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I am a web developer and designer.
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I'm interested in design patterns, user experience, typography, back-end coding, visual communication, web standards and accessibility, interfaces, branding... most things, really. I also develop independent theatre and love independent music.
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Meanwhile, back at the blog...
I went on vacation last month and visited a few cities that are not London–Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Victoria. A lot of things about these cities made me wish these features were in my own town. So here’s a quick attempt to record what we might learn from some of our Canadian neighbours.
Everywhere bus stops seemed markedly farther apart than I’m used to in London. This might seem like a bad thing but it really isn’t! Fewer stops to maintain = cheaper in general and e specially when doing infrastructure upgrades (say if you wanted to have the schedule or garbage and recycling at every stop). It also means buses have to make fewer stops to pick up the same number of passengers–thus moving quicker and impeding traffic less. Victoria also had posted schedules that were *just* for the stop you were at which made it so much easier to know when to expect the bus. But.. Google transit integration so it wasn’t even normally necessary. It’s hard to exaggerate how useful Google Maps transit directions are.
Pedestrian and bicycle friendly infrastructure.
It gives me such a special joy to see separate traffic lights specifically for bicycles (Winnipeg) or restrictive road signs with “Bicycles Excepted” tacked to the bottom of them (Vancouver). Bicycles should probably be allowed to turn right at Richmond and Dundas. They probably do. But it should be explicitly noted. In Victoria pedestrians have the right of way at most intersections… you just go! (apparently that’s how you can quickly spot non-locals). Vancouver has crosswalks that change very quickly when you hit the pedestrian crossing button (the major streets stay green unless there’s someone needing to cross them. That made me wonder why when we’re at a pedestrian-only crossing in London there’s any delay between pressing the button and the light turning yellow.
Not replacing downtown with parking lots.
I didn’t see nearly as many big parking lots taking up downtowns. I saw things like downtown grocery stores with parking underneath or on the roof (admittedly easier when you’re on a big hill). I saw a lot of multi-level parking lots, and multi-level parking lots that were actually decently designed and didn’t look terribly bland. I hear there’s an issue with lack of daytime parking in downtown London. And yet there are so many wide open parking lots where awesome looking buildings used to be. Multilevel! This is probably not economically feasible, but it’d be awesome. Or if we get people biking and busing and walking, suddenly we don’t need downtown parking so much.
Victoria downtown used their little utility pole boxemathings or whatever they’re called (pretty sure boxemathing is the technical term, though) to have really nicely painted maps of the downtown. It looked awesome and was practical and welcoming for non-locals.
The Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver was definitely somewhere people thought ahead before building. The streets proper had alleyways which all the driveways came off of, and also that’s where the garbage got put out, so I’d imagine on garbage day the trucks wouldn’t clog up the main streets as much. It was a mostly residential neighbourhood–quiet, lots of trees, but still there were delicatessens, cafes and restaurants on the road at the intersections. And so many cyclists!
Also mountains and beaches every direction and the freshest air. But I’ll understand if we can’t get that.
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