Tag Archives: Transportation

How to Increase Cycling and Walking: Lessons from Cities Across the Globe

John Pucher, Professor, Urban Planning and Policy Development Program and Research Associat, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Rutgers University, and author of the recently published City Cycling (MIT Press, 2012), will be giving a talk at SFU’s Vancouver campus at Harbour Centre on Friday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m.

City Cycling

From the program description:

John Pucher will document the boom in cycling in both European and North American cities. Adding to his previous talks, John will discuss how cycling can thrive even in cities with no history or culture of daily, utilitarian cycling, but only if government policies provide safe, convenient, and pleasant cycling conditions. He’ll also address the fact that similarly, government policies are key to encouraging walking and making it safer. Safe infrastructure is a prerequisite, but it must be complemented by many other supportive measures…

Full details and registration (free, but reservations are required).

Acadian Bus Lines Closure and the Importance of Intercity Transportation

This isn’t a Vancouver story, but it’s an important one for anyone who cares about car-free transportation in Canada. A few days ago, Quebec’s Groupe Orleans Express announced it will cease Acadian Bus Lines operations, including intercity passenger transportation, in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in November.

Students, the poor, businesses, rural dwellers, and car-free Maritimers and travellers will be significantly affected by the absence of intercity transportation. Here are some news stories that describe the anticipated hardship:

Students and businesses react to Acadian Bus Lines closure (CTV News)

Acadian shut-down especially hard on rural areas (CBC News)

Poor, students to suffer from Maritime bus line closure (Toronto Star)

My sympathy rests first with residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI who will be deeply affected by the closure of Acadian Bus Lines but I’m also discouraged by the impact this will likely have on travel and tourism in these provinces.

As an almost-always car-free traveller, a lack of intercity transportation in a region usually forces me to choose a different destination unless I’m looking for an exclusively urban vacation in a city like Halifax where there is good public transportation. Generation Y is buying fewer cars and this leads me to think that there is an increased demand for, or at least some expectation of, reasonably good intercity transportation in North America. We want to leave the car parked and travel to places on trains and buses. If my website traffic is any indication of this desire, it peaks around summer weekends with searches like “bus to point roberts from vancouver,” “salt spring island without a car,” and “trains from vancouver to oregon.”

Fortunately in British Columbia, we have a decent intercity transportation system (it could always be better and more extensive) that allows us to reach places like Sechelt, Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park, Brackendale, Ganges, Penticton, and Parksville. I can’t imagine how small the province would seem if I didn’t have access to a wider world beyond TransLink’s coverage.

The Chronicle Herald reports that the closure of Acadian Bus Lines might not happen according to plan since Groupe Orleans Express states it is willing to meet with its unions and the provinces about the decision. The company previously halted service in New Brunswick and PEI when it locked out workers between December 2011 and May 2012. Groupe Orleans Express may still pull out of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI in the near future, but hopefully this won’t be the end of intercity transportation altogether in the affected provinces.

Give Feedback on Transportation 2040 Draft Directions

The City of Vancouver wants your feedback on the draft directions for Transportation 2040, the plan that will provide Vancouver’s transportation vision for 30 years and guide transportation decisions for 15 years.

Transportation 2040: June 2012 Draft Directions

Feedback is due by Friday, July 13; there is an online questionnaire with options to respond to all draft directions or only the ones that interest you.

The transportation targets for 2040 are visualized in this graph, which has been circulating online in recent weeks:

2040 Transportation Targets

The draft directions focus on the following topics:

Walking – Make walking safe, convenient, and delightful. Ensure streets, sidewalks, and laneways support a vibrant public life that encourages a walking culture, healthy lifestyles, and social connectedness.

Cycling – Make cycling feel safe, convenient, comfortable, and fun for people of all ages and abilities.

Transit – Support transit improvements to increase capacity and ensure service that is fast, frequent, reliable, fully accessible, and comfortable.

Motor Vehicles – Manage the road network efficiently to improve safety and support a gradual reduction in car dependence. Make it easier to drive less. Accelerate the shift to low carbon vehicles.

Goods, Services, Emergency Response, and Commercial Transit – Support a thriving economy and Vancouver’s role as a major port while reducing environmental and neighbourhood impacts related to goods and services movement. Maintain effective emergency response times for police, fire, and ambulance.

Land Use – Support shorter trips and sustainable transportation choices through mixed land use, pedestrian-oriented design, densities that support walking, cycling, and transit, and new housing choices that put residents close to jobs, schools, recreation, and transit.

