Walkability of transit-oriented areas including Surrey City Centre
A while ago I received a report titled “Walkability of transit-oriented development: Evaluating the pedestrian environment of Metro Vancouver’s Regional City Centres”. The report by Carl Funk looks at the walkability of transit-oriented areas in Metro Vancouver, specifically the areas around the SkyTrain at Metrotown, New Westminster, Richmond Centre, and Surrey City Centre. Funk performed a pedestrian audit evaluating pedestrian connectivity and pedestrian amenities like sidewalks, lighting, street furniture, and the general streetscape to determine how pedestrian friendly an area was and what improvements could be made if any. Funk made six recommendations for the areas that were examined.
-Enhance pedestrian connectivity by creating additional streets
-Add street furniture to transit adjacent and prominent retail streets
-Add street maps on transit adjacent and prominent retail streets
-Ensure new buildings are oriented towards the street and create polices to encourage attractive “active” facades (pedestrian friendly environments)
-Balance space for all street users on major thoroughfares by widening sidewalks and exploring opportunities for separated bike lanes
-Implement pedestrian signals that “invite” the pedestrian to cross the street and do no require him to “apply” to do so
For more details on the recommendations, I suggest you read the whole report. In Downtown Surrey, Funk found that Central City, SFU, the recreation centre, and the new library contribute to a good pedestrian environment. The width of the sidewalks and pedestrian-oriented lighting are also strengths of the area where they existed. Sadly the length of Surrey’s blocks (which results in poor pedestrian connectivity), and the abundance of surface parking and auto-oriented retail contribute to an overall poor pedestrian environment.
While Surrey’s Downtown is in a state of transition, it will be important to make sure that a fine-grain road network gets built which places a priority on walking, cycling, and transit as it redevelops. It is encouraging that Surrey appears to be on the right path, but I believe the creation of that fine-grain road network may need to be made a higher priority. The key take-away of this report for me is that transportation equity is important and I believe it should be applied to all parts of Surrey, not just Downtown.