Vancouver Critical Mass

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Most trips into downtown core don't include car

Really interesting story buried on page B7. Not exactly overnight news but probably of more long term social importance than just about any other story. Cars are our religion.

What would really be interesting is to pair this information with a count of lanes/space allocated to getting downtown. One could use Google Earth and some public statistics that could probably found online. We would count the road width and then measure the proportion of that devoted to car-only (or car mostly) lanes, vs bike lanes, bus lanes sidewalk. Of course we'd have to count the seabus and skytrain... Not sure how to weight those. Ideally by number of people moved somehow. The long and the short of it would be then to juxtapose the high numbers of people shunning cars to get downtown and the low number of space devoted to transporting said masses. Pretty simple argument and irrefutable. Could be really compelling if done in a graphical way that is quick to read. Maybe someone with funding for this sort of education might want to take this on such as BEST and make it really slick. Could be a great tool for this upcoming municipal election.

 from BIKECULT: Using Trick Photography, General Electric's 1939 Magazine Advertisment Showed a Trolley and a Car in Proportion to the Amount of Road Space Each Occupied Per Passenger.

It's finally time to turn over a new leaf and walk at least part of the way to work.

You can drive part of the way and walk the rest or combine walking and transit. You will burn calories. You will not pollute. You will feel a bit smug.

And this month there will be thousands like you -- burned by high gas prices, frustrated by traffic congestion, given the finger once too often - tramping to work in the morning mist.

Evidence is ample that the revolution has already come to the City of Vancouver. Most trips in the downtown area (60 per cent) include walking or a combination of transit, cycling or walking. City-wide the figure is about 37 per cent. Outside Vancouver proper the news is not as good. Only 18 per cent of trips include walking, cycling or transit and only four per cent of commutes are by foot alone.

The growth of regional town centres, which combine commercial and high-density residential development, in Surrey, the Coquitlams, Burnaby and Maple Ridge should improve that figure as people begin to live and work in the same neighbourhood.

But if you live in the low-density suburban sprawl that characterizes much of Metro Vancouver there is a good chance you are using your car for nearly every trip you make. Hey, it's quick it's easy and the car is sitting right there in the driveway.

Changing your ways will not be easy.

If you are living a fast-paced, tightly scheduled, highly programmed family life with kids and work and you want to walk more you will have to do less.

If you want to leave smaller environmental footprints, start by getting the kids to school without your car.

Crosby, Stills and Nash suggested that you Teach your children well. You had better try setting a good example, because Lord knows they don't listen.

The B.C. Automobile Association is urging parents to stop driving their kids to school, especially if they live within a few blocks. If it really is too far for the little tykes to walk -- unlikely -- drop your kids a few blocks from school and let them hoof it.

"They will burn a few calories before they get to school and it will be much safer around the school for all the kids," said David Dunne, a spokesman for the BCAA traffic safety foundation.

Ironically, parents driving children to school are the biggest safety threat to school-aged children and all the traffic and idling just ensures that all the children will be breathing in exhaust fumes right before heading to class.

"The congestion around schools poses a tremendous risk to those kids who are trying to get to school in a more responsible way," he said.

Most schools have no parking and no stopping zones around school grounds to deter parents who insist on picking up and dropping off as close to the front door as possibly. Administrators who try to stop parents from ignoring the rules often face anger and abuse, Dunne said.

"There's an element of stranger danger for sure driving these parents' behaviour," said Dunne.

If you are a nervous type, walk with your kids. Better yet, get your kids organized with neighbourhood friends to walk to school together.

"Really what drives a lot of it is convenience," he said. "It's just easier to throw the kids in the car, drop them off and get on with your day."

Car convenience is such an unshakable myth. It comes from the fact that by driving you are working with "the system" instead of against it.... Ah well, a whole other topic entirely!


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