April 7, 2020

Maximizing real estate value in a pandemic

The Park Board is going to make better and safer use of the space it owns in Stanley Park:

Here’s the consequence:

Closing Stanley Park’s roads will reduce the daily number of people in the park and open up space for cyclists and pedestrians from the neighbourhood.

It won’t be just from “the neighbourhood.”  Expect Vancouverites (and those from the North Shore) to use the bikeway and greenway network to access Stanley Park too.  Indeed, recreational athletes already do.

Next step: the City can likewise reallocate road space to take pressure off the most popular (and too crowded) greenway paths.

Here’s a list of opportunities as compiled from Jeff Leigh with HUB Cycling.

  1. Beach from Thurlow to Stanley Park to relieve pressure on the seawall paths and to provide access to Stanley Park
  2. Nelson and Smithe from Richards to Thurlow to connect the West End To False Creek
  3. Cambie Bridge northbound to ease congestion on the MUP
  4. Quebec near Terminal, in both directions, to ease congestion in front of Science World
  5. Pine from 1st to 7th to connect the Arbutus Greenway to 1st
  6. 1st from Creekside to Cypress, to connect the Arbutus Greenway and link the Seaside Greenway via the 1st Ave bypass, avoiding the tight spot at the end of Creekside
  7. Main St, to replace the unsafe shared lanes (sharrows) from 14th north
  8. Pender or preferably Hastings from Burrard to Cardero, to ease congestion on the Seawall path
  9. Georgia from Cardero to the Causeway, to ease congestion on the Seawall path (Georgia Gateway project)
  10. Adanac overpass at Cassiar, a known trouble spot since the removal of calming related to the Fortis gas pipeline construction
  11. Pacific at the Granville loops, a dangerous intersection
  12. the Granville bridge, to ease congestion on the narrow sidewalks
  13. parallel routes to the Arbutus Greenway, to ease congestion.
  14. Ontario, from 16th to 1st
  15. Expo Blvd in front of Costco (room to queue candidate) where the painted bike lane is often blocked with vehicles, pushing bikes on to the sidewalk.


The need has been there from some time to better use our public rights-of-way.  The plans have been drawn up – as we’ve been illustrating with the Greenways Plan.  But now there is an imperative:

“If a city doesn’t have enough green space for the amount of people who live there, that’s a public health issue,” said Assoc. Prof. Marc Berman, a leading expert on how environmental factors can affect the brain and behavior.

“You could probably figure out a way to map out the population, to say certain neighborhoods can go here at this time, or other places at another time. Try to spread it out, to keep people exposed to these environments that we know are good for them. The question is, does a city or municipality have enough greenspace to safely do this? For many places, that answer may be no.” …

Alternate answer: Yes, cities do – if they use their streets for safe walking and cycling, and design them as ‘green spaces’ too.  A third of the real restate of a city is in streets.  As any owner or developer knows, you want to maximize the value of the property you already own.

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  1. Thanks Gord. Something else I hear a lot of requests for from our members is to reprogram the beg buttons (push to cross) at crosswalks. Why are we asking people to all touch a button? Simply put the lights on timers at intersections with any significant walking or cycling volume.

    1. It’s easier said than done in many cases, Jeff. We’ve been spoiled by movies like The Italian Job to believe that one intrepid nerd can manipulate traffic signals across the city at a few key strokes. All it takes is the will to do so. In reality, a lot of the signals still need to be adjusted manually. In this case, introducing two automatic pedestrian phases with every cycle without manual input (the button) will sometimes take a contractor to go out, open the controller box, and physically rewire and re-time the set. It’s not impossible, but given the time, money, and resources needed even to identify which ones get shifted, there’s probably some calculation on the City’s part that things will be ‘back to normal’ by the time such an undertaking was completed.

      But of course this begs the larger question of why they simply don’t do it for the long term anyway.

      1. Exactly, it is time to start investing in a higher functioning traffic signal control system.

        I understand the current limitations, which is why I included the qualifier about significant walking and cycling volume. I still think some priority ones could be done.

        It isn’t just a case of needing to be manually reconfigured; many are set up with links to related signals a block or so away, and so it requires more than one reprogramming. The 10th Ave bikeway at Commercial is a good example, as it is dependent on the light at Broadway for timing sequencing. The button to cross Nanaimo on the Central Valley Greenway is another; I assume it is linked to the Broadway light, but the result is that there are occurrences of the walk signal across the CVG counting down, and then restarting and counting down again. People cycling have seen the count down for the cross street get to the bottom, waited a moment, and set off to enter traffic, wrongly assuming that it was now their turn.

        A long standing safety issue for vulnerable road users is at the Arbutus Greenway and King Edward. These are still beg buttons, despite the user volume. Southbound vehicles on Arbutus turn left into the crosswalk/crossbike. They have an advance green, but they have a permissable turn after the green arrow ends. We need a red arrow or another signla head to prevent turns into the crosswalks while people are using them. The long delays in having this change implemented seem to be compounded by the limitations of our signal controls.

        The lack of coordinated signal programming also impacts our ability to implement green waves with synchronized traffic signal lights.

        1. Well, that’s the trade off. Do we want green wave-level coordination for smooth easy driving – catching a green wave is a rare event even with a coordinated system – or more priority for vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists? We can’t have both.

        2. Green waves work for cycling as well. The challenge on Hornby, just to use one example, is that there is unidirectional vehicle traffic (one timing) and bidirectional cycling (two separate timings given the grade) so there are three competing priorities.

          1. In theory they could be, but Hornby is coordinated for vehicle speeds, not cyclist speeds. Another problem is that cyclist speeds vary a lot more than vehicle speeds, which makes that theoretical green wave a lot harder for cycling, unless you’re already tearing through at 40km/hr, similar to a car in downtown traffic.

    1. How about somewhere in east Van like Rupert or Nanaimo, even Hastings. (We saw all those people flock to 1st Avenue last year when it was repaved but not opened yet.) I’d like to see Commercial Drive done since this would be a great preview of what it might be like in the future as a complete street. Maybe a section of Kingsway. Parts of Fraser.

  2. This is great. I support these moves.
    One thing that kind of bugs me though is that they’re still using words like “cyclists” and “pedestrians” instead of the words cycling and walking. When worded the way they have it implies that some types of people are being advantaged as opposed to activities that anyone can use.