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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Even Hard for Canadians to Do

Posted by on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Damn, damn, damn...

Vancouver has temporarily bailed on its plan to shut down Robson Street in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery for open public space and will be reopening the street Dec. 1.

That follows three months of city consultations on what to do with Block 51, as the art gallery block is called, and considerable uproar among West End residents irate about the loss of a bus going directly along Robson to Granville. They said that forced too many elderly people, who are a big part of the population in the West End, to walk an extra two blocks to get to shopping and medical appointments.

It's depressing to learn that closing a street is hard for even Canadians in a big and very liberal city.


Comments (23) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Charles, shouldn't you be happy that the main value of that street is public transportation. This isn't people yelling "war on cars" that's stopping it, but the fact that the bus that goes down the street is highly used.
Posted by j2patter on November 27, 2012 at 8:52 AM · Report this

Hilarious...another urbist fallacy shattered...the idea that a bunch of people that live in a place that is cold, dark and rainy much of the year would want a "street mall" more than a warm comfy bus.

Urban people are just like suburban people or anyone in the 21st Century Mass Market. We take mechanized vehicles between one or more indoor destination places. We don't saunter in some continual Easter Parade up and down the Avenues.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on November 27, 2012 at 8:57 AM · Report this
biffp 3
It's like closing part of First Avenue in Seattle. Having grown up in Vancouver, I don't think the benefit outweighs the cost. Vancouver did close Granville, which is pretty significant.
Posted by biffp on November 27, 2012 at 9:04 AM · Report this
Public transit is more important than art.
Posted by Tyler Pierce on November 27, 2012 at 9:08 AM · Report this
rob! 5
It's even more depressing to be reminded that far too many people can't walk an extra two blocks to get to shopping and medical appointments.
Posted by rob! on November 27, 2012 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 6
If it's busing that's keeping it open, they should convert the street to one that allows buses only. Denver can teach the world a thing or two about that.
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 27, 2012 at 9:11 AM · Report this
Agreeing with biffp. Robson Street is a main street like First or Broadway with many shops, restaurants, and services. I can see the benefit of rerouting cars, but buses need to go where the people need to go. That's the point.
Posted by Lori D. on November 27, 2012 at 9:13 AM · Report this
long-time reader 8
I think if I ever get to the point that walking two blocks is a hardship for me, I may just kill myself.
Posted by long-time reader on November 27, 2012 at 9:25 AM · Report this
Hernandez 9
@5 Because people get old and sick? Yeah, I guess it's depressing if you want it to be, but that's life. I'm just not sure what you're getting at.
Posted by Hernandez on November 27, 2012 at 9:50 AM · Report this
Fuck the street. Run Skytrain down Robson. Surface or elevated. Have it stop at the heavy-use stops that the bus currently hits. Done.
Posted by K on November 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Report this
rob! 11
@9, I was extrapolating beyond the elderly to the many people of all ages suffering from the effects of too little physical activity.

That was kinda off-topic of me, but I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of complaints on behalf of the "elderly" were from people under 50. There's kind of a nice juxtaposition this morning between this story of people embittered about the creation/modification of public space, and Dan's about the fate of private space.
Posted by rob! on November 27, 2012 at 10:25 AM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 12
It's easy to close a street. It's hard to close one of the busiest and most important arterials.
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on November 27, 2012 at 10:32 AM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 13
@6 is correct. If that block is to be open at all it should be open only for buses, like the old Granville Street Mall was.

Robson between Hornby and Howe is not and hasn't for years been a major arterial for car traffic. Anyone driving a car east-west all the way across downtown will take Georgia. Robson is for walkers, people on the bus, and local traffic.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on November 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM · Report this
@3 I think a better comparison is when Pine St. used to be closed off in front of Westlake Center. And Granville is not completely closed off to traffic except at night (to protect the drunk club goers that spill out into the street).
I think it's a bit of a shame they couldn't close off that very short block of robson street, but I think being able to close it down during summer is a win. If it was only open to buses the rest of the year, I'd feel less disappointed (both shut down streets and buses service pedestrians, I don't necessarily prefer one over the other). But I think there's potential for it to be an active space through winter months as well; it was certainly packed during the Olympics, and they operate that small ice rink on the lower level during winter. With a little imagination, there's at least some potential opprtunity for it to be an active, year-round pedestrian space.
Posted by tofu oyako on November 27, 2012 at 10:54 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 15
It's not like there's an underground mall they can walk in there.

