COVID Place making
September 17, 2020

How do we start limiting congestion NOW?

A challenge question for PT readers:

How should we start to limit congestion before it becomes unacceptable?

There’s a real-life experiment unfolding on our streets – one that will fundamentally affect our future – discussed here in “Our Real World Experiment in Traffic Congestion. “

As people switch from transit to cars, it won’t take much to fill up available road space.  It may only take a 10-15 percent to reach a level of inefficiency and frustration where we reverse the gains we’ve made in this region, notably with transit, in the last half century.   Without response, something has to break, even if we don’t yet know what that level is.  Waiting until we get to a breaking point seems kinda stupid knowing how much more difficult it is to reverse something if instead we can limit it before it happens.

Knowing we will have to slow, stop and reverse a move to post-Covid motordom worse than pre-March, what steps should we take now?

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The City of Surrey is ready to “speed up traffic”, reports the Surrey Now-Leader, in transportation news from the second-most populous city in Metro Vancouver (and the province).

Going into a civic election in October this year, Surrey council has decided that congestion is a noteworthy issue, and that the city can build its way out of congestion by widening roads and improving bridge interchanges. It’s called the Congestion Relief Strategy (2019 – 2023).

To be fair, there is mention of “complete streets” and bike lanes. But it comes along with potential widening of the roads that parallel the light rail lines, to maintain capacity on them.

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On the occasion of Vancouver’s big car-free weekend — Car Free Day events occurred yesterday in the West End and Kitsilano, and the main event takes place today along 20+ blocks of Main Street — perhaps it’s time to roil the waters with a question. Does traffic congestion slow down economies, productivity, or job growth?

As reported by CNU Public Square, researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver and Florida Atlantic University conclude that it doesn’t.

In fact, they suggest there could be such a thing as “good congestion” and “bad congestion,” just like there’s “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol.”

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