Urban Planning

“Ekinaka” – Shopping complexes at Japanese train stations

My Flipboard feed turned up an article on ekinaka at nippon.com. It was not a new idea me because I’ve seen such ekinaka first-hand on my visits to Japan. However, the term is new to me. Ekinaka literally means “inside the station.”

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Arbutus Corridor 2016

There’s finally been a breakthrough in the negotiations between the City of Vancouver and Canadian Pacific Rail (CP Rail) over the 9-kilometre long unused rail line. It has sat dormant since the 1990’s. It has been a collection of unused train tracks, overgrown bushes, and community gardens over the years. The City is finally taking it over and changes will be afoot.

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Toronto’s Transit Rollercoaster

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Ever since I lived in Toronto back in 2003, I’ve always kept an eye on transit developments in the GTA. In the early days, there was David Miller’s Transit City, which promised to criss-cross the city with light rail. Then Rob Ford rumbled into office and promised the gravy train along with the light rail trains. Instead, Rob Ford planned on fewer lines, but with all of them being heavy rail subway lines. Then most recently came John Tory and his SmartTrack which was a vaunted “surface subway” that would start moving Toronto in a new way.

Three mayors with three very different visions over the past 13 years. It’s enough to make any transit follower’s eyes spin.

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The Imminent Parking Re-Think

I just read a long, but worthwhile article on “An End to Parking?” on Mother Jones.

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An giant empty parking lot in Sapporo, Japan

If you haven’t heard, the future is coming soon to a road near you. And the future is self-driving cars. There’s been a lot of talk about self-driving cars over the years. I’ve even sat in one back in 2006 at a Toyota Showcase building in Odaiba area of Tokyo.

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The New Little Mountain

The New Little Mountain project has been on my blogging backburner for at least a couple of months. There’s a lot of changes afoot in the neighbourhood at East 37th Avenue and Ontario Street.

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Little Mountain homes boarded up (July 2009)

Originally, the whole plot of land was social housing. It was the first social housing project of its kind. I personally know of a couple of people who grew up in what they affectionately called  “The Projects.”

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Adam Ruins Everything, including Cars

 

I had been meaning to share these Adam Ruins Everything clips, but only got around to it now. Cars and car dealerships have changed the North American landscape. We don’t question the environment we live in, but it doesn’t have to function this way necessarily. Adam may ruin everything, but he definitely gives us food for thought.

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Park Avenue Surrey promotional video – Concord Pacific

It’s a condominium developer’s promotional video, so take it all with a grain of salt. However, there is definitely truth in how Surrey is starting to change. The video outlines some of the major investments that have already happened in Surrey Centre and those that are in the works.

If the Yes vote wins the upcoming transit ballot to raise the PST by 0.5%, then the LRT will take the next big step to becoming reality.

 

Hong Kong City Gallery

Here’s a very little known “museum” in Hong Kong. So little known that the place is eerily quiet for a Hong Kong facility. This is the City Gallery. The gallery isn’t expensive. In fact, it’s free. The gallery isn’t in the middle of nowhere. It’s right down in Central Hong Kong near the old City Hall. So why is it so quiet? I have no idea.

The first time I heard about the City Gallery was when one of my friends in Hong Kong visited the place. He tagged me in his Facebook photos and said that it would be the kind of place I would love to visit. How can I say no to a place that is meant to showcase a city, its infrastructure, and its urban development? That’s right up my alley.

I had walked over from the Legislative Council building in Admiralty. The City Gallery was directly in between Admiralty and Central stations. So it wouldn’t really have mattered which way I came. It was at least a 10 minute walk towards the waterfront from either station.

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A week of Road Pricing news

I’ve noticed that the Vancouver Sun has been featuring a lot of articles on Road Pricing in Metro Vancouver this week.  There’s been at least 6 articles in the past 4 days.  It’s a big topic with the impending Massey Tunnel replacement and need to replace the Patullo Bridge at the forefront of the Minister of Transportation’s agenda. Also, the features are meant to coincide with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue’s Moving in Metro discussion.

For once, it felt like a mainstream media outlet was allowing for a civilized conversation around transportation issues instead of the sensationalized and over-worn “War on Cars” theme.  All the articles are worth a read.  I’ve listed all of them here below for your reading convenience.

Transit and Geometry: What makes for success

Picked up another gem from Jarrett Walker’s Human Transit via Gordon Price’s Price Tags blog. It’s the beauty of geometry and efficiency in transit routes.

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Jarrett Walker picked this up from a TransLink infographic, and as a result it’s had a lot of play. No wonder: a perfect illustration of a key lesson from Mr. Human Transit: “All other things being equal, long, straight routes perform better than short, squiggly and looping ones.”

Here’s a collection of TransLink’s most heavily used routes:

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And the least:

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Jarrett:

The reasons are obvious to most transit riders (and are laid out in detail in Chapters 4 and 14 of my book) but you’d be amazed how many well-intentioned people haven’t figured this out, and continue to advocate land use patterns that make effective transit impossible. (Mantra: It’s not Transit-Oriented Development unless it’s oriented toward transit that can succeed.)

Now, TransLink can use this in their explanation whenever someone demands that a route should squiggle to serve their interests.

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