It was one of the most prudent decisions of the new Provincial government. Instead of implicitly accepting the proposed ten lane bridge and decommissioning the Massey Tunnel, the new government declared they wanted to know why an overbuilt bridge on the floodplain with the most arable farm land in Canada was the preferred option. They also wanted to figure out why every member of the Mayors’ Council nixed this concept except for Delta, who stood to gain mass 20th century industrialization of the Fraser River if the bridge went ahead.
As reported by the CBC an engineer with experience consulting on public infrastructure projects is the contracted person leading the technical review of the multi billion dollar proposed bridge. Stan Cowdell, the president of Westmar Project Advisors Inc., is expected to report back in the Spring of 2018 with his findings. Mr Cowdell was also involved in the W.R. Bennett floating bridge in Kelowna which was a private sector partnership to design, build, finance and operate the bridge.
Earlier Claire Trevena the Transportation Minister stated that this review would examine whether the ten lane bridge, a smaller crossing, or different tunnel configurations would be the best option. The review will look at the existing tunnel’s lifespan, congestion and safety concerns. All the previously produced information will be reviewed and the need for more technical work may be identified in the course of the work.
The independent technical review is expected to culminate in a report by Spring 2018.
The adoption of AVs should not be allowed to replace time-tested places with something that would probably make our lives worse.
1) Be afraid
New technologies that increase convenience are unstoppable, whatever their impact on our long-term quality of life.
It happened with cars. Enthusiastic adoption followed by some dubious outcomes.
2) Be realistic (or, What to expect, when you are expecting AVs)
… major change is unlikely to happen for several decades … because most of the benefits of AVs really only kick in when we have full autonomy—a swarming fleet of shared vehicles that operates as a public good.
Heaven is fleets of shared electric driverless cars powered by renewable energy, and a more socialist—my word—wealth distribution system to help all of the drivers put out of work by driverless cars. Hell, on the other hand, is privately owned AVs, that, since they have nowhere to park, spend much of the day circling, doubling the traffic load.
3) Decide how much traffic you want
This is probably the key rule …
If (AVs) cut the cost of driving by 80 percent as anticipated, that’s supposed to add 60 percent of the traffic to city streets that are already at capacity. … But it’s actually worse …
If you ignore induced demand, 60 percent more trips are not a problem, as long as we have swarming. Elon Musk tells us that a driving lane full of swarming AVs can handle 3 times as many cars as it does today. So, problem solved, until you realize that, these days, traffic congestion is the principal constraint to driving.
This becomes especially alarming when we realize that AVs will make driving cheaper in two ways: money and time. You will pay less per mile, and won’t mind sitting in gridlock as you work or watch cat videos.
The only answer, I believe, is to regulate it, not with laws, but with lanes. Without a commitment to limiting capacity, all our parking lanes, soon empty, will not become bike lanes and greenways as promised, but more driving lanes. And sidewalks will feel miserable.
The right solution, is to make the streets what you want them to be.
4) Plan for more sprawl pressure
Here was a Lyft ad, ostensibly for last-mile service complementing our rail network, but I’ll be darned if it wasn’t an exact map of suburban sprawl.
Only with the car did the entire landscape take on wasteful, unwalkable, disconnected forms that now, more than anything else, characterize American life.
But there is recent good news, which is that cities and towns have begun to figure out that sprawl does not pay for itself.
5) Understand transit geometry
There is no getting around the fact that low-occupancy vehicles are a tremendous waste of street space. … Autonomous cars are a great supplement to transit, but, in congested places, they are not a solution to transit.
6) Don’t rob transit
This may be the greatest risk. In congested cities, replacing trains and buses with autonomous cars will cripple mobility. …
Unfortunately, just the prospect of future AVs is already threatening transit investment in certain American cities.
Meanwhile, Uber has set its sights on transit, and is offering UberPool monthly memberships at lower cost than a transit pass, some say to put the conventional transit out of business.
City leaders have the responsibility to teach their citizens about geometry—to teach them what even Elon Musk doesn’t seem to know—that a shift from transit to AV cars would reduce mobility.
7) Own the streets and own the data
It sounds implausible, but there is a very real worry that AV providers will ask to buy certain city streets, or certain segments of city streets, and cities will take the money.
Adam Gopnik: “Cities are their streets. Streets are not a city’s veins, but its neurology, its accumulated intelligence.” Never sell that.
Like Uber, AVs will represent a viable business model only by running on public streets. Sharing full data would seem a small price to pay for that privilege.
8) Don’t buy any urban vision that forgets urbanism
If you study modern urban history, you will see that every major transportation advance has brought with it whole new concepts of what the city is.
Traditional urbanism was not an invention, but evolved naturally in response to human needs. The adoption of AVs should not be allowed to replace it with something different.
9) Unify around a set of policy demands
Individual cities have little sway here, but working together cities can’t be denied. Cities can all create a protocol that to present to AV providers as a collective requirement.
