Saturday, 16 March 2013

"Who's afraid of Granville Island?" / What it means when you build a curb / Creating fairness in a car-dominant society

At the March 14th Open House, DNV planners described design guidelines to help create a "unique environment", and a "special" place that is our Village Centre.  Central to this new environment will be the function and design of the proposed "woonerf" street, running from Curling Road to Fullerton, intersected by the Hope Road extension, leading to the public plaza and community centre.

In order to realize a unique and special place, we will have to shed some of the 1970s auto-centric engineering perspectives and guidelines that drive our current street designs.  A core challenge for this community will be to gain the vision and rethink how a street operates and how that street design dictates and impacts the space we want to build into the heart of our community.

The developer-proposed street design for the Capwest site would see pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles share the road space.  The closest local example would be Granville Island, where shoppers and sightseers stroll along without being confined to sidewalks or designated crossing points.  The busier it gets, the better the shared space design works.  It's safer too! We have yet to see gangs of tourists timidly hanging back from joining the mix of locals, cyclists and parking cars along Johnston Street on a July Saturday.

Be on the lookout for any new street design that includes curbs, and centre lines.  These tell you where you can go as a human and denote and establish the dominance of the automobile.  Is this how we envision the Village Centre?


“We may share the road, but we don’t share the risk.” Risk is unacceptably skewed towards pedestrians and cyclists. Responsibility for minimising risk must by extension fall on those who have the potential to do most harm – motorists.  
           Director, Amy Aeron-Thomas, Director,  RoadPeace

The issue of actual costs of having a car-dependent society is sharply drawn in a recent post on the Sustainable Cities blog post.  The post accurately describes the negative impacts of unrestricted automobile use and points the direction to a better perspective on automobile dominance, with parallels to the proposed pedestrian-oriented "shared space" design behind the proposed Village Centre's woonerf street .

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