The Times of London got their hands on the proposed transport plan for the 2012 Olympics:
Olympics chiefs set to ban all car travel
The team organising the London Olympics in 2012 is adopting the most aggressive anticar policy ever applied to a major event in an attempt to deliver a permanent shift in people’s travel habits. The eight million spectators will be banned from travelling by car and forced to take public transport, walk or cycle….
All spectators travelling to an event in London will receive a free all-zones travelcard. Those from outside London will be able to buy discounted, flat-rate rail tickets from any station to the capital.
In an interview with The Times, Hugh Sumner, the ODA transport director, said: “We have a very aggressive programme to make it the greenest games in modern times. We want to leave both a hard legacy in terms of infrastructure and a living legacy in the way people think about transport and about how they travel to sports and cultural events.”
Vancouver’s legacy (in addition to the Canada Line) is just the opposite: a major commitment to highway construction to ensure that you will be able to drive – at least to and through the region.
Downtown, however? I can’t imagine that anyone will be able to use Expo Boulevard since it actually runs under B.C. Place. And rumour has it that Robson Street will be closed off to vehicles from the stadium to Denman Street.
But what happens afterwards? Do we just return the streets to the cars, pretending that nothing has or will change to our happy-motoring nirvana?
In truth, things are changing already. The number of vehicles coming to the downtown peninsula continues to decline:
What this chart shows is that the number of vehicles entering the central business district has declined by 7 percent over the last ten years, even as the number of trips by all modes has increased by 22 percent.
That’s so counter-intuitive, given the growth on the peninsula, that people don’t really appreciate the change. It’s also the reason why we’ve been able to remove so much lane space for the construction of new buildings and the Canada Line on Granville and Davie without gridlock catastrophe.
The downward slope in that chart is likely to continue, particularly given the change from cars to transit that will occur with the opening of the Canada Line.
Just as Expo introduced Vancouver to the pleasures of urbanity when properly done, so will the Olympics offer another opportunity to change the use of our public spaces after the games are over. It’s another way we can take advantage of the investment in both the celebration and the investment. In fact, if Council doesn’t plan now to reallocate road space in the post-Olympic period, it will lose a critical moment of opportunity – and the real benefit that comes with our billion-dollar subway.
Even better, it won’t be embarrassed when London shows how it should have been done.