Here are some highlights from the plan to entice you to read it for yourself and submit feedback to the City:

Walking

  • Installation of pedestrian countdown timers at new intersections and citywide through ongoing replacement programs (1.1.2.)
  • Pilot a pedestrian scramble on Robson Street in consultation with the local community (1.1.4.)
  • Provide accessible public washrooms in high-demand locations wherever possible (1.2.4.)
  • Make streets and public spaces rain-friendly (1.4.)
  • Improve pedestrian connectivity and accessibility by addressing gaps and deficiencies in the network [mentions high priority locations like False Creek] (1.5.1.)
  • Create pedestrian-priority streets and spaces in the downtown, considering needs for transit services [mentions Robson Square, streets in Yaletown and other locations as potential locations] (2.2.1.)
  • Implement a permit-based ‘pavement to plazas’ program to transform on-street parking spaces or excess road space or rights-of-way into mini-plazas or sidewalk extensions (2.2.2.)

Cycling

  • Adopt and implement route design guidelines to support a network of routes that feel comfortable for people of all ages and abilities (1.1.2.)
  • Prioritize cyclist movements on key routes by synchronizing traffic signals at the prevailing speed of cyclists (1.1.2.f.)
  • Expand the cycling network to efficiently connect people to destinations (1.2.)
  • Prioritize and implement abundant and secure bicycle parking at major transit stations and other high-demand locations, including at least one downtown bike centre (2.1.3.)
  • Provide a public bicycle system (3.2.)
  • Support motorist training to improve cycling safety (4.2.)
  • Develop a recurring citywide cyclovia-style bicycle event (4.3.4.)

Transit

  • Advocate for an underground Millennium Line extension serving the Broadway Corridor (1.1.1.)
  • Work with TransLink to provide new or improved rapid transit service on high demand corridors, including Hastings, 41st/49th Avenue, Commercial/Victoria, and Main/Fraser (1.1.3.)
  • Advance a Downtown-False Creek-Arbutus street car service (1.2.5.)
  • Support the integration of ferries in False Creek with public transit and active transportation (1.4.2.)
  • Support equitable fares that encourage transit use (5.1.)
  • Support a universally accessible transit system (5.2.)
  • Favour transit funding options that do not increase property taxes and encourage shifts to more sustainable modes (i.e. increased fuel taxes, a regional carbon tax, vehicle registration fees and regional road pricing) (6.1.1.)

Motor Vehicles

  • Use off-street parking requirements to support reduced auto ownership and use (2.1.)
  • Separate parking and housing costs to increase housing affordability (2.3.)
  • “Future-proof” parking spaces so they can be converted to other uses–such as storage, bicycle parking, or even living space–when they are no longer needed for parking cars (2.5.)
  • Support increased car-sharing (3.1.)
  • Support regional road or congestion pricing, with revenue directed towards transit improvements (4.2.)

Special Projects & Study Areas

  • Create a central civic plaza at Robson Square, closing it to cars seasonally or year-round, with options to either allow transit through or reroute it.

Robson Square Concepts

  • Provide high quality pedestrian and cycling facilities on Point Grey Road/Cornwall to address a missing link in the seawall network and to provide cycling connections with Burrard Bridge.
  • Make it safer, more accessible and more convenient for cyclists to cross False Creek.

Granville Bridge Conceptual Illustration

  • Improve conditions for walking and cycling on Commercial Drive while enhancing the social and economic vibrancy of the community and maintaining or improving reliability of local bus service.
  • Create an Arbutus Corridor plan that incorporates both an active transportation greenway as well as a future streetcar or light rail connection.

Make your voice heard today! Talk transportation with the City of Vancouver.

Human Transit Book Launch

Transit and transportation blogger Jarrett Walker will be launching his book Human Transit in Vancouver at SFU Harbour Centre on Tuesday, January 17th at 6:00 p.m. This event is co-sponsored by Urban Studies and The City Program at SFU.

Human Transit

From the event notice: “In Human Transit, Walker supplies the basic tools, the critical questions and the means to make smarter decisions about designing and implementing transit services. Whether you are in the field or simply a concerned citizen, he provides an accessible guide to achieving successful public transit that will enrich any community.”

Full details and registration (free but space is limited)

Connecting People and Places: Highlights

At Monday’s well-attended Connecting People and Places event, five Council candidates spoke on the topic of Vancouver’s transportation future. Moderator and SFU City Program Director Gordon Price welcomed attendees and provided a very brief history lesson about transportation on Granville Street since this was the location for the event. We then launched into the two-hour program.

