Infrastructure
February 24, 2021

Vancouver Spending $14 Million for Parking Stations~Westminster London Ditches Them with Vancouver Technology

Did you know the City of Vancouver is swapping out old parking meters and installing a new system at a cost of 14 million dollars? As reported in this article by CBC News the city is getting rid of stand alone parking meters which served two parking spaces and going for new parking stations on the street which will serve entire blocks.

This type of parking and paying in one pay station is already pretty standard in Europe and in South America. In fact in Chile some commercial areas in cities had parking wardens  with the parking stations. Twenty years ago you parked your car on the street and  left your stick shift car in neutral, you paid at the parking station, and the parking warden pushed and bumped the vehicles together to squeeze one more in, or take one vehicle out.

Vancouver has about 11,000 parking spaces served by meters that will be decommissioned in favour of the pay stations. That will also alleviate the vandalism, and theft from coin meters. In Vancouver parking is a big revenue item for the City, bringing in about 60 million dollars a year pre-pandemic.

Of course there are some downsides in paying at  street parking stations. The City will be able to monitor them and you could be paying a premium for event parking on the street with the use of demand pricing. There will also be no more lucky finds of arriving at a  parking meter with already paid-for time.

In this interview with CBC’s Stephen Quinn on The Early Edition ,Vancouver Transportation Director Paul Storer  (one of the most thoughtful engineers and well versed to discuss sparky issues) talk about the changes that will be occurring with the new pay station system.

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Broadcaster Sonari Glinton and podcaster Mike Pesca discuss GM’s recent proclamation to go electric by 2035.  (Full podcast here.)

Pesca: A couple of months ago, the state of California announced no new gas vehicles, they were going electric and they put a time stamp on it of 2035. The UK then ups the ante and announces no diesel or gasoline or as they say, petrol, cars and vans will be sold in that country starting in 2030. And then GM and their CEO, Mary Barra, announce, OK, GM sees that and we too will no longer make gas and diesel powered vehicles by 2035. I guess they figured if California won’t be buying them, what’s the use of making them?

Glinton: … what’s happening now for some people is that America is not in the driver’s seat.  When it comes to electrification, it is not even in the driver’s seat when it comes to the auto industry anymore. What our vehicles, our regulatory regime, even the styling is increasingly led by what China wants. That is where the industry is making the money. That is where the future is: Brazil, Russia, India and China. And I would throw in Africa for the long game.

Pesca: is it plausible that China can go gasoline free with their cars within the same kind of time frame we’re talking about with these Western countries and companies?

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It’s not looking good in New York:

In Manhattan alone, new car registrations rose 76% and in Brooklyn, registrations climbed 45%.

D’autre part:

Then came the coronavirus and a national lockdown. With practically no traffic, even non-urbanists like me suddenly realized how much space we’d given over to cars, and we envisioned these same streets as quieter, cleaner public spaces that could contain something else.

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A shot posted by West End Journal, I presume from the Vancouver Archives:

At a glance you’d think – San Francisco.  But no, that little hill is on Chilco Street, up from Alberni.  Cars are backed up on Robson at the top of the hill.  The traffic cop is on Georgia, and a trolley is pulling out from the bus loop at the end of Alberni.

That’s the way it looked in the 1960s, when downtown office workers were heading home to the North Shore, trying to avoid the back-ups on Georgia.  The traffic was probably worse then, given how relatively little transit there was – and remember, the West End was still in a building boom.  This is why the West End had such a bad reputation in that era.  Concrete jungle.

In response to community concern, the NPA Council at the time approved a West End planning process, and by 1970s, the idea of traffic calming was born – possibly the first of its kind in North America.  Diverters, barriers and miniparks went in West of Denman in the early 70s, followed by a similar intervention East of Denman in the early ’80s.  (The myth is that the traffic barriers and parks were put in to discourage street prostitution.  But no, it had always been intended, depending on community approval for a local area improvement charge.)

Of course there were objections.  This was a War on the Car!  Traffic calming and parking fees and restricted parking – and not enough of it to begin with.  Not to mention the NIMBYism of West Enders cutting off through traffic on streets paid for by everyone (sort of).

Stupid councils went ahead and did it anyway.  Plus bike lanes.  And look what they ended up with.

One of the best urban neighbourhoods in the world.

 

This is what Chilco looks like now. (It’s where I live).

