Thursday, August 12, 2010

Freeways Leading to Greenways

Township Councillor Jordan Bateman posted this very good article on Fort Langley and roads on his Langley Politics Dot Com blog. He talks about the opening of the Golden Ears Bridge, which meant the decommissioning of the old Albion Ferry. Don't you miss all those radio reports of a 5 sailing waits, the lineups that never ended and all for a 10 minute ferry ride?

Anyway, the impact on Fort Langley has been considerable and life in this great little section of Langley is returning to that village concept of old. I recall sitting outside the old cafe on Glover Road and 96th Avenue and watching that pent-up traffic from the Albion Ferry letting loose. That crosswalk was a dangerous place for pedestrians and I saw more than a few close calls. Today there's a new bicycle shop in Fort Langley that even offers rentals just as they do in that big City of Vancouver.

In the 1950's we were well on our way towards building communities focused around the automobile. Even the transportation planning manuals of the day encouraged governments to disconnect neighbourhoods, design cul-de-sacs and place freeways right through major cities. There was no end in sight to all this madness until the 1990's when cities like Boston decided to tunnel under the city, throw down the freeways and replace them with greenways. It was the huge beginning of The Big Dig. As a teenage that hung out in Boston, I recall having to climb under a low freeway flyover in order to get from the Quincy Market area to the Italian North End and thinking how insane that was. But look at Boston (and other cities that deconstructed downtown freeways) today...

Today, New Urbanism encourages planners to connect neighbourhoods and build structures that are human scale. Cities that support active transportation like walking, skateboarding, rollerblading, cycling or whatever else you can do without a car and fuel.

Sometimes we need an "All of the above" philosophy as Bateman says. Maybe sometimes we need to get too much of something to get us to realize that we've lost our way. Fort Langley definitely has a greater "sense of place" today without all that traffic and the pedestrians are walking much slower through those crosswalks these days!

No comments: