Thursday, September 27, 2007

Punishing People in Cars

Mike Harcourt, speaking on Gateway asks, "Why punish people in cars?"

We might also ask, "Why punish transit users?" Right now transit users have to put up with over-crowded buses and sky trains, increased fares and a bus fleet that is smaller than plans called for. And they are only getting vague promises of improvements in the distant future sometime after the Gateway program.

So why are we rewarding people in cars with more lanes? These are the people that are contributing to climate change that will have severe consequences for the planet. These are the people that are contributing to pollution that kills 6,000 Canadians every year. And pollution that increases the frequency of asthma attacks among our children.


Why not reward those people who make choices that make our planet a better place to live? Why not reward those whose choices improve our health and well being? Perhaps not everyone can make that choice, but why not reward those that do?


Powered by ScribeFire.

2 comments:

BC Tory said...

"So why are we rewarding people in cars with more lanes? These are the people that are contributing to climate change that will have severe consequences for the planet. These are the people that are contributing to pollution that kills 6,000 Canadians every year. And pollution that increases the frequency of asthma attacks among our children."

This is a very ideological and unrealistic way of looking at it. The Port Mann Bridge was built in 1964, and was built for the population of 1964; however, the GVRD has grown exponentially, and will only continue to do so at this rate. I also have a feeling, given the exposure the city will receive in 2010, the Lower Mainland's population growth has nowhere to go but up.

Simply refusing to build more lanes by twinning the Port Mann Brdige simply because it condones pollution is absolutely ridiculous. There is no correlation between twinning the bridge and the amount of pollution rising. Likewise, I highly doubt you will get less people to take cars by deciding not to twin the bridge. The fact is: people will drive their cars whether the bridge is twinned or not.

Anyone who owns a car isn't simply going to start taking public transit because it's considered environmentally friendly. Why? Well, a multitude of reasons. For one thing, public transit may not be able to take them to work or school straight from their house. People may have to take two, even three, buses to get where they're going. What's more, the multitude of stops a bus takes, combined with the fact it does not necessarily take the fastest route, means public transit will get you to your destination exponentionally slower than a car will. For example, driving to school will, for me, take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes. The nearest bus, on the other hand, takes anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour, and I'm not even counting the 15 minute walk to the bus stop, or the time spent waiting for the bus (anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes). So, given these circumstances, when I have a car at my disposal, which option do you really think I will pursue? Which option do you think the majority of Vancouverites would pursue?

I admit one thing: I don't live on the Mainland, I never have lived on the Mainland, and although I may consider living there later in life, I'm not at a stage in my life where I'm making that decision. So I concede that, yes, you likely know more about the Mainland than I do; however, this situation you described could very well be applicable to a city with any major growth. I highly doubt that the issues commuters and public transit users face in the GVRD is any different than that of the GTA (where I spent 18 years of my life) or the CRD (where I live now).

All that said, I agree with you on one matter: public transit users should be rewarded. I think buses, skytrains, etc. should be made much more accessible to all residents of the Lower Mainland. There are many people who CANNOT drive cars and have no other means of daily transportation. I do not think this should limit their ability to get around, or, for example, prevent them from pursuing job opportunities in areas of the GVRD that are farther away.

That said, it has to be a dual solution, not an us vs. them scenario of public transit pitted against cars as you so put it. Cars and public transportation alike need improved conditions with the population growth the region faces. To insinuate that only half the solution will work shows a basic lack of understanding of infrastructure and growth.

And it doesn't take a Vancouverite to figure that one out.

Rob said...

"BC Tory",

Thank you for your comment.

I try to base my comments on evidence and realism rather than "ideology" and "unrealism." So please be prepared to respond with evidence-based arguments.

"There is no correlation between twinning the bridge and the amount of pollution rising."

What evidence is this based on?  Even the Gateway Project's own reports admit that Highway One expansion will increase pollution.  All of the transportation and urban planning experts I have heard speak on this subject agree that the expansion will increase pollution.  There is some disagreement on how much but among the experts there is universal agreement that pollution will increase.

"...you will get less people to take cars by deciding not to twin the bridge. ..."

There is much evidence to support that fact that people will drive less if infrastructure changes are made. See my post on this at: http://rbaxter.blogspot.com/2007/06/don-build-it-and-traffic-will-stay-away.html

"...given these circumstances, when I have a car at my disposal, which option do you really think I will pursue?..."

Again there is evidence that given good efficient public transportation car users will choose to make many of their trips using transit. Zurich is a good example of a city where car owners make a good percentage of trips using public transit. Let me know if you want more detailed studies of this example.

"... that only half the solution will work ...."

But isn't that what the Gateway Project will do? Residents in the Fraser Valley already have the option of driving to Vancouver. They don't have the option of taking public transit. Shouldn't we be giving them that option first?

Again thank you for your comment. I hope you enjoy looking at this evidence and learning more about this topic.

rob_