Davie St near Bute.
Remember the Tom Tom Annual Survey of Traffic Congestion suggesting that Vancouver is a parking lot of traffic? And Minister of Transportation Todd Stone calling the Massey Tunnel one of the most congested places in British Columbia according to a Canadian Automobile Association Survey?
Business in Vancouver reporter Patrick Blennerhasset cuts through the congestion chat by talking to a transportation expert, City of Vancouver Manager of Transportation Steve Brown. Steve notes that we need to define what we mean by congestion. Congestion can also be a very good thing-if transit or biking or walking is more efficient and gets you to a place faster, then congestion is your active transportation friend. The slower traffic, the safer active transportation users are too-while only ten per cent of pedestrians will survive a vehicular collision at 50 km/h that rises to a 90 per cent chance of survival with a vehicular collision at 30 km/h.
Steve Brown has great logic-“the key for Vancouver to continue to relieve congestion lies in creating alternative transportation methods to automobile trips…Over the last few years, we have seen a lot more concerns over congestion. And because we’re kind of falling behind on some of our transit infrastructure investments, we’re seeing that there are tending to be more trips lately relying on the road network.”
So…bolstering active transportation and transit reduces congestion, actually making driving easier for folks that want to do this. But doesn’t that defeat the purpose? And that is where misinformation comes in.
“Last year, Langley City councillor Nathan Pachal compiled the 2016 Transit Report Card of Major Canadian Regions. He gave Vancouver a high ranking in terms of public transportation—second only to Montreal—using Canada Transit’s Fact Book 2014 Operating Data by the Canadian Urban Transit Association, which gathers its data from transit agencies across the country and Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey. Pachal also called into question the accuracy of the TomTom rankings. He said during the transit referendum in 2015, discussion around congestion in Vancouver reached a fever pitch.”
And back to those Tom Tom Statistics-those are predicated upon counting the extra travel time during peak hours for a vehicle versus the time taken to travel during no traffic conditions, and then multiplied for 230 working days a year. Remember that Tom Tom’s clients are drivers, and therefore cities with freeways and highways that provide a quick exit are ranked highly, with no ranking given to alternative transit modes or active transportation.
While Vancouver ranked as the 34th most congested cities for vehicle users according to Tom Tom, “the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, has ranked Vancouver 157th worldwide in terms of traffic congestion.” Why? Because INRIX a Kirkland, Washington-based transportation analytics company, analyzed traffic congestion in 1,064 cities for its second annual report. Its methodology calculates congestion at different times of the day in different parts of a city using 500 terabytes of data from 300 million different sources covering over five million miles of road. ” This is a much more sophisticated analysis on “overall travel times” as opposed to peak versus free-flow times.
But neither of these two approaches factor in active transportation or transit, and measure a city’s performance by the efficiency of this type of movement. While Tom Tom may be getting a lot of attention, the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard is perhaps a more accurate gauge. Here’s to an index that also factors in other users besides vehicular.
INRIX Global Traffic Index Scorecard:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Francisco
- Bogota, Colombia
- Sao Paolo, Brazil
- London, England
- Magnitogorsk, Russia
- Paris, France
TomTom Traffic Index ranking:
- Mexico City
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Chongqing, China
- Bucharest, Romania
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Chengdu, China
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Beijing, China
- Changsha, China
On the street in Puerto Vallarta.
BC Business profiles a group of bicycle-related businesses now thriving in Vancouver.
As residents ride their bicycles more—trips climbed 32 per cent from 2014 to 2015, according to the city’s 2015 Transportation Panel Survey—an assortment of frame-makers, app designers, repair shops and publications have sprung from the cycling economy.
With Phase 1 of the 10-year TransLink plan funded and work well underway, people are wondering where the money will come from for Phase 2, where some really big bucks get spent. Broadway Subway, Surrey light rail, Pattullo Bridge.
Minister Fassbender is proposing transit be (at least partly) financed by cashing in on the increase in land value and ensuing profits for developments built around transit stations. He assured BC municipalities that he is not planning to rob their piggy-banks.
Hello Broadway Extension; goodbye CAC’s. And welcome to a “transit-supporting levy” collected and administered by your Provincial Gov’t.
Note that the Mayors previously proposed a “region-wide development fee” to help fund transit. This fee would apply region-wide, with possibly higher rate for higher-density transit oriented developments. See page 35 of the Mayor’s 10-Year Vision Investment Plan.