10) Invest in the current technological revolution
A transportation technology available now has outperformed AVs by almost every measure. … That technology is called a bicycle. … Protected bike lanes are what you need to give a sense of security to civilian bicyclists.
Autonomous vehicles are the right answer to the wrong question. Why do MIT’s Media Lab, and Google keep asking how we can make cars better?
A better question is how can we provide the most useful mobility to the most people with the most positive outcomes for society? The answer includes cars, but also trains, buses, bikes, and walking—especially biking and walking.
You can learn a lot about the previous Provincial government’s Massey Bridge process by looking at how other observers view it. This article from the Windsor Star compares the Gordie Howe International Bridge project connecting the Windsor and Detroit regions to the halted George Massey bridge project in Metro Vancouver. That six lane international bridge is estimated to cost two billion dollars and is a public-private partnership, with a suggested opening for 2022.
A community advisory group member of the Gordie Howe Bridge project noted that the “scuttling” of that bridge could occur without sound financial backing, drawing a comparison to the George Massey bridge which ” was scrapped on the eve of construction despite years of planning, plus $66 million spent on site clearing and other preparatory work.”
While the Windsor article describes the Massey Bridge ten lane crossing as being built to ease metro Vancouver commuter traffic, it also describes the intent as replacing “a crumbling, four-lane tunnel feared to be at risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake”, that had a poor planning process and a lack of support from impacted communities. The article also states that local mayors were critical of the Massey Bridge which would increase congestion by throttling traffic into a four lane road.
Local Member of Parliament Peter Julian (NDP — New Westminster-Burnaby), weighs in calling the Massey Bridge plan “as “back of the napkin” thinking despite the large amount of money spent and preparation work completed.“Maybe it was a large, expensive napkin, but you had 10 lanes going into four lanes,” Julian said Friday. “There was no out (for traffic). It was absurd. It wasn’t well thought out and you had municipalities rejecting the idea.”
Ontario Member of Parliament Brian Masse (NDP — Windsor-West) for the Windsor and Detroit bridge said the two bridge projects appear eerily similar “on the surface,” but in reality are not. “One is an international bridge, the other was a provincial initiative that posed problems for a lot of municipalities which opposed the idea to begin with,” he said. “There seemed to be a lack of consultation, while we had full community consultation as part of a long public process.”
The Massey Tunnel/Bridge Crossing will be re-examined by the Provincial Government, with an expected study completed by late 2018.
It’s been one year now since Tsawwassen Mills, the highly touted Ivanhoe Cambridge offering was opened as the latest ‘megamall’ in their stable, which includes CrossIron Mills near Calgary and Vaughan Mills near Toronto. The mall was described in breathless terms as a game changer in Metro Vancouver, attracting regional shoppers to over 200 stores. Even a Delta councillor was quoted as saying “It’s definitely different at every gate, it’s a different style.”
Well, not really. This behemoth within 1.2 million square feet sucked up a lot of Class 1 farmland and paved a lot of space for 6,000 cars. The design of the parking lots and the entrances anticipated a high volume of shoppers, resulting in twisty and winding driveways into the massive development that frustrated shoppers trying to leave. On the opening day weekend, a volume of shoppers arrived for free merchandise vouchers and opening sales. When they tried to leave, they couldn’t, with many going “off-road” driving over curbs and grass to flee the Ivanhoe Cambridge complex. Many swore they would never come back. And local folks, those who have supported small businesses in Ladner and Tsawwassen have continued shopping in those small towns, understanding that the additional mall currently being built beside the mega mall is designed to vacuum customers from those two towns. The design of the mega mall complex, the advertising and the footprint is very similar to that used for the other two mega Mills stores. Since the land was leased from the Tsawwassen First Nation, some of the commissioned art includes inspirational pieces representing the Nation’s art, culture and history. But there was also the lost opportunity for this real estate arm of a Quebec pension fund to orient the mall’s windows and focal points to the traditional grounds of the Tsawwassen First Nations, and to interpret their rich history and culture within the mall. That testimony of time and place is sadly lacking and would have anchored the mall as a place of cultural learning. The mall is also lacking two things that make retailing effective~a density of consumers close by, and good accessibility by transit to the region. Indeed the mall has its own shuttle service to get employees to and from Scott Road Transit Station in Surrey.
You can look at the sales per square foot as a guide of how well this mall is doing~in Toronto’s Vaughn Mills, sales are $796 per square foot. In Calgary’s CrossIron Mills, sales are $662 per square foot. Tsawwassen Mills sales were based upon square foot per commercial unit, and were in the $275 dollar per square foot range. However this figure has now been taken off the Ivanhoe Cambridge website.
While the Delta Optimist reports that the manager of Tsawwassen Mills says that the complex is performing “on par with expectations” the manager then deflects, saying that “We are very pleased with how our other two Mills centres in Calgary and Toronto have grown and developed over a number of years”. He also stated that the actual performance figures for the mall will not be released until 2018 “due to competitive reasons.”
