This is today’s headline grabber from the Vision Team of Three — a catchy one, considering how popular the car-free days have become since they were started on Commercial Drive in 2005 by locals Matt Hern and Carmen Mills.
Vancouver, BC – Andrea Reimer, Kerry Jang and Kashmir Dhaliwal joined forces today to call for a three month Car Free Street trial program on Sundays in summer 2009 on three popular commercial streets: Commercial Drive, the West End and the Punjabi Market area of Main Street. Reimer, Jang, and Dhaliwal – all seeking Vision Vancouver’s nomination for city council – made the call the day after the popular Davie Day drew record crowds.
Said Reimer, “It’s an incredible thing to see the community come together when the roads are opened up to people. When we can safely enjoy time outside with friends and family, an area like the Davie Village gets transformed from a congested street choked by cars into a vibrant public space.”
Reimer added that Vancouver is behind the times on car free streets with weekly pedestrian street openings taking place this summer in many global cities including Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, London, Paris, San Francisco and New York, where 7 miles of Park Avenue went car free every Sunday in August.
Car free streets have been shown to have large economic pay-offs. In many studies, reducing vehicle traffic speeds and improving walking conditions in a community significantly increased retail sales and property values. The annual Car Free Commercial Drive day has partially borne this out with merchants reporting an 80% increase in retails sales.
Said Dhaliwal, “Opening up the streets in an area like Davie Street or the Punjabi Market on Sunday would be a major boon for the local merchants. It’s also a chance for arts and culture to be on display and a more regular part of people’s lives.”
Jang added that the benefits go beyond economic. In Bogota, Colombia, the ten-year-old car free “cyclovia” every Sunday brings 1.5 million people into the city’s streets and has been credited with huge increase in public pride and safety, and decrease in crime and congestion.