From my perspective, here are some summaries and highlights from the event:

The Candidates (listed in the order they were seated; thanks for excusing my point-form notes)

  • Elizabeth Murphy (Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver): Focused primarily on her concerns about civic governance and campaign finance suggesting there is a conflict of interest in Vancouver politics because of the significant support the major parties (NPA and Vision) receive from developers. Spoke about the relationship between development and transportation, and stated that she wants neighbourhoods to have more input over development in their communities. Believes public transit should be affordable (“practically free”) and accessible. Transportation enhancements should be funded primarily by polluters and not property taxes because the latter in her view would only serve to raise the cost of housing.
  • Adriane Carr (Green Party of Vancouver): Repeatedly emphasized the need for infrastructure to support multi-modal transportation. Advocated for bus-only lanes to make public transit more efficient. Supports several options for funding the transportation network, including increasing gas prices, imposing a congestion tax, implementing a vehicle levy, and/or applying a carbon tax. Admitted she was wrong when she suggested having some bike-free streets in Vancouver and stated that she no longer holds this view thanks to the “good” information she received from Vancouverites on this issue; she only opposes bike lanes in the bus-only lanes that she would like to implement.
  • Councillor Geoff Meggs (Vision Vancouver): Believes transportation is as fundamental to a sustainable city as housing and noted the role transportation plays in the “democratic movement of people.” Highlighted the Vision/COPE record on transportation, particularly the implementation of the U-pass program for all post-secondary students and the success of the separated bike lanes. Demonstrated his extensive knowledge on transportation issues and spoke to options actually on the table (while accusing some of the other candidates of offering “pie in the sky” ideas) for funding enhancements to the Metro Vancouver transportation network, such as a carbon tax and tolls. Responded to concerns about development in neighbourhoods by stating that all Vancouver communities need to take a share of transportation, supportive housing and other initiatives if the city is to be truly sustainable.
  • Ellen Woodsworth (COPE): Emphasized the importance of being able to live, work and play in Vancouver communities. Repeatedly mentioned the importance of affordable and accessible transportation and was the only candidate to specifically address transportation access for people with disabilities (she identified a need for wider sidewalks in Vancouver to accommodate people in wheelchairs). Emphasized the importance of working closely with other municipalities on transportation planning in order to effectively obtain provincial funding for improvements to the Metro Vancouver transportation network as a whole. Desire to implement a C-pass program like the U-pass program to allow communities to increase public transit use. Most vocal candidate about the forthcoming transit station turnstiles (initiated by the Province) being a waste of money.
  • George Affleck (NPA): Described himself as “new to politics” and shared examples of how he has adopted sustainable transportation in his personal life: He was car free for many years (he became a car owner when his second child was born), commuted by bicycle for five years between the Drive and downtown, and chaired the Cooperative Auto Network (now Modo). Indicated that a regional plan for congestion tolling combined with Private-Public-Partnerships (P3) could help fund enhancements to the transportation network. Reiterated NPA concerns over how Vancouver’s separated bike lanes were implemented. Didn’t directly answer a question about whether he supports a moratorium on the separated bike lanes, but this is a key priority in the NPA platform.

A Good Debate

In response to a set question posed to the candidates on the City of Vancouver’s targets for increasing trips on foot, bicycle and public transit and reducing the overall distance driven per resident, all candidates believe the targets can be met by 2020. Meggs described the targets as “necessary and reasonable” and touted the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, noting that NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton voted against it. He also spoke about the importance of the role corridor density plays in moving people out of cars and onto public transit. Affleck and Carr criticized Vision and COPE for moving slowly toward meeting these targets, with Carr calling them “tepid” at best and arguing that the City should have stretched for more ambitious goals. Murphy and Carr debated with Meggs on the relationship between development and transportation, with Murphy noting her preference for a “polluter pays” system to finance meeting these targets instead of transit corridor density. Carr also spoke to this issue, noting that it’s important to consider how the character of neighbourhoods connects to walkability. Woodsworth noted that Vision and COPE are currently working on a pedestrian plan and she also addressed the need for car-free transportation options to be safe, convenient and affordable. This question also led Murphy and Woodsworth to advocate for an elected TransLink Board to ensure greater accountability as Vancouver moves forward to meet these transportation targets.

A Final Reflection

Since I started writing this blog I have focused most of my attention on Vancouver as far as car-free transportation is concerned, but I realized after Monday’s event that it’s important for anyone interested moving people out of cars and onto public transit and into active transportation (cycling, walking, etc.) that we need to look at all of Metro Vancouver, and particularly municipalities like Surrey that are very underserved as far as sustainable transportation is concerned. I will try to venture out of Vancouver a little more often to ensure that I maintain a broad perspective on our region’s transportation future.

Share Your Thoughts

Did you attend this event? What are your thoughts on the speakers’ positions on the questions they tackled? Do you agree or disagree with any of my summaries above? I welcome your opinions and views.