Main Street

Mural Search – Mount Pleasant

After walking from the Olympic Village and snaking my way up to Broadway, I finally went south of Broadway. The Burrard Arts Foundation (BAF) was my first stop.

This small art gallery had been done up in mostly graffiti style murals, but there was at least one First Nations themed piece and one that I can’t quite describe.

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Mural Search – South Main

The mural search took a huge detour for lunch. I found myself at the Starbucks at the very edge of the Olympic Village. All I had was my iPhone and the Starbucks app to pay for food and drink. At least I had something.

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I also decided to open up my Pokemon GO to see if anything was going on in the hood. That’s when I realized there was a blooming triple-lure spot. Couldn’t help but plunk myself in the Bird Plaza for about an hour to rest up my feet before setting out for more murals ūüėõ

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Station Street – North of Terminal Ave

The Vancouver Mural Festival had taken place on August 20. I didn’t have time to go out and take in all the murals that day. However, the Friday after I went in search of the murals on a hot and sunny¬†morning.

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I got off the SkyTrain at Main Street Station and went north thinking there might be some murals between the SkyTrain and the viaducts. At least that’s what the Vancouver Mural Festival map suggested to me.

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SkyTrain Station Upgrades

If you travel along the Expo Line in Metro Vancouver, you may have noticed some major station upgrades underway.  The most obvious upgrade at this moment is happening at Main Street Station.  However, big changes are also afoot at Metrotown Station.

Main Street Station has been under renovation for the past few months. The whole east end of the station has been cut off under the cover of renovation and upgrade for a few months now. I currently pass through Main Street Station every morning. ¬†The whole east end of the station looks like it’s been extended out. ¬†I can’t tell if they are adding escalators or not, though. However, something that has been missing since the opening of the Expo Line way back in the 80’s is now being added to the station. ¬†An enclosure. ¬†For the first time ever, there will be a semi-enclosed structure around Main Street Station. Originally, the station was left to be totally open to allow for drivers along Main Street to have a view of the North Shore mountains (heaven knows why we still cater to drivers’ views when they are busy trying to navigate the street at eye-level).

The big disruption will come later in 2014 when they close the west side of the station for renovations. Service will only be single-track in the station itself.  Expect some hefty delays at that time, especially if you are trying to access Main Street Station itself.  This will be a good test of how TransLink deals with wayfinding for passengers trying to figure out this temporary set up.  Good luck.

At Metrotown Station, the changes have not quite started yet, but major plans and renderings were discussed by Vancity Buzz. The station looks to increase its footprint by a fair margin.  There are 3 planned entrances to the station Рeast, centre, and west entrances are all to be added to or upgraded.  One other rendering shows a set of four escalators.  That will be a relief since there is currently only one up escalator serving the whole station at the moment.

One of the major changes that travellers in and out of the station will miss, though, is the removal of the pedestrian overpass. ¬†TransLink plans to move the bus exchange off the shopping mall property of Metropolis At Metrotown and onto street level along Central Boulevard and Beresford Street. So the overpass is no longer necessary to access the buses. ¬†However, the pedestrian overpass was also key for getting into the shopping mall itself. ¬†It’s not as going to be as easy to get to the mall from the station without the overpass. ¬†Imagine all those shoppers crossing Central Boulevard just to get in the mall. ¬†I’m not sure what traffic is going to look after that overpass is removed.

Joyce and Commercial-Broadway Stations are also slated to undergo major renovations. ¬†Some of these are still in the planning phase at the moment. ¬†For now, Main Street Station’s changes are well under way. ¬†Metrotown’s changes should start to take place soon in 2014.

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Much ado about “Sharrows”

Sharrows are a sham solution for bike lanes — Crosscut (Seattle)

The word “sharrow” is derived from the words “share” and “arrow.”¬† It’s task is to remind drivers that cyclists may share the road with automobiles.

Vancouver has a few examples of sharrows, as well.¬† Main Street is full of them.¬† I saw a lot on some of my photo walks along Main. and so is West Broadway.¬† Seattle seems to also have it’s fair share of sharrows, or shared lane markings.¬† Crosscut, however, is taking issue with these new markings.

The problem with sharrows is that they are a poor solution. Their meaning is not intuitive. Is the space they mark intended for a bike or a car ‚ÄĒ or both? Why is this one set out in the lane and that one over on the side? Who has priority?

They are easy to implement but a confusing waste of paint compared to a proper bike lane. Other than serving as a way for politicans to attempt to spray-paint their way to reelection, sharrows don’t really work very well.

I have the same questions in mind when I see sharrows in Vancouver.¬† When I ride the B-Line along West Broadway, you can sometimes see the sharrows painted within the lane.¬† The bus lane signs above say that the curb lanes are for the use of buses and bikes only.¬† I can’t think of worse combination.¬† I for one am faint of heart and value my life too much to actually ride alongside B-Line articulated buses along West Broadway.

I think the funniest part of the article is the end when the author, Matt Fikse, points out a blurb from the City of Seattle site about sharrows.

Perhaps the ultimate word on sharrows comes from the City of Seattle’s own website, which today answers the question “What do sharrows mean for motorists and bicyclists?” with this damning bit of faint praise: “Motorists: Follow the rules of the road as if there were no sharrows… Bicyclists: Follow the rules of the road as if there were no sharrows.”

Exactly the point ‚ÄĒ so why waste the paint?