(pin drops)
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 16

You think people who take the bus don't get physical activity? They're already walking many blocks out of their way to access the bus, why should they have to walk farther?
Posted by keshmeshi on November 27, 2012 at 11:36 AM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 17
@15: Walk to where in? The lower levels of Robson Centre are not an "underground mall", being for the most part partially or completely open to the elements. And they don't connect in any way to the nearest underground mall (Pacific Centre) or it's associated parking lot.

A senior with limited mobility - difficulty walking 2+ blocks - who gets off a bus on the west side of Robson Centre can either walk two blocks at street level to Granville and pick up another bus, or go one level down, walk one block across Robson Centre (mind the skaters!), go one level up, and walk one block at street level to Granville.

Robson Centre is useless in addressing the issue of concern with the closing of Robson to bus traffic.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on November 27, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
-B- 18
The reason this section of Robson St is being debated is because it was redesigned in the 70's as an idilic concept in city planning. The street was vaulted over an underground skating rink and mall/office area containing Government offices. The whole project was designed by Arthur Ericsson on of Canada's to Architects. So for the Olympics the area was redesigned to fix mistakes he made in his design. This whole section of street was closed, torn out and rebuilt because it was falling apart.
Because it had been closed for so long and it was used successfully for the Olympic events, people got used to no traffic. So a street that is important to getting into the West end stayed closed after the Olympics. cutting off a main road into the west end just because it looked nice. It all stems from bad planing in the 70's, the city wanted to improve downtown in an idilic way but now it looks like a fun place to sit and have a coffee or hang out.
So what do you do? Put traffic through even though most of the traffic is not important to getting into the west end and just people driving up and down the street to be seen. Or close it cutting off access for older residents and people that live in the west end. It is actually part of a Main artery into the west end. But most people only hang out in this part of Robson St. and the idea that it services the west end is not really thought about except by people that need to get into the west end. Then there are people that live in the west end and do not want the excess party like traffic that drives up and down mostly on weekends just to be seen in their car or on their motorcycle that Robson St. brings into the downtown core.
So as with most car and traffic related problems it is not easily resolved.
Kinda like a mini Alaska Way traffic argument.
Posted by -B- on November 27, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 19
@17 oh please, we used to use it as a shortcut during snow blizzards. Once you learn it, you can get a lot of places without freezing your butt off.

Seriously, I'd expect them to know about that. If they don't, they're wannabe Canucks, not real Canucks.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 27, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 20
"Snow blizzards"? "Freezing your butt off"? In Vancouver?

Fuck it. You're just trolling now, aren't you?
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on November 27, 2012 at 1:05 PM · Report this
As many others have alluded (without explicitly saying so), Charles, the attempts to close Robson entirely -- and those sponsoring the closure -- have much in common with the egomaniacal business-association forces that pushed Urban Renewal and failed Pedestrian Mallification in the '70s.

These forces disdain any messy, multiplicitous use of the urban form, associate "pedestrian" activity with leisure rather than motion, and neither understand not care about the principles of functioning public transit. These forces will drive their cars, park nearby, sit in the plaza they've torn from the city fabric, and bask in their magnanimity.

Bloombergian democratization of street space this is not. This is a monumental step backward for Vancouver.
Posted by d.p. on November 27, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
As a Vancouverite who lives in the West End, I used to take the Robson bus on my daily commute to get to the Skytrain lines. I'd be in favor of keeping this section closed only if there was something worthwhile year-round to take its place. During the summer, there were street festivals and attractions to occupy this block. Since the season's over, there's been nothing there, except the odd food cart just hanging outside of the cordoned-off space. Since nobody really uses this area 75% of the year, why not reopen it to at least bus traffic?
Posted by GnarlsBarkley on November 28, 2012 at 12:07 AM · Report this
Just wanted to add: it's not a mere 2 blocks for most West Enders. Where I am, it's a good 20 minute walk down Robson to get to the new Canada Line station. It's fine on a nice day, but when I was in a cast this summer, it was a pain to crutch around and I would imagine inconvenient as well for the elderly or those doing a big grocery run since the #5 was the major bus line downtown.
Posted by GnarlsBarkley on November 28, 2012 at 12:13 AM · Report this

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