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Old Posted Jul 22, 2007, 4:24 PM
dig landscape dig landscape is offline
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green street information

i'm starting my thesis on the design and effects of green streets on pedestrian/bicycle/automobile use and stormwater management in residential, mixed use and commercial neighborhoods. can anyone direct me to where i might find information or some precedent on this, aside from the great work being done in portland and seattle? thanks!
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Old Posted Jul 23, 2007, 4:37 AM
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SFUVancouver SFUVancouver is offline
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Lots of Vancouver green streets initiatives for you

Consider the Vancouver Seawall. It encircles the downtown core of Vancouver, False Creek, and runs parallel to the beaches in the Kitsilano neighbourhood for a continuous total of about 20 km / 12.5 miles. It is for pedestrians and bikes and it astonishingly well used and any given section could have well in excess of 1500 people passing by in an hour, not even counting the numbers enjoying the parks, beaches and pools along its route. It is both a recreational route and a viable commuting route. It connects seven of Vancouver's beaches, three of which are downtown, with dozens of parks and Stanley Park, a thousand acre stand of forest adjacent the downtown core. The seawall is probably one of, if not the best example of a viable non-automotive "street" in a major North American urban centre and it is identified time and again as Vancouver's greatest public asset. It is remarkable too because it has continuously grown over the last century as isolated sections are united to create a growing, continuous path that links the city to its waterfront. All new developments that are built adjacent the water are required to improve, or create the Seawall as part of their construction permit.

The downtown portion of the Seawall.

Stanley park is the great green mass at the bottom of the picture beside the downtown core. The Seawall continues off the edge of the image to the right and continues for several more kilometres. There is a gap of waterfront access due to houses being built right to the water's edge many decades ago, before laws changed to guarantee the public access to the waterfront everywhere. After this gap is another four kilometres of Seawall. One day this gap will be filled and the total continuous path of the Seawall will be in excess of 26 kilometres / 16 miles.

Some pictures of the Seawall. (Most are not my photos)

In places the Seawall is extremely simple with no demarcation between pedestrian and cyclist portions while in other, more heavily trafficked sections they are completely separated.

A section of the Yaletown portion of the Seawall. The Seawall is visible at the water's edge on both sides of False Creek.

Another section of the Yaletown portion of the Seawall. Where the land meets the water everywhere downtown you will find the Seawall.

A section of the Stanley Park portion of the Seawall, looking back on a sliver of the downtown core skyline.

Another section of the Stanley Park Bay portion of the Seawall.

A section of the Coal Harbour portion of the Seawall.

Another section of the Coal Harbour portion of the Seawall. (my photo)

Here the Seawall makes its way through Harbour Green Park, on of eight new parks added to the downtown core adjacent to the seawall in the last decade or so. All of these parks were paid for by the adjacent residential/mixed-use developments and are publicly owned and maintained.

A section of the English Bay portion of the Seawall and part of one of the downtown beaches.

I am not sure where to point you for details of how the Seawall contributes to better health and well being in Vancouver, let alone reduced auto dependency. But it is absolutely playing a role. Downtown Vancouver now has a population just shy of 100,000 and people are moving there in droves, thanks in large part to the immense amenity of the Seawall and the string of parks, like pearls on the necklace, that it connects. It contributes to a walking-oriented downtown culture and to the City of Vancouver being the fittest and longest-living city in Canada. It has also helped foster a bike culture in the city and on any given day more than 50,000 trips are performed by cycling. The movement towards high-density, high-quality, pedestrian-oriented development throughout the city, though concentrated downtown, has led Vancouver to reverse most automobile-centric trends common to North American cities. Major investments in transit have also been critical. We are currently building a 19km subway from downtown Vancouver to the airport and the City of Richmond that will be ready for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The two lines of the regional SkyTrain (an automated, elevated, metro/subway) network terminate in downtown Vancouver. There is also an extensive, high frequency network of electric trolley buses that fan out from downtown Vancouver to all of the traditional streetcar suburbs as well as several bus rapid transit lines that overlap and/or terminate in the core.


The following represent the City of Vancouver's findings ten years (1994-2004) after initiating the City of Vancouver Transportation Plan. (All figures apply to the 578,000 people in the city proper, out of a metro population of 2.2 million)

Vancouver Transportation Priorities (from highest to lowest)
1. Walking (highest priority, manifested in a good and improving public realm, 100% sidewalk coverage, dozens of new pedestrian-controlled intersections every year)
2. Biking (170km of on-street bike paths with demarcated lanes, bike-controlled lights, "bike boxes" at intersections, and traffic calming that prioritizes bikes)
3. Transit (good and growing network of rapid transit, bus rapid transit, and both diesel and electric buses, community shuttle mini-buses)
4. Goods Movement
5. Single Occupancy Vehicles (lowest priority, manifested by a zero increase in road surface area in a decade, extensive traffic calming in most neighbourhoods and parking restrictions throughout the city, expensive parking, declining parking requirements for buildings, high gas taxes that go to transit)

How we get around
City of Vancouver at large
Single Occupancy vehicle: 50%
Walk: 17%
Transit: 17%
Vehicle with passenger: 12%
Bike: 3%

To Downtown Vancouver
Transit: 30%
Single Occupancy Vehicle: 30%
Walk: 27%
Vehicle with passenger: 9%
Bike 3%

Mode-specific Updates
Vancouver at large
Walking: Up 44% in the decade to 310,000 trips a day. 27% of trips to downtown and 65% of all trips within downtown are on foot. 17% of all trips within Vancouver at large are on foot. Proportionately more people walk to work in Vancouver than in Montreal, Toronto, Seattle or Portland.

