the strata councils are considering dropping support due to lack of use. That shows me that we really have not yet figured out how to build public facilities yet. I think that also underlies the intolerance of the Poodle on the Pole on Main St. Why cannot people laugh at it? We seem to understand the laughing guys of Denman and Davie. But if you want to offend people, put a misaligned head of Lenin into Richmond. Actually, go look at the Oval and the area around it to see what not to do in our suburbs.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 29, 2015 at 8:28 am

3 Responses

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  1. I have just found your blog and you can’t believe how much time it will save me. I won’t have to research and write up about things many things I care about- I can just read your blog!
    I was about to respond to the Sun’s headline about confusion and write one of my letters to the editor with the point that health and social gains and environmental benefits of transit make it such a no-brainer that getting confused by how 38 cents a day will be collected is not worth much public attention.
    Like help us focus on the important stuff please!
    Total confusion is not being able to separate the important from not important!

    I also watched CBC, The National last night and agree that it was a refreshing piece. I also thought about North Van and SFU. Not sure about the escalator in Kerrisdale though, although I made a special trip to the one in Barcelona to try it out.
    Another place the escalator might also be interesting is on Fairview Slopes. Lots of walkers and shops – can’t think of a specific spot, but I’ll be thinking about it during a run along the sea wall.

    Ray Myrtle

    January 30, 2015 at 5:30 pm

  2. […] This video segment from CBC has been making rounds: […]

  3. One day, as the population grows in our mountainous province, people will undoubtedly realize there is great potential in learning to live on slopes in order to preserve ecologically sensitive Riparian valleys and marine edges and to protect lower elevation agricultural land. There are abundant sloped lands within reasonable distances of existing towns that have already been greatly altered, and in many cases severely damaged, by industrial logging (e.g. the eastern slopes of Vancouver Island) that could provide good quality sites for new towns and farms, given the right circumstances and better planning. There is a tendency today to use such land for car-dependent sprawling bedroom subdivisions, and that will have to change if we are to have a sustainable economy over the long haul, an economy not based on last century’s urban planning models. Transit in its plethora of forms could provide the impetus for a new way of city building.

    Escalators, inclined or cog railways and cable car systems could promote the development of car-free compact towns and villages on slopes (save for emergency and primary commercial vehicles) and therein would have much less per-capita impact on the environment, but they cannot be isolated. A network of commuter rail and rapid transit lines must be located within a reasonable distance to connect these new communities to the rest of the world. Moving containerized freight by both heavy and light rail, including cog railways (or an inclined freight elevator system) would also be essential; commercial, retail, office and light industrial areas need to be serviced along with residential.

    Within the boundaries of future cities and towns built on steep slopes, outdoor escalators would indeed be effective and cheap to provide as part of a well-developed pedestrian network. They would have to be covered with a roof (not unlike those indicated in the CBC clips from Medellin) and in some instances encased in glass walls to mitigate weather and salt spray, but resolving these issues won’t take a PhD in astrophysics. They will be many orders of magnitude less costly to fund with tax revenue than today’s road system, and fostering a car-free urban environment would offer residents exceptional household savings opportunities and better health.

    Major vertical pedestrian corridors would have to be planned in conjunction with an array of elevators and stairs (with bicycle ramps) to ensure that the important principle of universal accessibility is maintained. Terraced or mountaintop towns would require a certain density “floor” (e.g. minimum 100 dwelling units per hectare over 2/3 its land area, mixed use zoning) to become a relatively self-sustaining economy with several more self-contained towns within a reasonable proximity, but separated by farms or community forests, and linked by direct transit to achieve diverse and resilient regions.

    A bit futuristic, but I suggest this will become an increasingly necessary idea as the next few decades roll by.


    February 2, 2015 at 11:18 am

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