A brilliant series of articles on transportation in the current Vancouver Magazine here, here and here

The most important piece is by Charles Montgomery, who travels along with Lon Laclaire, the City’s Strategic Transportation Manager, and learns some lessons.  Like this one:

In 1968, the German mathematician, Dietrich Braess, was modelling the response of traffic to different road networks. Braess assumed that drivers keep adjusting their trips until they find the quickest commute possible. This is one of the premises of EMME/2, the computer program used to predict traffic flows in every big city around the world. The EMME/2 models assume that, like water molecules in braided streams, cars will distribute themselves until all roads are pretty much flowing equally. This is why the Alex Fraser Bridge was jammed within a few months of opening. It’s also why your shortcut to work never stays a shortcut for long.

Braess discovered a curious wrinkle in the traffic universe. His math showed that adding new capacity to an existing network of roads can actually lengthen peoples’ commute time. This fact is fueled by human selfishness: We all try to choose the fastest route home. But when ten thousand of us make that same choice in isolation, we all just might arrive home later.

LaClaire heard about Braess’ Paradox from a visiting traffic scholar in a Wall Centre conference room back in 2000. He remembers the equation, and the epiphany it brought. His blue eyes twinkle as he recalls the moment he raised his hand.
“I said, ‘Hey, maybe these paradoxes, these problem roads, already exist in our city. If they did, we’d just need to take them out to improve the flow!’ I thought it was a brilliant idea. I mean, these problem roads must be out there.”
In the engineering world, it has long been heresy to suggest that less concrete and asphalt might be preferable to more. LaClaire had crossed the line. “The guy looked at me like I was a freak. He laughed, like I was joking, and then he just went on teaching.”
LaClaire furrows his brow as we cruise through another amber. “But I was right.”

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George Monbiot asks the question in The Guardian that we should be asking about Gateway:

… it should be pretty obvious that more roads and more airports will mean that our rising use of transport fuel becomes hardwired – the future health of the economy will depend on it. So the government must have examined this question. If our economic lives depend on continued growth in the consumption of transport fuels, it must first have determined that such growth is possible. Mustn’t it?

Can you guess the answer?  Here.

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Derek Moscato, a previous Price Tags contributor (here’s an issue he did on No. 3 Road), is a regular contributor to the Province.  Here’s his latest column on the Vancouver streetcar proposal.

… given Vancouver’s transit crunch, you have to wonder why it’s taken so long to resurrect the streetcars — and why TransLink bosses and other civic leaders mostly continue to overlook one of the best ways to ease congestion in the city core and beyond.

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“City of Bikes”?  Well, more than usual: It’s Bike to Work Week.

Bike to Work Week starts tomorrow! The forecast is for sunshine for the week – a fabulous time to start biking to work, if you haven’t tried it yet. The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (with the help of our many sponsors, supporters, and volunteers) are setting up “commuter stations” at various locations throughout the Lower Mainland this week to support, appreciate, and encourage those who choose to bike to work. Stations provide free food and drinks, bike mechanics and the opportunity to win prizes (and maybe be on TV).
You can find the map with the stations and times of operation by clicking here

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If you saw the following recommendations, what kind of organization would you guess had written them?

Coordinate national policy approaches on urban land use, travel health and the environment.
Consider all modes of travel—in particular, environmentally sustainable modes—as well as land-use priorities, when allocating national government funds to the local level.
Encourage effective public participation, partnerships and communication.
Ensure that transport demand management tools and measures to promote non-motorized modes
are supported.

Fully integrate air quality, greenhouse gas, noise and other environmental targets, and adopt and
rigorously monitor technical standards for vehicles and fuels.
Channel revenues from pricing initiatives so that benefits are felt by those bearing the costs.

David Suzuki Foundation? BEST? SPEC? Sightline Institute? Livable Region Coalition?
Obviously I wouldn’t have asked if it were any of them. These recommendations are among the many that come from the Conference Board of Canada’s report, “Sustainable Urban Transportation: A Winning Strategy for Canada” (Here, if you register)
Here’s the point: increasingly, you can’t tell much difference between private-sector and business-oriented think tanks and environmental organizations when it comes to urban transportation. They’re both calling for much the same things – and what they’re calling for looks very little like what Gateway is delivering.
Complete recommendations below the fold:

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Stu Ramsey, Burnaby’s engineer extraordinaire, now has his own web site – Transport Planet – here.   You can find downloadable versions of his great PowerPoint presentations, as well as a gallery of fun stuff, like this:

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