An old definition of a political liberal was a conservative who hadn’t been mugged yet. In similar fashion, the North Shore News reports that a lousy day on local roads turned the District of North Vancouver Council’s planned meeting agenda from its multi-modal Transportation Plan into a very old fashioned kvetch-sesh about traffic.
“The District of North Vancouver is preparing to embark on a major review of its transportation master plan.
Staff’s suggestions included a protected bicycle network, updating the district’s parking policies, a focus on the Main/Marine transit corridor, better co-ordination of traffic signals and whether the district ought to become a vision zero community – a growing movement among cities vowing to design their streets in such a way that there are zero traffic-related deaths or injuries.”
Phibbs Exchange redesign – on the agenda
Interesting stuff. However, this being a rainy day, a more poignant topic of discussion arose from the attendees.
“…the informal session quickly turned to an airing of grievances as the morning commute of many councillors had been particularly exasperating with near-simultaneous crashes on the Cut, Stanley Park causeway and Westview overpass.”
The story continues by noting on some uncomfortably-predictable exchanges between councillors.
“Coun. Jim Hanson said he faces the prospect of losing staff at his North Vancouver law firm, as their commute from across Burrard Inlet saps their quality of life. Hanson said the plan ought to come with some immediate steps that will alleviate congestion.”
- Congestion hurts [my] business.
the steady drip of Quality-of-Life being sapped
“We need to integrate our efforts with the other civic governments of the North Shore, who are contributing to density without in any way contributing to infrastructure, which is overtaxed,” he said.
- It’s everyone else’s fault.
Coun. Mathew Bond, who is a transportation systems engineer, said his morning commute to Coquitlam took twice as long as it normally would have with a lineup of stop-and-go traffic on Highway 1 stretching 20 kilometres past the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.
“People can change their behaviour today if they so choose,” he said. “Doing some small, incremental things over time over the next two, three or five years, will buy us some time to make those major infrastructure investments and do those plans that are going to provide long-term relief.”
- Man who commutes 70 kms/day by car says [other] people should change their behaviour.
But Coun. Lisa Muri questioned whether residents could be persuaded to leave the car at home, especially when their work, errands or family commitments may require them to travel to several neighbourhoods, numerous times in the day.
“I don’t know how to change my behaviour to get from Lonsdale to Seymour without changing my whole family’s life,” she said. “It’s awesome to think that if you build it, people will get out of their cars and onto a bus or another mode of transportation but is it going to happen? . . . People have cars. They want convenience. They want to be able to get to their destinations quickly.”
- Woman counters with, ‘No, they shouldn’t.’
Instead, Muri suggested it may be time to pull up the drawbridge on the North Shore. “I envision there’s room for 100 people at the party and there’s 500 in the lineup out the front door and they all want to come into the party. I just want to say to the 400, ‘You know what? We’re full now. You’re just going to have to wait your turn.’ But we’re not doing that,” she said.
- Let’s fix things by keeping others out.
Coun. Robin Hicks rubbished the notion that trying to stop population growth would solve any problems, noting that banishing the North Shore’s service workers to the farther-flung suburbs would only add more cars onto local roads.
“We can’t put up barriers or walls like Trump might try to do. People are just going to come here from everywhere,” he said. “We’ve got to learn to live with the population.”
- That’s not a good idea; and we have to mention Trump.
These are only reported snippets of conversation from the meeting. Perhaps it also included some thoughtful discussion on the notion of incremental change; and maybe participants went on to keenly demonstrate their understanding that traffic is not an ‘all or nothing’ concept and that ‘car vs. bus or bike for all trips’ is a false choice.
Once can only hope that such influential people employing such very old tropes was just a quick venting of understandable frustration at a stressful drive into work. We can further hope that their frustration does not translate into opposition for sensible change – even at the occasional expense of driving convenience and motorist entitlement. I certainly hope so; because at some point this winter, it may rain again.