It was 50 years ago that people made a big decision — no freeways in Vancouver. It fundamentally altered the city, I say for the better. It changed the city’s look, feel, population and shaped its future.
HERE’s a review of the event by Maryse Zeidler at CBC News.
With a quote from PT’s own Gordon Price:
Gordon Price, a fellow at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, says freeways were seen as modern and economically attractive — linking cities to trucking routes, trade and the ever-expanding suburbs.
“Freeways have a very bad rep these days but, man, in that period in the 60s when they were newly built, they were astonishing,” Price said.
“Every city wanted a connection with the continental freeway system … I mean, why wouldn’t you?”
When I am roaming the city, I think of other big decisions, and imagine the battles and back room maneuvering that went on: Stanley Park, the seawalls, West End’s traffic calming. Not to mention those little-bitty bike lanes. All so much accepted now that their reversal or removal would be unthinkable.
Which brings me to upcoming big decisions: well, how about mobility pricing?
In a preview of the local mobility pricing work now underway, consider the story of Stockholm. Their scheme prevailed over fierce initial hostility, got bad reviews early on (36% public acceptance) but, oh my, now gets support from more than 2/3 of the population and all political parties HERE‘s a 42-page PDF: a primer and tutorial on the scheme, its design, the decision, the process, its politics, and its results from Jonas Eliasson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.
The Stockholm charges went from “the most expensive way ever devised to commit political suicide” (to quote the then‐secret feelings expressed by the Head of the Congestion Charging Office) to something that the initially hostile media eventually declared to be a “success story” (e.g. Dagens Nyheter, June 22, 2006).
No doubt Metro Vancouver can expect similar battles, but a positive outcome on this big decision could change the metro region for the better, in my opinion, for many decades to come. We can watch and work over the next months as this big decision moves along.
Mobility pricing may not be as big a decision, but just might be as positive as the big decision, 50 years ago, on freeways.