Right-wing Mash-up: Bike lanes, Bikeshare and the Price of Parking

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Just to add a sour note to an otherwise sunny day with the soft launch of Mobi, here’s a tired, snarky column by a National Post columnist.  Though published a few days ago, it seems like it comes from the last decade.  ‘War on the Car’?  So Rob Ford.  

But what is new (and startling) is the disconnect between the free-market ideology of the NatPost and the antipathy to using the price mechanism to allocate a scarce resource like street parking in the West End, encouraging the use of surplus private parking otherwise noncompetitive.

 

Nat Post

VANCOUVER — A war is being waged in Vancouver’s streets. Led by green-by-all-means mayor Gregor Robertson, City Hall has identified and vilified its enemy, the car. The private automobile. …

Some of the city’s new traffic-clogging, business-blocking lanes are seldom used, but that’s of little concern to two-wheeler preachers and sanctimonious scolders who aren’t dependent on cars for their livelihoods. More dedicated bike lanes are on the way.

Planning a move to Vancouver’s West End, a densely populated, mostly working-class neighbourhood wedged between the downtown core and beloved Stanley Park? Better think twice about bringing a car. City Hall would much prefer you leave the thing behind. You’re better to sell it. Sell it now.

A staff report delivered to city council this month recommends that any newcomer seeking a city parking permit in the West End be slapped with a 700 per cent fee increase. Current permit fees for existing residents are far too low, at $80 a year, explain city planners. Better to charge incoming residents at a “market rate,” which the city has determined to be $50 a month, or a punishing $600 a year.

The proposed permit fee increase would not apply to other neighbourhoods.

According to Vancouver transportation director Lon LaClaire, there are 16,000 registered vehicles in the West End, about one for every three residents, and more than enough parking spaces to accommodate them all: 22,000 off-street (mostly underground) private parking spaces and 2,700 on-street permit spaces.

A 700 per cent fee increase for a city street parking permit would force car owners to consider either giving up their vehicles, or renting an unused private space from, say, a neighbouring building. LaClaire says there are thousands of empty parking spaces sitting underground.

Would the owners of those private parking spaces be persuaded to rent out their spaces to strangers? Who knows.

What is certain, says LaClaire, is that the proposed fee increase would discourage locals from parking their vehicles on the street. It would be a costly inconvenience for them, but a possible boon for West End visitors, who typically spend about 10 minutes circling the block, looking for a place to park.

There are 500 time-limited, no-fee parking spaces on West End streets, hardly enough to satisfy demand. Rather than create more, city planners have recommended that all free parking zones be eliminated, replaced with money-sucking parking meters.

Fewer and astronomically more expensive parking spots: The city can spin that as a public benefit, but it really represents a potential cash grab, to “be used to help pay for amenities in the West End,” according to the official plan. Which amenities? The city doesn’t say.

But Vancouver has no choice, says LaClaire. Projected population growth means more density is coming, and “you can’t accommodate those (people) in cars. It just doesn’t work.”

There’s some truth to that, for sure. But the city won’t tell the whole truth, which is that it has an agenda: to pester and drive out people who use cars. The latest parking fee finagle represents another city-led assault on the automobile.

Meanwhile, popping up across the city, including the West End, are large, metal bicycle racks, some plunked down on streets, blocking more lanes, preventing people from directly accessing their homes and stores.

The bike racks are permanent new pieces of city infrastructure, parts of a subsidized bike share scheme cooked up by planners and a private, Florida-based enterprise, and endorsed by Mayor Robertson and his loyalists on council.

After experiencing years of setbacks and problems with erstwhile pedal partners, Vancouver agreed to pay CycleHop LLC about $5 million to install approximately 1,500 rental bikes around the city. The city will fork over another $1 million in “start-up funding,” another $500,000 annually for signage and will give up a bunch of dreaded parking spaces to accommodate the bike share plan. The lost parking revenues will cost taxpayers another $400,000 a year. Which is tolerable, apparently, because we now hate cars.

The “complicated” bike share project was to have launched last month, according to city officials. But there have been delays. In place right now are a bunch of expensive, very ugly bike racks. No bikes yet. “The system will be live very soon,” we are assured, again.

And so today, it is.

21 thoughts on “Right-wing Mash-up: Bike lanes, Bikeshare and the Price of Parking”

  1. Anonymous said:

    Who is this small-minded Brucie that gets paid to write drivel for this newborn dinosaur of a newsrag created by convicted felon Conrad Black? How did he get this job?