Cycling: Up 180% in the decade to about 50,000 trips a day. Approximately 2,700 trips a day into downtown alone during the morning rush hour, equalling 50-60 full transit buses. Bike network doubled to 170km during the measured period of time. Vast majority of bike trips are not into the core.

Transit: Up 20% in the decade to about 330,000 trips a day. Trips to UBC increased by 62% in two years due to the UPASS. Growth in transit ridership is outpacing all other major Canadian transit systems.

Vehicles:Down 10% in the decade to about 390,000 trips a day. The number of vehicles entering the City of Vancouver has fallen 10%, the number entering downtown has fallen by 7%, and vehicles trips, including carpools represent only 10% of all trips within downtown.


The City of Vancouver is developing the Carrall Street Greenway to connect two sections of the city's Seawall recreational pathways. The City is putting in bike paths on either side of the street in lieu of parking and building up the asphalt path with a cobbled edge to delineate it from the vehicle right of way while continuing to separate it from the pedestrian sidewalk.

Below is a photo I took of the construction progress of the Carrall Street Greenway from about a month ago.

Here is a link to the City of Vancouver's website on the project.

This greenway is just one of 16 city-scaled Greenways in development and operation in the City of Vancouver.

Here is the City Greenways website: http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/ENGS...city/index.htm
Here is the Neighbourhood Greenways website:http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/ENGS...hood/index.htm
Here is the Greenstreets website: http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/engs...eets/index.htm
Here is the main Cycling website: http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/engs...ing/routes.htm

A regional-scaled greenway to consider is the Central Valley Greenway initiative in the Greater Vancouver area. http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/ENGS...ty/central.htm

It is a multi-municipality endeavour to make a continuous bicycle and pedestrian path throughout the region that would provide both a recreational amenity and a viable commuter cycling alternative to city streets. Basically they are trying to create the Seawall on land. That just goes to show its success and impact. The Federal Government is even providing funds for the project as part of the Transport Canada Ministry's Urban Transportation Showcase Program. The goal is to get this project built and then monitor it for the benefit of municipalities throughout the country, and because there will be a high-profile pilot project with measured results, the intention is that other municipalities will have an easier time getting similar projects funded because it is no an unknown.


The City of Vancouver is also turning to bioswales for natural infiltration of stormwater. One of the pilot projects was a pocket park at East 8th Avenue and now-traffic calmed Grandview "Highway" North (part of the Central Valley Greenway). The city closed 8th Ave to car traffic, while preserving access for bikes, and engineered all of 8th to drain into a small, triangular pocket park with a three-stage bioswale. It is capable of absorbing all the rain off of 8th without any actually going into the storm drain at the centre of the bottom pool. This past winter we had the most severe winter storms in a century (they knocked down 30,000+ trees in Stanley Park) and yet even in the heaviest of rainfalls and near-hurricane strength winds this pocket park (it is near my house, which is why I checked in such a storm) was able to absorb it all.


Another source to check out is UniverCity (www.univercity.ca), the residential community at Simon Fraser University. It is being built out to grow the school's endowment and to enliven the mountain-top campus of SFU with approximately 10,000 people once the 25 year build-out is complete. It is being designed and built to very high environmental standards. Of particular interest to you might be the integrated stormwater management programme. The streets are all graded to drain through the on-street parking lane, which is made up of permeable pavers. The run off of the street is collected and channeled through day-lighted bioswales to a multi-stepped holding pond that emulate, through extensive biomimicry, the indigenous wetlands found in the area prior to development. In powerful storms these ponds will fill and the excess is sent down the mountain in the bioswales adjacent the roadway and only at the bottom of the mountain does the stormwater ever enter a culvert and it is deposited less than a kilometre away in Burnaby Lake. In other words, this 7500 dwelling residential development is not hooked up to storm sewers at all, nor is the adjacent 25,000-student campus of Simon Fraser University. SFU put in a landscaped stormwater retention pond a couple of years ago to absorb the campus runoff and its overflow is discharged into the same roadside bioswales to be absorbed as gravity pulls it down the mountain. You might want to get in touch with the developer of UniverCity, SFU Community Trust, to ask more questions.

I think that is all I can throw at you for now. Get in touch with the City of Vancouver (www.Vancouver.ca) and see if you can't find some people to give you hard numbers or direct you to materials.

Good luck.

Last edited by SFUVancouver; Jul 24, 2007 at 5:49 PM.
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