June 23, 2015

The Daily Scot: Car-Free Day

Ah…The magic of Car-Free Day.  Commercial Drive was great as always but Main Street was epic, the pure scale, crowds and length of the closed street was almost overwhelming to the senses at times.

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  1. Unclear to me why so many of our great streets, like Denman, Davie, Robson, S-Granville, Main, Commercial are not converted into permanent pedestrian zones, as commerce would thrive, real estate value rock, urban life improve and merchants & customer be happy.

    Why is Robson, for example, after a football or now, major (women’s Fifa) soccer event with 50,000+ fans attending not closed in its entirety for cars ?

    1. In North America Pedestrian Malls only seem to work in small intense sections usually in College towns (Boulder) or with High end shops (3rd Street Promenade). Cars aren’t the problem, it’s the volume and speeds that are the issue. Slow moving cars with high turnover in curbside parallel parking adds vitality to a street as long as all the other modes are present and given priority (Walking, cycling, transit). Think Collins Ave Miami Beach for cruising. Queen Street West in Toronto is another great street

      1. Must be a British thing. All European cities have huge pedestrian areas, even small towns. Except in the UK where it is a rarity. I think London has no pedestrian area, or very few for its size. I can recall only the area around Leicester Square.

          1. which was never actuallly a pedestrian street, but rather a transit mall. Nor was it a major retail street at the time it was closed off to my knowledge. I’m not saying those things were the real reason Granville didn’t work, but if we were to close off Robson Street to transit and cars entirely it might have a different effect (though that would also greatly impact the #5 bus and maybe isn’t desirable).

  2. I would sure like to see some expansion of these car free days. Do every weekend in the summer. I think one thing holding this back though is a lack of a real metro system in Vancouver. Skytrain doesn’t serve the densest neighbourhoods where car-free days make sense, like Main St., Kits, and the West End. Skytrain is more of a suburban system, as opposed to the Montreal Metro in Montreal (of course), where street closures are far more extensive.

    Maybe when the Broadway Line comes on line we’ll see many more car free days, at least along Main, and in Kits.

    It would be interesting to see the vibe and energy out on Main St. with a car free day that went into a Saturday night…

    1. I don’t think you need subways everywhere to get around to Car-free days. I took the Expo line to the Commercial/Broadway station that drops you off right at the top of Commercial. After exploring Commercial Car free, I took the B-line bus to Main and went from there. The Car-Free day in Kits along 4th did not happen this year. Not sure why? I do agree with the expansion of the days, Once a year is just not enough. I would love to see First Sunday of every month in the summer (June, July, Aug, Sept).

      1. I suggest, Scott, that you are one of the few. My beef with Car Free Day is that it is misnamed. The majority of attendees seem to drive as close as possible to the venues and plug up all the neighbouring residential streets with their cars.

        1. Maybe. Exposing those people to these type of events goes along way to getting folks to reexamine road use priorities and the value of public space and placemaking. Lots of friends from the suburbs are staring to see how enjoyable the city can be due to events like these. change doesn’t happen overnight

  3. Why are they both on the same day? Seems a little bit like cannibalizing your target audience. Why not spread it out and have one in a different neighbourhood each weekend throughout the summer?

    1. Totally Agree. West End was on Saturday but main and Commercial on Sunday. At least have Main and Commercial on separate days.

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