Monday, June 20, 2011

Transportation Dreamin'

I visited the New Westminster Environmental Partner's booth last weekend during Sapperton Days (actually, it's only a single DAY, but Sapperton Day sounds vaguely insufficient). They had a big map of New West up and were encouraging people to put up stickynotes with their ideas for improvement.

I didn't have enough time or space to plunk down my admittedly wild 'n crazy ideas, hence this post...

Most of the traffic coming through New West is commuter traffic, not trucks (but, f we can reduce the number of commuters, then freight movement becomes easier). I suspect most of the commuters coming into New West via Brunette are headed to Richmond across the Queensborough, to to South Burnaby / South Vancouver along Marine. There is a very poor connection between HWY 1 and the Connector and/or Marine Way - the only way is via 10th (and you can only get onto 10th via Braid / 8th), or via Brunette / Royal / Stewardson. Since we can't widen either of these roads without huge community impact, it is hard to see how we could improve the traffic situation at all.

The only alternative is to give people alternatives to get to Richmond and South Burnaby / South Vancouver. I can think of ways to improve service to the area around Marine Way / Marine Drive, but it's much harder to improve linkage to Richmond.

Anyways, here are my traffic dreams, in no particular order. Some of them are probably dumb, but this is a brainstorming session like we do at my office, and nothing is too dumb to write down!

- make 6th St a pedestrian/transit only mall from the library to the White Spot. Accesss to the Mall parking lot from behind (Princess) and from 7th.
- make E. Columbia a pedestrian/transit only mall from the parking lot at Major to Sherbrooke - in fact it'd be better if the mall started at Brunette, but you'd have to provide some mechanism for cars to get to that parking lot.
- cut off all access to Columbia from Brunette beyond the Patullo, redirect all traffic to Royal.
- make the whole of Columbia St a pedestrian/transit mall right up to Front St. Parking would have to be possible (that hideous garage?) in some central location.
- Cut and cover McBride from Royal to 8th ave; build a park and some condos on top.
- Restrict Front Street to trucks only, and then only at night. You could put enforce this by using "car traps" in, really forcing all commuter traffic along Royal.
- make Lower Sapperton a "fused grid" by identifying a few through-going cross streets, and then making traffic diversions on all other streets, allowing bikes and pedestrians full access. The residents would soon figure out the best route but rat runners would be caught in the maze.
- save some industrial land for a small port to enable short-range barge shipping of goods into and out of New West. Include a freight distribution center for locally-bound goods, that can then be delivered at night using small, and possibly electric trucks.
- get a passenger rail service going from Port Coquitlam to S. Vancouver via the tracks that go through New West. We'd need a station, so plan for one! I note that the line continues up through the Arbutus corridor to Granville Island...but there's little chance of getting a train back on those tracks. Maybe a streetcar.
- use the SkyTrain for goods movement after hours, between specifically (re)designed stations.
- designate a street on a hill with a dead end (ex. one that ends on one of those newly-created pedestrian malls!) as a "longboarding park"
- encourage walking, biking, and taking the bus to school by severely restricting the ability to drop children off by car: no stopping or parking within 2 blocks of any school from 8:15-8:45 and 2:45-3:15.
- discourage the use of parent volunteer drivers for school trips and start using public transportation and walking instead, especially in elementary school (when kids should be in booster seats, anyways).
- put an aerial tram across the Fraser from Queensborough to the Quay, with a possible extension up the hill to the pedestrian mall at 6th and 6th
- put in a separated bike lane from the Braid / North Road down the North Road hill to join up with the Central Valley Greenway.
- put more traffic lights across 8th (William, Buchanan, Richmond). Pedestrian activated; this would cut down on the (illegal but still present) truck traffic.
- narrow Braid to 2 lanes from North Road/E Columbia to Brunette (remember: E Columbia is a pedestrian mall!)
- link pedestrian lights to the car signals: a pedestrian shouldn't have to push any button to get a green light. It should just BE green when the cars get to go, too - it is nonsense to have to wait for the next cycle when you arrive just after the light has changed!
- dedicated bus lanes across the Queensborough and along the Connector into Richmond. This is the only way to improve connectivity for commuters coming from points east of New Westminster.
- right-turn only coming out of the Braid Industrial lands at Brunette / Braid. This means that this intersection can be treated as a "T" in terms of signals and the time currently spent accomodating cars exiting the area can now be spent on the other directions. Emergency vehicles could be allowed to go the wrong way through the bus bypass, with a system of lights. The only way for other traffic out, is along United Blvd.

Anyone out there got any other ideas?


  1. My dream? A San Francisco-style cable car connecting Columbia to 6th and 6th. Even better wouldb e if it ran from The Pier Park, up 6th street to 7th ave, turned to 8th Street, and returned back to Hyack Square area.

    And I contend a Gondola is not the way to connect Quayside and Port Royal. This connection needs to be passive and 24-hours: a pedestrian bridge is the only option.

    However, At this point, my dreams are limited to hoping that they put a singal light at a couple of intersections already designated "bike routes", but little more than green dotted lines on maps.

  2. I like the cable car idea. After just spending a weekend touring 2 70-year old ladies around by public transport, I realize what a barrier New West's hills are. Getting to and from the SkyTrain stations from anywhere up the hill is painful for the less mobile.
    There's also the famous bike-elevator in Trondheim ( which helps get people up hill...very low-profile but not adequate for the mobility-impaired.