February 11, 2019

Vision Zero & Surrey’s New Approach to Road Safety


The City of Surrey hosted the first Vision Zero summit in British Columbia  at Surrey City Hall.  Vision Zero refers to zero road deaths and no serious injuries on roads, with the philosophy that every life matters.  Applied in Sweden since 1997 the core belief is that “Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society”. This approach differs from the standard cost benefit approach, where a dollar value is based upon life, and that value is used to decide the cost of road networks and calculate the cost of risk.

This Vision Zero summit brought together the Provincial Health Services Authority and the City of Surrey to lead a discussion on implementing  Vision Zero  to mitigate  road fatalities and serious crash injuries in the Province.  The conference also advocated for the adoption of the Safe Systems Approach to evaluate roads as safe for all road users. This is different to the “85th percentile” speed philosophy that bases road speeds on the speed 85 percent of vehicles travel past a certain fixed point on the road.

In the City  of Surrey twenty people a year die from car crashes and there are over 12,000 traffic related injuries.

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Tom Durning picked up on news from the Valley:

I didn’t see this important meeting covered in the Vancouver-centric MSM nor much in the electronic media. Yet the mayors of the Fraser Valley had a meeting recently to discuss development out that way, ably reported by experienced Black Press reporter Matthew Claxton:

  • Read how Langley Township Mayor recognizes that widening Highway 1 is not the answer to transportation problems
  • See them discuss ride-sharing without resorting to the negativity from the slanted reporting by Mike Smyth

Unless there is a gangland killing in Surrey or Chilliwack, a major pile-up on Hwy 1 in Langley or a barn fire in Mission, these municipalities don’t get the coverage they deserve.

From the Langley Times:

The Urban Development Institute Fraser Valley hosted mayors and councillors from the Langleys, Abbotsford, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, and Mission for a discussion at the Langley Events Centre on Thursday. …

Every city in the valley is dealing with massive growth, with Mayor Pam Alexis of Mission noting her city was expected to double in size in the coming years. …

Abbotsford has about 1,600 housing units under construction, and 3,600 in the stream to being approved and built. …

On transportation, each community is wrestling with more traffic and expects even more issues in the future as density increases.

“Almost 70 per cent of Mission leaves every day,” noted Alexis.

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Here is a new word for you~”moquette”. Moquettes refer to the thick-pile fabrics used for carpets and upholstery, and if you have travelled in the Transport for London system you are familiar with the fabrics that often cleverly refer to landmarks and stations along the system.How did people go about designing fabrics for public transit seating, and who started it? Feargus O’Sullivan explores that in this article from CityLab based upon the exhibition at the London Transport Museum, Celebrating Britain’s Transport Textile.The best part of this exhibition is the archive, “a new online resource compiling designs and photographs, as well as recorded interviews with designers instrumental in their creation. The results are a rich and wonderfully nerdy archive that has unearthed some forgotten designs, vividly commemorating an aspect of London’s appearance that has long been both omnipresent and scarcely noticed.” It is fascinating to look at the patterns and textiles, many that appear very contemporary with lots of allegory to intersections and street design. Read more »

Skytrain rapid transit continues to be a much-discussed topic in Metro Vancouver.  HERE’s Nathan Pachal, Langley City Councillor and friend of Price Tags, writing in his South Fraser Blog about the Skytrain to Langley being proposed for Surrey.

With the switch from light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue in Surrey to SkyTrain from King George Station to Langley City, TransLink has set up a new website about the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain Project.

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Intrepid Price Tags editor Ken Ohrn has reported on Port Metro Vancouver’s cancellation of  the permit to expand the Fraser Surrey Docks to ship coal to Asian markets. Thermal coal used to produce electricity represents 75 percent of all coal shipped globally, and the fact that Port Metro Vancouver has not fulfilled the conditions for the Fraser Surrey Docks expansion permit is a good sign. But is  Port Metro Vancouver’s cancelling the Fraser Surrey Docks expansion  part of the plan to  consolidate a push forward for the controversial  terminal two (P2) in Delta’s Roberts Bank? Who is overseeing the Port’s expansion plans and do they take in consideration market trends and sustainability?

I have  written before about Vancouver’s  dirty little secret~since American environmentalists blocked a new export terminal in Oregon, massive coal train shipments come to Vancouver docks, now known as  North America’s largest coal port. In fact in 2017 the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority exported 36.8 million tons of coal, compared to 31.5 million tons shipped from its next rival, Norfolk Virginia.

As the National Post’s Tristin Hopper observes  “Much of Vancouver’s coal is handled by a single facility that ranks as the largest of its kind on the continent.Westshore Terminals (at Roberts Bank superport) loaded 29 million tonnes of coal in 2017, nearly triple the combined coal exports of the entire U.S. West Coast.”

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The short-term closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle a few weeks ago was predicted to result in massive congestion, nicked-named ‘Viadoom’.

You can guess what actually didn’t happen.

From the Seattle Times:

The Alaskan Way Viaduct carried 90,000 cars a day before it was shut down. Where did they all go?

Since the closure of Highway 99 through Seattle on Jan. 11, commute times have been slightly above average — but have fallen far short of the most dire predictions. And fewer cars and trucks than normal have been traveling on the region’s other major highways.

There have been some bad commutes, and we’ll forgive you for knocking on wood before reading too much further. But about halfway through the longest highway closure in local history, Viadoom hasn’t been that doomy.


From City Commentary:

… this phenomenon of reduced demand is so common and well-documented that it is simply unremarkable. Whether it was Los Angeles closing a major section of freeway to replace overpasses, or Atlanta’s I-85 freeway collapse, or the I-35 bridge failure in Minneapolis, or the demolition of San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway, we’ve seen that time and again when freeway capacity is abruptly reduced, traffic levels fall as well.

… in the next few weeks, keep an eye on Seattle: If the one of the nation’s most bustling cities can survive the loss of a freeway segment that carries a hundred thousand vehicles a day, its a strong sign that more modest changes to road systems really don’t have much impact on metropolitan prosperity.


Clark Williams-Derry at the Sightline Institute has been writing about this project for over a decade, arguing not only for viaduct removal but also that Seattle could actually thrive without a waterfront highway.

From Sightline:

Now, for these few weeks, we get to see what Seattle’s transportation system might have been like if we’d torn down the Viaduct and replaced it with nothing at all. And maybe, just maybe, that experience will offer at least one piece of evidence that Seattle without a waterfront highway could have been a lot more livable than so many of us thought it would be.


After the Viaduct removal, there will still be an eight-lane surface highway in addition to the four-lane tunnel as depicted above.  How long should we guess before there will be a movement to remove the highway?




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Here’s another Friday File that is actually a serious design flaw. Thanks to accessibility advocate and blogger Gabrielle Peters  @mssinenomine  for alerting Price Tags of  CBC Vancouver reporter @MaryseZeidler’s twitter observation. Ms. Zeidler posted this on twitter, observing: “Spot the design flaw in this newly constructed crosswalk! Bonus points for estimating how long pedestrians were cut off while this beauty was built“.

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