Monday, September 24, 2012

Paying lip service to active transportation

With all the issues around active transportation (walking, cycling, transit) funding in Metro Vancouver, I’ve been wondering if our elected officials and their inner-circles actually believe that an active transportation network should be a key part of our transportation system.

I was at a political event two weekends ago and bumped into a road builder. We got into a chat about transportation in Metro Vancouver and he told me that the automobile would always be the dominant form of transportation in our region. I mentioned stats about places like Downtown Vancouver where active transportation is king and was told that Vancouver is different. Vancouver is different because over the last 20 years, it has focused on building an active transportation network with land-uses that complement. Any municipality in Metro Vancouver could do the same.

This brings me to last weekend were I was at another political event. I got talking about bike lanes. The person I was talking to mentioned that she’d never seen anyone on a bike lane in Abbotsford. We got into a chat and in the end both agreed that off-street and separated bike lanes were the solution to attracting more people to cycling, but she didn’t believe that cycling could be a viable form of commuting for most people. I had another chat with a different person about how, in 2010, a senior MOTI planner told me that after the Gateway Program the Ministry would essential be a public transit infrastructure delivery agency. A lot has changed since then as I was told that there were other priority now like replacing the Massey Tunnel.

While those with power to affect our transportation system give lip service to public transit and active transportation, I think that they don't truly believe that it is a viable forms of transportation for the majority of people in our region. Some politicians get it and most planners get it, but in the South of Fraser I feel like the car will be king until we get people in power that understand the link between transportation and land use, and the benefits that comes from building an active transportation network.

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