A fascinating thread – if sometimes repetitious and tedious – on the Hornby cycle-track proposal at Frances Bula’s blog. The issue seems to be dominating civic discourse these days, and because of the instant echo-chamber effect of online media, can get a tad hysterical, ad hominen and conspiratorial.
But it’s nothing like previous battles over road space in this town. Most people weren’t around or have forgotten the Great Shaughnessy Traffic-calming Debate in the early 80s. I well remember Mike Harcourt, the mayor at that time, appearing before a very hostile public meeting of hundreds to defend the proposal. Or the conflict east of Denman when traffic-calming was moving towards a required vote as a local improvement project (it narrowly passed). Oh, the angst.
Would anyone propose removing a single element of any of those schemes today?
And of course there was the Great Freeway Fight of the late 1960s. That massive road-and-bridge project was the most important thing that never happened to this city. Today, there is absolutely no political oxygen to support anything remotely like it.
In fact, with the possible expection of the first Granville Mall, I can’t think of an example where road space has been reallocated or traffic discouraged that hasn’t improved the quality of Vancouver life. And if there’s any evidence that such actions have negatively affected the economy, I wait to hear it.
Or even negatively affected the traffic flow. As the number of moving vehicles continues to drop in the core, a trend starting in the mid-1990s, there is in fact more room to reallocate road space from vehicles than there was when traffic-calming began in decades previous.
So take a deep breath, everyone; we’ve been through this before. Let the consultation and mitigation proposals proceed, have the emotional meeting at Council, and then get on with the changes that, within a few months, will make everyone wonder what the fuss was about.