5 world-renowned greenways to inspire Vancouver's Arbutus Corridor

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the Arbutus Corridor represents the chance for Vancouver to have its own version New York's High Line. But there's a lot of other famous greenways to draw inspiration from.

These tourist hubs have helped put their cities on the map. Will the Arbutus Corridor follow suit?

The New York High Line project began in the early 2000's, and now stretches 2.33 km. (David Shankbone/Flickr)

Mayor Gregor Robertson is asking Vancouverites for 'big ideas' on how to shape the Arbutus Corridor.

And while Robertson claims nothing is off the table, he has his own vision of what the path might become, calling it a chance for Vancouver to have its own version of the New York High Line.

With a survey now online asking for suggestions on how to shape the corridor, many are wondering: whose vision will ultimately win out?

It turns out, many cities have had similar debates involving cyclists, dog-walkers, developers, businesses, public transit users and drivers — but managed to come up with fascinating results.

Let's start with the obvious.

1. The New York High Line

The New York High Line weaves through Manhattan but sorry cyclists, it's for walkers only. (Carlos Felipe Pardo/Flickr)

Once a railway that ran up until the 1980, the New York High Line is now a greenway that stretches more than two kilometers through Manhattan.

The urban park design began in 2006, opening several years later. It has become a major tourist hub, featuring an array of urban gardening and public art installations.

The line is said to have revitalized the Chelsea neighbourhood, fuelling a real estate frenzy in areas hugging the corridor.

The corridor borders businesses and residences, and prohibits the use of bicycles, skateboards roller blades. And sorry pup lovers, there's no dogs allowed either.

2. New Road in Brighton

The New Road in Brighton has long been a part of the city, but was reimagined in the mid-2000's by city planners and urban architects. (Gehl People)

New Road in Brighton, U.K., has long been considered the seaside town's 'cultural mile running from through the heart of the city.' But after many years, it became rundown — until the city reimagined it.

The town hired an architectural firm to redesign the passageway into a shared space for pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists. It's also the site of several community activities, and lined with theatres, spas, parlors, cafes, and hotels.

According to the designers, the updated road has stimulated the town's economy while reducing traffic and increasing the number of pedestrians.

3. The 606 in Chicago

The 606 in Chicago we developed after the city bought a railway corridor off CP Railway. (David Wilson/Flickr)

The 606 Greenway in Chicago, also known as the Bloomingdale Trail, was developed once the city was finally able to wrestle away some unused train tracks from CP Railway after a long, bitter dispute (sound familiar?).

Now, the paved 10-foot-wide path spans more than four kilometres, and is a shared space for walkers, runners, cyclists and the like, while promoting art installations and community celebrations.

It's connected by 37 bridges, holds over 1,200 trees, and is home to 200 plant species while weaving through four different neighbourhoods.

4.  Abandoibarra by the Guggenheim

The Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain is accessible through rapid transit that runs along a town-wide greenway. (Andrew Nash/Flickr)

Tucked behind the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain is the Abandoibarra. Completed in 2012, it features two rapid transit tracks. It runs across the city, parallel to traffic lanes as well as a bike path.

Considering Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's desire that the Arbutus Corridor be a mixed-use space as well as a transportation corridor with the potential of rapid transit, the Guggenheim's greenway could prove to be the model it follows.

5. La Rambla in Barcelona

La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain. (Martin and Kathy Dady/Flickr)

La Rambla is one of the most popular tourists attractions in Barcelona. The centuries-old street stretches more than one kilometer from the city core down to the Balearic Sea.

It's a pedestrian-heavy corridor, with no vehicle traffic. Along the promenade are numerous kiosks, shops, street artists, performers, and historic attractions including the infamous Palace of the Virreina.

According to popular travel guide Lonely planet, a walk down La Rambla is 'pure sensory overload' — just watch out for pickpockets.

With files from Jason D'Souza and CBC's On the Coast