I’ve been thinking a little more about nice walkable spaces, and how Vancouver could go about permanently converting road space into pedestrian space.  My preference would be to just take a block or two of a street with lots of pedestrain traffic and lots of good cafes and restaurants, and then permanently close the street.  At the same time, sell the cafes and restaurants licenses to put tables and chairs in front of their places, and maybe build some sort of light structures to keep the sun and rain off people who want to sit outside.  Also sell licenses to street vendors–and not just street meat, either, but stuff like produce too.

But okay, you say, that’s never going to happen in one fell swoop.  Yeah, probably not.  But here’s how you could take incremental steps towards it.  Halifax does this great thing in the summers–or at least it did when I went to school there back in the day.  They eliminate parking on some streets outside of restaurants and build temporary boardwalks over the curb lane of the road.  Then that boardwalk becomes the sidewalk for foot traffic, and restaurants put tables and chairs onto the regular concrete sidewalk.  Instant patios!  It’s pretty awesome.

So why couldn’t Vancouver do something like that, except permanently?  Take a two-block stretch on, say, the north end of Commercial, and push the sidewalk out onto the right lane of the road.  Then, in contrast to what Halifax does, push parking one lane over, and reduce the amount of space cars have to drive on the street.  Then make that one, narrow driving lane 30 km/h.

If you did this, you’d accomplish two things.  First, you’d create some pedestrian space, and it’d be pedestrian space all day, every day, so people could use the space in a way that was integrated into their daily routines.  Second, you’d put the squeeze on car traffic.  You’d make a slowed-down choke point that would divert drivers elsewhere.  In other words, you’d be making it easier to eventually claim the whole street for foot traffic.