    How many ad dollars are wasted in this rag trying to flog cars? How much is spent advertising bicycles?

    Brucie should shut his hole and concentrate on writing fluff pieces for advertisers.

    The “National” does not publish nationally. Its very name is fake.

    What’s Brucie’s profile? Former Barista?

    • If you read the post’s comments, you may have noticed that I took Mr Hutchinson to task for his false portrayal of Point Grey Road as a ‘semi-private’ road. I went a step further and used the Nat Post contact form to register my displeasure with his editor, deputy editor, and the writer himself (along with a bitchy Tweet). Still waiting to hear back from any of them more than a day later. Weak sauce as the kids say.

      • Anonymous said:

        You mean that when I have a call west of Macdonald and I have to take all my equipment I can drive along Pointe Grey Road again? OK great. I thought it was semi-private and there was now a curb directing everyone south. I don’t have a big truck so I can probably squeeze through the curbs.

        • Not sure how a traffic diversion turns something semi-private. It’s an interesting phrase, but a public road remains just that, even when movement is limited for whatever reason.

          Having to turn left (south) and access a destination via a different route is a scenario that’s absolutely analogous at Lamey’s Mill Road and Alder Crossing, where straight-through traffic heading west is directed back to West 2/4/6th (whatever appropriate avenue number applies at this location for this kooky multi-numbered road) and there’s no direct path to Granville Island except for buses and bikes and pedestrians and skateboarders and coyotes (they use the criminally under-used railbed) and and and….

          Haven’t heard it called ‘semi-private’ nor a big uproar about the detour which has been in place for I don’t know how long, but I don’t recall a time it wasn’t there in my two plus decades living in Vancouver. I guess the power of persuasion and the framing of the debate belongs mostly to those who can afford professionally printed placards for protests against slights real and perceived, large and small.

        • Anonymous said:

          How can you comment so aggressively and at the same time freely admit that you are not aware of the recent unblocked configuration of that section of roadway?

  2. overrated said:

    What do you expect from a newspaper that gives his former owner Conrad Black room to question climate change. And now this.

    Mr. Hutchinson should consider the following points:

    -We as a collective have been subsidizing cars and car traffic to an enormous degree far too long.
    – More bikes means less cars, which in turn means more fluid traffic for cars…
    – 40% of parking spots in buildings in the Westend are left empty
    – 60% (app) of Westend residents do not own a car
    – Town car traffic down by 21% from 2007 to 2014 (app)
    – Bike traffic up by 40% in same time span
    – Translink gets $82,782,000 for roads and bridges in Metro Van…any complaints there?

    Helene

  3. Frank Ducote said:

    On-street parking policy in the West End is long overdue for a rethink. I’m glad to see that it is finally taking place. The ratio of resident-to-visitor parking is the highest in the city, making it very tough for drivers to visit friends, go to the beach, shop on Denman or Davie, or, worse, visit folks in St. Paul’s Hospital.
    Further, off-street parking in a condo building there, if anything like where I live, can rent for more than $60 a month, or $2plus a day. Anything way south of that number for residents is a form of public subsidy. (This goes for other residential ‘hoods as well, just to be fair.)

  4. Thomas Beyer said:

    $50/month is market rate ? Hogwash. Only in low density areas.

    Land is $5-$20M+ an acre in the west end, depending on density, or there being roughly 40,000 sq ft an acre $125 to $500 a sq ft. A car is 6 x 20 ft or about 120 sq ft so land value is about $15-60,000 per parking spot. Using a 4% interest rate that is $600 to $2400/year or $50 to $200/month, plus admin cost of say another $50/month.

    As such parking rate should be $100 to $250/month.

    • Jeff Leigh said:

      Well, if a survey of local parking shows that that is in fact the market rate, then it is what it is. I listened to a description of how they got $50 per month, and it wasn’t based on square feet and interest rates. It was what the market was charging.

  5. Thomas Beyer said:

    Free, or almost free parking (like $50/month) is like squatting: https://pricetags.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/free-parking-is-like-squatting/

  6. Anonymous said:

    Happy to say that the first comment was inadvertently posted as anonymous by the Arnie guy. Less happy to say that Beyer wrote something intelligent. Have to give credit, or censure, where it is due. The floating punctuation is still stupid. Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a good guide book.

    Good on Chris for jumping in. What are the odds of something happening to that member of the Bruce Philosophy Department? Depends on his relationship to the owners of the newsrag. Sometimes though, there is poetic justice, to wit, one woman I used to hang out with got a job on a newsrag through nepotism – her “beat” was the obituary column. Great pay, but depressing – she wound up being quite a drunk. Maybe Bruce will meet a similar fate; seething in his West End studio; writing rot – Pulitzer material – not.

