Infrastructure
February 11, 2021

Joe Sulmona: Why Tolling is Not Going to Happen in BC

There’s been an active comment section to this post on mobility pricing (some of it even on topic) – but this recent one by Joe Sulmona is worth reprinting as a separate post.  With his combination of technical  experience and political smarts, Joe effectively explains why the prospect of visible tolling on BC’s roads and bridges is a non-starter, now or anytime soon:

“Bold progressive mobility pricing type Leadership” simply does NOT apply to current B.C. situation, when one of the current Premier’s first acts was to gut the tolling policy that loudly sent message to key constituents that they were treated unfairly by previous governments.

From what I can see, the principle “vested interest” here in B.C. is to get power, and once in power, stay in power. This is a maxim applicable regardless of political stripe, i.e. survival remains paramount ( and I work all over the world, and only the names’ change – the desired political outcome never does, never has, and I expect in my lifetime will likely remain so).

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The City of Vancouver has a stated transportation hierarchy.  The hierarchy states that  people using the sidewalks and streets have priority over vehicles in using the city’s road network. That  makes sense in a city that is promoting sustainable travel, and has just amended the zoning by-laws to assist  corner stores to survive in neighbourhoods.

It is part of an overall trend to walkable, accessible places, for citizens to be able to walk to local shops, schools and services. It is also part of encouraging sustainable community that can pass the “ice cream”  or popsicle test~a neighbourhood with shops and  services that are safe, comfortable and so convenient that you can send your ten year old out for ice cream, and have that child arrive back home with the ice cream still not melted.

That is why the City’s latest report to allow the placement of electrical conduits on top of city sidewalks to charge electrical vehicles on the street is so confounding.

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A colleague, Dr. Bridget Burdett who is a Chartered Engineer with MR Cagney in New Zealand sends along a “Safe System Snippet” from Safe Solutions.

Dr. Burdett reminds that a “cyclist dismount” sign is NOT the answer.

If you find yourself in the situation where you want to install a ‘cyclist dismount’ sign on your road network something has gone wrong with your planning, design and/or installation.
The majority of cyclists will not dismount.
The risk remains.
We can do better.

We don’t have signs indicating Motorists dismount crossing roadways~you don’t need them for cyclists either if lanes are planned correctly.

You can take a look at more “safe system snippets” published by Safe Solutions in Brunswick, Victoria State Australia here.

 

 

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From Friend of PT, Michael Alexander:

Earlier this month, New York City opened its new train station. The Moynihan Train Hall, built inside an elegant and gigantic former post office building, is fabulous.

It also cost one point six billion U.S. dollars. It also serves only half the train lines of its predecessor, and it will cost another billion to restore all the service New Yorkers, commuters and visitors once enjoyed. Therein lies a cautionary tale…

In the first half of the 20th century, long trips in North America were mostly by train. Railroads were private businesses, which built stations sized to the communities they served.

The Canadian Pacific Railroad built Vancouver’s Waterfront Station in 1914, replacing an earlier station and hotel on the Burrard Inlet shore. In New York City four years earlier, the Pennsylvania Railroad had built Penn Station on the west side of Manhattan. Both were imposing structures, but Penn Station was spectacular: it was designed by the august architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, and was considered a Beaux-Arts masterpiece.

By the mid-1940s, Penn Station served more than 100 million passengers a year, commuters and intercity. But starting a decade later, air and interstate highway travel led to dramatic rail passenger declines. Looking to improve its bottom line, in 1962 the Pennsylvania Railroad sold the station’s air rights to a private developer, to build the Madison Square Garden sports complex (MSG). In exchange, the railroad got a 25% stake in MSG, and a no-cost, smaller underground station in the MSG basement. It wasn’t… elegant:

The demolition of the McKim, Mead and White building, and its sad replacement, caused an international uproar. “One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat,” the architectural historian Vincent Scully famously wrote in the New York Times. Public outrage catalyzed the architectural preservation movement in the U.S., new laws were passed to restrict such demolition, and landmark preservation was upheld by the courts in 1978, after the private Penn Central RR tried to demolish New York’s other great railroad treasure, Grand Central Station.

Today, Penn Station serves more than 600,000 commuter rail and Amtrak passengers on an average weekday, and arrivals and departures have doubled since the 1970s.

So why is this a caution for Vancouver? Tune in tomorrow.

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Curbs are being poured along Beach Avenue from Stanley Park to Hornby Street.

The City approved this permanent change from cones to concrete after a few months of consultation – albeit a ‘temporary’ permanent change, subject to the English Bay master plan currently under design by PFS Studio and Snøhetta.

 

These interventions also deal with some of the confusion and conflict resulting from this fast pandemic response in the spring when bikes were removed from the seawall.  Cyclists tended to ignore stop signals primarily designed for vehicle traffic – so now the crossings provide clarity, safety and a slowing down of two-wheelers.  (Hopefully eye-level signals for bikes will be installed where necessary.)

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