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This week I wrote about the chemical in tires that has been killing the Coho salmon in Puget Sound streams. When there is heavy rain or runoff (quite a common occurrence in the Pacific Northwest) huge fish kills from leaching tire particulate chemicals were found to be devastating to salmon stocks.

All vehicles electric or not have tires, and this adds one more reason to look at travelling smarter and not so intensively by private automobile. Ian Fisher notes that electric cars with their greater mass (battery packs) and high performance wear down tires faster than fuel pumped tire vehicles, showing once more that automobile dependency, of any kind, seems to be  environmentally incompatible.

Ian referenced this article from Green Car Reports that shows that tire and brake wear will probably be next for emissions testing, since Emissions Analytics have found that particulate matter tire wear can be “1,000 times worse” than from internal combustion engined vehicles. Particulate is defined as the solid matter shed by vehicles, different from vehicle exhaust gases.

In a study, Emissions Analytics looked at a popular family car with well inflated tires. The study found the vehicle’s tires “emitted 5.8 grams of particulate matter per kilometer, compared to 4.5 milligrams per kilometer from the exhaust. That translates into a tire-wear emissions higher than exhaust emissions by a “factor of 1,000”.

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Bowinn Ma is the provincial Minister of State for Infrastructure.  A Minister of State, not an actual Minister (as many of her fans anticipated).  But she nonetheless has a rather ambitious to-do list.

This* is what’s in her Mandate Letter:

  • Extend the Millennium Line to Arbutus, with an eventual terminus at UBC
  • Prompt design and construction of the Surrey-Langley Skytrain.
  • Widen Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley
  • Replace the Massey crossing
  • Complete the Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project.
  • Support planning for key transit projects, like high-speed transit links for the North Shore and the expansion of rail up the Fraser Valley.

In short: the biggest roads and the longest trains.  Not all on her own, of course; responsibilities for TransLink alone are split among three Ministers of various kinds.   But the part of her portfolio that she will be tested on will be getting the big road projects unstoppably underway before the next election.

So if conflict is to occur, it’s less likely to be among her colleagues than between her mandate and her rhetoric when it comes to shaping growth with big-time road infrastructure.

The implicit expectation by the Premier may be that the high-growth parts of our region – east of Langley, south of the Fraser – can become more like the region he represents (Langford and the western communities of Victoria), where working people should still be able to afford a house to drive to and won’t pay tolls to get there. And to do that we need more big roads, bridges (or tunnels), with some incidental room for transit.

Ma has argued that such a strategy is futile.  Widening highways and building untolled crossings to reduce congestion just begets more congestion.  (She made a celebrated speech in the Legislature on that very point – here.)

 

So why would the Premier appoint an MLA whose public position is that the era of big roads is (or should be) over?  The chattering classes (Price Tags division) have come up with some possible reasons:

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Do you see what NPA Park Commissioner Tricia Barker is doing here?

From a Province op-ed:

In Vancouver, the civic government has a “transportation hierarchy” list. I propose we put compromised seniors and people with disabilities at the top of this list and give them first priority. …

For too long we’ve put seniors and people with disabilities last. The city’s “hierarchy of transportation modes” says it will consider the needs and safety of each group of road users in the following order of priority: 1st walking; 2nd cycling; 3rd transit and taxi/shared vehicles, and 4th private auto (Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 condensed plan, Page 13). Seniors and persons with disabilities aren’t even mentioned.

Of course seniors and the disabled aren’t mentioned.  They’re people, not modes of transportation.

Seniors and disabled people* can be walkers, cyclists, transit and vehicle users.  What Barker implies without having to say explicitly is that they’re all dependent car users.  So in order to give them top priority, motordom must be maintained.

On that she is explicit:

As we move forward, let’s make a promise to never take away something that has already been given. … Let’s enact a policy where you can’t take away a necessity because it’s convenient or others may like it.

What are these necessities that can’t be taken away?  Parking.  Road space.  Motordom: the city designed for the car, which, by her argument, seniors and the disabled see as essential.  Hence, any diminishment of motordom is a sign of disrespect.  Their right to easy access everywhere by automobile must be maintained as a first priority – something to be encoded in policy to be used as the basis for planning.

It’s kind of a brilliant strategy: use the disabled to disable progress towards active transportation, towards progress on climate change, towards safer cities and greater choice – all the policies you don’t want to publicly oppose but can frustrate by out-woking the progressives.

Here’s another example:

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