    I’m amazed at Helene’s well-reasoned reproach. Tweet that turkey says Chris.

  7. Jeff Leigh said:

    Wonder how Mr. Hutchinson get 700%? From $80 per year to $600 per year is a 650% increase. Must be a rounding error.

    A much more honest way of putting it would be that the City proposes to phase out the 87% subsidy that they have been granting as a discount from market prices. Free market proponents should rejoice.

  8. The sooner Postmedia goes under, the better.

    • Thomas Beyer said:

      Why is that ?

      You prefer major left wing bias ala CBC, Toronto Star or Huffington Post ?

      Or you prefer the Turkish or Russian approach ? Control by the president ?

      A strong democracy needs voices from ALL sides: communists, green, libertarians, socialists, conservatives and liberals.

      Our parliament is bad enough as none of these outlying voices get enough weight, and they are all mushed together in the middle, or worse, get crushed and rushed through by the governing party elected with only 40% of the votes. For example, the assisted suicide debate. Where was that debate ? Swept under the red carpet. Why ?

    • No.

      I prefer journalists who check facts and believe in evidence, even when expressing a controversial opinion. I also believe in media outlets that conduct significant (not just adequate) research and investigation, and publish or broadcast quality works that are well referenced.

      The NP has a tiny handful of journalists who I respect, but not necessarily agree with all the time, but when sarcasm, glibness, bombast and radical ideology tower over the quality of the content and sometimes push the agenda into defamation territory

      (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-mla-andrew-weaver-wins-defamation-suit-against-national-post/article22850470/)

      it’s time to turn the page, or flip the trash talk radio off, and have a Zen moment before looking for something more intelligent to dig into.

      • Thomas Beyer said:

        As you know, since the internet age ad revenue dropped. So media today is unable to attract the revenue it used to and as such it is getting more and more sensational these days.

        Liberals promised more money for CBC so it was no surprise that they hated Harper. He made the big mistake of not cutting funding off completely 4 years ago.

        Government subsidized TV is ridiculous.

        We cancelled our TV subscription last year. The constant focus on negativity and sensationalism in the news is unbearable, constant ads, repetition and banality.

        Plenty of news sources online, but of course fact and fiction are often hard to distinguish.

        Not sure what the answer is here besides checking various sources on any issue, be it Turkey’s recent “coup”, or on Trump, or on unions, or on abortion, or on funding for public transit. Vancouver Sun is pretty unbiased in my opinion and decent enough.

        • “U.S. TV advertising revenue is expected to rise from $69.9 billion to $81.7 billion in 2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2 percent.”

          http://www.adweek.com/news/television/pwc-internet-advertising-will-overtake-broadcast-advertising-us-next-year-171871

        • “Global Advertising Spend to Rise 4.6% to $579 Billion in 2016”

          http://variety.com/2016/digital/global/global-advertising-spend-rise-2016-1201735023/

        • “Not sure what the answer is here”

          Taking a moment or two to double check the assumptive statements made as though they are fact would go a long way to improving the signal to noise ratio IMO. Surely one wouldn’t want to contribute to the fog of misinformation that accompanies a printing press in every palm?

        • “Canada newspaper ad revenue slumped in 2015: industry group”

          “Total daily-newspaper revenue in 2015 fell to C$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion), down 12.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Newspapers Canada, an industry group representing publishers.”

          But importantly:
          “Local advertising declines were much smaller than the national shrinkage, and spending there has now overtaken national spending as the biggest slice of the revenue pie for the first time since 2009, the data showed.”

          Strangely, the place you are placing your trust Thomas (major newspapers) is the media most under pressure, and very much at risk to offer up errors and omissions IMO. Hutchinson’s nearly fact-free diatribe is a classic example of desperate times and desperate measures. At the end of the day, the only way to produce good journalism is by supporting good journalists with the support staff that make their work possible. Few places in the media landscape are hemorrhaging personnel quite like your average print-based newsroom.

          Luckily we have Google and vexatious wretches who like to fact-check online commenters. It’s not much but it does help to keep erroneous claims from metastasizing into popular opinion on too regular a basis.

          http://ca.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idCAKCN0Y42BX

  9. Anonymous said:

    A moment of intelligence – and back to a mish mash stream of consciousness – like Hal the computer. Just what do you think you are doing Dave? ? ?

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