New Mobility
April 20, 2021

Transport 2050 Phase 2 engagement

TransLink is leading the development of Transport 2050, the region’s next 30-year transportation strategy.

Phase 2 runs from April 19 – May 14.

During Phase 1 in 2019, the region shared its values and ideas for the future of transportation.  In Phase 2, there are draft goals and three actions that could help transform the region:

  • People-first streets that invite walking, biking, and rolling
  • Fast and frequent rapid transit that’s a competitive choice for most longer trips
  • Automated vehicles that provide convenient access to car trips, without adding to congestion

 

For more information, see the Discussion Guide.

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The coronavirus pandemic has made walking an easy and attainable way to continue exercising, and figures from Transport for London indicate that  31 percent of people in London are choosing to walk instead of using another mode in the past year. Over half of people surveyed also said they are going out for more walks and walking longer, even in the lockdowns that have been experienced in Great Britain.

Tom Edwards of the BBC has written how he has rediscovered walking as a mental stress reliever as well as a way to get physical exercise.

Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian takes it one “step” further, bluntly writing about the fact that when you walk outside with another person there is ” no news to exchange, there’s nowhere for conversation to go but to the true state of our lives and psyches.”

Work at the University College of London on a Covid Social Study tracks how the pandemic has impacted social and emotional lives. The study surprisingly found that more than half of respondents saw no change in their relationships with others, while 15 percent said their social relationships had actually improved.

Twenty-two  percent thought their relationships were worse.

What appears to be a commonality is people that have been able to keep some routine in walking or doing familiar activities on a daily basis. While early studies were showing that dog owners seem to benefit from having a pet for social reasons, they also are required to take that animal out regularly for walks, building in a comfortable, repetitive routine.

Other people have been  “fake commuting” for coffee every day to come back to “start” their work day.  That’s a phenomenon I wrote about last year, where Dalhousie University’s Dr. Sylvain Charlebois first noted that there is a  psychological reason that people are leaving home to pick up a coffee whether by foot, bike or vehicle.

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David Sadoway is on faculty and is an instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He sent the following in response to the Cars versus Bikes Stanley Park post.

Perhaps we need add a new term to our analyses, entrenched “automobile-bubble privilege” reducing a single paved traffic lane on a one way two laned road in public park which should be devoted to green public spaces (not efficient road movement/mobility) is hardly a radical move and should have been embraced years ago by Parks Board.

If we really prioritized healthy parks we would instead have a shuttle bus (as others have suggested) and shut down the existing road fully for pedestrians, wheelchairs and others to instead enjoy”.

 Perhaps actually studying the impacts that road traffic has on human and biodiversity (including habitat fragmentation and increased noise, air and light pollution). This is a Public Park, not DisneyLand. And I thought it was named Stanley Park, not Stanley Parking lot !

For far too long many of our public city, regional and provincial parks have been built on the assumption that all ‘taxpaying publics’ have equal and universal access to a car/truck (as opposed to say affordable transit or safe biking or walking/rolling flowing paths and networks across our urban/biodiverse fabric). We all fund these roads after all, even if we choose not to own cars/trucks.

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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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The mobility-pricing conversation has been mostly about technology and social engineering.  Mostly speculation, not specifics.

No matter how much sense it makes, few places have done it.  The first cities that implemented a cordon-pricing congestion charge between 1998 and 2013 are still the only ones that have.

Economists agree that pricing a scarce resource is better for pretty much everything*, so why is  there only a handful of green dots on the map?  What’s the impediment?

We all know what the problem is: the closer a proposal gets to a visible tax on the citizen/driver, the more politically toxic it becomes.  There’s not been a good enough return for the political capital that would have to be spent.

Watch what happens every time another report on mobility pricing is released – like, most recently, this one:

Report is released in the morning.  By nightly news, after the media have done the afternoon scare pieces with interviews of incredulous citizens, accountable leaders are in full assurance mode that nothing is going to happen anytime soon.  Or ever.  Next morning, report is toast.

There is unanimous agreement, however, that no matter how often a decision is deferred, we have to keep talking about mobility pricing.

Here is the latest from Moving in a Livable Region – a consortium of organizations in Metro concerned with improved mobility and land-use planning.  They have produced this very accessible graphic to find out what’s happening now – and what needs to happen. Plus an opportunity for feedback.

 

Why keep the conversation going?  Because it’s just a matter of time before the time for mobility pricing in some form will arrive.

Is there any reason to think this it that time?  Well, possibly – and it’s because of another inescapable pain greater than the one incurred by the prospect of road pricing.  It’s not the imposition of a new tax; it’s the loss of an old one: the gas tax.

On that there is no choice – a decision must be made.  Electrification of the vehicle fleet is inevitable, as a technological reality and now a legislative one.  The fossil-fueled vehicle will be on its way out by the end of the decade.

This literally came in on my news feed as I was typing the previous sentence:

So ends a major source of revenue that funds infrastructure, maintenance and, in our case, transit.

Okay, what should we do now?  Answer in the next post.

 

 

*From the San Francisco County Transportation Authority:

  • Get traffic moving so people and goods get where they need to go
  • Increase safety for people walking, biking, and driving
  • Clean the air to support public health and fight climate change
  • Advance equity by improving health and transportation for disadvantaged communities
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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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