Have a peaceful, self-propelled and convivial New Year from your friends and neighbours at Car Free Vancouver! We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your community building work over the years. For those in a hurry and in need of inspiration, take a look at how another Car Free Vancouver supporter is helping remake her hood and how you can help: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1703309847/the-french-quarter-parklet.
On the other hand, the start of a New Year is a perfect opportunity to reflect upon the year(s) gone by and to look with hope to the future. In the best Car Free fashion let’s try a bit of both!
This is a big year for Car Free Vancouver as we are turning 10!!!! Ten years of bringing communities together, of transforming pavement into passion, of inspiring us all to think beyond car culture. Leading up to our Anniversary Car Free Day we will be offering up concrete, if that is not a misnomer, ways that Car Free has helped move our city into the future – starting with Main Street!
Of all our sites Main Street is unique. While the residents are passionate about their community, the neighbourhood is full of folks who walk, cycle and skateboard and small businesses have worked celebrate local food and goods, Main Street itself is one large, alienating piece of pavement. It is wider and noisier than Commercial Drive or Denman Street. Four lanes of traffic and two of parking make for an intimidating bike ride. There is no equivalent to Grandview Park on the Drive and only a few small patios to linger on. In short there has been, and remains, a dearth of public space.
Of course, on Car Free Day this all changes. The roads close and kids skateboard down the middle. Neighbours come out to chat, have a bite to eat, stroll along, check each other out, and shoot the breeze as my old man used to say. Not one year has gone by when I haven’t met one of my neighbours who has said, “You won’t believe who I just saw, we should do this more often.”
Several years ago we started hosting a small chill out space on 22nd at Main. There is a coffee shop, a bakery and a wonderful chocolaterie at this corner and it seemed like a great space to put out some chairs and let people do what they want – which is usually to sit, chat and take a breather.
Anne-Geneviève Poitras from La Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France has always been a wonderful supporter and now she has spearheaded a project to create a parklet at this corner. She has worked for many months with the city and out of this has come an expedited process that others across Vancouver are making good use of (http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/parklets.aspx).
But she has one idea that just might make this even better for the self-propelled among us. A Bike bar!
Ride up, pull that thermos and sandwich out of the pannier and you are all set. Of course you might be tempted by the chocolates and sweets nearby but make no mistake this is a public space, not a patio, open to anyone to use as they please.
Until we figure out how to have Car Free 24/7, we’ll have to rely on the ingenuity of good folks like Anne-Geneviève Poitras, so if you are fortunate enough to have a few spare toonies do consider donating to the kickstarter. In any case, do drop in and say thanks to a friend of Car Free and a supporter of her neighbourhood.