As Metro reported first this week, city engineers are thinking of putting a two-lane bike and pedestrian greenway in the middle of the Granville Street Bridge as part of the Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 plan.
The wide-ranging draft document contains 187 policy points and a few fledgling ideas. The public is encouraged to submit feedback before July 13 (see talkvancouver.com). Council will vote on whether to adopt the plan in the fall, but ideas in the concept-stage will still be up for discussion after that.
Here are six ideas from the report that could transform Vancouver’s public spaces.
1. A car-free plaza at Robson Square
Transportation planners like the idea of transforming Robson Square into a car-free civic plaza, but want public input on whether transit should still be allowed through or be rerouted, and whether it should be seasonal or year-round. They say eliminating rush-hour parking restrictions on Robson Street would allow for permanent parking, wider sidewalks, and more space for public seating and mini-parks.
2. Car-free streets in Yaletown/downtown
Mainland and Hamilton Streets have narrow sidewalks and large pedestrian volumes, which planners say create accessibility issues. Transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny says with all their restaurants and boutiques they are great candidates for going car-free. He stresses though that it’s up to the public whether to support more car-free streets downtown, and Robson and Bute and Water Street are also being considered.
3. Make streets and public spaces rain‐friendly
The bureaucrats know as well as anyone how annoying it can be to walk around in this city’s perpetual drizzle and they think they can help with that, especially if it helps them with their goal of cutting car traffic to one-third of all trips by 2040.
“Awnings are helpful, but poorly‐designed ones often cover only sandwich boards or drip water onto people passing below,” the report notes.
They want guidelines to encourage wide, continuous, well‐designed awnings or canopies for all development in commercial areas throughout the city, as well as street maintenance strategies to reduce ponding and those rage-inducing “splash zones.”
4. Parklets and pavement repurposing
Parklets are small sidewalk extensions or wooden platforms built in parking spaces in commercial areas or at the end of closed streets that provide additional seating and greenery. They can also act as a traffic-calming measure if needed. Planners are looking to scatter these all over downtown. They are also talking about installing at least nine “pavement to parks” projects, converting underused asphalt into low-cost, high-impact public space.
5. Commercial Drive and Point Grey Road revamps
The Drive is listed as a prime candidate for separated bike lanes, the removal of rush-hour parking restrictions from 1st to 10th Avenues to boost business, wider sidewalks, reduced sidewalk clutter, on‐street bike corrals, pop up cafes in parking spaces, and improved neighbourhood parking management. Point Grey is also up for a significant revamp that would include traffic-calming measures and improvements in its bike network. City planners are already meeting with businesses and residents in both neighbourhoods to discuss the possibilities.
6. An Arbutus greenway
The city has been haggling with CP Rail for a decade for the rights to build a cyclist and pedestrian corridor connecting False Creek with the Fraser River. Transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny said it has the potential to transform the city but the negotations with the railway are ongoing. Arbutus is also slated to get a streetcar or light rail system.