In an environment which includes expanding on-line purchasing, the proximity to American shopping, and where younger consumers are no longer spending their day at the mall, is there a future for this mega mall? Or will it, like Sears, become a relic of 20th century consumerism? Are the empty parking lots during the week an early sign of this mall’s demise?
This story from NBC San Diego shows how far motordom continues to dominate, even when there are youngsters trying to walk to school. In Solana Beach North County California, a busy intersection has been “deemed too dangerous even for crossing guards, leaving parents alarmed.”
Officials at Skyline Elementary removed paid crossing guards by the 1-5 freeway exits on Loma Santa Fe because “the intersection was too hazardous and difficult to navigate.”
Getting rid of the crossing guard gives no other path for children walking or biking to school to cross Interstate 5 without crossing freeway exits. The choices: Drive your kids or let them try crossing without an adult crossing guard. Parents being parents and thoughtful individuals, they have come up with some solutions to the problem, like getting a volunteer adult to assist at the intersection. They are also lobbying to prohibit right turns at some of the red lights to make the crossing easier and more understandable for children.
Meanwhile in Vancouver Denise Ryan in the Vancouver Sun reports on the independent school Stratford Hall located east of Commercial Drive between 14th and 16th Avenues. There are 500 kids, the drop-off for children is on Commercial Drive, and the kids cross the street to use Clark Park. This is a bendy section of Commercial Drive, and despite the school asking for a school zone to be located here to slow drivers, the City has continually nixed the request. Why? The City of Vancouver in a written statement says “because Commercial Drive is an arterial road, “installing a 30-km/h school zone proves difficult,” and that “speed humps and other traffic-calming measures are not feasible options for arterials and collectors,” in part because of the impact it could have on “operations of a variety of key services, including buses and emergency-response vehicles.”
Last time I checked this was a four lane road at this location, and every driver knows to pull over if they hear an emergency siren. Somehow I think bus schedules can also be adjusted to provide a safe crossing for kids in a two stretch block. It’s the 21st century~time to recognize that there are some schools on arterials and those kids deserve just as safe a crossing to school as does everyone else. It’s the exception that should be made for the safety and comfort of kids.
Thankfully a motivated group of “Grade 5 and 10s at Stratford Hall has taken on the task of researching and gathering data to try to effect change as part of their governance studies. They’ve partnered with their school liaison officer, Const. Cheryl Leggett, to document traffic flow and safety, and, with the help of a donor, and a substantial discount from the Anson traffic group, rented an electronic traffic-speed reader so they can build a substantive, data-driven case to bring to the city.”
And what does the school want? They want simple improvements, such as overhead lighting for the cross walk at 15th Avenue, and to have the stretch of street designated a 30-km/h zone. Is this really too much to ask for? Do we really need to trigger the ICBC warrant system by having someone die or be seriously injured at this site to get a change? A sustainable green city means taking care of the most vulnerable. That includes children crossing safely across the street to their school.
Price Tags is celebrating all things related to the Burrard Bridge and its 21st century transformation. And here is a blast from the past. This gem posted by Vanologue is on YouTube showing the amateur film made by Vancouverite Sid Groberman in 1934 of the drive across the Burrard Bridge and a trip to English Bay. You will notice that people are walking across the bridge on both sides, and that there appears to be two lanes of traffic in each direction. And you can park on the bridge to take photos.
Both the downtown and Kitsilano sides of the bridge sport three storey houses, and there is a billboard on the Kitsilano side. The Burrard Bridge was opened on July 1 1932 by then Mayor Louis Taylor. The three million dollar bridge was designed by Sharp and Thompson both graduates of the Architectural Association in London. These two architects also designed the winning master plan for the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey Campus.
There is a lot of folk-lore about the “raised gallery” or apartments above the central piers of the bridge. They was never lived in, but according to documentation from The Vancouver Archives served to hide the steel infrastructure, and provide a formal gesture to the downtown. G.L. Thornton Sharp of Sharp and Thompson stated. “Both central piers were designed and connected with an overhead gallery across the road. This helped to mask the network of steel in the truss from the two approaches, and has been treated as an entrance gateway to the city.”
Those two busts and the city crest that are on the piers were carved by sculptor Charles Marega, who also sculpted the two lions on the Lions Gate Bridge. The figures are of Captain George Vancouver and Captain Harry Burrard. By the way, Burrard never got close to his namesake bridge~he was on the sailing ship Europa with Vancouver in the West Indies.
One more reason for the Mayor of the Corporation of Delta supporting the Massey Bridge, despite all the other Mayors in Metro Vancouver nixing the project-Delta is getting a new casino! Price Tags Vancouver has previously written about the casino debacle in Delta . This new addition will be located directly east of the Massey Tunnel on the Delta Town and Country Inn site. The British Columbia Licensing Commission (the BCLC) apparently made the decision “after listening to the community and the clear feedback from the Corporation of Delta that the only suitable site on which it would consider a gambling and entertainment facility at this time is the Delta Town and Country Inn.”
