Reflecting Vancouver

Urbanism and Life on the West Coast


Seaside Greenway: Desire Line in Kitsilano Beach Park

Kitsilano Beach Park desire path
As previously mentioned here, and well-discussed here, a preferred bicycle route through Kitsilano Beach Park to Point Grey Road remains unclear and contentious. An eastern approach through the park has been the major muddle, but a minor problem also exists on the western side, where a desire line links the new greenway with the principal east-west paved path. At the extreme southwestern corner of Kitsilano Beach Park, where the east-west path terminates, westbound bicycles tend to round the pedestrian curb at the intersection of Cornwall and Point Grey Road. Heading east, however, bicycles from Point Grey Road tend to take this dirt desire path. In rainy months, this is bound to be a muddy exercise.

Kitsilano Beach Park desire path 2
A modified curb at Cornwall and Point Grey Road may be enough to encourage eastbound use of the designated path. The desire line could also be converted to an eastbound path for bicycles, but local opinion has roundly rejected any additional pavement to ease higher bicycle volumes through the park.

On a related note, I have to ask: why is there a chain-link fence along the east-west path at all? An extra half-metre of space could easily be reclaimed to alleviate bike-pedestrian conflicts.


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The Kitsilano Ideal

Kitsilano Pool Opens
Kitsilano’s tranquil, green streets hide the third highest population density in Vancouver, distantly trailing the West End but not far behind Fairview. Mount Pleasant is likely to climb as a dozen high-density developments populate the eastern end of South False Creek, but has not yet overtaken the many rambling wood-frame apartments and secondary suites west of Burrard.

Kitsilano Pool is, for many in the area, the apotheosis of high-amenity, medium-density living, an ideal that could never be properly realized among the towers of the downtown peninsula. Even Second Beach Pool, a great outdoor experience in its own right, is set amid the towering cedars of Stanley Park, not the towering glass or concrete seen a kilometre east. Could either pool work in David Lam or George Wainborn Park? Would Kitsilano Pool be the same without its seaside village charm, and would Second Beach Pool be so transporting were it removed from the forest?

A looming question for Kitsilano is whether and how the neighbourhood will densify. The gentle stroll or bike ride to Kitsilano Pool on a sunny weekend is a rare thing in our increasingly populated world, the sublime expression of a holiday at home without ribbons of cement or shadows of concrete. But the geographic and demographic fate of Kitsilano is to house many more people than it currently does. Can Elysium grow to accommodate more, or is lotusland a limited fragment in history, to be forever transformed by higher human density in decades ahead?

Kitsilano Pool Opens

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Seaside Greenway: Separated Bike Lane on PGR

Point Grey Road separated bike lane 1

The bike lane along Point Grey Road has opened at last, running along the north side from Trafalgar to Macdonald. Engineers cleverly built the median in continuous concrete, dipping lower to allow driveway access while still imparting a sense of separation from traffic. In this way, the barrier feels superior to cheaper methods that could have been employed (see Buenos Aires).

I was impressed with the number of people already using the lane, since it was blocked off earlier in the week and couldn’t have opened more than 36 hours before I returned this afternoon. The weakest link in the Seaside Greenway is now certainly Kitsilano Park, where a confusing web of pathways suitable for strolling now invite conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. It’s not clear how the City and Park Board will the resolve gap, given justifiable protest of local residents to laying new asphalt over green space. With election season looming, no solution is likely forthcoming until the political dust settles.

Point Grey Road separated bike lane 3

Point Grey Road separated bike lane 4

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Rite of Spring

Kitsilano Pool May 2014

Kitsilano Pool opens tomorrow. Those of us in Kitsilano simply call it “The Pool“. Because if you live here, how can there be any other pool?

While Vancouver’s ducks and seagulls have the fine pleasure of floating over its scenic expanse for two-thirds of the year, we humans enjoy the pool’s heated saltwater from Victoria Day to a melancholy Sunday in late September. Occasionally the pool will extend its closing date in observance of unusually warm weather. Perhaps it was once attempted to close it early, but I’ve not heard of such a thing.

This Saturday will be the first of 121 scheduled days, a sign that summer’s lure to Cornwall has formally begun.

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Bike the Blossoms

Bike the Blossoms

The turnout at Bike the Blossoms, one of the final events in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, was phenomenal. A rough minimum of 200 people took to the streets for a whimsical combination of pleasure ride, blossom spotting, and bike solidarity. A partly sunny spring afternoon doubtless helped, when the unreliable forecast instead announced for rain. The demographic breadth was particularly striking to me. I suppose blossom scouting plus active transportation is bound to draw a range of ages and personalities.

The annual ride seems to be slowly becoming a Vancouver spring tradition.

Bike the Blossoms 2