The state of people riding bikes in Vancouver: send more children, women and older folks

building better roads

The City of Vancouver has considered an impressive collection of measures to improve the built environment of the roadway system to promote more cycling. The City needs to promote active transportation and transit use as the city grows as road space is limited. The plan is called  2040 transportation plan. 

Soon  Council will be deciding on the Active Transportation Corridor on Cornwall and West Point Grey road.  The goals of the project is to  encourage folks of all ages and abilities to use active transportation along Cornwall and West Point Grey Road by making a better built environment for walkers and folks that are riding bikes which is safer and more inviting. You can read more about the project here: Active Transportation Corridor.

Undoubtedly this council and the one before have done more for people riding bikes than any Vancouver council before. The hugely successful implementation of the separated bike lane on the Burrard Bridge was a seminal moment in Vancouver to make cycling safer. photos of opening day

Cyclists had been advocating for a long time for bike lanes on the Burrard St. bridge to make a safer link over False Creek. The history of its implementation has been a long and troubled one. A modest bike lane trail on the eastside of the bridge was abandoned in 1996 by the NPA after only a couple of days. A pilot bike lane proposal passed by Mayor Campbell and Council was cancelled after the 2005 election by the NPA. But with the separated bike lane installed in 2009 by Mayor Robertson, Vancouver has turned the corner on making the city safer and more accessible to people riding bikes.

Cycling in Vancouver needs to go mainstream and become an activity that is completely normal and done by everyone because it is the easiest, fastest and safest way to get around. Building a network of separated bike lanes is the next big challenge for the city. With the construction of the Hornby and Dunsmuir bike paths and with the soon to be completed Comox /Helmcken Greenway the city is well on its way to incrementally improving the built environment for folks to ride bikes. The priority now is to build a bike network so folks who would never ever dream of riding a bike will do so. Continue reading The state of people riding bikes in Vancouver: send more children, women and older folks →

Finally housing designed for families with kids in the West End.

laneway housing wr

Photo of Block one of the handout material from workshop. yellow-placemaking, red- wayfinding, green-gardens grey-imporved surface treatment, blue-laneway housing opportunity. purple-maintain parking, dark green-rain garden

Handout material from the workshop

Laneway housing workshop 2.0 Wednesday June 5, 2013

The West End Planning Team wants to encourage and facilitate a new type of housing. The modest infill proposal is geared to families. Six sites have been identified as appropriate where redundant surface parking spaces could be converted to housing behind larger apartment building.

At the walking workshop on Wednesday June 5, starting at the West End Community Centre and ending at Barclay Heritage Square city planners presented an exciting new pilot project to redesign laneways in the West End which included plans to encourage more walking, enhanced design elements and new type of housing in the laneways.

The pilot project consists of 3 blocks starting at the West End Community Centre (West End CC), which has been named the “Heart of Denman”. The plaza of the Community Centre and alley between King George High School has been chosen as an area where more social “connectivity” could be facilitated. The area has a convergence of services and facilities such as Joe Fortes Library, the West End CC, BC Housing and the High School. But the area really lacks a sense of “place” and is heavy dominated by a bland functionalism.

The laneway re-design process is guided by seven principles, which are as follows:

1. Fostering Community Growth. Green, people-friendly laneways which encourage connection, interaction, and celebration that can add to the vibrant and diverse charter of the West End’s neighbourhoods.

2. Enhancing Tree and Leafy Laneway. The mature green, leafy charter of the West End provides a quiet, relaxing and gardens flourish. Laneways can be a gathering and green space.

3. Building Shared Spaces. Share creative , social and cultural spaces are important for a growing community. Laneways are great places to plant a community garden, fix a bike, make a new friend, or connect with a neighbour.

4. Strengthening Laneway Livability. Instill a strong sense of community along the laneways through building design, lighting, safety, and utilities management that can help make laneway more livable by creating new community spaces. Taking pride in these spaces will also help keep them clean and safe.

