Sharing space on Granville Island: An assessment of shared street performance

Author/s: Samuel Frederick Baron

Creation date: 2016

Senior supervisor: Anthony Perl

Keywords: Shared streets; woonerf; shared space; Granville Island; pedestrians; Vancouver

Geographic focus: 

Research question/s: How do road users behave when sharing a common surface on Granville Island and how does Granville Island perform as a shared space?


Shared space, or shared streets, is an urban design approach encouraging pedestrians and drivers to share a common surface by minimizing segregation features. Advocates contend that the concept generates extensive social, cultural and economic benefits. Existing scholarship investigating schemes and purported benefits has been limited primarily to European and New Zealand applications of shared space. This research provides a quantitative evaluation of how road users behave and of the performance of shared streets on Granville Island in Vancouver, Canada.


Using video surveys, the author collected data at three diverse sample sites between December 2015 and February 2016, then analyzed that data using univariate and bivariate statistical analysis. The author used the Karndacharuk (2014) Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) index to quantify the overall performance of the shared space. Behavioural analysis revealed that the majority of pedestrian movements happened outside the vehicle path and road space. Contiguous land uses were found to be an important predictor of road user behaviour, as higher frequencies of pedestrians crossing the vehicle path were positively correlated with higher densities of commercial uses. The author used regression analysis to calculate that vehicle path crossings were also a statistically significant predictor of vehicle speeds and interactions with vehicles. In terms of shared space, both pedestrian and driver mobility were managed effectively. However, the design of shared space failed to inspire pedestrian reclamation of the street space. Results corroborated the importance of local traffic conditions noted in shared space literature. Future research should be undertaken to study the qualitative aspects of shared space on Granville Island, as well as to evaluate street performance and road user behaviour under disparate conditions.