The commission hired a third-party consultant that “undertook a detailed analysis of this location utilizing existing player data. This analysis shows that the Delta Town and Country Inn site will capture incremental revenue, with minimal impacts to adjacent gambling facilities in Richmond, Surrey and New Westminster.”
So why is this detrimental? As the Atlantic magazine notes, a Canadian study found that the 75 per cent of casino customers who gamble casually only provide 4 per cent of revenues. “A range of studies reviewed…estimated that between 40 to 60 per cent of casino revenues are earned from problem gamblers…drawn from the ranks of the vulnerable elderly.Half of casino visitors are over age 50, but casinos market themselves to the over 70 and even over 80 market, to whom gambling offers an escape from boredom and loneliness into a hypnotic zone of rapid-fire electronic stimuli.” With more than 15 per cent of the population in Delta over 65 years of age, the new casino will have a captive market driving to the casino’s motordom location.
Meanwhile the Richmond News reports about a theatre group that performs theatrical plays for seniors in Richmond with only one theme-the deleterious impact of gambling. Supported by the “community engagement provider” of the B.C. Responsible and Problem Gambling Program, the plays aim to warn vulnerable and lonely seniors about the danger of gambling.
“We came up with the idea five years ago to deliver meaningful messages to the public, especially seniors, through drama. We found that seniors often have a shorter attention span, so traditional methods like lectures are not very effective on them…Things that happen to older adults might make them a vulnerable group, like retirement from work and bereavement. Also, they have access to pensions and savings, and gambling might be an attractive source of recreation for them.”
The Licensing Commission continues with the party line. “BCLC respects the authority of local governments to choose whether they want a gambling facility in their community. Throughout this process, BCLC is committed to engaging with stakeholders and the public to incorporate their feedback into these plans.”
Delta gets another industry that is not 21st century focused, and certainly not sustainable in any way other than the 10 per cent revenues the Corporation will receive, which will be in the 1.5 to 3 million dollar range. All of this for a business that is all-consuming and only spits out their customers once they have no money.
In truly one of the most bizarre events south of the Fraser River, the Mayor of the Corporation of Delta was invited to speak to the Surrey Board of Trade as part of their 2017 Surrey Environment and Business Awards. Subject? Why the business community must force the Provincial government build a ten lane overbuilt multi-billion dollar bridge which will industrialize the banks of the Fraser River. No mention that most of Delta’s economy is based upon trucking and transshipment, with no diversity into more 21st century businesses. Delta needs the bridge to continue their industrial economic base which is all about motordom.
As quoted in the Delta Optimist “The impacts are not just felt in Delta, but in Surrey, White Rock, Langley, even out in the valley. The replacement of the tunnel with a new bridge will relieve on of the worst traffic highway bottlenecks in Canada and save businesses and commuters millions of dollars lost as a result of congestion, accidents and travel delays” the Mayor said.
To the Surrey business community that might not know that you cannot build a ten lane bridge to solve congestion, the Mayor had an enthusiastic audience. The Mayor also trotted out the Angus Reid survey that showed that the business community and residents supported the bridge. Without comprehensive road widening and new bridges at Oak Street, congestion at the bridge will simply transfer to other areas of Highway 99.
The clearest statement comes from the new Provincial Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena who stated We have talked to mayors who were very concerned that their vision for the Lower Mainland was not being recognized. As minister I think this is a responsible way to be acting when you are talking what will be, no matter what we do, whether it is a bridge, whether it is twinning the tunnel or tunnel and bridge combination, who knows what will come of this, but we are responsible with public money. We want to get this right.”
One of the big questions as we go towards electric car technology is where all those new vehicles are going to charge. The Independent reports that several London boroughs are converting some of their street light poles to also charge electric cars. Car owners buy a charging cord with a built-in meter that can be connected to the adapted street light pole. The meter records the cost of the charge.
Having this technology on the street means that residents who do not have off street parking are able to charge their vehicles, and also means that formal dedicated electric vehicle charging stations can be minimized. Some issues have been identified by planning staff such as “concerns of the cost of installation, charging points cluttering up streets, and implementing dedicated parking spaces.”
Locating the charging stations at light poles means that there is no need for costly infrastructure for charging stations, and minimal disruption on the existing streetscape. By making charging stations accessible to everyone, politicians hope that this will further incentivize the transition to electric vehicles and to cleaner air in London.
Get a little bit of rain and everyone gets back to business in Vancouver where the The CBC reports on the optimism arising from Greg Moore, the chair of Metro Vancouver and the other cities that comprise this region. Everyone knows that housing affordability and transportation are the two most important factors in every conversation about this region. The relationship with the new NDP government and the Metro Cities has been encouraging so far, in a refreshing type of way.
After dealing with the transportation referendum debacle for Metro Vancouver (which was part of the former premier’s election promises in 2013) the Mayors want to advance the Ten Year Mayors’ Vision they had all agreed upon (except for the Mayor of Delta) . That plan includes increasing rapid transit in the region and replacing the aging Patullo bridge. And that time is now.
