Posts Tagged ‘streetscape’

green space = safe space

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

green space = safe space

We’ve seen reports that support why having greenery around us can increase prosperity, improve health, and now new research says it makes the surrounding area safer.

It’s not so much the trees and shrubs themselves that keep people safe. Having an attractive space attracts people to spend time in the area – and puts more ‘eyes on the streets.’ And green space that appears cared for lets everyone know that someone owns, uses and maintains it. In the case of streets, it’s a sense of community ownership.

Well-maintained green spaces are thought to give an abstract sense of social order, and according to a community greenery experiment in Youngstown, Ohio, the safety and order extends to the surrounding area. There are all types of crime, and you can’t always predict where it will happen, but the pride of place on display with a nice park or streetscape seems to bring about positive behavior.

It’s exciting to see the trees along the Highway 7 East rapidway growing another season of new leaves, and people out enjoying the spring weather on the new sidewalks. We’re looking forward to planting trees this year on Davis Drive in Newmarket and on Highway 7 West in Vaughan.

So trees aren’t just trees. They, and their team of shrubs and grasses encourage health and wealth, and they fight crime in their spare time.

 

building complete streets in York Region

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

building complete streets in York Region

When looking at the award winning rapidway on Highway 7 in Richmond Hill and Markham, or Davis Drive in Newmarket, you’ll notice some features that make them different from your average street.

Wider sidewalks, more accessibility features, large attractive tree planters to provide a buffer between pedestrians and traffic, and bike lanes where possible, are all part of York Region’s urban design philosophy. It’s an approach that will shape the future of our communities and neighbourhoods, and it’s what Urban Planners call a ‘complete street’ – a street designed for everyone.

The complete street transformation is starting to unfold on Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket this year. Utilities are being relocated to accommodate the dedicated bus rapid transit lanes in the centre of the road. In time, the same thoughtful and elegant elements will take shape on one of the region’s most important roads for transportation, commerce and entertainment – the perfect place to stop, shop and dine – Yonge Street!

The complete street approach ensures that planners and engineers design and manage public infrastructure that takes in account users of all ages, abilities, and modes of travel.

One of the underpinnings of the complete street approach is to treat roads as destinations. With careful planning, roads can be public spaces with lush greenery and design features that engage people. Streets can be places to go instead of just surfaces to drive on. They should connect to businesses and places where people live, and also to trails, parks and other gathering places in order to help build a sense of community.

Another key consideration is accessibility, because whether you get around in a stroller, wheelchair, on transit, walking, cycling or driving, everyone needs safe and convenient options.

To learn more about complete streets and how they are being implemented across Canada and around the world, visit completestreetsforcanada.ca, or smartgrowthamerica.org.

 

destination: Davis Drive

Friday, November 13th, 2015

destination: Davis Drive

In Newmarket, Davis Drive and Yonge Street are where many will choose to work, live, commute, shop and dine in the future. To set the stage for this, the new sidewalks along the Davis Drive rapidway have been built to be visually appealing and welcoming, as well as functional. Tree-lined sidewalks with attractive landscaping are part of the new streetscape design being built in York Region. Streetscape sets the appearance and ‘feel’ or character of a street, and this is connected to the overall experience. It also creates a distinct sense of place, identifying the area as a welcoming destination.

The new pedestrian spaces feel wide and separated from the traffic, and are separated into three zones: pedestrian zone, furnishing zone and transition zone. The pedestrian zone is paved with light-coloured pavers near intersections, and coloured accent bands – red for east-west and dark grey for north-south. The paving patterns stay consistent across driveways to remind drivers that pedestrians have the right of way.

The furnishing zone is where all the tree and shrub planters are located, and is paved in light coloured pavers. The transition zone is smaller, running between the planters and the road, acting as an extra buffer from traffic, and a place for snow storage in winter. This zone uses “eco-pavers” that allow water to seep through to the storm sewer system.

We’ve taken special measures to ensure Davis Drive is safe and welcoming to everyone, and the new streetscape will help make it a vibrant and memorable place, where people want to gather.

 

lights, sound… Viva!

Friday, October 30th, 2015

lights, sound... Viva!

lights…

Safety has been top priority in designing the rapidway, vivastations, and the surrounding streetscape. Streetlights are one of the most important safety elements, and their design contributes significantly to the overall streetscape. While developing lighting designs, vivaNext works with York Region, the local Municipality and the Utility companies to coordinate, design and install the lights, ensuring they provide both safety and visual appeal.

There are strict national and local standards on how street lighting needs to be designed, including how much lighting is required for different conditions. For example, different criteria are used to determine the necessary lighting levels for roadways, intersections and sidewalks. These include variables such as pole height, spacing and “lux,” which is the amount of light that a fixture provides.

Once the lighting standards are established, lighting design helps achieve the desired streetscape “look.”  In the case of vivaNext, the streetscape design is modern, stylish and uncluttered, helping the corridors feel like urban destinations, distinctive from other roads.

To keep with the uncluttered look on Davis Drive, special hydro poles were installed that don’t require guy wires and can have streetlights installed. The luminaires [light heads/fixtures] on the streetlights have a light sensor to automatically turn on and off, and the bulbs only need to be replaced every 4 years.

 

sound…

Have you ever found yourself straining to hear a quiet, garbled message from a public address system? It’s frustrating, especially when that message is important to your commute. At our vivastations, we want to be sure you won’t face this frustration, so our engineers have worked hard to design the public address [PA] system. Having audio at stations is also part of keeping Viva accessible for all users.

