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Offline ozbob

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Cars come last in transport planning
« on: August 24, 2014, 04:02:24 AM »
The West Australian --> Cars come last in transport planning

Different approach: A Vancouver SkyTrain. Picture: Supplied

Cars come last in transport planning
The West Australian August 23, 2014, 4:42 am

About 50 years ago, two cities on opposite sides of the world faced the similar threat of a growing, car-dependent population.

Their responses could not have been more different.

Perth built roads.

Vancouver did not.

As a result, Perth now has an extensive network of major roads and freeways that ring and slice through the city.

Vancouver does not.

Instead, it has developed a public transport system that is the envy of the world.

At its foundation is a fully automated, driverless light-rail system that carries more than a million passengers a day.

But it also includes an extensive network of specifically designed buses, a competitive taxi industry, ferries of all shapes and sizes and even seaplanes that take off within a few hundred metres of the CBD.

While WA continues to commit billions of dollars to new road projects, Vancouver's 30-year transport vision - endorsed by a mayoral council last month - does not include a single kilometre of new asphalt.

By expanding its public transport system and making it easier for residents to walk and cycle, the vision's headline target is to create a community where half of all trips can be done by walking, cycling or public transport.

Work on achieving these goals has already begun.

Lanes of the Burrard Bridge, a significant river crossing similar in status to Perth's Narrows Bridge, have been taken away from motorists and given to cyclists.

There are plans to remove two 50-year-old freeway overpasses - the last significant pieces of road infrastructure built in the city - and replace them with big parks and affordable housing.

"Saying no to the freeways in the late 1960s and early 1970s was very likely the most important decision earlier generations of Vancouver leaders ever made," former Vancouver chief planner and urban design consultant Brent Toderian said.

"It set our city on the path of counterintuitive city-building.

"Since then we've built a huge amount of housing downtown, mixed-use and more compact communities and a much more walkable, public transport-friendly and increasingly livable city.

"It made our city more liveable, green, healthy and economically successful. Luckily, earlier generations rejected freeway thinking and our city owes them a huge debt of gratitude."

The refusal to build freeways was not imposed on Vancouver by its politicians.

It was the result of a massive public backlash.

In the late 1960s, the City of Vancouver started planning for a massive eight-lane freeway network that would cut through the city centre.

Its construction would have involved the wholesale demolition of neighbourhoods (mostly low socio-economic areas) and cost about $2 billion in today's money.

The first stage of the project, a six-lane elevated expressway known as the Georgia/Dunsmuir viaduct, was built in 1971.

It was the only section ever finished.

Criticism of the project, especially from residents who did not want to see their neighbourhoods destroyed, grew into a well-organised and persistent campaign that eventually forced the city to abandon the plans.

Former British Columbia premier and Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt was a young lawyer at the time and represented the local residents in their fight against the freeway plans.

He said the protests showed that residents had the power to decide the sort of city they wanted to live in.

"Our success told the world, and particularly other cities in North America, that Vancouver was marching to a different drummer," Mr Harcourt said.

"Instead of just building freeways for cars, we wanted to make Vancouver a completely livable city.

"We decided to create genuine green zones around the city and allow residential zoning in parts of the city that were previously zoned for commercial or retail.

"We also reinvented suburbia, making it more compact."

The success of the campaign signalled a major shift in thinking for Vancouver's policymakers - a shift maintained in the decades since.

All city councils since the 1970s, regardless of their political persuasion or ideology, have confirmed the policy of no more roads - not even road widening.

Instead, funding and resources have been increasingly devoted to a priority list that puts pedestrians first, followed by cyclists, public transport users and then car drivers.

In 1997, the priority list was confirmed in the city's first transportation plan - a blueprint described by Mr Toderian as "a game changer".

Mr Toderian, Vancouver's chief planner between 2006 and 2012, said this decision "to prioritise rather than balance" the different transport modes had played a big role in the "design DNA" guiding the city's growth.

