More shots taken over the weekend, this time by me.
While all the attention and controversy are focused on Point Grey Road, it could be argued that the transformation of the Burrard/Cornwall intersection at the south end of the Burrard Bridge is more consequential. (Map here.) Essentially, a complex web of lanes and turns is being normalized into a typical, squared-up intersection.
It was an idea put forward by the Planning Department a decade or so ago, at the time Council was trying to deal with congestion. I honestly can’t remember how I voted on the idea, but there was considerable skepticism that such an old-fashioned concept could serve contemporary traffic demand. And fear that we might upset motorists. Now that concept, ressurected, is being implemented.
Not only will the configuration encourage traffic to head south to feed the east-west arterials (taking more pressure off Cornwall and MacDonald) but pedestrians will have only two crosswalks to navigate, and cyclists will be in less conflict with their own separated route to the bikeway on York Street.
The visual impact will be dramatic. Huge new swaths of green space have suddenly become available, simply by reducing the amount of unneeded asphalt. Here’s what it looks like now, a few weeks away from transformation:
A little further down Cornwall and the reconfiguration is also evident:
From left to right: sidewalk, separated bikeway, traffic lanes, and space for another separated bikeway and sidewalk: the complete street, serving all modes, more safely with less friction. Here’s a prediction: within a few weeks after completion, people will wonder how we could have put up with the previous arrangement for all these years.
A shot of Point Grey Road a few hours after the initial closure:
The cyclists are tentatively moving off the too-narrow sidewalk and onto the street. The parks on either side will be connected. Ken Ohrn described below how it looked – and sounded. Liberating, I think, is the word.
At the west end of Point Grey at Alma, the cones show where the separation of bikes and cars will occur. This was one of the most uncomfortable pieces of roadway in the city, with too many users squeezed in too small a space. A complete lose-lose, turned into a win-win.
Yes, I’ve heard the argument that the road will now be only for the rich, only for the cyclists, only for the able-bodied. As though, if we accept that argument, we would continue Point Grey Road through Jericho Park.
I would suggest to those who intend to run in the next civic election, after listening to the deeply felt anger of those who opposed the scheme and felt it was arrogantly imposed, to be cautious about promising to restore the road to through traffic.
Wait, at least, to see what happens, especially as spring and summer progress. Wait until you see how many Vancouverites and visitors use it, and discover for themselves the connections to the beaches and parks of Point Grey. Wait until you’ve experienced for yourself how this space feels and how it works. Wait until you feel that joy and liberation – and the emotions and anger you might unleash if you promise to take it away.