I, for one, deplore riding on any major thoroughfare.¬† I actually carpool to work in mornings along parts of Kingsway.¬† My hats off to those willing to ride along Kingsway, but I would never ride along that street.¬† I feel the price is too high if I make a mistake or a driver makes a mistake.¬† I’m not afraid of some guy in an SUV purposely bowling me over.¬† I’m afraid of the more likely slip of mind and hand that results in something fatal.

Sharrows to me are not useful.¬† They are on roads I don’t think most potential cyclists would use.¬† I’d like more separation from vehicular traffic.

Sharrow on Main - sharing space with traffic?

Sharrow on Main - sharing space with traffic?

New poles along Main Street

The Buzzer blog ¬Ľ What are those weird poles at the Main Street bus stops?.

New real time display boards for #3 Main buses

New poles along Main Street are going up according to The Buzzer Blog.¬† That means I’ll have to pay another visit to Main Street soon.¬† Maybe I should wait until the boards are actually up and running.¬† Read Jhenifer’s post at The Buzzer Blog for more details.

Bike Lanes and Bike Routes

Shared Road Space?

Shared Road Space?

As part of my Main Street Photowalk, I came across all these new markings on the road.¬† I’m not sure what the symbol is supposed to do.¬† Does it say that you should watch out for bicycles?¬† It’s not actually a whole new bike lane or anything.¬† It’s a little ironic at the point where I took the picture because there was construction and a bike would have easily been smucked by the cube van there.

I just finished watching Gil Penalosa’s lecture from a few months back.¬† I know I’m behind, but life comes first and blogging comes last.¬† I think his words helped to explain why I love to cycle, but am reluctant to cycle more in Vancouver.¬† He really pushes for completely separated Bike Routes instead of Bike Lanes.¬† He tells the story of how one place may lobby for years for a bike lane.¬† They finally get a bike lane on a major arterial and only 150 people ever use the lane.¬† Wonder why?¬† Most of us are not the hardcore, kamikaze cyclist decked out in spandex.

A bike-friendly route would be a place where 8-year olds and 80-year olds find it safe to ride.¬† That made a lot of sense when put that way.¬† I have a 12km commute to work, for which many hardcore cyclists think it’s a breeze, but I do find it a struggle.¬† Plus my ride home is mostly uphill.¬† Not something I want to face at the end of the day after working almost 9 hours.¬† I already take all the quieter routes.¬† Some of which are designated cross-town bike routes.¬† However, even I find these “quieter” streets to still be busy.¬† Part of my ride takes me through the VGH area and that place is crazy in the morning.¬† Cyclists, cars, and pedestrians are everywhere are a weekday morning.

I guess in order to be a more successful biking city, we will have to look at entire segregation instead of these shared road spaces that most of us won’t use.

For more information, either watch Gil Penalosa’s video at SFU Harbour Centre or visit Walk and Bike for Life.

Main Street Photowalk

Heritage Hall and new articulated trolley

Heritage Hall and new articulated trolley

I have always enjoyed being on Main Street.¬† The two churches that I’ve gone to have both been along the Main Street stretch.¬† It is a string of great little shops stretching from Broadway down to 33rd Avenue.¬† You find all sorts of fun little things.

The other Friday, I had the joy of being early for an appointment along Main and decided to walk down from Broadway to King Edward.  Sixteen blocks can seem pretty daunting and tiring, but it went pretty quickly along Main Street.

Tea set in store window

Tea set in store window

I was down on Main Street around 10am.  I was hoping that some of the stores would be open, but it seems most of the stores do not open until 11 or 12 on a Friday morning.  It actually worked out to my advantage.  Without people in the stores, you can peer through the windows and linger without feeling bad.

Our Community Bikes - detail

Our Community Bikes - detail

Our Community Bikes has this great door.  The store itself looks run down, but the door is awesome.  Bicycles usually have a brand plate bolted to it.  So different companies bolt their different logos to the frame of the bike.  Well, this store took a lot of old plates and bolted it to their door.  It is an awesome collage of colour and design.

There were a few purposefully non-descript restaurants along the way.  I peered in to see chairs flipped upside down onto the tops of tables.  I guess their looking for the secret restaurant feel.

Old Timex display

Old Timex display

The clothing stores are equally unique. The tandem of Motherland and Pleasant Girl are up by 10th Avenue.  For those looking for alternative clothing or their next graphic T.  In Ark, right on the corner of 10th and Main, they have a wrap-around display window.  I love the old Timex display case that they have in the window.  It just so retro and somewhat kitschy, in a cool way.

on the boards of Front & Co.

on the boards of Front & Co.

Main Street has changed a lot over the years.  Like the fire that destroyed the classic South Hill Candy Shop.  I am lucky enough to have taken some photos of the Candy Shop before it met its firey demise many years ago.  However, somebody has added a little touch to some of empty boards that cover renovations or new construction along Main.  The most visible one is pasted on the blank boards outside the Front & Co. remodelling.

There is also another one that has sadly been put behind fencing.  I guess our little rocket hero won`t be flying anywhere soon.

Our hiding rocket man

Our hiding rocket man

The other great thing about walking along Main Street is actually the bus.  The bus is my leg extension when I just don`t want to walk any further.  The #3 comes so often that I come out of one store, hop on the bus within minutes, and then alight near my next store.  Then I can do the same thing when I`m done at that store.

Also, now that they`ve completed most of the bus and sidewalk bulges along Main Street, there is a lot of space to walk and sit.¬† It really does make the street environment a lot nicer.¬† I know some people don’t like how they slow traffic down, but it certainly feels nicer to walk along the street now.

#3 Main - articulated trollye

#3 Main - articulated trolley