Visiting Vancouver

  • Tons of mixed use. The current trend of building has retail on bottom floor and residential or other commercial above it. Tons of residential downtown; even in more residential areas like just south of downtown there is a strong mix of commercial corridors and residential areas a few blocks off each side of this corridor.

  • Excellent, reliable transit service. Even in suburban areas far outside the city center, there is consistent, if non-frequent, service. The tournament was in Langley, a suburb about an hour away from downtown. Out here, the service levels felt more akin to American cities in terms of service level. It would have been good service in some cities in America, but by comparison to what’s offered in Vancouver proper, it was less frequent. The level of customer service, however, was very high regardless of where you were. In the city center, it felt more European in terms of level and frequency of services.

  • Lots of food trucks.

  • Parks, public area seating, open spaces galore. Even though it was approaching fall, it was still lively in the public areas. There were lots of public spaces as well, so you could always find somewhere to sit and relax.

  • Quiet. Cars are quiet, people are quiet, even in the center city. I wasn’t that aware of it until I came back to the US.

  • People were very friendly; this is unsurprising given Canada’s reputation for being nice people.

  • Whenever I see a large city park like Stanley Park, I wonder if such parks would be built in new cities or expanding cities. It makes me wonder if wealthy individuals remain willing to donate back to communities like previous generations did.

  • Driverless subway. No one ran for the cars or tried to push themselves into the trains, even during the early morning rush hours I saw. (Update: This was the same in Copenhagen.) This could be due to a couple reasons: 1) an understanding that doing so and blocking the doors would block the train from continuing and they don’t want to do that to people; 2) service is so frequent that there’s no need to rush, a train will appear again in a couple minutes; 3) there isn’t so much a rush-rush lifestyle as say in some American cities. There was more urgency with the express bus 99 since it came only every 10 minutes or so and was very fast to get along the route. Bus 9 by comparison, which runs along the same route, was slow. Even still, the bus stops are much farther apart than they are in America.

  • The transit vehicles have a way to discretely request help with signal bars on buses and trains. If you are in an uncomfortable situation, you can press it and then someone will come help you out. I wonder how often this system is activated; it struck me that it would be done infrequently. There was only one time when I wanted to activate it, due to a drunk person scream singing. I would find this very useful on American transit systems.