5. Improving Walkability. West Enders love to walk. Making laneways more pedestrian-friendly can create more safe and accessible ways for people to travel throughout the West End.

6. Strengthening Local Connectivity. Enhancing the physical and visual connectivity of laneways with parks and other neighbourhood assets can help strengthen peoples’ connections with community facilities, with nature, and with one another.

7. Activating Lanescapes. Incorporating laneway design elements and street features that engage pedestrian interest can help create active, dynamic spaces to live and play.

Critical for the possibility of re-thinking laneways in the West End is the fact that the laneways are the widest in the city at 10 meters (33 feet). So the narrowing of the laneways to incorporate new features and housing is not an un-tested idea, as this already occurs in the rest of the city. Also by way of a proven model of best practices of lanes in Vancouver, Molehill laneway has been working well for over ten years.

The re-thinking of the laneways has been heavily influenced by the Molehill model. Many of the features of the traffic calming, community gardens, community art, unique lighting standards and a over all sense of place were much discussed. While many of the ideas of Molehill such as raised cross walks seemed exciting and new 10 years ago now they seem to only make sense and are proven measures to create safer conditions for pedestrians.

The most exciting discussion of the workshop was around the creation of a new building type in the West End. In the 3 block pilot project 6 sites have been select for modest infill proposals. The design guidelines and actual zoning and density levels have not been specifically stated but, the general concept is to create a form of housing in the laneways that would be suitable for families with kids to live in. The new housing would be located on the back laneways of apartment buildings that have surface parking that is longer necessary. The new type of housing would have to be 100% rental which could make it a more affordable housing option for families.

Having housing for families with kids is really a critical issue for the West End. Typically couples start out with kids in the West End, but when the second child comes a long, the two-bedroom unit starts to feel a little cramped. Solutions to this problem are not readily available in the current stock of market housing and rental stock. Too few spaces that would be accessible to families are built at a price-point the works. For the city to change zoning and foster the conditions to make a new type of housing possible only makes sense, as with current zoning and land use policy are not working for many folks with kids.

Laneway Survey

Rethinking laneways in the West End

more photos of Molehill laneway

One of the most under valued lane use resources of the West End are the laneways. That could  soon change as the West End Planning team is starting a series of workshops entitled “Laneways 2.0” with the view to explore the possibility of developing new types of housing there.
West End Planning Process

Laneways have long been neglected spaces seen only as the backside of buildings where garage is stored and cars parked. Little design attention is given to the back alleys which is a real lost opportunity as this space could be a vital tool in creating more housing and better community.

Danish planner Jan Gehl has long contended that the spaces between buildings are as worthy of attention as the building themselves. The “spaces between buildings” is where we live and are spaces that connect us our communities.

In the Vancouver the real gold standard of what laneways could be is the Molehill Community Housing project located between lane beside Nelson Park, where communities gardens where developed, with traffic calming, space for sitting, community art and impressive landscaping.


The prospects of having new types of housing and an enhance design guidelines for laneways in the West End is a really exciting development in the West End planning process and really has the possibility to be a transformative moment to urban life in Vancouver.

More Open Houses for the West End planning process.


From the West End Planning Team:

Wednesday June 19, 4-7pm
Best Western Sands Hotel
1755 Davie Street

Saturday June 22, 1-4 pm
West End Strawberry Festival
Barclay Heritage Square

Tuesday June 25, 4-7pm
Blue Horizon Hotel
1225 Robson Street

“In April 2012, the City initiated a new Community Planning process for the West End. When completed, the plan will provide long-range guidance on a variety of issues – including housing, transportation, parks and public space, social issues, arts, culture, heritage and more. The new plan will replace the older West End Commercial Policy Plan (1986) and West End Residential Areas Policy Plan (1987).

