Car-Free Vancouver Day
The Towards Car-free Cities Conference is wrapping up here in Portland but car-free events go on. On Sunday June 15th, Vancouver hosted a Car-Free Day featuring four simultaneous Community Festivals. Frank Lopez brings you this recap. Check out your local car-free events this weekend. There are two block parties in NYC and Portland is launching Sunday Parkways. Link to your local car-free events in the comment section.
Franklin Lopez: [00:00] It’s a beautiful Father’s Day in Vancouver, British Columbia. Franklin Lopez reporting for Streetfilms on this city’s biggest car-free day. Vancouver is a city that has it going on in the alternative transport front. Here you can get around by bus, bike, skates, unicycle, kayak and even by water taxi. The city even has a sweet seaside trail for pedestrians and cyclers alike, and a kicking critical mass scene. So why would this forward thinking metropolis need a car-free day? Because cars still rule this town and accidents involving cars and bikes, and cars and pedestrians are still a reality. But that’s not the only reason.
Carmen Mills: [00:38] We’re just trying to give people a vision of the future of our city and the future of our world, and to actually really raise peoples’ spirits because the future is not grim, the future looks like this.
Franklin Lopez: [00:51] If this is a vision of the future, count me in. Car-free Vancouver, they comprise four major areas of the city and peeps roam carefree and without fear of being run over. In the West End of the city, local eateries moved their tables from the restaurant to the asphalt.
Sylvia and Ben: [01:07] We’re right on the street. Yeah. Right on the street, yeah, you’re almost on the yellow line, so that’s how close we are.
Franklin Lopez: [01:13] I bet you street salsa is a common occurrence in Canada, but alas here it is. If an empty gas station is not a vision of things to come, I don’t know what is, and at these prices, that’s about $1.48 a litre, which in America translates to roughly $5.80 a gallon.
Scott Nelson: [01:31] Nothing could be better than $10 a gallon gasoline. That is what we need to have to bring sane and rational transportation system that’s just going to drive the changes that we need to see, and we see it happening now.
Franklin Lopez: [01:42] Moving over to Main Street’s car-free day. People here have been envisioning innovative gasoline free modes of transport. This man right here was showing off his work truck, a three wheeled bicycle with an electric pedal assisted motor regulated by a small computer. This bike hybrid could be used for hauling groceries or taking the kids to school. If your bicycle brakes are faulty, a spot check was set up by the group, Our Community Bikes, where Jesse will set things straight.
Jesse: [02:09] I’ve only been here about an hour and a half I think and looked at about ten to twelve bikes.
Franklin Lopez: [02:15] This is also the first time Main Street has blocked traffic for a car-free day, and judging by the crowd, well you do the math.
Franklin Lopez: [02:26] On the mellower side of things, neighbours in Kitsilano set up over 20 block parties in this quaint seaside community.
Olive: [02:33] Right now it doesn’t feel like it’s the middle of the street, it feels like it’s just a lovely outdoor space. It’s very nice not to have cars and to watch the kids riding around on their scooters, playing ball, a little bit of tag, dogs running around. It certainly doesn’t feel like a street. It feels like our neighbourhood in the way that I think we would love it to be more often than just this one day.
Franklin Lopez: [02:55] And the cherry on the top is the mother of all car-free days, ground zero, where it all started, Commercial Drive, or The Drive as the locals call it. Within the 60,000 plus crowd one could spot punks, freaks, geeks, seeks and even lucha libre wrestlers. Eclectic music, marching bands and even travelling couches took the place where cars would normally be.
Carmen Mills: [03:19] Almost everyday of the year, in fact 364 days of the year, where I’m standing right now, where all these people are standing, is occupied by those big smelly metal cans with one person apiece in them. It’s just absolutely insane to even think about it.
[03:33] Well maybe not that insane. But for those who participated
in this massive car-free experience, the future seems a little brighter
and full of new possibilities.