"Since cars aren't going to disappear anytime soon, Vancouver still spends a considerable amount of energy trying to make driving a greener and healthier proposition, with examples from electric vehicle charging station pilot projects, to policies and zoning incentives that have contributed to our incredible growth of car-sharing.

"But the private vehicle remains the last priority," Mr Toderian said.

"We are not anti-car and we rarely ban the car, but prioritising it last has had a dramatic effect on the way we design our city.

"Our model of city building understands the 'Law of Congestion' and proves that when you build a multi-modal city, it makes getting around better and easier for every mode of transportation, including the car.

"It makes our city work better in every way."

Mr Toderian is advising cities around the world - including Sydney, Auckland and Oslo - about city planning and smarter mobility.

He is due to visit Perth in October.

"Cities around the world have been catching up to our way of thinking, and some are passing us," he said.

"Many are rejecting new freeways and even tearing down existing freeways and reconnecting their cities to their waterfronts.

"Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Seoul, Madrid, Oslo and well over 100 more cities have shown this city-building boldness.

"Increasingly, it's not bold at all. It's just smart.

"Our work found what most cities now understand - that taking down big car infrastructure doesn't result in traffic congestion and gridlock if you're designing a multi-modal city."
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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Offline Jonno

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Re: Cars come last in transport planning
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2014, 07:28:28 AM »
Courier Mail would never write the equivalent article!!

Offline Jonno

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Re: Cars come last in transport planning
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2014, 01:08:28 PM »

Less roads reduces congestion

The West Australian
August 29, 2014, 5:12 am

Building more roads to deal with traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.

It is a 60-year-old phrase that is still the oft-spoken mantra of transport strategies in Vancouver - the city often voted as the world's most liveable.

With overwhelming international experience suggesting that building bigger and wider roads actually makes traffic worse, Vancouver has decided to "use" congestion to its advantage.

Former Vancouver city councillor Gordon Price made worldwide headlines when he suggested congestion could be a city's friend. He is convinced that congestion can be managed to achieve benefits for a community.

"On one hand, congestion encourages more people to consider other forms of transport - like walking or bike riding or public transport," Mr Price said. "But it can also help authorities to manage the transport system.

"Well co-ordinated traffic lights can act as meters, allowing a certain number of vehicles through at any one time. If done effectively, it means the traffic continues to flow.

"And as the traffic is moving, albeit slowly, it makes it less attractive for motorists to dart off into side streets looking for a quicker route - the concept known as rat runs." Mr Price, who now works at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University, said building more roads to solve congestion was a legacy of engineers who had been dictating urban design and transport networks in many cities for many decades.

It was easy for politicians to accept their advice because, on the whole, building new roads was a safe, reliable and politically savvy approach to transport issues.

"But in many cities around the world, including Vancouver, city leaders have begun to realise that this can't go on any more," Mr Price said. "If it does, we will literally run out of space. It's a simple law of physics."

Mr Price said that, as populations grew, more people needed to travel in ways other than cars to allow enough room for the current number of cars, trucks and buses to move around efficiently.

"If the next million or so people all choose to drive, then we really do get gridlock since there isn't enough room to handle an increase on that scale," he said.

Commuting in forms of transport other than cars is far easier in cities such as Vancouver where there are options such as the SkyTrain light rail, an extensive bus service, several ferry services (some operated by private companies) and even seaplanes. There are far fewer options in Perth.

Former Vancouver chief planner Brent Toderian said the power of engineers to dictate transport policy was waning because "the math is so strong".

"The biggest mobility challenge in cities is the massive amount of space that cars demand - space to drive in, space to park in and space for cars even when the cars aren't using it," he said.

"It's staggering how much of a city is set aside for cars and how unwilling we often are to share that space with other uses and users.

"Vancouver has been showing the world for some time that the only successful way to improve commute times, lower vehicle miles travelled and improve mobility and accessibility is by prioritising walking, biking and public transport. Other cities have slowly begun to understand the law of congestion - that building more roads only adds more traffic and congestion."

We will literally run out of space. It's a simple law of physics. " Former Vancouver city councillor Gordon Price


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