--> Getting It Right: Singling out one user won't solve car problem

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Singling out one user won't solve car problem

Because we haven’t seen enough inane policies out of the crazy City Hall in Vancouver, we’ve just had word that a new one is on the way.

Fred Bass, the anti-smoking, pro-biking, former Green Party turned COPE Classic councilor has been pushing for the Burrard Street Bridge to become far less car friendly starting next spring (that would be after the next election for those of you keeping track).

One lane in each direction will be converted to bike-only lanes, squishing morning and evening commuter traffic into the remaining two lanes. Bass hopes that commuters, in desperation, will change their commutes and start using the Granville Street Bridge with greater frequency.

Bass conducted his own traffic survey - hopefully using more than his car and a stopwatch - to determine that it takes less time in the morning to get over the Granville Bridge. Using this strange logic, he encourages commuters to abandon Burrard to the Kits bike crowd and flock to Granville.

Of course, his survey says nothing about the traffic jam that is sure to ensue on Seymour Street, but that’s a politician for you - they just care about getting their voters over the bridge, what happens on the other side is none of their concern.

Would I like to ride my bike to work? Sure. Sounds terrific. But like thousands of other parents in this city, by the time I drop my young kids at school and make a bee-line for my office, I just don’t have time to jump on my bike and still make it to my desk before my boss gives my job away to someone else. The afternoon follows the same program, but in reverse.

Closing lanes on bridges does absolutely nothing for my commute and the commute of most parents in this city. In fact, it makes it worse. To top it all, Council is also asking staff to develop a report on the feasibility of high-occupancy (HOV) lanes on Burrard. This has the potential of leaving only one lane open each way for the average mom and dad commuter who doesn’t have the flexibility in their schedules to ride their moped to the factory.

In the most basic way, this is gratuitous sucking up to the self-righteous, pro-bike lobby by a Council that has lost direction because of their internal feud. I’m sure this proposal makes them all feel better and certainly would appeal to those who want to solve the world’s problems by strapping a bike helmet to the head of every man, woman and child.

If the reason for this crazy scheme is reducing traffic to downtown, there are probably better ways to achieve that goal. How about tolls or user fees on the bridges to downtown? How about higher parking fees downtown? These economic-based incentives might encourage commuting parents to try to car-share and move shoppers and entertainment seekers from their cars and onto transit or bikes.

Instead, most of us are going to end up fuming in our cars and pumping more green-house gasses into the atmosphere from our idling cars. Singling out bikes to the detriment of all other commuters simply will not achieve what I can only guess is their objective - less cars downtown.

(As seen today in 24 Hours Daily)


At 2:40 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you that economic incentives are the right way to reduce single occupancy vehicle traffic, and I disagree with you that closing one lane is not an economic incentive. People value their time in the same way as they value their money; something taking more time has the same effect as something costing more - it becomes less attractive relative to its substitutes. Some commuters who fume in their cars will opt for a bicycle instead, just as others would do if a toll was placed on the bridge. The city's plan to close the lane may be more or less effective than charging money, but it is certainly not irrational.

At 3:41 p.m., Blogger X said...

To make things worse, there are reports that the City Hall may try to make one lane from each direction of the Burrard Street bridge as HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane beside the bike/pedestrian lane.

Not to mention that Cambie Street will begin the construction of the RAV line starting next summer, many commuters from suburbs south of Vancouver will have to avoid Cambie Street in their daily commute.

God bless commuters in Vancouver if the City Hall is going to implement any of these stupid ideas on the Burrard Street bridge.

At 6:33 p.m., Anonymous Ray said...

Heya neato
Kinda of a strange question, but what exactlly is this here blog about.
I dont want to sound rude (I am not trying to be) is there a certian
direction or motivation for your blog?


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