Thanks to Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail.
Other cities, notably Metro Toronto, have considered this kind of “land-value capture” system for financing transit, as well. Some look to the City of Vancouver’s existing method of community-amenity contributions as a model. Vancouver negotiates with developers to give back community benefits equivalent to 75 per cent of the land-value increase they see when their land is rezoned.
Vancouver is especially likely to be concerned how its approach would be disrupted by a new transit levy.
The city collected $105-million in 2015 in community amenity contributions from developers who got rezonings. Half of that went to an affordable-housing fund, while the remainder was spent on heritage, parks, community centres and child-care facilities
At 37th Ave on the Arbutus Corridor is one of the few remaining billboards I know of. In tony crème-de-la-cremesville Kerrisdale, yet. A total eyesore from any angle. And true to form for the ‘hood, it’s advertising a hideously expensive watch brand.
On the plus side, it does have a mini-mass of iconic heritage-defining blackberry bushes.
Click photo for a larger version.
Admittedly, I haven’t travelled the full 9 km of the Arbutus Corridor recently, but from 10th to 59th, I think these were the only remaining train tracks on Feb 1.
Note the graceful electrical sub-station.
I’m not quite sure if this guy is merely a moving billboard, or is actually making a delivery too.
. . . and the irony.
Out yesterday and found that the Burrard Bridge renovation is partly complete. The west sidewalk is now half open (the south half). I like the way it looks.
Note the new cement dividers that delineate the west bike lane — some elements appear gracefully curved, and the design echoes the bridge railing.
Click an image for a larger view
If it is not already on your calendar it should be-Walk21, the international conference series about all things walking is heading to Calgary for September 2017. This conference series travels around the world and links the thinkers and work around walkable spaces,places and cities. 1n 2011 Vancouver hosted the conference, and the conference proceedings are available here at http://www.walkmetrovan.ca
At the Calgary conference you will meet people who are the artists, the philosophers, the policy makers, mayors and the visionaries looking at how to make walking safe, comfortable and convenient. Those subjects include urban design, health, and planning to create places we all want to live in. Walking luminaries such as Jan Gehl and Janette Sadik-Khan have hosted and spoken at these conferences.
I first attended this conference series in Barcelona and met Dr. William Bird with Intelligent Health United Kingdom. His approach of tying in health with the importance of walkable design in cities and the creation of places to walk to and through completely changed how I view city planning. If you can create a walkable community, you link in the social, physical and economic aspects of creating great people places. Last year I gave a TEDX Talk in Carson City Nevada describing the Transformative Power of Walking and three Vancouver citizen heroes that created community through championing local walkable initiatives. Supporting and advocating walkability is quite simply the right thing to do.
The Call for Papers closes on February 10 and can be accessed here. Hope to see you in Calgary.
In the “why didn’t I think of that” department, the City of London has come up with an innovative and direct way to deal with drivers that overtake bikes at a distance of less than the regulated 1.5 meters.
As reported by City Lab, “the city’s Metropolitan Police is going low key, with plain-clothes police officers pedaling through the streets on bikes to monitor and reprimand drivers’ behavior. The main goal is to crack down on so-called close passing—that is, drivers overtaking bikes at a distance of less than 1.5 meters (just under 5 feet)… Motorists caught engaging in driving that compromises cyclists’ safety will be given the choice between prosecution or a 15-minute roadside safety training session. The operation won’t cover a very large area of London’s roads at any one time. By introducing the idea that cyclists on the road might just have a police badge in their pocket, however, it may have a far greater effect than punishment alone. “
This operation was first trialled in the West Midlands near Manchester where two plainclothes police officers nabbed 130 motorists in nine hours, booking eight for safety offences, and revoking one driver’s license.
And what of the impacts of the plain clothes bike patrol ? Since the commencement, there has been a 50 per cent reduction in vehicle/bicycle collision. This has been achieved with little expense save for a “roll up” mat, which is used to illustrate the safe 1.5 meter “safety” zone passing distance around a cyclist.
The plain clothes police cyclists have been so effective, there are plans to undertake this operation in another 16 cities in Great Britain.
A recent PSA by Alberta Transportation delivers a loud and clear message.
Motorists — here are a bunch of sure-fire excuses to keep in mind when you mow down a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Yep — keep on grinning. Thumbs up, baby, you’re golden.
