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The Origins of Traffic Calming in Vancouver's West End

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This thesis argues that an evolving understanding of the concept of livability was integral to the historic development of traffic calming and mini-parks in Vancouver’s West End. Traffic calming was pioneered in the early 1970s by progressive planners who wanted to improve livability in the newly densified West End by getting rid of unwelcome traffic and creating new park space and pedestrian amenities to combat resident feelings of alienation. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, traffic diversion also became a key policy in a civic drive to remove street prostitution from the West End, a struggle that invoked discourses of ‘livability’ which were used to justify exclusion of socially undesirable people from valued space on the streets in this downtown neighbourhood. Although I conclude that traffic calming is a means to create a more walkable, green and sustainable city, I also find that it contributed to heightened social divisions in the neighbourhood and across the city.
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