Desire lines

pathwr

“Desire lines” is a term coined by the French Philosopher Gaston Bachelard, which refers to “ the psychological, physical need to get from one place to the next”.
While paths are carefully designed by landscape architects in public spaces, often the lived experiences of the folks that use these spaces take over and create their own paths.

The interesting thing about “desire lines” is how they speak to the intelligence of the real life experiences of people who use those spaces. Paths are documents of a complex human behaviour that is etched on the landscape. Trails and paths are the expression of a collective attempt to get to a destination in the fastest and safest manner. Before we had armies of civil engineers laying out roads and sidewalks there were paths.

Interestingly paths are protected in English common law by a “right of way easement” which protects the use of common and private land for transportation purposes. Wikipedia

From an urban design perspective paths and desire lines can be a very good guide to where folks want to move. But also these paths represent a stubborn will to use a space in a certain way and to change this pattern of use can be costly and futile.

I love this little path just past #englishbay on the #seawall #vancouver #desirelines #bikeyvr #biketracks

A video posted by brent granby (@brentgranby) on

What is architecture?

1550 AlberniWR1550 Alberni St. project at Urban design Panel, Westbank and Kengo Kuma

Wednesday, December 2, 2015, 3 pm, Vancouver City Hall, Town Hall Meeting Room.

With the recent open house for the Westbank project of Kengo Kuma’s building on 1550 Alberni and with the same project scheduled for a public review at Vancouver’s Urban design panel, I have been thinking about architecture. With this in mind I dipped into some my old university readings with Kenneth Frampton’s Modern Architecture: a critical history. Sadly there was no mention of Kuma, but also none on Frank Gehry, which made me realize that since 1985 there have been some significant changes in the field.

Another realization is that Kenneth Frampton is still alive and going strong. Frampton’s seminal introduction to modern architect was updated in 2007 with small entries on Kuma’s work. Even more impressive is he has another book scheduled to be released this year, A Genealogy of Modern Architecture. Frampton also has a whole book dedicated to the study of Kengo Kuma’s work.

I can’t wait to hear what the Urban design panel has to say about his work with respect to his project in Vancouver. Here are the document for the Vancouver project

If you are interest here is a little video clip of Frampton on what is architecture:

Is parking in the West End driving you crazy?

1WEParking

The City of Vancouver wants your help to make parking in the West End better. Fill out the following survey and help?

http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/west-end-parking-survey.aspx

If you live in a densely populated community there is hardly anything more frustrating than parking. For the past 50 years as the rise of the personal ownership of cars has developed more and more public space as been dedicated to it. Whether you are trying to find parking or thinking about other uses for public space in cities, parking can be the bane of your existence. But why? Surely there are solutions to making the parking of cars in the city work better for everyone.

During the recent community planning process in the West End city staff heard that parking was a “serious issue” for residents. As a result of the community planning process the city has undertaking a study of parking in the West End with the goal of “to make it easier for people living in or visiting the West End permit zone to find parking—in the process reducing inconvenience, congestion, pollution, and safety risks—in ways that don’t encourage more driving, and that consider impacts to overall affordability.”

Living in the West End is a wonderful experience. It is a very walkable community. Many folks in West End don’t own cars, hardly use them or participate in car sharing. Still for the past 50 years vast amounts of parking spaces have been built in public buildings, commercial buildings and in private residents. In addition there is metered parking on the high streets, West End permit areas and free visitor parking. So why is parking such a hassle?

 

Parking Facts in the West End

 

  • There are over 6,000 active West End parking permits at any given time and only 2,700 on-street spaces.
  • On-street permits cost about $6 per month, compared to $25 to $100 or more per month for off-street parking.
  • If every car parked in off-street spaces, the parking would only be three-quarters full.
  • Many buildings have lots of unused parking spaces, often next to buildings with little or no on-site parking.
  • There are fewer than two on-street visitor parking spaces for every 100 households in the West End.

