Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Crown, King of the Streets

A comment from Desmond to the post on SEA streets led me to a great 'country lane' prototype in Vancouver, BC - located on Crown Street.

:: image via City of Vancouver

From the site: "This stormwater management and traffic calming project was completed in February 2006. Instead of the standard curb and gutter, this residential street was constructed with natural drainage courses that allow stormwater to infiltrate rather than be carried away in the sewer system. The ecological benefits include stabilizing the base flows in nearby creeks, filtering of pollutants from stormwater and placing less demand on the stormwater system. The roadway was constructed as a meandering, narrow street to slow and calm traffic, and is bordered by structural grass and planted swales."

A few more pics from the site - which also links to some additional info:

:: images via City of Vancouver

A little digging found some additional info from Waterbucket, a site focused on sustainable water management - and some additional pics and info from the project, including some context: "“This section of Crown Street is located in an eco-sensitive and historically important setting, containing a wetland and two of the few remaining salmon spawning streams in the City of Vancouver,” said Mayor Campbell. “This project meets the City of Vancouver’s objective of incorporating enhanced sustainability into city operations by providing an innovative model of best practices for street design. It also gives us an opportunity to greatly improve salmon habitat in Cutthroat and Musqueam Creeks.”

:: images via Waterbucket


  1. These are beautiful to look at, and the stormwater management is laudable, but streets need sidewalks buffered from the roadway to maximize their benefit for people. A dirt or gravel path by the side, as I see in one of the photos, isn't going to work for pedestrians in a rainy environment such as Vancouver (or people with special needs anywhere). Neither is a walkway with no physical separation from moving vehicles. Complete streets have beauty, great stormwater management, *and* a good pedestian environment.

  2. I'm torn... While sidewalks are a definite necessity for all of the reasons you mention, I think the level and extent of implementation depends on context. The SEA street example has separated concrete sidewalks, whereas the much less dense Crown street has the less refined gravel paths.

    I think it's a question of what a 'good' pedestrian environment means for that particular project. Curb-tight sidewalks, woonerfs, festival streets, permeable verges, and less intense linear pathways all can be used depending on the parameters of a design. The idea that there is one 'right' answer (i.e. paved, separated, etc.) is one of those tenets that planners love that gives us uniform blandness and lack of urban creativity (although perhaps functionality) that removes uniqueness and adaptability to our cities.

    A one-size-fits-all solution for any urban issue is limiting in our design, planning and creativity of solving the myriad urban issues.


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