For information on our planning work to date, upcoming events and opportunities for public involvement, please stay in touch via the following means:

Web & List-serv sign-up:
Twitter: @westendplan
Telephone: 3-1-1”

The City wants your feedback on the Comox-Helmcken Greenway construction



The Comox-Helmcken Greenway construction has well been underway now for a few months now. It has been interesting to see the project unfold. I have been trying to with hold my judgment on the project till it is done. At this point it  is hard to really understand how the Greenway will work.  There have been some interesting elements like the bio-swales that capture rain water and divert it from the sewer system and LED light post that are exciting. The left hand turn bay on Burrard St. to Helmcken St. is a huge improvement from what was there before.

The City wants to know what you think of the project thus far. I think it is important to give feedback on the project. Users feedback will be a valuable tool for the engineers on this project. Elements that look good on paper in the design phase don’t always work in when they are actual built. Inevitable they will be adjustments and refinements to the design of the project. This has already been happening in some places. For example, a friend of mine lives in an apartment on Comox St. mid-block from Denman St.and there are a lot of older residents in his building. There was a concrete curb for a bike lane in front of his building. Folks where finding it hard to cross the street with the curb there to get to Denman Mall. The user experience was given to Engineering and they made a mid-block cut in the curb to make it easier  to cross the street mid-block.

Here is the link to the online survey to give your feedback on the project :City survey


City Conversations: Where will the traffic go? The viaducts, traffic and neighbourhoods

SFU Public Square Presents:

CITY CONVERSATIONS: Where will the traffic go? The viaducts, traffic, and neighbourhoods

Next month it’s expected that council will consider whether to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, replacing them with new, ground-level roads and creating the opportunity for new housing for thousands of families, large parks, a restored False Creek shoreline, bike and walking paths, art and cultural facilities. But some residents of Strathcona worry that traffic through their neighbourhood will increase, and others fear an impact on a community garden.

City-wide vision vs. neighbourhood values. To explore the issues are Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s General Manager of Planning and Development, and Pete Fry, president of the Strathcona Residents Association. We hope to have someone from Cottonwood Gardens. Then it’s your turn to weigh in. Feel free to bring your lunch.

When: Thursday May 16th

Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Location: Room 2270, SFU Vancouver at Harbour Centre

Cost: Free

*Note* Guests are welcome to bring their lunch to City Conversations events

Sponsored by Bing Thom Architects and SFU Vancouver.

Thanks to Wild Rice Restaurants.


The SFU Public Square team

Wind art on the Vancouver Seawall, Doug Taylor’s Khenko

Yesterday was a good day for art that uses the wind. When I was riding with my daughter Mallika I was worried that we were going to be blown off our bikes the wind was blowing so hard. The tailwind was wonderful to have, but riding head long into it was terrible. The waves in English Bay were pretty impressive. We even saw a sail boat that had broken away from its mooring and was beach at Sunset of beached boat

When I was riding to my studio I noticed that the sails of the art piece on the seawall at the foot of George Wainborn Park was taking full advantage of the strong winds. I did some digging on the city of VancouverPublic Art Registry and discover that the work was by Doug Taylor and is called “Khenko”.This what the registry has to say about Doug:

Doug Taylor was born in Chilliwack, BC in 1947. Kinetic in nature, his public nstallation sculpture has focused largely on wind, water and solar powered features. Whimsical, folk art inspired elements are often signature to his work. (e.g. Khenko and Wind Swimmer). Addressing the global challenge of sustainability his current sculptures are “generating capital ” by selling excess electrical power back to BC Hydro. These energy systems also feature listening stations which help remind us of sounds that are ever present in the natural world, but often unnoticed (e.g. Seattle Center’s Bird Song Listening Station). Whimsical, folk art inspired elements are often signature to his work (e.g. Khenko and Wind Swimmer). The challenge is to integrate ecological, historical, social and aesthetic considerations, contextualizing them into the site specific values of place.

Artist’s Website

Other Public Artworks:

Since 1986 Doug has been installing permanent sculpture for prominent public sites in: Seattle Center Campus, Vancouver ‘s False Creek and Kitsilano Pool, Victoria’s Selkirk Waterfront, Whistler’s Plaza of Champions, Creekside, and NASA’s Space Center in Houston,Texas.