We conducted a sound analysis study, to determine how the shape of our vivastations would affect the way sound moves around inside the stations, and way it would reflect off the concrete wall, floor and glass. As it turned out, 12 speakers outside the passenger enclosure and another three speakers inside does the trick.

The next challenge was to work on the volume of the speakers.  The problem with PA systems in noisy places is that ambient noise can overwhelm the volume of the PA system, making it impossible to hear what’s being said.  Our solution is to use a speaker volume system that automatically adjusts when its sensors detect an increase or decrease in ambient noise.

There are two sensors on each new Viva platform. These allow PA announcements to be audible whether there’s a bus idling in the station and trucks are moving past, or it’s nighttime and quiet. This type of speaker volume system ensures that messages can always be heard, but won’t be intrusive.

 

action!

Once the rapidway opens on Davis Drive, you’ll be able to travel faster, and see and hear clearly when the next Viva vehicle is coming. What could be better than that?

 

realizing the vision of leafy, tree-lined streets

Friday, June 19th, 2015

realizing the vision of leafy, tree-lined streets

Planter boxes and trees are coming to Highway 7 in Vaughan! Along with the paving [have you heard about all the paving?] activity that’s been happening along the rapidway construction, you’ll soon be seeing crews building planter boxes between Jane Street and the CN Bridge.

The arrival of the planters is a big deal – to us and to the neighbourhood – because these structures will be housing trees and plants.

One of the most desirable qualities of a livable neighbourhood is the presence of trees. And at vivaNext, we have very deliberately designed the rapidways with this vision of a tree-lined, livable neighbourhood in mind. Part of our goal with the new boulevards is to bring to life the “complete street” concept – the guiding philosophy for our streetscape design.

As development continues and the population in York Region grows, it means that there will be more people walking and riding along the rapidway routes. So we’ve made sure that our boulevard design is going to be visually appealing as well as functional. And the trees and plants we’ve planted will grow to shade the area for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to see how green the Vaughan area of the rapidway will eventually become, take a look at Highway 7 East. The Markham section of the vivaNext rapidway is bursting with growing, thriving trees and greenery, thanks in part to all the sunshine and large amount of rain we’ve had.

However, most of you will probably notice that Mother Nature is getting quite a bit of help along the way. Landscaping crews are currently out there every day, installing planter boxes, planting flowers, bushes, and grasses, topping up topsoil and distributing mulch, planting new trees and replacing the few that didn’t survive the winter.

As you go for a stroll, ride your bike, drive, or take a bus ride along the rapidway[!], be sure to look around you and take in the newly tree-lined greenery-filled boulevard on Highway 7 East.

If you’d like to subscribe to email updates about the progress of the vivaNext project, click on this subscriber link, or go to our homepage at vivaNext.com and scroll down to “subscribe.”

 

using colour and shape to create welcoming pedestrian spaces

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

using colour and shape to create welcoming pedestrian spaces

If you’ve walked along the new rapidway on Highway 7, you’ll have seen the vivaNext pavers we’ve installed on the boulevards. We know from the feedback we’ve received that people love the new look.

Most sidewalks in York Region, like pretty much everywhere else, are made of concrete, and the most important consideration is functionality: they need to be safe, accessible, durable and easy to maintain. But beyond those goals, we also want our new boulevards – which are wider than the Region’s regular sidewalks – to reinforce the “complete street” concept – the guiding philosophy for our vivaNext streetscape design. With all the development coming to the Region’s centres and corridors, in the future there will be more pedestrians, whether they live, work, or commute along our rapidway routes. So we’ve made sure that our boulevard design is going to be visually appealing as well as functional.

The boulevard is made up of the pedestrian zone and the furnishing zone. The pedestrian zone is typically a 2m-wide sidewalk which is fully paved with light-toned coloured pavers near intersections, and paved with concrete in the mid-block areas. The sidewalk is a continuous system even across driveways to alert motorists that pedestrians have priority.

The furnishing zone is located next to the pedestrian zone. The furnishing zone is an area where pedestrian amenities and planters are located. It is paved in light coloured unit pavers which reinforce the identity of the vivaNext system.

We’re using a combination of coloured pavers which not only look great but also add to wayfinding for pedestrians. The main field pavers are a light-coloured cool gray with contrasting coloured accent bands, which will increase in frequency as pedestrians approach the main intersections. The east-west accent bands are a red; the north-south accent bands are a dark charcoal gray.

Immediately adjacent to the roadway and running along beside the pedestrian zone is a 610mm-wide “transition zone,” which provides an important comfort buffer from bicycle and vehicular traffic. In the winter months, it also provides an area for snow storage and protects the plantings nearby from salt spray. This zone will be paved in special “eco-pavers,” which allow water to seep through to the storm sewer system.

A charcoal gray coloured textured warning strip will alert visually impaired pedestrians that they are approaching an intersection or driveway. At midblock where the pedestrian zone is paved in concrete, the warning strip will be grooved concrete. Both approaches will provide a tactile clue for visually impaired pedestrians of potential conflicts.

We’ve given special attention to the boulevards near intersections to ensure they reinforce pedestrian priority and add to placemaking. These areas have been designed to function as urban plazas with unit paving and accent pavers. Soft landscaping will define the corners of the intersections and function as gateways to the adjacent areas.