Thursday, May 7, 2009

UBC Forum

Last night, I had the change to attend a forum called “Travel by Design: Local Transportation Research and Implications for Surrey” that was hosted by the UBC Alumni Association at the Guildford Sheraton Hotel. There were two presentations followed by a brief question and answer period.

This first presentation was by Andrew Devlin, BES (Pl.) , MA Candidate in the Institute for Resources, Environment, & Sustainability at UBC. He spoke about walkability and how the built environment affects our quality of life. He presented the idea that our quality of life in urban areas has at its base, our built environment that affects our behavior (will we drive, walk, or bike?), that affects environmental quality (the air we breathe), that finally affects our quality of life (bad health, obesity).

Andrew has been working on a Travel Lab for Metro Vancouver because of the lack of local Canadian research on walkability. One on the interesting things to come out of the lab is a walkability map for the Metro Vancouver region. This lab is lead by Dr. Lank Frank at UBC. We posted this data last June.

Some Interesting Facts:
-Adults in the top 25% of the most walkable neighbourhoods drive approximately 58% less than those in more auto-oriented areas.

-Access to grocery stores is very important for walkable communities.

-Whaley, Fleetwood Town Centre, Guildford, Newton, Cloverdale, White Rock, and Crescent Beach are the most walkable areas in Surrey while South Surrey, Fraser Heights, and Port Kells are the least.

The second presentation was delivered by Clark Lim, P.Eng and PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering at UBC, titled “A Hodge-Podge of Transportation Planning Fact and Fiction”. Clark previously worked for TransLink and on the Evergreen Line planning process. His main emphasis was on the fact that there is not enough good data about transportation in Metro Vancouver, and that policies and plans need good data to support them.

Most of the data we use is based on TransLink/Ministry of Transportation trip surveys that are don every 4 years. Usually they have a sample size of 0.5% of our totally population. He seemed excited about the fact that the 2008 survey used a sample size of 2%.

Some More Interesting Facts:
-Average growth rate is 10.6% in the region. Baby Boomers are aging and need alternative transportation.

-10.5% car added from 1994 to 1999.

-18.5% transit growth in same period 1994 to 1999.

-Richmond, Surrey, Langley, North East Sector are the highest growth areas.

-$1billion in transit spending is needed to change transit mode share in the region by 1%.

-33% of trips in the region are for work/school, but 50% of trips are for social/recreational/personal reasons. We needs to start looking at moving people beyond the peak travel periods.

-Peak travel periods are saturated and therefore the peak periods are expanding in duration. Mid-day trips auto trips are also on the rise. We are not as bad as Toronto which is saturated most of the day.

-Transit has seen major growth during peak travel, but a 10.6% reduction during the mid-day in the 90's. This was due to the removal of the mid-day discount by TransLink.

-Pattullo Bridge traffic has dropped since 1994 because of the HOV lane added to the Port Mann Bridge in 1999. This shows the interconnectivity of our bridge system. We have no idea what effect the Golden Ears Bridge/Pitt River Bridge will have on Port Mann Traffic.

-HOV lanes on Highway 1 travel at an average speed of 74km/km while general travel lanes travel at an average speed of 53km/h.

-When he was working on the Evergreen Line, they looked at light rail because it would stop at more location and serve the over 70% of trip in that area that remain local. As we all know, it has turned into SkyTrain.

He added that we need to stop thinking about moving vehicles, and start thinking about how we move people. He used the quote “today’s problems are yesterday’s solutions.”

I will a link to the audio of the presentation hopefully later today.

-Link to Walkability Presentation
-Link to Podcast of Forum

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