Stephen Rees's blog

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

Blacktop War!

with 7 comments


The speed with which the tracks were removed has surprised many observers along the Arbutus Corridor. It was not long before the rough ground revealed by the removal of the track ballast was being graded, and now blacktopped. Even faster was the response from the creme de la creme. As reported by the Vancouver Courier they have been handed a short term victory, as the City Engineer appears to have conceded that not everyone is happy to see a nice new smooth surface. See also the Metro piece which links to the video made by the nay sayers.


Work is still needed at the crossings both to remove the track in the roadway, finish the connections to the sidewalks and place barriers to prevent use by motor vehicles.

[UPDATE September 5, 2016: the track has now been removed at all the crossings shown here: work continues to divert bikes/peds to the existing crosswalks at the intersections rather than crossing where the track used to be.]



I think the overall impact is a distinct improvement over the shabby railway, and the mess left behind after its removal (noted in my previous post). We also noted more use by people on cycles as opposed to those walking, but I think the debate needs to be refocussed away from the tiresome stereotypes applied to cyclists and pedestrians, and concentrate on the use of this revitalised space by people. All ages, types and abilities, with all sorts of interests, and not just the locals or those with a proprietary interest.


I would encourage anyone to come along and share the wealth – not just those with tall boyfriends or walking sticks with curved handles.

As it happens, there are plenty of good examples of pathways with multiple uses in the neighbourhood. This is the scene today in Arbutus Village Park: a blacktopped path, you will note, though not quite as pristine now.


There are mature trees, providing welcome shade, and benches from which to observe the passing scene.

Arbutus Village Park

And someone who really appreciates a nice smooth pathway.

I could also point to Ravine Park which parallels the Corridor on the other side of Arbutus Street, is not permitted for use by cycles (but which seems to be unenforced) and is also blacktop through the trees.

Ravine Park


Written by Stephen Rees

August 6, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Arbutus Greenway

7 Responses

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  1. I just hope people remember that it is supposed to be a future rail transit corridor. Or at least that is a huge reason to spend 60 million to set aside the land. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere since the announcement. Don’t give the cremers an excuse to go nuts 20 or 30 years from now


    August 6, 2016 at 5:03 pm

  2. “Cremers” need no excuse to go nuts – now or in the future.

    I am convinced that when the Canada Line reaches capacity, it will prove cheaper to open the Arbutus Line – which the creme de la creme strangled in its cradle – than try to extend the platforms of the underground stations and add new entrances on each street corner.

    Stephen Rees

    August 6, 2016 at 5:46 pm

  3. Well I would be satisfied with a few signs boldly declaring “future transit corridor”… Maybe with a snazzy picuture.. Don’t give the next generation to declare: “who told me” etc..


    August 6, 2016 at 5:57 pm

  4. You mean like this

    or this

    or even

    Stephen Rees

    August 6, 2016 at 6:58 pm

  5. […] The destruction of the greeway is documented on the Stephen Rees blog, here and […]

  6. Here’s my response on Vonny’s blog:

    Am I the only commenter who shared a boundary with the corridor for 10 years? Who built one of the first gardens right next to the tracks? Who could reach out from my third floor walkway and almost be able shake hands with the CPR engineer delivering the daily load of grain to Molsons? Who has 30 years experience on the ground building stuff like this? And who happens to support the paved Arbutus multi-use trail?

    Judging by their comments, prof’s Condon and Herrington are academics who really don’t grasp long-term maintenance of public amenities for all ages and abilities, and the concept of universal accessibility, like this trail and others like it. My mother would have cursed the people who protested this wonderful, smooth and perfectly accessible amenity from her wheelchair.

    Don’t believe this? Then get in a wheelchair and try rolling a few metres on the unpaved trial after the November deluge, or even in hot dusty weather on loose gravel.

    The key words here are “multi-use.” This is not just a cyclist’s commuting route. It offers a chance for walkers and cyclists alike to enjoy a better off-the-grid backdoor access to several neighbourhoods.

    Lastly, there is just no comparison between the Broadway subway and an Arbutus tram. They are as unlike as the SeaBus and

    Adam Fitch needs to do more research.


    August 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm

  7. […] is what it looked like back in August – and I took this picture to illustrate another blog post about the use of blacktop for pedestrian/bike/non-vehicle […]

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