Car Free Day in Vancouver Summer 2008

Comments 11 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Last year I didn’t get out to every festival, parade, or community event however the ones I did attend like the West End’s Block Party were pretty darn fun. Over on Commercial Drive they’ve been closing off the road and celebrating the community on foot (for a single day without vehicles) for several years.

In 2005, the Commercial Drive Festival launched the first community- driven Car-Free Festival in Vancouver. The Festival was wholly volunteer-organized and presented, involving over 30 core organizers and 300 volunteers. It was an enormous success, bringing over 25,000 people out to celebrate the community and party in the street. Since then, the Festival happened in 2006 and twice in the summer of 2007, snowballing in popularity and attracting up to 40,000 people per day. [Car Free Day – About]

For a personal account, check out DaveO’s podcast from Commercial Drive last year.

Photo credit: Stephanie Vacher on Flickr

The Commercial Drive event has been such a success that they’ve expanded to several other neighbourhoods across the city for 2008:

Cambie Street, Kitsilano, Main Street, Marpole, and the West End.

Although the city-wide festival is months away, organizing committees for each neighbourhood are currently meeting. You can get involved by attending a meetup for your block, hosting your own party in one of the neighbourhoods, or if your part of town isn’t covered check out the block party toolkit.

11 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Tyler IngramThursday, April 10th, 2008 — 10:54am PDT

    I am curious about how this work especially for the westend.

    I’ve been hearing more and more about how Vancouver is trying to get less cars downtown and one way they are doing it is by removing parking spots (along the roads). Even making it harder and harder for people with parking permits too!

    If I lived downtown I’d probably drive less. Leave the car in the underground parkade of my building (again if i lived downtown) and walk everywhere. Only taking the car out if I needed to leave the downtown core.

    The gf lives in the westend and it’s becoming harder and harder to find parking, for me anyway. For me to not take my car to the downtown core would take at least 2 hours via our lovely transit. I’d probably catch the bus from PM to Braid Station and SkyTrain it in to Burrard Station. A 2 hour commute each way isn’t work giving up my car.

    How much of Commercial Drive will be closed for this? Would I be able drive down W12th over Commercial to get to my destinations? I couldn’t find mention on their website easily.

  2. Miss604Thursday, April 10th, 2008 — 11:01am PDT

    The West End event will be along Denman, which usually gets closed down once a year anyway for the Pride Parade.

    According to the city’s road closures report from 2007, “The 900 to 1600 blocks of Commercial Drive from Venables to First will be closed Sun June 17th 10:00 am to 8:00 pm for the Commercial Drive Festival.”

  3. ChrisThursday, April 10th, 2008 — 1:04pm PDT

    I kind of wish they would have scheduled the various car-free festivals around the city on different weekends. Having one big festival is amazing, but then there’s no way to enjoy more then one or two locations. And I’m out of town that weekend, so I won’t be able to enjoy any of the car-free goodness.

    In response to Tyler, I think getting rid of parking in the downtown is a great idea. Most people living downtown (myself included) don’t need a vehicle on a daily basis, and there are 2 great car-sharing services for occasional car use.

    We should be actively working to reclaim roads in the city. About 25% of the surface area in Vancouver is used to accommodate automobiles – between roads, parking lots, and driveways. Consider how expensive land is here – There’s no such thing as free parking.

  4. Tyler IngramThursday, April 10th, 2008 — 6:22pm PDT

    Chris I’ve seen the ZIP Cars around and think they are great ideas. Though I like having my car for the road trips etc. If i lived and worked downtown I would definitely not use my car nearly as often as i do now. I might use it on weekends to go places like the north shore, whistler, interior etc..

    What is the other company other than zip that offers car usage?

    If the WestCoast expressed offered a better service for me out in the sticks (pitt meadows, maple ridge area) I would take that into Vancouver. In fact I am looking for work in Vancouver so I can take the train in the morning and out in the evening. My car will just sit until the weekend. lol

  5. RaulThursday, April 10th, 2008 — 8:30pm PDT

    I have never in my life gone to Pitt Meadows or Maple Ridge. I am very curious to do so, though. But without a car? How?

  6. Miss604Thursday, April 10th, 2008 — 10:24pm PDT

    Tyler, the other option is the Cooperative Auto Network. Jen at the WorldWideWatercooler blog did a review of Zip Cars vs C.A.N. – it’s worth a read.

  7. Tyler IngramFriday, April 11th, 2008 — 7:00am PDT

    @Raul – Take the Skytrain to Braid station. Hop on 791 (Haney Express) which goes down the Mary Hill ByPass (by passes coquitlam etc) and into Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge area.

    I used to do the Pitt Meadows to Coquitlam (via 701) then hop on the 99B-Line or Vancouver Express which would go through Coquitlam->Port Moody->Burnaby->Vancouver via Barnett/Hastings. That could take up to 2 hours.

    I am not sure how long the 791 to Braid station takes but from Braid St to Vancouver takes about ~35-40 minutes? lol

    @Miss604 – Oh thanks for the link. I just read over it and they are both pretty interesting concepts. The zip car in her situation was almost the price of car payment.

  8. davisFriday, April 11th, 2008 — 9:36pm PDT

    I’m all for shutting down a few streets for a car-free day… but why don’t they make them the biggest arteries. Davie Street, part of Burrard street…. Something thats more than just a day event, but a true sign of how dependent we are on cars, and how so many people could actually survive without driving for a day. No one will learn until there are basically *no* viable alternatives.

  9. JordanSunday, April 27th, 2008 — 5:34pm PDT

    I’m sorry but what about people with health problems and can’t ride bikes, they’re going to need cars. What about all the businesses downtown and in the west end that need cars to transport goods, i’m sorry but no bike in the world is gonna get all the food to super valu and so on. I have severe mental health problems and i can not ride buses, and i can not ride a bike everywhere as i live in the west end and i have friends all throughout the city and buses are not feasible. I’ve been a resident since 1985 and i’m 24 years old, and over my dead body will there be a car free west end.

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