Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inconvieniencing Drivers

Thanks to Gordon Price for these two gems embedded in a post a few months back:

A paper that shows car use is peaking (a phenomenon that I've seen reported for the Pacific Northwest as well), and an article that tells us that pissing off drivers is public policy in many European cities.

The first article gives us evidence that car use in many cities is declining, and then gives possible reasons. The most interesting, and I think relevant to New Westminster, are 1) increasing gas prices (duh!), and 2) a commuting time "tolerance limit" of about 1 hour.

If car use has already peaked, then we shouldn't be building more capacity, you'd think...instead, we should be concentrating on creating gas-free alternatives within the magic 1-hour commute. New West is already ideally situated for this with excellent transit and good bike path connections, at least to points west (east and south, not so much).

As far as discouraging motorists, I like the ideas presented in the last article - these are things that are already common in Europe:
- completely eliminate on-street parking in downtown cores
- instead of the "green wave" for car traffic, make it the "red wave" through town
- give pedestrians longer times to cross (stop traffic for longer), or use the "scramble" at intersections: stop traffic in all directions and let pedestrians cross to whatever corner they want
- make all lights "instantly" respond to pedestrian requests for crossing
- close roads down entirely in shopping districts
- congestion pricing (pay to drive in, or through, certain areas)

I note that the new lights that have recently been put in at the intersection of Keary St and Columbia St (near the Emergency entrance of RCH) are "instantly" responsive to pedestrians and cyclists. Even if the lights have just turned in favour of the cars, pushing the pedestrian button will cause them to change back for you very quickly - as in, within a few seconds. This is really nice; it's a heavily used pedestrian intersection, what with the medical buildings all around and people heading to and from the Skytrain.

I hope more of these ideas make it into the business areas of New West - they slow the traffic down and make it a much nicer place to walk and bike.

1 comment:

  1. We should be concentrating on creating gas-free alternatives within the magic 1-hour commute. New West is already ideally situated for this with excellent transit and good bike path connections, at least to points west.
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