June 3, 2015

The Carmageddon Cycle – 2

Sigh.  Has the NPA learned nothing?

This just arrived:

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NPA

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Yeah, according to the City’s engineers, traffic flow may well improve.  But more importantly, the reconfiguration of the Burrard-Pacific intersection will significantly improve safety for all and, as we have learned already, will continue to increase the number of people walking and cycling.

So does traffic flow – that is, of motor-vehicles – trump every other consideration?  In which case, George, here’s the question: even if the traffic flow was not improved, would you vote against the changes?

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  1. I don’t understand how two open houses is “impossibly short and rushed”. You aren’t going to “consult” anyone into consensus. It comes down to opposing core values, and that’s what elections are won and lost over. Get out the vote next time, George!

  2. Since the south-side redesign, there’s now never more than two lanes of traffic approaching the bridge at a time from either Cornwall or northbound Burrard.

    But sure George, making the bridge itself two lanes (with a vastly improved North intersection) will be the death of us all. The horse it dead buddy, leave it alone.

  3. From my point of view, the real problem here is the fake consultation process. This is obviously a done deal and is going to go ahead as designed by the city. Why bother pretending to consult with the public? Actually, I would prefer the council to say “you voted for us, this is our policy, construction starts tomorrow, suck it up”. Would save a lot of time and hot air.

    But I guess the pols and the city bureaucrats want to have the CYA that comes from having “open houses”.

      1. And which is it that you prefer? No consultation or “real” consultation (whatever that means)?

        Personally, I think consultation is a 2-way street. The public can learn about what’s in the works and how it may affect them, and the planners & engineers can make sure they haven’t overlooked something. Such plans as this do change, all the time, post-consultation.

      2. I’ll respond to your comment and Ken’s here, to avoid excessive indentation. I consider real consultation that which occurs before one’s mind is made up, and which allows for one’s mind to be changed. So, for example, if the council said, “we’re considering changing the bridge like this (show sketch) or like this (show other sketch), what do you think?”, that would be consultation. And if the council made some changes based on valid feedback, that would be real consultation.

        In this case, the design is done in detail already. I bet the construction crews are assigned already and will start the day after the council vote. It’s disingenous to pretend that the public’s voice is being taken into account in any way.

        Ken, as I already said in my comment, I prefer, in the case where the council’s mind is made up already, for them to just say, we’re doing this, you elected us to make these choices, suck it up. That would show real leadership, and that would be honest.

        Of course, it would be much better in general, to have real consultation. That would engage the public a bit more in city building, don’t you think?

        As for the bridge improvements, my only objection as an East-Vanner, is that I wish the city would be prepared to spend as much money on East-side infrastructure as west-side. And give it as much priority.

        Quite frankly, when you have to negotiate the traffic around the Knight street bridge every day, the problems of the 10%’ers on Burrard pale into insignificance.

      3. Bar, there is such a thing as Due Diligence. Regardless of the project, its scope or the anticipated reaction, the city should always inform the public about what is happening and accept the consequences.

        There were several consultations where the decision was made to proceed with certain developments where neighbourhood opposition seemed to be a majority.

        Then again, remember how Grandview Woodlands strenuously rejected the significant changes proposed in the local plan, and how the politicians responded by stopping the process and forming the Citizen’s Assembly? Unlike before, that one example could have changed the results of the last election in the absence of drastic action.

        Then there are the well-advertised public meetings and open houses where staff outnumber citizens and clearly there was little public interest.

        You can see it can go in several different directions and is often affected by a political calculation, but the process should never in any circumstances be altered to eliminate consultation altogether.

        With the Burrard Bridge you are assuming there is more than one design option to present. Perhaps there are tweaks, but I don’t see how the one major element – a simple but highly effective northbound left turn bay onto Pacific – can be presented as two or more distinct designs.

    1. Consultation is a continuum from information, to collaboration to accommodation. Most cities err of the very left side. With so many opinions, pro and con any development and/or change, to get anything done they have to propose s.th. useful, then make minor adjustments, if any.

      At least in the city you can “throw the bums out” if you want, i.e. elect someone else every 4 years. At least there is some solace in that and that pressure then is applied downwards to city planners. So if they screw up too often and produce stuff too often that is very controversial the Mayor and Councillors feel the heat, and might even fire the planner (rarely though).

      Unlike here at UBC where I live where we cannot do anything. Like in the Habsburg monarchy the King decides what is good for the populace, and then acts upon it. UBC also has “consultation” sessions and they are usually quite informative, but they rarely change what has been proposed, and worse, the King cannot be voted out. Brilliant. The king owns the land, plans the development on the land, and often then develops himself (or sells those rights to others). At least in the city of Vancouver you can vote every 4 years. At UBC we cannot. Some “democracy”. More like a company town.

