Monday, August 19, 2013

New McBurney Lane Revealed

On Saturday, I visited the Arts Alive Festival which was put on by the Downtown Langley Business Association. The festival is basically a sidewalk sale combined with live music, theatre, and visual arts. The festival was well attended with the one-way section of Fraser Highway, the parking lot between Frostings Cupcakes and evolutions yoga, McBurney Lane, and Salt Lane closed to vehicular traffic.

It was good to see (while not 100% complete) the renovated McBurney Lane open for the festival. The old version of McBurney Lane was getting long in the tooth, and was in need of replacement. While the North section of the lane has been pedestrian-only for a long time, the South section of the lane was a parking lots. The original plan for McBurney Lane called for the full plaza to become a car-free area, but some of the merchants feared that the loss of parking would have a negative impact on their businesses. The long and short of the story is that the City of Langley updated the plan, making half the South section of the lane open for parking with design elements that give a cue that the South section is a pedestrian-priority area. The design also allows for the South parking area to be easily closed and converted to full car-free use. I decided to snap a few pictures of the newly renovated McBurney Lane.

 North McBurney Lane, looking North. Click image to enlarge.

 North McBurney Lane, looking South. Click image to enlarge.

 South McBurney Lane, looking South. Former parking lot. Click image to enlarge.

One of the ironic things that I noticed at the festival were comments from some people enjoying the new McBurney Lane wondering where people would park their cars. I find this interesting because the well-attended festival required the closure of all the parking on the one-way section of Fraser Highway and several surrounding parking lots. In fact when I was walking to the festival around 11:30am, the ugly parking lots that the City of Langley expanded was half empty. I support on-street parking and would never advocate for its removal, but events like Arts Alive show that Downtown Langley has an amply amount of parking; I believe too much off-street parking. I look forward to the day when McBurney Lane can be fully car-free as originally envisioned, and many of the surface parking lots in the area giving way to businesses.

Downtown Langley has a sufficient density of housing around it to allow the area to become pedestrian and cycling focused. One of the ways that Downtown Langley can distinguish itself from auto-oriented commercial areas will be to embrace the vision of it becoming a traditional Main Street. This will attract customers, and events like the Arts Alive Festival prove it.

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