While living in the West End is great, imagine if you had a community garden plot, wider sidewalks with seating and more safety while riding and walking. These great benefits are why getting parking right in the West End is so important. If we price parking “right:” there could be more space to do other things than parking cars and the real kicker to this deal is it would mean less time to find a parking spot for you and your guest visiting the West End.

One only has to think of the Mole Hill community garden to realize all the wonderful spaces that can be made in Vancouver for residents if we think of parking in a different way.

Molehill Laneway

Crazy facts about parking in the West End

 

  • During busy periods, it takes residents about 5 minutes to find parking on the street, including over a kilometre of extra driving.
  • For visitors, the problem is worse, taking about 10 minutes to find parking, including almost 3 kilometres of extra driving. 
  • Parking affects everyone in the community. Even if you don’t drive, you probably have visitors and service providers who do. And people driving in circles looking for parking increases traffic, pollution, and safety risks.

 For more info on parking in the West End visit vancouver.ca/westendparking

 

 

Tearing down a highway to enjoy more urban benefits

1creekside parkThe removal of the viaducts in Vancouver is an exciting opportunity that will surpass the significance of not building a highway through the city. While Toronto seems stuck with its elevated “freeway” cutting off the city from the lake, Vancouver has a tremendous opportunity to right a bit of terrible urban planning and highway engineering that tore apart communities. If the Viaducts are removed there is a chance to do a lot of city building including more park space, affordable housing and better transportation infrastructure. And what is not to like about taking down a bit of concrete to build a park?

The time to do this project is urgently needed now as the cost of seismically upgrading the structures or demolishing them will continued to increase and there is still a lot of detailed planning to be done.

The removal the viaducts will be funded in a variety of ways including development revenues such as Development Cost Levies (DCL) and Community Amenity Contributions (CAC), partnerships, the capital plan and by other levels of government.

A part from the cost of the project there are many exciting benefits that the project will provide to Vancouver.

 Some of the potential merits of taking down the viaducts are:

-more park space

-a more efficient replacement road network that has the ability to accommodate growth

– a replacement street network would provide new opportunities for future streetcar service

-more affordable housing

-more childcare

-better infrastructure for people walking and riding bikes.

-potential for positive health out comes for residents of Vancouver

-new transit routes

-more connectivity between neighbourhoods

-more opportunity for cool urban design like a dedicated pedestrian and cycling bridge

-a new programmable gathering space for major public events

-an opportunity to reconcile the cultural history of the area.

-a mini “high line” park

Vancouver traffic engineers will fully replace the capacity of the viaducts with a new road network, which means we will be taking different routes and modes than we do now, but with whole lot more benefits than what we are enjoying now.

Here is the full staff report:

http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20151020/documents/rr1.pdf

Photos of the viaducts and the area:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/brentgranby/albums/72157634302871775

An open letter to Mayor and Council in support for proposed rezoning of 1754-1772 Pendrell St.

Dear Mayor and Council:

With the continued low vacancy rates for rental housing in Vancouver, the addition of 178 purpose-built rental units is a welcome addition to the West End and that is why I support the rezoning of 1754-1772 Pendrell St. Moreover, the proposal to have 26 of the replaced rental units to rent at rates 20% below the CHMC average rates for the West End provides West End residents a direct and tangible benefit to more affordable housing in this project.

The proposal’s allocation of 43% of the units to be suitable for families has merit and is worthy of support. Housing for families for in the West End is scarce and these 75 units are a welcome and needed addition to the housing stock in this neighbourhood.

The building design and how it interfaces with street and the development of a new public realm on Prendrell St. will be an improvement on what currently exists.

The project proposal should be congratulated on the parking plan of only 82 parking spots and with addition of spaces allocated for car sharing. The building’s proximity to public transit and the newly created active transportation greenway may even suggest further reduction to parking spaces. The allocation 219 biking parking spots is also an exciting addition to this project. With bike storage not often given much attention in the design of multi-unit building, it is encouraging to see this element in this project.

