Most things change, but some never do. It’s time for a (nearly) serious review of the World of *Mageddons™ . We’re happy to do it, so that you don’t have to, and since few others will call this type of failed prediction what it is: failed.
What this *mageddon review does illustrate is the difficulty for anyone in public life who makes decisions. While it’s easy to dream up *mageddon scenarios, it’s much harder to plan, make decisions and commit big resources amid strident choruses of negativity, and amid the usual incomplete information and the fundamentally unknowable nature of the future.
Car-mageddon: them stinkin’ bike lanes are going to destroy our wonderful city. No one will be able to get anywhere. Gridlock. Commerce grinding to a halt. The end of civilization as we have known and loved it since 1950.
Well, years later, the city prospers and grows. Mode-share for bikes rises steadily as some people choose a bike ride over a car for at least some of their trips. And plans for new bike facilities attract shrinking opposition.
Biz-mageddon: them stinkin’ bike lanes are going to ruin every business on those streets. Nobody can park their cars in front of the door, so revenues will drop and all biz’ will fail. Ruin and bankruptcy. Families starving on the streets, watching no bikes go by.
Well, just about everywhere that bike lanes go in, businesses improve. It turns out that people on bikes have money to spend, and they shop, and lots of biz comes from people who walk. Not to mention that these streets often become more pleasant and attractive to shoppers. Even those who arrive by car.
And now, we officially coin yet another *mageddon.
Train-mageddon: billions wasted on these ridiculous rapid transit lines. No one will ride these white elephants. No one will choose a train over a car. Oh yeah, and the technology is all wrong. And it’s all run by buffoons and prevaricators. Disaster! Doom! Waste!
Well, as soon as they go into operation, Vancouver’s trains quickly attract riders in larger than planned numbers. Rapid transit becomes a part of many lives and a solid choice for trips of all kinds. Total ridership rises steadily and the system has growing pains. “If only we’d planned for higher ridership”.