Transportation
July 18, 2006

Accumulating Evidence

More evidence from Stats Canada that we’re getting what we say we want.
“B.C. Residents Driving Less,” reports today’s Sun: “British Columbians … travelled five billion fewer kilometres in their cars than the year before.”
How come?
A shift to public transit, says TransLink.
Price at the pump, says the B.C. Automobile Association.
Is it possible that we’re seeing the consequences of good local and regional planning? As we build more of our communities with the right combination of density, mix, proximity and transportation choice (the latter a result of the former), we’re getting positive results.
The evidence accumulates in Vancouver: commuter trips are not lengthening, transit use is up significantly, car trips are dropping in the central core, walking and cycling are up dramatically.
Apparently, compact, complete communities with transportation choice – you know, the livable region stuff – actually work.
But then skip over to the business section: “$1-billion development proposed for Abbotsford. Highway interchange would come with retail, commercial and residential project.”
Since the company will construct the interchange on the Trans-Canada Highway in order to service the development, one can pretty much anticipate the design of the components, all separated, all provided with abundant parking.
Apparently, though, this doesn’t work, given the experience of places that have tried it. “Widening and building new highways actually causes, not relieves, traffic congestion in Cincinnati and other major U.S. metropolitan areas. … up to 43 percent of traffic in Greater Cincinnati is caused just by expanding the area’s road network.”
The evidence accumulates: no matter how many billions we spend on nore roads – in fact, because we widen highways and build interchanges – traffic gets worse. In the places we haven’t built freeways and have offered alternatives, things get better.
Check this out, and more, at the Livable Region Coalition site. The link is in the Blogroll on the left.
Update: Clark Williams-Derry at the Sightline Institute weighs in with some well-founded scepticism about those Stats Canada driving figures here.

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A perfect day, really: sunny but not too hot. The beaches and bikeways are packed, and people seem in the mood to dance the day away. In some cases literally.

On Granville Island, a tuxedoed busker serenades the crowd with French ballads. A young couple finds just the right tempo to dance to his songs, and because they’re good, because they can really dance, their performance enchants the surrounding audience. They, however, only have eyes for each other as they dance among the pigeons and the children, perfectly in step and, you’d guess, in love. If it wasn’t all happening spontaneously, it would seem way too hokey. But it isn’t, of course. It’s a Sunday afternoon on Granville Island.

Not too far away, on Kits Beach, another kind of dance. I’m not really sure who they were or what they do, but here’s the scene:

In amongst the beautiful bodies, seated in a circle, half-dressed in white, chanting to the beat of some oddly shaped instruments, these young people from a myriad of races watch two of their own engage in what seems to be a highly choreographed version of martial arts. “Dance fighting,” says one of the observers.

Whatever it is (something Brazilian, perhaps), it’s perfect for Kits Beach.

Oh man, I love this city in the sunshine.

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