The 1754-1772 Pendrell St. rezoning has the potential to be a hub in a Neighbourhood Energy System, which is an exciting development for the West End and could in the future have a significant impact on reducing Green Housing Gas from this building and others in the West End and Vancouver.

As this rezoning project was submitted before the start of the West End Plan it is not guide by this work, but the project fits with many of the objectives of the plan and should be supported.

I moved to the West End 19 years ago with my partner. We were attracted to the vitality of the density of the West End and its proximity to incredible nature. We have raised our two children in a condo suitable for us to live and I feel fortunate and happy with our experience.  The proposed rezoning will offer other families and individuals an opportunity to experience the  vibrancy of the West End neighbourhood. I hope Mayor and Council will also support this project.

Yours truly
brent granby

50% of all trips made by foot, bike or transit. Lets keep expanding the network

50tripsWR
Add your name in support of better and safer active transportation network in Vancouver

It’s hard not to be happy and have a smile on your face when you are riding a bike in Vancouver. What a wonderful weekend for riding it was. It’s really starting to feels like summer now that the sun is getting  hotter. The smell of sun block is in the air and the pools are open.

Folks involved in “active transportation”: walking, using transit and riding bikes have more reasons to have a smile on their face. Last week at city council it was reported that 50% of all trips in Vancouver are done by active transportation. This was a goal in the Greenest City Action Plan for 2020 and in 2016 we have already accomplished this goal. This is up from 40% in 2008. Nicely done Vancouver!

In a email from  Vision Vancouver last week it was stated “…there are now almost 100,000 bike trips a day in Vancouver. That’s a 20% year-over-year increase.”, which is pretty remarkable.

Active transportation is definitely  better now  that there are protected bike lanes throughout the city, like the Burrard Bridge, Hornby Street, the Adanac-Union Bikeway and the Pt. Grey Road greenway.

But we still need to do more and support city council in creating safety improvements to make walking and riding bikes better. There are still lots of gaps in the bike network in Vancouver. Every time I ride through the West End to the Burrard Bridge I know we can make this route safer and better. Please sign the petition to create more bike lanes in Vancouver.

Voting “yes”

voteyesWR
I know why I am voting “yes” in the transit referendum: To have a healthier and happier future for my family. I am convinced that by increasing our regional transit capacity there will be more opportunity for us to live active lives and create a positive environment for everyone in the Metro Van region to thrive.

Of course we can list the numerous rational reasons about the importance of more transit, more bike lanes and less congestion from an economic and public health perspective, but the many stories of our lives will be what influences our decision.

What are the stories that will motivate people to the importance of voting “yes” in the referendum?

The stories that motivate me to vote “yes” are the prospects of a future where my family can live in a more ecologically sustainable, affordable and economically vital region.

My wife does not drive and travels by walking, transit and bike. I know that improvements to this “active transportation” network will make her safer, happier and healthier.

Our family made the decision not to own a car. We use Modo the Car Co-op and Car2Go when we need a car and we use active transportation the other times. As we all grow older it will be good to know that public transit will be able to support us. By creating excellent conditions to walk, ride and take transit we are proactively promoting lifestyles that will result in better health outcomes.

My two daughters have been transit users from an early age. I have trekked with them back and forth from the West End to Kits to their school for many years. Now I am proud of their independence in their ability to navigate the city as adolescents. I know that better transportation infrastructure is going to make them more independent and improve their lives.

Vancouver is a wonderful place to live. More and more people will be coming here. It is of vital importance to have a transportation system that can support all of us. A adequately funded public transportation system will create more affordability for younger people and develop a more vital economy to support all of us. Having a robust and adaptable public transportation system is going to be a huge asset in Metro Van’s ability to adapt to climate change and create a more sustainable future.

Transportation referendum: lessons learned from the front line

1translinkFrom Translink:

This spring, Metro Vancouver voters will have a say on proposed transportation and transit improvements through a referendum — the first of its kind in Canada.

Carl Guardino, one of the most influential forces on transportation policy and funding in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area, will share his firsthand experiences and lessons learned from managing transportation referenda.