    2. Where is your proof that the consultations are fake? If we go by past recent history with the city’s projects they’ll identify the need and purpose, have the engineers make up a preliminary plan then do open houses and surveys and consult with those affected and use that info to modify the plan. Then let everyone who wants to have a say in Council and then go from there and build it.
      How much more consultation would you like and what form would it take?

        1. It is difficult to understand how there could be any opposition to the SFPR. A highway linking the Trans Canada to the port at Delta. Routing trucks through New Westminster seemed so ridiculous. There were extensive consultations on the Massey Bridge. The City is doing a brief quickie, as usual. Everyone knows that their minds are made up and all they are doing is letting a bit of venting.

          1. Difficult to understand? You could find anyone who would say that about any project because they think it’s the right thing to do.

            Extensive consultations on massey bridge? LOL!

            Come on man…

            1. You must have missed it. Here is just a part summary.

              Bridge Rendering and Animation

              Bridge Rendering on Highway 99 Corridor
              Animated Video Flyover
              Phase 2 Consultation Materials

              Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report
              Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report Appendix A
              Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report Appendix B (Part 1)
              Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report Appendix B (Part 2)
              Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report Appendix C-E
              Phase 2 Discussion Guide
              Phase 2 Display Boards
              Phase 2 Feedback Form – PDF for printing (deadline for feedback was April 2, 2013)
              Phase 2 Presentation
              Public Notice – March 2013
              Phase 1 Consultation Materials

              Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report
              Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report Appendix 2 – A-F
              Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report Appendix 2 – G
              Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report Appendix 2 – H
              Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report Appendix 2 – I
              Phase 1 Discussion Guide
              Phase 1 Feedback Form – Print (please note that Phase 1 consultation is now closed)
              Phase 1 Open House Display Boards
              Public Notice – November 2012

          2. Indeed Eric. I’d go further and state that SFPR is too narrow. Should have been six lanes. Trucks and families in mini-vans tend to not use bikes or slow moving buses and traffic will grow with new Massey Bridge and port expansions south of Fraser.

            A growing region with 30+ ports needs a decent road, bike, ped and public transit network. BC needs to invest further in all four modes !

            New West, for example, needs a traffic decongesting tunnel and a six lane new Patullo bridge.

            More subways too under Burrard, under Hastings, under Marine Drive in N-Van, under 41st and under Broadway to UBC .

            Car free Robson Street too !

      1. Or the Conservatives gagging scientists and directing the armed forces into Iraq.

        The fact is that local government is far more directly involved with the citizens.

  4. I don’t see Affleck opposing this. He is merely lamenting the short consultation period and is asking for folks to comment or go to open houses.

    Perhaps the NPA does learn ? Perhaps they might even spearhead a pedestrian zone on Robson from Stadium to Lost Lagoon ?

    1. That’s BS and you know it. Afflick is a pro car guy living and pandering to the rich west side constituents who have no intention of getting out of their cars. Well guys, this is the new future so get used to it. As far as I’m concerned there should be no consultation. What, is the public going to tell the engineers how to design a complex intersection involving 4 modes of transport? No.

      1. I’d tell them t take Burrard bridge down and replace it with a lower ped and bike only bridge

        Granville is wide enough and close enough for all car traffic

        Alternatively the should build a subway below Burrard going south to Kerrisdale.

        Affleck did not bemoan the reduced car traffic in this post ‘

        1. Thomas – several well-used bus routes also use the Burrard Bridge (2, 22, 44). It would be one thing to restrict private vehicle traffic on the bridge, but public transit must continue to use the crossing.

    1. You can clearly see in that clip how much more congested the two southbound lanes are than the three northbound lanes. If your goal is truly lowering carbon emissions then anything that creates congestion and its attendant rise in emissions should be anathema.

      However if your goal is sticking it to vehicles drivers, or you labour under the delusion that making commutes longer will get people out of their cars, this might be the plan for you.

      1. I think the goal is neither. People are already wanting more options for transportation. The cycling and walking increase has come from the people and is world wide. Cities all over the world are having to respond and accommodate what people now want to do.

      2. More lanes on the bridge won’t reduce congestion on the bridge. It’ll just stack more cars up. The entire point of this plan is that it gives a much smoother route for cars OFF of the bridge (with the 2 dedicated right turn lanes) which in turn will reduce congestion.

