Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More than the Grid

Last night I was looking at the Los Angeles area on Google Maps and was struck by how strong the road grid is in that region. Sometime in the urban geek circle we like to blame the cul-de-sac for the lack of transit usage, but while having a grid is important, it's only one part of the equation. Look at the following to maps, it would appear that Calgary should have less transit mode share than Los Angeles. In fact Calgary has 17% mode share and the City of Los Angeles has 10.8% mode share for transit.

City of Calgary

City of Los Angeles

Of course density is also important for building transit cities like the City of Vancouver or New York for example, but there is one other thing that we often overlook: the culture of transit. All things being equal, Calgary should have the worst transit usage in Canada as its physical form is far from transit friendly, yet elections are fought over who can expanding transit the most in that city. Major Canadian cities have higher transit usage than major American cities almost across the board and I think one of the reasons is that we don't think of transit as something for poor people or "losers"; taking transit doesn't have a stigma attached to it like in the US. Culture is powerful motivator and one that is sometimes overlooked when talking about transit.

No comments: