April 17, 2018

Arbutus Greenway's Design Concept

The temporary surfaces have been in place for a while; the big design jam happened, and now it’s time to look at a design concept.
April 21 12-3 pm
April 25 3:30-6 pm
April 28 12-3 pm
511 w Broadway, Vancouver

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  1. Once the hot sun of summer gets those fragrant fumes oozing up from that new asphalt the Greenway is going to be such a sublime and bucolic stroll.
    Breathe deep.

    1. Allez – You mean like all the streets in Vancouver and many paths in Vancouver parks? Maybe it is to make the paths more accessible to people in wheelchairs and pushing strollers or so that older people can better keep their balance?

  2. I still say they should just bury the streetcar between 6th and 16th. That windy bit where the northbound track crosses the southbound and cuts into Arbutus proper, that’s going to be a pain in the ass for everybody.

    1. That assumes that there is going to be a streetcar. They are protecting for it, not planning for it. How many decades do we estimate will pass before a streetcar up Arbutus bubbles to the top of the Translink investment priority list, if ever?
      I was glad to see the plan shows putting one direction of the potential streetcar line on the street in places. That reduces the design compromises for the actual part of the greenway that will be built.

      1. Reps at the open house pegged the streetcar at around $100-300M; shouldn’t be hard to squeeze it into the next ten year plan. It’s not like a SkyTrain to the North Shore or something like that.

      2. What would the elements of the business case be for that investment, compared to the status quo technology of trolley buses? Or possibly future battery/electric buses with inductive chargers?
        And how many lines would have to be built for the first phase of streetcars (OK, we had that decades ago, let’s call this streetcars 2.0)? It seems it would be expensive to have a single example with a unique technology, considering maintenance facilities, etc. Maybe 3-5 lines? All replacing trolley buses? So just as an example, to do five lines in the first tranche, all replacing trolley buses on existing routes, would be a round billion? And that should come before the UBC line, a line on the North Shore, more lines in Surrey, or any of the other things that come up in the coming decades?
        Maybe it could be paid for with increased density in the neighbourhood. Oh wait…

        1. The #16 or any B-Line or electric bus that replaces it would be stuck in traffic. A tram on the ROW would not be.
          Don’t go putting words in my mouth. I’m not arguing for the Condonland streetcar network, only for one line that makes sense on this specific ex-railway route. Little to no cross-traffic, low-medium density, and several parallel SkyTrain lines to do all the heavy lifting – sounds pretty good to me.

        2. One Flexity (Bombardier) LRT vehicle is equivalent to five buses-one driver, with no traffic and if tracks put in now would assuage the crème de la crème when time comes for Translink to realize the millions/billion? or so cost of rebuilding the Canada LIne inadequate stations to accommodate longer trains is incredibly higher than an LRT line to Marine Drive station on Cambie via the Arbutus right of way-and could extend to New West on the existing tracks…As well, the False Creek line could then be connected at Broadway and Arbutus to the line since Broadway subway ending at that intersection. But then, that would mean sharing a former rail right of way incredibly expensive with the privileged few bikers and walkers in comparison to riders on the LRT wouldn’t it?

        3. Still not seeing the business case. Justin says that on the positive side, a bus could be removed from service (or reassigned). Agreed. Myron says that five buses could be removed from service, and four driver salaries saved, but it seems that users of the service would have to accept a five fold decrease in service frequency. Seems a stretch.
          What would pay for the investment in this streetcar? It has to be a big enough return on investment to position this project above all the other competing transit projects in Metro.
          It isn’t rapid transit, because it isn’t fast. Thomas might like the fact that it isn’t wobbly.
          What is going to bring the decision makers on board to justify it? And if we can’t justify it in the next several years, or even ten years, then why would we want to compromise the design of the walking and cycling paths to leave space for it?

        4. Myron: I’ll have to go with Jeff on this one. A tram every 50-100 minutes instead of a bus every 10-20 is a good way to lose riders, no matter how roomy the tram is. Any kind of semi-rapid transit service needs to have more drivers to run at at a reasonable speed for rapid transit.
          Jeff: Technically, they’re not sure if they want to replace the 16 or complement it with a express service. If the former, it could replace it and the 50; if the latter, it’s a B-Line on tracks.
          The Corridor’s densifying right now, let alone years later when the Greenway’s finished and the Arbutus Corridor Plan comes out. Same lesson that we learned from the Canada Line: build it and they will come, so it’s better to have that ROW than to not have it.
          As for the design compromises, both pedestrians and cyclists still get 3.5m of pathway in both – they just have to ride/walk straight instead of meandering left and right.

  3. I checked out travel times from Kerrisdale (2 blocks from transit and bike routes) to downtown (1 block from transit and bike routes). Car takes 28 min, bus takes 36 min while bike takes 35 min. A streetcar would not be much faster and probably much slower due to transfer requirements. Cycling time efficiency is actually much better than transit or car due to person riding bike getting necessary exercise at the same time as transportation. I could argue that the bike rider is actually making time due to longer and healthier life and less time working to earn income to go toward transit or car costs.
    If path were 4m wide, the estimated capacity is 5,000 bikes/hr. Compare this to current capacity of Canada Line at 6,100/hr. Why not build a wider bike path on the Greenway? Tunneling under major intersections would make bike trip even faster. This is mass transportation.

