Vancouver: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This morning’s Tribune has a summary of last week’s Metro-sponsored trip to Vancouver, B.C.

The article highlights a lot of Vancouver’s achievements, but there’s one bit of ugly that hasn’t been remarked on.

Traffic speeds.

In the neighborhood business districts we visited the speeds were routinely 50kph (30mph) and the streets were generally engineered so that drivers drove faster than that. Beyond safety issues, one effect of this is that the districts were very noisy. In contrast, Portland’s business districts (e.g., Hawthorne, NW 23rd) would generally be either 25mph or 20mph.

And downtown Vancouver’s one-way traffic grid is also timed for about 30mph. In contrast, Portland’s downtown grid is signalized for 12-18mph.

We didn’t get a chance to discuss this in detail with local planners, but I wonder if it’s a legacy of Vancouver not bringing their freeways into the urban core, perhaps creating pressure to keep arterials and collectors operating at higher speeds?

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