Transportation in Vancouver

December 17, 2008

I left Broadway and Alder at 5:45pm yesterday and arrived for a meeting at the Vancouver Club at 6:25pm.  That’s forty minutes to travel 4.0 km which translates into 6.0km per hour in my car!  That’s not good enough for a world class city.  

Our city planners and civic government have failed Vancouverites in not managing our transportation infrastructure in anticipation of our city’s growth.  They seem to have always been in reactive mode and not out ahead of the population curve.

Some will criticize me for not riding my bike, taking the bus or walking.  I do bike.  In fact, my computer tells me that I have averaged 21.5km/h since December 2006.  I do walk and I do on occasion take the bus.  But in this circumstance I needed my car.  Biking was not an option because I didn’t want to be sweating in my meeting.  Walking and the bus were not options because I didn’t have enough time between meetings and I needed to get home expediently to take our new puppy out for a walk.  

Traffic has lots of negative consequences including road rage, lost productivity, harm to the environment and, when ambulances can’t get through the bottlenecks, medical consequences.  The annual costs of wasted fuel and wasted time are estimated at more than $1500 per traveller in cities like L.A.!

As far back as Julius Caeser’s time, government was dealing with traffic congestion proactively.  Indeed, Caesar banned carts during the day in ancient Rome!  London, Mexico City and San Francisco and Singapore, France and Australia are examples of jurisdictions that ban cars on certain roads at certain times of the day, issue specific permits permitting specific cars on specific high traffic roads at specific times or just tolls for certain roads.  Interestingly, Washington DC deals with congestion by reversing the direction of one way streets in the morning and the afternoon.

Here’s to hoping for civic leadership that produces creative and forward thinking transportation plans for our city.


One Response to “Transportation in Vancouver”

  1. Mees Says:

    Hi Mark,

    This is Melissa Chungfat, do you remember me?

    I’m all for encouraging people to take transit to help the environment. At the same time, transit has to be designed to be convenient enough to change behaviour. The cities you mentioned are great examples.

    I just traveled to Europe this past summer and I’m amazed at how far behind our transportation is to many European cities.

    Hell, Budapest has a more extensive subway system than our Skytrain! That blows my mind.

    So many of my friends and myself take transit either because we want to help the environment or just simply can’t afford cars.

    We seem to get punished for choosing the less convenient route of taking transit by not having more investments in transit upgrades and a fair fare prices.

    Hope to hear from you sometime, my email is melissa.chungfat@gmail.com

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