With the new Provincial government actually talking to the Mayors and with the multi-billion dollar Massey Bridge (which was unsupported in the region except by the Mayor of Delta) on hold, there are now active talks on working together between the region and the Province to fund the agreed upon transportation initiatives. Instead of the Mayors finding out about the Province’s transportation priorities in the newspaper, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena is following up on her pledge to work directly with the regional municipalities on advancing their agreed upon plan. It was Mayor Mussatto of the City of North Vancouver that said it best-“The (previous) provincial government didn’t really value our input. We didn’t feel like we were playing as equals at the table.”
That appears to have changed, with more open lines of communication and a renewed interest in moving forward with the important task of making this region accessible to everyone. As the Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore observed about working with the new Provincial government “We have disagreements on different things, but we work through them together. If you’re sitting at the table and working together, although you might have even major disagreements on one topic, you can still work together on other topics.”
It’s a simple and direct approach for these two levels of government to advance transportation and accessibility across the region.
At the end of August Angus Reid conducted a survey of Metro Vancouver residents about their preferences for a new Massey Bridge at the Massey Tunnel crossing on the Fraser River. Remember that this survey was paid for by the Association of Consulting Engineers of B.C. and the B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association. Both of these organizations would have a lot of people quickly employed if the multi-billion dollar ten lane bridge was to be built. Indeed, that was solidly in the Liberals’ Provincial election platform-build the Massey Bridge, employ 6,000 British Columbians. Don’t ask whether the bridge is in the right place, is sustainable, overbuilt, or a threat to the estuary. It’s about jobs.
Respondents throughout the region were asked the following survey question: “As you may be aware, the provincial government has developed a plan that would see the four-lane Massey Tunnel replaced with a new, higher-capacity bridge over the Fraser River. What are your views on replacing the tunnel with a bridge?”
Now that question has a little bias-it is assuming the replacement of the existing tunnel with a new, shinier, higher performance huge bridge. Respondents were not given any other alternative. The way it was written and said will of course make folks go for the unseen shiny penny, not the existing plodding tunnel which has been so slandered by the Corporation of Delta as antiquated, congested, and dangerous. Never mind the fact that it has performed like a solid workhorse for nearly 60 years and has 80,000 daily vehicles, and that similar designs to this tunnel are still in daily use in Europe. Let’s not consider that the tunnel technology could be part of a hybrid solution of either twinning with a new tunnel or working in concert with a smaller new bridge.
Local press including The Vancouver Sun’s Stephanie Ip reported the survey results, which (of course) suggested that 75 per cent of regional respondents “said they would like to see a higher-capacity bridge built to replace the aging tunnel.” Those results were even collected by political party, showing that ” those who voted for the B.C. Liberals in the spring election were most likely to support the Liberal-launched bridge project, with 90 per cent voicing support. However, 64 per cent of those who voted NDP also support the project.”
And there’s some interesting stuff-only 37 per cent of respondents in Richmond/Delta, the people most impacted by tunnel “congestion” favoured the new bridge. Which gets us back to why this survey was even conducted in the first place-if you are asking folks farther out in the region what they want for an efficient driving experience, of course a new bridge sounds perfect. But for Richmond and Delta drivers, the loss of Class 1 arable farmland, the degradation of the banks of the Fraser River for industrial businesses, and the honking huge size of this multi-billion dollar bridge brings up more questions about the most efficient way to support regional transportation. An overbuilt bridge in the wrong place doesn’t solve congestion. It merely moves it.
Kudos to the current Provincial government for reviewing the billion dollar Massey bridge and working with Metro Vancouver and the Mayors’ Council to figure out what the transportation needs are on a regional basis. Let’s start planning our transit and transportation to ensure that all residents have mobility and accessibility. Let’s ensure the plan at the Massey crossing is truly the best fit, and considers all the options, not just an “either/or” on an overbuilt expensive 20th century bridge.
You would think that a large metropolitan region like Metro Vancouver would have a good relationship with the Provincial government and it would be in everyone’s interest to promote good thoughtful transportation across this region. That has not been in the case in the past, where an overbuilt ten lane bridge was being planned on the unique and sensitive Fraser River delta which also holds the most arable soils in Canada. Quite simply, the building of this bridge would solve “congestion” experienced going through the current George Massey Tunnel, but would move that “congestion” along to other parts of the same system, especially towards Richmond and Vancouver. What this bridge would do is reinforce the 20th century notion of the region’s future growth as being dependent on truck traffic from the Port Metro Vancouver’s Deltaport, and would increase the industrialization of the banks of the Fraser River. Unlike every other port in North America, Port Metro Vancouver does not operate 24 hours a day, and truck traffic is not restricted through the tunnel at peak times. And when a large truck stalls in the tunnel during rush hours, there’s a huge delay, especially if specialized tow equipment needs to be brought in.
CBC reports that the Provincial government is putting the Massey Bridge on hold, and “launching an independent technical review to explore best options going forward.” The current procurement process for building the bridge has also been cancelled. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena states “”We want to look at the different options. There was a sense that not all options were thoroughly examined.”