Peds — it’s always your fault. And you’re not safe anywhere.
After much outrage, Alberta Transportation pulled the message. But it’s hard to understand how peds are singled out like this, when the facts of the matter are quite clear as to what the source of the danger is.
According to the City of Vancouver’s 2012 Pedestrian Safety Study:
The vast majority of collisions at intersections involved drivers failing to yield to pedestrians when pedestrians had the right-of-way.
One quarter of all pedestrian collisions took place at mid-block locations, where the pedestrian was either crossing the street at a mid-block crosswalk or a location without a traffic control, crossing a driveway or laneway, or was struck at the sidewalk or at a bus stop.
The top five pedestrian collision types listed below accounted for approximately two-thirds of all pedestrian collisions:
- Vehicle turns left while pedestrian crosses with right-of-way at signalized intersection (25.6% of known collision types)
- Vehicle turns right while pedestrian crosses with right-of-way at signalized intersection (17.1%)
- Pedestrian hit while crossing mid-block without a traffic control, or jaywalking (11.5%)
- Vehicle proceeds straight through while pedestrian crosses at stop sign or crosswalk (6.9%)
- Pedestrian hit while crossing driveway or laneway (6.5%).
“For some reason, we’ve come to accept this road violence against pedestrians as part of the wallpaper of urban living – even as “walkable cities” are the holy grail of city planning everywhere.”
Peter Ladner in his latest editorial in Business in Vancouver calls it for what it is: we have an epidemic of Road Violence in Vancouver. Peter states in his editorial: “Never mind calling back Mayor Gregor Robertson from Mexico to clear our icy sidewalks. We should be asking him to stay home in January and protect seniors from being killed by cars. Vancouver is the pedestrian death capital of Canada, and January is peak month for pedestrian deaths in B.C. – expect more than seven.
Based on five-year averages, 61% of those killed will be 50 or older. Our pedestrian death rate is twice that of Toronto, where one pedestrian is injured every four hours, and 44 pedestrians were killed in 2016. In last October alone, 10 pedestrians died in five Lower Mainland municipalities. There were as many pedestrians slaughtered by cars in the city of Vancouver (11) last year as there were murder victims.
My son was walking to work across a marked intersection at Pender and Jervis, on a green light, at 7:30 on an October morning two years ago when a car knocked him to the ground. He is still suffering from the concussion he incurred. The driver stopped and leaned out the window to ask if he was all right, then drove off. It turns out his situation is typical: according to a BC Coroners Service report, 40% of pedestrians killed in Greater Vancouver were struck at intersections and in crosswalks and two-thirds were crossing while the light was green. It might also be the case that many of the pedestrians who got hit were, like him, wearing dark clothing. In some Nordic countries the widespread use of reflective clothing has greatly reduced road violence.
But it’s too simple to blame pedestrians. I remember the first time I saw the 30 km/h zone painted boldly on Hastings Street around Main – the most dangerous pedestrian intersection in the Lower Mainland. My first reaction was: “Why should I slow down because impaired people choose to lurch into oncoming cars?” Then I sobered up and reframed the question: “Why should saving a few seconds of driving be more important than killing someone?”
Peter notes that when some European countries adopted laws where vulnerable road users, not road drivers were assumed to be innocent, injury and fatality rates dropped by 70 per cent. HUB cycling recommends a 30 km/h speed limit on non arterial streets-the survival of a pedestrian crashed into at 30 km/h is 90 per cent at that speed, and only 15 to 20 per cent at 50 km/h.
Peter points out that it is the Province-Minister of Transportation Todd Stone-who could implement this and who “is not interested. Nor is he interested in photo radar and red-light cameras. Research in Europe found there were 42% fewer serious injuries and fatalities where photo radar and cameras were installed.” Minister Stone dismissed this as a “tax grab”. Peter suggests this is the same as saying “Seniors are expendable if it gets me votes from car drivers who want the freedom to kill them by breaking the law and letting ICBC pick up the bills.”
Getting to zero pedestrian fatalities needs ” lower speed limits, safer intersection design, better pedestrian signals, tougher enforcement to stop speeding and distracted driving (none of us should be taking calls from people while we’re driving), more reflective clothing, cyclists using lights and more. But mostly it means getting serious about this ongoing car violence against mostly seniors, in every neighbourhood, especially in January. “
Yet another opportunity to find out what’s what, and to put your views on the table.