        How often do you see vehicles in the right lane trying their best to turn, backed all the way up to the center of the bridge? How many folks in lane 2 are trying to change over to lane 1 to make the turn, thereby slowing down/blocking lane 2? It’s a total mess the way it is now.

      1. I sure hope the Evergreen Line and associated planned land use can convert that sea of tarmac to more socially and environmentally valuable forms.

        The Burrard Bridge is a tempest in a teapot by comparison.

      2. Building mixed use around transit will allow some new arrivals to Coquitlam/Port Moody to have a lifestyle that doesn’t depend on the car all the time, but the existing population will still need cars to get anywhere for a long time to come.

        Unbuilding motordom will require decades of deconstructing cities and putting them back together at a pedestrian scale. It’s not essential to have the grocery store, hair stylist, park, church/temple/mosque, school, rec centre, etc. within walking distance, but there has to be a simple and convenient way to reach all of them without driving.

        If transit is too far away, infrequent or not direct then it will be a last resort choice.
        If there are no safe cycling routes or there’s no bike facilities at the destination end then it too will be a last resort choice.

        Many parts of the City of Vancouver have had some form of transit on a km or mile grid for nearly a century. Many neighbourhoods originated with commercial along the transit lines and even mixed into residential areas: the nearly extinct “corner store”. It’s why walking, cycling and transit percentages for Vancouver are so high compared with surrounding areas.

        Suburbs have always been built using a different philosophy: the maximum separation of residential from everything else. At first only the rich could afford to live far away and still have access to the city, but the car made it possible for nearly anyone to isolate themselves without having to do without.

        I accept that there will always be a segment of society that wants all the amenities of city life, but does not want to live in a true urban area. That does not mean, however, that we should build our cities to cater to those people. If you want the amenities live near them or be prepared to suffer some inconvenience.
        ———
        Getting back to the original topic I really like the new bridge/intersection design and think it appropriately prioritizes pedestrians. The extra lanes on Burrard and Pacific will aid drivers while making it safer for everyone else. Narrowing the southern section of the bridge shouldn’t have any impact on traffic: the flow is already controlled by the traffic signals at either end. Even if the bridge was 12 lanes wide, the signal at Burrard and Pacific would still permit the exact same number per hour to enter/exit.

        I like the idea of consultation, but there are times when all it does is bog things down. Maybe the city should have presented some radically different options. Start with the cheapest (simply closing a lane for bikes and removing the slip lanes) and move up to something with a huge price tag and heritage destroying changes to the structure. Would that really make people happy? Wouldn’t months of consultation eventually result in a compromise that looks exactly like the current proposal?

        So this is a rare occasion when I agree with bar foo. Show us the new design, tell us why it’s good for you, me and everyone else, and get on with building it.

  5. I’ll respond to Don and Ken’s comments here, to avoid excessive indentation. I consider real consultation that which occurs before one’s mind is made up, and which allows for one’s mind to be changed. So, for example, if the council said, “we’re considering changing the bridge like this (show sketch) or like this (show other sketch), what do you think?”, that would be consultation. And if the council made some changes based on valid feedback, that would be real consultation.

    In this case, the design is done in detail already. I bet the construction crews are assigned already and will start the day after the council vote. It’s disingenous to pretend that the public’s voice is being taken into account in any way.

    Ken, as I already said in my comment, I prefer, in the case where the council’s mind is made up already, for them to just say, we’re doing this, you elected us to make these choices, suck it up. That would show real leadership, and that would be honest.

    Of course, it would be much better in general, to have real consultation. That would engage the public a bit more in city building, don’t you think?

    As for the bridge improvements, my only objection as an East-Vanner, is that I wish the city would be prepared to spend as much money on East-side infrastructure as west-side. And give it as much priority.

    Quite frankly, when you have to negotiate the traffic around the Knight street bridge every day, the problems of the 10%’ers on Burrard pale into insignificance.

  6. For Don. Who missed the many years of consultations and reports on the Massey Bridge Project. It was all on the government web site, for years.

    Bridge Rendering and Animation

    Bridge Rendering on Highway 99 Corridor
    Animated Video Flyover
    Phase 2 Consultation Materials

    Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report
    Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report Appendix A
    Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report Appendix B (Part 1)
    Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report Appendix B (Part 2)
    Phase 2 Consultation Summary Report Appendix C-E
    Phase 2 Discussion Guide
    Phase 2 Display Boards
    Phase 2 Feedback Form – PDF for printing (deadline for feedback was April 2, 2013)
    Phase 2 Presentation
    Public Notice – March 2013
    Phase 1 Consultation Materials

    Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report
    Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report Appendix 2 – A-F
    Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report Appendix 2 – G
    Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report Appendix 2 – H
    Phase 1 Consultation Summary Report Appendix 2 – I
    Phase 1 Discussion Guide
    Phase 1 Feedback Form – Print (please note that Phase 1 consultation is now closed)
    Phase 1 Open House Display Boards
    Public Notice – November 2012

    Reports

    Highway 99 Corridor Study, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (2009) – Detailed assessment of the Highway 99 corridor from King George Highway to the Oak Street Bridge including travel demand, performance, safety and transit service, as well as options for future enhanced transit service accommodation.
    Fraser River North and South Arm Crossing Study, Reid Crowther & Partners Ltd. and Ward Consulting Group (1995) – Identified and evaluated 12 potential options along three corridors as an input to development of a South Coast Transportation System Plan.
    George Massey Tunnel Expansion Plan Study, Ward Consulting Group
    (1991) – Preliminary planning study to consider the need for, and the form of, any future expansion of the existing George Massey Tunnel.
    Gateway Program Definition Report, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (2006) – Description of the provincial Gateway Program of road and bridge improvements including problem definition, provincial response, benefit-cost analysis of the selected projects and next steps. The George Massey Tunnel was identified as a potential longer term priority.

  7. Eric,

    Sure, lots of pretty pictures and renderings.The point though, that you made for the Burrard bridge, was it’s all just window dressing for a decision already made. How was the massey bridge ‘consultation’ any different?

    1. Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun:

      ” … What’s piqued my interest now are two things.

      The first: A very short time after the city went public Monday with plans for the redesign, Vision Vancouver’s political mailing list was pressed into action to urge support. Vision uses the mailing list frequently to drum up interest or raise the profile of city initiatives supported by the party. It featured a canned message from Coun. Heather Deal.

      The message, like all that are sent out by Vision, highlighted the party’s efforts and then included a call to action. In this case, it was to urge people to give feedback to a city survey about construction plans for the bridge. The message is posted below.

      The second: the survey itself appears at first blush to seek information about how often and by what mode of transportation people use the bridge. This is part of a very short public consultation period – a mere month – in which city staff are trying to gauge how to handle the looming traffic problems that will be caused by the reconstruction. …”

      Report due in ONE MONTH.

      Anyone that can’t see any difference is not looking.

      1. No doubt the scale is different, but again, if you can’t see the parallels between the Province and its ‘extensive consultation’ and what Vancouver’s doing, perhaps you’re not looking.

    2. I believe a large difference between Burrard Bridge and the Massey Bridge has been missed in this discussion. The Burrard bridge transportation part is only 8 Million. The Massey tunnel is a multi billion dollar project. Therefore I am ok with just one month of consultation for the Burrard Bridge. The Massey bridge needs a lot more consultation.

  8. Perhaps there is learning going on in some quarters.

    The Sun’s editors echo Mr. Gauthier of the DVBIA to say the proposed changes are a win-win-win for people who travel in the city.

    In particular, the Sun’s editors embrace and endorse the improvements for people who walk, and the importance of walkability. There seems to have been a lifting of their sightlines to realize that travel in a city embraces more than one mode. Perhaps they have also come to realize that only one mode is losing share — motor vehicles.

    Oddly, they seem to sneer at the rancor between people who ride bikes and those who drive cars, when these same editors and those at their sister publication have produced plenty of fodder for the divide.

    And finally, as to the endless howling over “carmageddon” on the Burrard Bridge and elsewhere, the editors say this: “The traffic chaos predicted by doom-and-gloom opponents never happened.” It’s a long-overdue acknowledgement.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/touch/story.html?id=11112521

    1. This shows their real motive. You could have said that they’re in favour of automobile suprematism and certainly their income comes from advertising cars and trucks but really they’re in favour of drama. Drama to sell papers or website clicks. They don’t care really what it is and if there is no conflict they’ll create it. They always seem to hunt down some wacko with an extreme position and imply that he/she represents “one side”. This way they have a good conflict and they then have a story. It benefits them to create divisions between people and force them to consider themselves as one of a group. This makes some people, who don’t question the news media (like they really should), adopt a tribal mentality.
      There really is no story for them here if you look at the plan. The plan primarily benefits people when they drive. Cycling will be almost the same. Walking is more convenient too but it mostly is for the benefit of drivers. So again there’s no story here. The engineers looked at the problems and made a good design that likely will work well, and they’re now getting feedback to work on the details.
      Everything is as it should be. So, again, no story here.

      1. Is it remotely possible that the Sun will adopt a “people on foot come first” editorial stance? And decry loudly the hideous predations of those other groups — people on bikes and people driving cars?

        Nah. No revenue there.

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