And here is the best part-in terms of Massey Crossing options, “We want one that will get the approval of not just the engineers, but people who live and work in the region.”
This major rethink on the tunnel replacement was not in the NDP’s campaign prior to the provincial election, but does recognize the importance of working with the region, not just industrial and commercial interests on regional transportation infrastructure. Working together and ensuring all interests are represented enables everyone to move towards good connected regional transportation.
The Economist reports on a new trend that is getting attention in China-the return of the bicycle. Unlike the conventional docking systems that are used for bike-sharing initiatives in many cities, a user-friendly approach has been taken in China where bike rental is paid for by smart phone and then the bike can be left anywhere after the ride. The use of GPS technology enables the bikes to be located with a mobile app. Since the typical bike ride by bike share is about fifteen cents or one yuan, and since bikes can move faster in areas that cars cannot, bike share has caught on.
Established in 2015, bike share company “OFO” has over 2.5 million bike share yellow framed bikes in more than fifty Chinese cities, with rival Mobike installing bright orange wheeled bikes. Things must be going well as Ofo is now commencing bike share services in Singapore and San Diego, as well as Cambridge England.
So has the dockless bike system had challenges? “Some riders hide the bikes in or near their homes to prevent others from using them. Another trick involves photographing a bike’s QR code and then scratching it off to stop others from scanning it. With the stored image, the rider can then monopolise the machine. But customers caught misbehaving can have points deducted from their accounts, making it more expensive for them to rent the bikes.”
While thirty years ago 63 per cent of people in Beijing biked, the number today is only 12 per cent, perhaps because cycling in China is dangerous-40 per cent of road accidents include bicycles. Previously installed bike lanes have been taken out to make room for cars, and bicycles are seen as causing congestion according to “some city authorities”. “This month the southern city of Shenzhen ordered limits on the number of shared bikes. Other cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, are considering similar measures.”
While bicycles are battling for their road share, the use of bikes does represent sustainability and reduced carbon emissions, both goals that China is striving for. Will Chinese cities be willing to retool their boulevards and plazas for bike lanes to accommodate the return of the bike?
From CBC via Price Tags Editor Ken Ohrn is the notification that “four of the five members of the Transportation Investment Corporation board, which oversees B.C.’s Port Mann Bridge, have been removed by the provincial government.”
That’s right- “In an Order In Council formally approved on Friday, chair Daniel Doyle and directors Anne Stewart, Clifford Neufeld and former finance minister Colin Hansen had their appointments rescinded.” One person remains, Irene Kerr who is the CEO of TI Corp and will be on the board until the end of 2018. TI Corp is the governmental creation that managed the construction of the bridge and the subsequent tolling on this and the Golden Ears Bridge.
While the Port Mann is not making money as projected from tolls, it is still projected to pay for itself . The 2017 B.C. budget suggested that losses of $88 million dollars in 2017 and $90 million dollars in 2018 are expected. The TI Corp was also to provide “support” for the implementation of the ‘George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project-when will he NDP government be announcing what they are doing with that vast overbuilt project?
Meanwhile south of the Fraser City of Richmond Councillor Carol Day supports the transit idea of the Mayor of Delta who was pleading for a ten lane bridge, and for a rapid transit connection to get that bridge. Councillor Day calls the refusal of the Mayors’ Council to consider rapid transit to Delta the “special sort of short sightedness that is iconic of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. This creates a piecemeal approach to infrastructure that approves individual projects in isolation of one another without sufficient consideration of the future.”
Councillor Day further notes: “Mayor Jackson is absolutely right in saying that we have to think about building capacity for 75 years into the future rather than merely extending existing transit lines. We will be able to plan out a much more efficient transit network if all current and potential projects support each other and a unified vision.”
It is going to be an interesting time as the new Provincial government reviews and unravels the truths and myths about the Massey Tunnel crossing, and evaluates what will work best for the Fraser River crossing in Delta-where, how, and why.
Back to the south side of the Fraser River where positional information on the Massey Tunnel and Bridge appears daily. The latest is reported in the Delta Optimist where the Mayor of Delta has added another reason for the support of an overbuilt bridge on the sensitive Fraser River delta-it could have light rapid transit. But, just like the Mayors’ Council’s lack of support for this behemoth of a bridge, the rest of Metro Vancouver nixed that.
Here’s what the Delta Mayor said: “I’ve been trying to press this with the mayors for a long time in that it makes sense to take the Canada Line and run it south, over a bridge, and it’s meant to do that, accommodates that. The idea being maybe go out to the ferry terminal, with stops in Ladner and Tsawwassen. Most importantly, it would go through all the southern area, as opposed to the northern area where the Expo Line goes through Surrey”.
“We have to look ahead 75 years. It’s a great way to connect communities. I was pretty much poo pooed because they said they want everything on the table. They want, for instance, the Evergreen Line extended. They don’t want even a planning concept forward for a line that will pick up hundreds of thousands of people through that great burgeoning area of Surrey that travel by car everywhere because there’s no option”.
