Vancouver Country Lanes Project

Residents fed up with getting their cars muddy paved over the dirt service lanes behind their homes in rainy Vancouver years ago. That didn’t help the city’s drainage problems: it forced rainwater into the sewers, where excess joined raw sewage and emptied into the Pacific. Lovely. Now Vancouver’s using Geoblock (shown) and Golpla structural grass to repave the back streets into Country Lanes right smack in the city. A few configurations are being tested out, but the goal is to use natural infiltration to lessen the load on the storm system. And to green the streets up a bit, making city life easier on the eyes and the lungs.

Concrete or gravel driving strips are necessary to support the weight of vehicles, but the rest of the lane can be built with permeable structural grass—a recycled plastic grid surrounds the grass......to protect it from the traffic. The grid keeps the car from sinking perilously into the grass when you make the turn into your driveway. Since the lanes are used for access by heavy utility trucks, the lanes had to be designed to cope with heavier vehicles than the average family car (unless you drive a Hummer, in which case you might just beat the garbage truck in a weigh-in).

Part of what we like about this project is the City’s acknowledgement that some stuff still needs to be ironed out. As Jonathan pointed out in our post on grassy German trams, somebody’s got to mow it. The City’s taking care of that for now, leaving weeding to the residents. There are also worries about the plastic grid in the structural grass deteriorating, and about the huge cost of repairs. And of course, it’s more expensive to lay a fiddly system like this than to drop down a swath of asphalt. But we’re learning, and that’s what these experimental projects are for. ::Urban Transportation Showcase ::City Farmer [by KK] Thanks to Rik Abel for posting the tip in the Barcelonian Tram comments!

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