Amid the vast array of projects underway in Vancouver, here’s one that will move lots of people, take motor vehicles off the road and so mitigate growth-related problems, and provide an opportunity to increase business density along a major corridor and residential density around it.
Planning for the Millennium Line Broadway Extension is underway.
Saturday, January 28. 1-5 pm
Douglas Park Community Centre (801 W 22nd Ave – near Heather St.)
Tuesday, January 31 4-8 pm
Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Dr.)
Wednesday, February 1, 4-8 pm
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral (154 E 10th)
A summary of key info is HERE, in a long, long PDF.
A summary is HERE of the alternative technologies and plan variations that were considered.
When more people have more ways to get around, it brings more smiles to more business owners. Especially those that are on or near the new Arbutus Greenway. It does show the importance of the connections from the Greenway to the transit, ped and bicycle infrastructure that the Greenway meets.
Thanks to Jen St. Denis in MetroNews for this article discussing two BIAs (Marpole and Kerrisdale) that think the finished Arbutus Greenway will help bring customers to their shops.
The Arbutus Greenway is a 9-km long corridor, stretching across the city, with the opportunity to develop something magical out of a disused railway right-of-way. The next step is upon us, and another chance for us all to get involved.
The background is that the City of Vancouver wants to create a high-quality public space for walking, cycling and wheeling, with a streetcar line in the longer-term plan. Previous planning material is HERE (14-page PDF), including several reference designs from other places like Atlanta, Minneapolis and Chicago (with costs).
For those new to the idea, here’s a definition: Transportation greenways are linear public corridors for pedestrians and cyclists that connect parks, nature reserves, cultural features, historic sites, neighbourhoods and retail areas.
You’ll get lots of chances to see what’s up, and to put your thoughts on the table. Free hot chocolate, too.
Online survey HERE until Feb 15.
- February 4, 11:00am – 2:00pm
at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House
- February 9, 7:00pm – 9:00pm
at Marpole Community Centre
- February 11, 2:30pm – 5:30 pm
at Roundhouse Community Centre
Pop-up Hot Chocolate Kiosk
The plan will increase sustainable alternatives to the motor vehicle, and so help to reduce congestion on the roads as the region grows, and further the vision of density and transit orientation. This is smart and necessary. Smart, too, is a focus on integration of transit, cycling and walking.
Phase One also begins to deal specifically with the hidden congestion so prevalent in Metro Vancouver — the transit pass-ups and overcrowding due to high demand. Odd, isn’t it, that we rarely hear about this amid the noise about motor vehicle congestion.
Major detail on Phase One HERE in a 104-page PDF, which also serves as TransLink’s Strategic Plan until superseded. (Funding detail starts on p 39/104).
The funding for this Phase One is a combination of Federal ($370M) and Provincial ($240M) money for capital only. The 23 municipalities will fund $500M for capital and $800M for 10-year operating costs. As a result, the munis will increase fares and property taxes. They will also borrow money, introduce a development fee and sell TransLink property (such as the Oakridge site, which brought in an astonishing $ 440M).
The big bucks will come in Phase Two, which will see construction of new rapid transit and a new Pattullo Bridge, among other things. There are serious hints of upcoming tolls and road pricing (a.k.a. mobility pricing) to fund Phase Two. The Mayors have already begun lobbying the Feds for infrastructure money via the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for transit, plus other things such as housing. No sign of Provincial intentions yet.
Excerpt from “Seizing the Moment: Budget 2017 Recommendations From Canada’s Local Order of Government”
It’s no coincidence that the world’s most dynamic cities feature some of the best transit systems. People want to spend less time commuting and more time with their families. And those faster connections increasingly attract top employers, skilled workers and innovative professionals.
Local transit solutions will tackle national challenges as well. Getting people and goods moving faster will kickstart economic growth. Getting more cars off the road will reduce Canada’s climate-changing emissions. And we’ll finally start recovering that $10 billion in productivity that our country loses to gridlock each year.
Given the right financial tools, large and mid-sized cities have major transit expansions ready to go. These projects incorporate light rail, streetcars, hybrid buses, accessible transportation and beyond—as the backbone for innovative, lower-carbon models of urban land use and development. In many cases, planning, consultation and engineering are well underway.