    1. When the average biker can clock 25-30 kph on a $300 bike without breaking a sweat, let us know. Not everybody (least of all families, seniors or disabled people) should have to be a fitness nut to get around town.
      As for streetcar speed, Kerrisdale to downtown is a 10 km route with no red lights or parallel car traffic – even at 20 kph average (plus stops), that’s 30 minutes. If they’re really pressed for time, they can transfer to the Millennium and then the Canada.

      1. I am talking about the Google cyclist who does an average speed of about 15km/hr on the flat. You can see this here:
        I am a senior and can easily go faster than this but am not suggesting it for everyone. We should certainly leave the trolly and roads for those that need this. Just saying that a decent bike path can carry more people in a more time efficient manner than either driving or streetcar.
        Note also that a streetcar would not go directly downtown but would probably go around False Creek. This would make the trolley or cycling faster than a streetcar.

        1. Thing is, a streetcar/LRT with a segregated ROW, even after you add dwell times, does about 25 km/h or more – the idea that bikes are going to be ripping past the train is a bit silly.
          Just saying that a decent bike path can carry more people in a more time efficient manner than either driving or streetcar.
          Just saying that a transit lane of equal width to said bike lane is always going to be more efficient at carrying people. Given a choice between car and streetcar, I think almost all of us would prefer that people choose the latter.
          Note also that a streetcar would not go directly downtown but would probably go around False Creek. This would make the trolley or cycling faster than a streetcar.
          Biking on the bridges, maybe, but I highly doubt the bus would be faster – it’d be struggling with red lights and traffic the entire way.
          Again, if somebody’s in that much of a rush, they can transfer to the SkyTrain. I think most passengers closer to downtown will indeed be using it that way, as a series of connected transfer lines in-between stations (e.g. OV to Granville Island, or from Main Street to Waterfront)

        2. How fast does a streetcar typically go when it isn’t on a segregated ROW, but rather has people walking and people cycling right next to it?

        3. 25 k/h seems very optimistic. Streetcar will have loading/unloading stops and possible waits at arterials. sure, one could travel to the Canada Line at Olympic Village but that would mean a transfer. I could be at my destination while you were doing the transfer. And note again that bike rider would still be way more time efficient since they take zero time. I don’t think any streetcar could beat this, even going at light speed.

        4. Jeff: City reps mentioned side street closures, and the display panels refer to “physical separation between streetcar and pedestrians/cyclists.” Unlike Surrey, it seems these planners are trying to maximize speed AND safety, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
          Arno: Numbers from other Canadian light rail lines – including the Broadway LRT proposal at 29kph – seem to suggest 25 as an average, which does factor in dwell time at stops (otherwise, it’d be something like 30kph).
          There’s also the future Millennium Line station at Arbutus, which could easily transfer to the Canada Line as well. I defer to your knowledge of cycling, but both lines should be running every 2 minutes by the time the tram opens; unless you can make up the difference in that time, I’m really not seeing how the train is slower than the bike.
          Don’t have to pedal a train either, which seems like a dealbreaker for many commuters.

        5. Justin: I was looking at door to door trip times in my comparison to direct trolley and made this 2 blocks walking at one end and 1 block walking at the other end. Bike has a big advantage in that it is faster than walking to/from transit. This advatage would grow if the walking distance to transit is longer. Also, with two transfers, I am sure that bike would be faster time wise. Even if transit is a tiny bit faster, bike is still way ahead in terms of time efficiency. Note also that I was measuring the downhill trip. Uphill would be a bit slower but would also provide a bit more exercise.

        6. Arno: Fair point about getting to/from transit and waiting for it, but that’s less of a problem if frequency is high – in the case of the Expo/Millennium, every 90 seconds. But maybe we’re just splitting hairs at this point.

      2. ( 1) Buses & trams on their own R O W do not get stuck in traffic. Both get get stuck in traffic when sharing roads with S O V s. Its the R O W ( or lack of) that makes the difference== (2) Start with rapid bus & change to trams i when justified by passenger volumes at a low sunk cost

        1. Arno—-What % of of people cycle to work year round. ? Years ago on sunny days I cycled to work , it was faster than transit. I would only cycle on wet days if I expected to miss my bus

        2. Census shows that 6.1% of resident commuters cycled to work on census day, 2016, up from 4.3% in 2011. Census areas around the downtown core reported number up to 27%. Some areas in Kerrisdale report numbers up to 9.7%. In the area of Kerrisdale just east of the AG, 7.8% of trips were by bike while 12.8% were by transit. Due to AG, I am sure that cycling mode share for Kerrisdale will increase significantly by the next census (2021).
          For the winter drop off, we can estimate that by looking at monthly bike lane stats.
          For example, take Burrard Bridge. In Feb, 2016 there were 62,000 bike trips over the bridge while in July there were 177,000. So trip count in winter is about 1/3 that of summer.
          Note further that the cycling trip mode share is rising faster than any other mode. We could easily have 10-12% of trips being by bike in the next five years.

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