So why after the support of the massive ten lane bridge is the Mayor of Delta so bullish on rapid transit? Because if a bridge connecting Delta and Richmond is built, “LRT could run down the middle of the freeway”.
Meanwhile City of Richmond Councillor Harold Steves stated: “The 10 lane bridge is not designed for LRT. Under FOI (freedom of information) Richmond received 1400 pages of bridge plans and a special report on LRT on May 8th. The LRT report states that because of the scattered population LRT would not have enough ridership to warrant putting LRT on the bridge. That would certainly be even more true with a 10 lane bridge.”
Richmond Councillor Steves is getting a little miffed at the Corporation of Delta’s continued one side clamouring for a bridge. Even the CTV is reporting on the “fake news” Delta is propagating with their $35,000 budget going towards advertising their point of view on newspapers and online. They have even bought the domain “weneedabridge.ca” to garner support for their project. Full page newspaper ads tell readers that “the existing tunnel cannot be sufficiently seismically upgraded,” and would not be “physically capable of withstanding a moderate to severe earthquake.”
“This ad is a really great example of fake news. They’ve taken facts that aren’t in context and put them together to tell us something that isn’t real, Councillor Harold Steves said.”
The New York Times reports on a draft report from thirteen federal agencies that is not yet public. The news is not good- “The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years.” This of course suggests the direct connection between emissions and climate change.
How to mitigate climate change? That “depends on future emissions and the sensitivity of the climate system to those emissions.” This report is part of the National Climate Assessment which the U.S. Congress requires every four years. the National Academy of Sciences has reviewed it-the White House (and President Trump) would release it.
It’s no surprise that this report confirms what people in the northwest have already been experiencing-there is confidence that the frequency and severity of warm days has dramatically increased since the 1960’s. “With a medium degree of confidence, the authors linked the contribution of human-caused warming to rising temperatures over the Western and Northern United States. It found no direct link in the Southeast.” The report also noted that temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are warming at twice as fast as the global average.This rapid warming will contribute to accelerated land and sea ice melting that will impact sea level rise along coastal cities and communities.
There are several concerns, some political with this report-one, the Environmental Protection Agency must approve it, despite the fact that the current agency’s administrator does not believe there is a causal impact between carbon dioxide and global warming. Secondly, there is a concern that the “Trump administration could change or suppress the report. And lastly “those who challenge scientific data on human-caused climate change say they are equally worried that the draft report, as well as the larger National Climate Assessment, will be publicly released.”
How will this report will be translated with a lack of political will and direction into policy and programs? “The National Climate Assessment seems to be on autopilot because there’s no political will that has taken control of it,” said Myron Ebell, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.”
You kind of wish this was in the Friday File, but as CBC reports some big truck owners are none too pleased about the fact that Peterborough Ontario has a driveway standard of 6 metres long. A homeowner complained to the CBC when they found their 6.3 metre truck would not fit into their driveway. Good thing they were not in Kitchener or Whitby that allows driveways to be as short as 5.5 metres.
When the homeowner bought the house they knew that the garage was going to be too small for their truck that they use for business. The homeowner of course wants the city to make the minimum driveway length longer to accommodate their long vehicle and to “protect the next buyer”.
Planner Sean Hertel notes: “As homeowners are driving less, municipalities and developers are creating less parking,” he said. “Imagine if we accommodated every single parking request. We’d be overwhelmed by vehicles. At the same time we’re trying to be more sustainable. Those things are at odds and I think we have to draw a line. There are tradeoffs.”
But it’s not over yet for the homeowner with the overlong truck. Sidewalks will be installed in front of their house, meaning they could be ticketed for obstructing the sidewalk. In this case, there is no exception for motordom’s largesse.
There is some weird silliness going on across North America as cities are increasingly pointing to pedestrians as being responsible for being struck, injured and killed by cars. In Seattle where laws have finally caught up with the 21st century and you can no longer talk on a cell phone and drive at the same time there was an immediate reaction to also start finger-pointing at the pedestrians. And that did not stop, with several articles coming forward stating quite simply that an alarming increase of 11 per cent in pedestrian deaths in 2015-2016 may not be “solely due to distracted walking, but it certainly is a contributor.”
Even Seattle’s Vision Zero is being questioned, because while the City’s 3,000 annual crashes are caused by distracted driving, impairment, speeding and failure to yield to a pedestrian,”there is little to no mention of pedestrians failing to obey the rules or simply pay attention.”
Given this finger-pointing, it should be no surprise that Honolulu stepped in with a brand new by-law that means pedestrians can’t look at a cell phone and cross the street. And here’s the strange part-the Mayor actually believes this will lower the city’s very high pedestrian fatality rate. No one looked at slowing cars, or better road design, or longer pedestrian crossing times, all proven to lower pedestrian fatalities. Once more, motordom reigns supreme, “perpetuating the media-driven myth that pedestrians are responsible for their own deaths.”
