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.
Here’s an unattributed mural on Seymour near Smithe. Note the Dominos Pizza delivery bike.
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.
First, a disclaimer-I have an electric bike and two “standard” bikes. My electric bike is a prototype developed in Toronto that has worked faithfully when needed. It goes fast. It climbs hills. And it extends the range and topography of what I can cycle. It’s a great bike.
In a moment of genius, The City of Oslo is offering 25 per cent of the cost up to $1,200 for citizens to purchase an electric cargo bike. These bikes currently cost in the $1,800 to $4,800 range and can carry heavier cargo on trips, like groceries and/or kids.
The City of Oslo has suffered from diminished air quality and has temporarily banned diesel fuelled vehicles. Norway as reported in City Lab has “invested a phenomenal $1 billion in new bike infrastructure, so the paths that Oslo’s future cargo bikes use should ultimately be of high quality. But there are still some hurdles. Oslo, for example, is considerably hillier than, say, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, and it can experience some harsh weather conditions.”
Hmm…sounds like Vancouver.
“For that reason electric cargo bikes are a potentially greater part of the solution here. Not only do they give riders a push up hills, they also make bikes a feasible option for new purposes like weekly grocery shopping. They can even be used for the school commute: In Copenhagen, it’s already common to see parents pedaling several small children to school in a cart attached to their bike”.
The intent of the program is to provide 500 to 1,000 new electric cargo bikes, and to take more vehicles off the road, popularizing ” a currently underexposed form of transit, which more people may adopt if they see it in action and register its advantages.”
Would a similar program in Metro Vancouver encourage more cyclists and move more cars off the road?
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
From IEEE Spectrum (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers):
“Bicycles are probably the most difficult detection problem that autonomous vehicles face …
That’s why the detection rate for cars has outstripped that for bicycles in recent years. Most of the improvement has come from techniques whereby systems train themselves by studying thousands of images in which known objects are labeled. One reason for this is that most of the training has concentrated on images featuring cars, with far fewer bikes. …
Automated cyclist detection is seeing its first commercial applications in automated emergency braking systems (AEB) for conventional vehicles, which are expanding to respond to pedestrians and cyclists in addition to cars. …
AEB systems still suffer from a severe limitation that points to the next grand challenge that AV developers are struggling with: predicting where moving objects will go.
… cyclists movements are especially hard to predict.
That means it may be a while before cyclists escape the threat of human error, which contributes to 94 percent of traffic fatalities, according to U.S. regulators. “Everybody who bikes is excited about the promise of eliminating that,” says Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. But he says it is right to wait for automation technology to mature.
Another issue, too, that we need to start thinking about: Will pedestrians and cyclists be constrained from using streets without strict controls over where they can go?
If it’s possible for a casual pedestrian or cyclist to go wherever they want, confidently knowing that vehicles will be programmed to stop or avoid them, will people start to “torment cars”? And will there then be legal constraints to stop them by limiting the way the streets can be used – and who has priority?
My resolution when I return to Buenos Aires: I’ll sign up for Ecobici (it’s free!) before I leave.
Buenos Aires looks like an intimidating city when you see it sprawled out on Google Maps. And while the Subte connects up most neighbourhoods where a visitor is likely to venture, the distances are still significant. Bikeshare looks like a good alternative.
The City has a ways to go (don’t they all) to make it truly bicycle friendly, but it’s on its way:
So next time, Ecobici it is if I want to feel like a real porteño.
The BBC wades in on how the Police in London are dealing with a bicycle planning issue-Police officers in Camden Borough will no longer be charging cyclists who ride on the sidewalk or “pavements”, but instead examine why the cyclists are choosing sidewalks instead of the road. These officers are also following a protocol first adopted by the West Midlands Police, who are also enforcing a vehicular passing distance of 1.5 meters when overtaking a cyclist. Get closer to a cyclist, you will be stopped.
The intent is to discover what areas the cyclists feel “forced” off the road. It is the 1835 Highways Act which makes it an offence to ride on the sidewalk, and includes a penalty of 50 British pounds (about 82 Canadian dollars). Enforcement is up to the Police, and discretion is asked when dealing with children riding on sidewalks.
There is also some pushback from pedestrians, some that feel “more at risk from cyclists than cars and would not like to see the police dropping fines”. Many seniors are also very wary of cyclists on sidewalks, fearing the sudden movement will make them fall. Research undertaken by Victoria Walks in Australia shows that the ramifications of a fall to an older senior can mean death in months.
Sustrans, an organisation promoting sustainable transport noted “Many people in the UK do not feel confident or safe riding a bicycle on our roads. If we are to encourage cycling as an efficient and healthier way to get around our towns and cities whilst reducing cycling on pavements we need to better understand the concerns and needs of people and provide adequate cycle provision for them.”
Meanwhile,” Living Streets, a campaign group for pedestrians, wants better enforcement of the law, not less. Dr Rachel Lee, policy and research coordinator for Living Streets, says: “We know most cyclists prefer to use the road, but a small minority continue to ride their bicycles on the pavement for reasons of convenience or safety. This can make pedestrians feel vulnerable – especially those who are visually impaired, suffer hearing loss or have mobility issues. Although Camden’s emphasis on education is welcome, cycling on pavements is illegal. We want better enforcement of the law.”
“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.