Thursday, August 18, 2016

Road blocks to building a sustainable transportation system in Metro Vancouver

Today will be my last post on Metro Vancouver’s annual progress report, “Progress towards Shaping our Future,” for our region’s growth strategy that has been adopted by all but one municipality.

I’ve already posted about creating a compact urban area, supporting a sustainable economy, protecting the environment and responding to climate change impacts, and developing complete communities. Supporting sustainable transportation choices is the last major goal of the regional growth strategy.

TransLink and Metro Vancouver have a shared role when it comes to supporting sustainable transportation choices. While Metro Vancouver guides regional land-use objectives and sustainability goals, TransLink is responsible for developing and implementing a long-term transportation vision.

Legislatively, because the Mayors’ Council must approve any long-term TransLink transportation plan, and because there appears to be a good working relationship between our regional district and TransLink, the regional growth strategy and long-term transportation strategy generally align. You can view TransLink’s long-term transportation strategy and the Mayors’ Council 10-year transportation vision for our region to better understand the nuts and bolts of the transportation strategy for our region.

One of the unfortunate realities in our region is that the provincial government, whether it be the NDP or Liberals, tends to beat by its own drum resulting in massive freeway projects (such as the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge) that don’t align with our regional growth strategy.

One of the major regional growth strategies is to ensure that both land-use plans and our region’s transportation system encourage transit use, cycling, and walking, while discouraging single-occupancy vehicle usage. This also extends to ensuring the flow of goods and services in our region through the lens of sustainability.

The following map shows the 10-year transportation vision for our region.

Map of Mayors' Council 10-year transportation investment plan. Select map to enlarge.

One of the other key metrics is the amount of people that are within walking distance of frequent transit services. As of 2011, 55% of residents in Metro Vancouver were within walking distance of frequent transit. More current information will be available after data from the 2016 census is released.

In next year’s progress report, there will also be updated information on the share of trips people make by transit, driving, cycling, and walking.

The safety of our transportation system is of critical importance. Unfortunately between 2011 and 2013, the rate of injuries and facilities due to collisions increased.

2011/2013 vehicle related collisions, injuries, and fatalities. Select table to enlarge.

How we design our transportation system can have a profound impact on safety. Designing roads that encourage people to drive slower reduce serious injuries and fatalities.

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