Driver distraction has increased by 300 per cent as a cause of pedestrian fatalities and accidents in the United States, with 70 per cent of pedestrian injuries occurring while a driver was using a cell phone. Drivers are allowed to use cell phones in every state, although some require headsets. The Governors Highway Safety Association’s recent report notes that “74 percent of pedestrian deaths occur in the dark, which suggests visibility, road design, and driver focus would have played a bigger role than pedestrian distraction. Furthermore, 15 percent of pedestrians were killed by drunk drivers, and more than one-third of pedestrian fatalities were themselves over the legal limit to drive.
So how why did Honolulu adopt the pedestrian not looking at a cell phone law? It appears that one city councillor “got the idea from talking to high schoolers who were worried about their friends wandering into the street.” There’s no data behind it.
It may be July, but a lot of us have not forgotten what last winter was like, with icy sidewalks, snowy streets, and abandoned garbage collection as sanitation crews struggled to get up and down laneways. The CBC reports that the City of Vancouver has learned from the disastrous glacial pace of the salt trucks and plows, and are planning an increased budget for more materials and more vehicles for this winter season. There’s some interesting information too-last winter was classified as a one in thirty year event, with the longest continuous stretch of days with temperatures at 5 degrees or below-42 days.
The Council Report outlines a strategy to prepare in advance of a snow event and then to follow-up when one occurs. There is priority for emergency routes and “pedestrian paths associated with Priority 1 bike lanes” which will be cleared in under 12 hours. Within 48 hours, school routes, collector streets and transit routes will be cleared; and within 7 days, remaining emergency routes and arterial sidewalks will be cleared.
The City is also contemplating fining folks who are driving in Vancouver’s snowy conditions without snow tires. As the report notes: “Some of the obstacles to snow clearing included people driving ill-equipped private vehicles that blocked traffic and snow clearing equipment. In addition to providing clear messaging about travel during snow events, the following is recommended:
Amendment of the by-law to fine drivers that are on the road in snow conditions without winter tires; Installation of signage at entry points to the city to reinforce that vehicles need to be properly equipped to drive in the city during snow events; and Inclusion of information about public responsibilities for winter driving readiness in the City of Vancouver with City tax receipt mail outs.”
Taryn Scollard who wrote the Council report noted to the CBC: “It’s about those who have caused disruptions,” she said. “It’s essentially trying to help people understand to play their part. Certainly on those snow days if you choose to not get winter tires then perhaps you stay home, take transit or bike or walk.”
The City will also be upgrading their response to people who have not shovelled the sidewalk in front of their residential properties by 10:00 a.m. every day as specified in the bylaw. While most people hope that last winter’s long stay won’t be repeated soon, the council report does mention that “these more extreme weather events may become more frequent in light of climate change.”
As reported in the Boston Globe, more American cities are taking the attitude that their city traffic flows well without the intervention of pedestrians touching the walk/don’t walk push button. Imagine-remember all those times you were visiting New York, Seattle and London and thought that merely pressing the pedestrian walk button somehow gave you unbridled priority over vehicular traffic? Um, no. Those cities have already decided their light cycles on many major streets.
Even those wonderful Belisha beacons (as in the photo above) are being retired in Great Britain. They are named after Leslie Hore-Belisha the British Minister of Transport that first installed these lights in 1934.
But back to Boston. In Boston “the city sets most traffic signals, particularly during the hectic daytime hours, to a schedule that gives people on foot a chance to cross at regular intervals, while ensuring that drivers get their turn, too.” And thinking that walkers are understandably dismayed at hitting fake “placebo” buttons to cross the street, “Boston officials say the setting is actually aimed at making life easier for walkers by eliminating the need to push a button at all.”
Because of heavy traffic volume in many downtown cores pedestrian crossing time is just incorporated in the intersection timing. “A lot of these intersections were at some point designed more for motor vehicle movements, and later on cities said, ‘Oh, we want to make this more for pedestrians,’ ” said Alex Engel, of the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
Now many traffic lights are simply programmed assuming that pedestrians will be crossing on every cycle. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for walkers, and does slow down and pulse traffic on major streets. As Gina Fiandaca the commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department states “Ideally, the signal functions in such a way that you minimize the wait time for pedestrians, ” Surprisingly Ms. Fiandaca did not give a list of pedestrian intersections in Boston that are on this automatic light cycle.
New York City has removed hundreds of nonfunctioning pedestrian push buttons. It is an odd experience to be on a street without the button, but the cycle time and the walk time in New York City is fairly generous. There’s also an interesting story about Winnipeg who was required to remove pedestrian activated buttons in response to a lawsuit undertaken by an advocacy group for visually impaired and disabled wheelchair users. The 2008 settlement meant that most pedestrian buttons downtown have been replaced with an audible message button. However buttons are still in use in other parts of the city.
But why keep pedestrian push buttons on traffic poles if they really don’t change the traffic cycle? As one Bostonian said “They’re there to calm the tourists.”