More open houses on Active Transportation Corridor on Point Grey Road-Cornwall Ave

image from CoV website of Cornwall St. looking east.

image from CoV website of Cornwall St. looking east.

From Active Transportation at the City of Vancouver

Point Grey Road-Cornwall Avenue Active Transportation Corridor Project Update

Following up on our last update, this email is to provide you with information about the upcoming public open houses for the second phase of consultation for the Point Grey Road-Cornwall Avenue Corridor Project. The open houses will be held on the following dates at three local community venues:

Thursday, May 23, 2013
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM*
Henry Hudson Elementary School (Gym)
1551 Cypress Street
Staff presentation at 7:45 pm
Saturday, May 25, 2013
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM*
Bayview Elementary School (Gym)
2251 Collingwood Street
Staff presentation at 10:45 am and 12:45 pm
Monday, May 27, 2013
4:00 – 6:00 PM*
Kitsilano Public Library (Basement)
2425 Macdonald Street
Staff presentation at 4:45 pm

Drop-in to one of the following open houses to view the design proposals for the corridor. City staff will be available during the times listed to discuss the project, answer questions and gather input.

If you are unable to attend any of the open houses, project information and a questionnaire will be available online starting on May 23. The questionnaire be open until the second week of June.

Over the next month, staff will continue to reach out to a broad range of local residents, businesses, stakeholders, children/youth, seniors and other individuals to discuss the progress of the project including the proposed design options.

Feedback that we receive during this phase of public consultation will be used to refine the recommended design that will be presented to Vancouver City Council this summer.  We will report back to Council with the public consultation results from both phases of consultation, data analysis, technical transportation review and a cost estimate for corridor.

Thank you again for your interest in this project, we look forward to speaking to you soon. Please pass this information along to anyone who is interested, and we will add them to our distribution list.

Active Transportation
City of Vancouver
link to project info

Update from the City on Active Transportation Corridor on Cornwall Avenue

image from CoV website of Cornwall St. looking east.

image from CoV website of Cornwall St. looking east.

From Engineering at the City of Vancouver

Point Grey Road-Cornwall Avenue Active Transportation Corridor Project Update

Since the last project update on February 21, 2013, staff have been working to analyze the results from the phase one online questionnaire, and develop feasible design options for the Point Grey-Cornwall Corridor.

Please find a report summarizing the first phase of consultation between January 2 and February 28, 2013 that includes the project context and goals, consultation methods, consultation summary and next steps.

Using all of the feedback received to date, along with existing City policy context, project goals, data analysis and technical transportation considerations, staff are developing feasible design options to present to the public for further feedback as part of a second phase of consultation. Public open houses are now being scheduled for the end of May 2013, with stakeholder meetings and workshops beginning the week of May 13th, 2013, to allow staff more time to fully develop the design options and analyze potential impacts and tradeoffs. Meeting details will be circulated shortly by email, posted on the project CoV website at and through the mail.

For questions or additional comments and feedback on this project, you can continue to email us at, and the project team will respond as quickly as possible.

Thank you again for your interest and input into this active transportation project, and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

Project Manager
David Rawsthorne, PEng.

Want to help grow the urban forest? Get a tree from TreeKeepers.

treesWEWRThe TreeKeepers Program is now offering discounted trees is six pilot neighbourhoods and the West End is one of the selected communities. One can obtain a discounted tree by  register at TreeKeepers. TreeKeepers is a Greenest City 2020 program to plant more trees on private property. Partners include Tree City, the EYA, The City of Vancouver, The Vancouver Foundation and you, if you choose to plant a tree.

Residents of the West End must pre-register and pre-pay online at TreeKeepers. Choose from a selection of 10 tree species, including varieties suitable for small spaces such as balconies. Prices are $10 for trees in small pots and $20 for fruit tees in larger 5-gal containers. Trees will be included in the TreeKeepers database and monitored in the future by Citzen Forester volunteers. All trees paid for must be picked up on the distribution day:

West End Community Centre
870 Denman St.
Saturday May 4
2pm – 4 pm