Join the conversation on January 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre. Admission is free, but reservations are required.
Reserve your spot

 

The Park Board is integral to becoming the greenest city in the world

headshotgranby

FROM CREATING MORE inclusive community centres to developing great parks, public space is integral to making Vancouver the greenest city in the world by the year 2020.

I am running for the Vancouver park board with Vision Vancouver to participate in creating great public spaces for people, habitat, urban wildlife, and our pets. I want to serve as a Vancouver park board commissioner to ensure that the priorities of local government adequately address issues of sustainability and livability for residents and business in order to make our city better for everyone.

The park board oversees community centres, parks, and green spaces that are central to developing a happier and healthier city. Whether they are working towards making our community centres more inclusive and welcoming, or providing opportunities in our parks to experience nature, these spaces are important in making social connections.

These are places where we make friends, chat about with neighbours, and discuss issues.

These relationships and dialogues are critical to building a more inclusive, welcoming, and sustainable Vancouver.

I understand these issues both from personal experience and from my extensive history of activism in Vancouver. I am a past president of the West End Residents Association, past board member of the West End Community Centre, and vice chair of the Save St. Paul’s Coalition. As a volunteer activist, I have participated in the construction of community gardens, art projects, and celebrations, while advocating for active transportation infrastructure.

From my time serving as a director of the West End Community Centre, I know first-hand the investment that community centre volunteers make in their communities and the passion they have for their work. I have been proud to raise my children in Vancouver and I recognize the importance of community centres and services that they offer. I also fully appreciate the significance of shared responsibility and respect between the park board and community centre associations.

If elected as a park board commissioner, I will work with all community centre associations to create stronger, more collaborative relationships. The park board needs to continue to build on the success of the OneCard. With thousands of Vancouverites accessing recreation opportunities, the OneCard has further increased access and participation in fitness centres, skate rinks and pools.

By expanding public spaces, increasing access to recreation opportunities, and more, Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vision team have provided strong and experienced leadership to keep Vancouver moving forward. As a longtime community advocate and volunteer, I have a great deal of enthusiasm and experience to bring to our park board. This November, I want to join the team to continue Vancouver’s environmental progress by maintaining, renewing and expanding our park and recreational system in our city.

 

I am excited to have the opportunity to be a candidate for the Park Board with Vision

brentgranby
This summer has been a real roller coaster of emotions for me! Not getting a nomination spot with Vision Vancouver was a huge disappointment but that is the democratic process and I accepted the results. The upside is my scheduled opened up considerably and this provided the opportunity to engage in period of self-reflection and evaluation. Who could ask for a better summer to engage in this endeavour? I’ve never cycled as much as this wonderful summer season and this was a delight.

With the completion of the Whistler GranFondo over it was time to buckle down and start getting ready for the Eastside Culture Crawl. Then, the call came to my total surprise as I had dismissed any chance of being part of Vision team for the Nov. 15 civic election. The party reached out to me and offered a position to run for the Park Board.

I was honoured that the Vision Vancouver executive asked me to be a candidate for the Park Board and I accepted after consulting with my family. I am looking forward to campaigning with the other Vision candidates Commissioner Trevor Loke, Coree Tull, Sammie Jo Rumbaua, Naveen Girn and Catherine Evans.

In this election it is critically important that Vancouver continues to move forward on the important issues in our city. Vancouver still needs more action to be the Greenest City. The expansion of oil pipelines and more tankers in our waters is a dangerous risk to our coastline. Expanding public transit in the Broadway corridor is critical to developing more sustainable transportation. Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vision Vancouver represent a clear choice for moving Vancouver forward to more progressive, resilient future where the priorities are clear in creating a city for peoples’ health and happiness.

I am so proud and appreciative of the support that folks have given me during the nomination period. I could not have achieved as much as I have without them. Now I am asking for your continued assistance in supporting Mayor Robertson and the Vision Vancouver team. The NPA would drag Vancouver back into the past whereas Vision represents a clear progressive choice to move Vancouver forward.