Build complete, walkable neighbourhoods interconnected by great transit and cycling routes.
Transportation and land use go hand in hand. Good land use can reduce the distance people travel and support more sustainable choices like walking and cycling by bringing people closer to their daily destinations.
The city should provide an appropriate mix of land uses and a high quality pedestrian-oriented public realm. Most services and amenities--such as grocery stores, schools, daycare, parks, community centres, and transit--should be within a safe, enjoyable 5 or 10 minute walk from where people live. Longer trips should be easily served by high quality transit and cycling options.
Links: http://www.vtpi.org/landtravel.pdf, http://vancouver.ca/planning/
This is an evolutionary process. The City of Vancouver is already considered a North American leader in this regard. Current and future plans and projects (e.g. Cambie Corridor Planning Program) will continue to embrace this ideal.
James Twowheeler commented
As we know, the majority of carbon emissions in BC come from cars, yet the streets in Vancouver are still designed to prioritize cars. This has to be one of the most important, cheapest and easiest improvements the city can make to its infrastructure.
Firstly, two rebrandings need to happen.
1) Cars lanes are for the disabled, for small businesses, or for the emergency services. If you don't need to carry more than a suitcase, and yet you drive to work, you are stealing the road from these constituents. The old should be on buses, because driving is unsafe.
2) Cycling is faster walking, it is not a sport. You don't have to wear special clothes or special hats, and you don't have to keep up with cars. You're going at bus-pace, but direct to your destination.
Get the marketing people on to these. Stop showing footage of Gregor hunched over mountain-bike handlebars with a helmet on: that's not appealling to SUV-driving moms, and it's not how 10% are *ever* going to commute.
The second point should be backed up with infrastructure changes, namely putting bike lanes beside the sidewalk, not on the moving-traffic side of parked cars. There is already roadspace allocated for bike lanes, it's just in the wrong place. And just as pedestrians have painted markings at intersections, so cyclists need them too.
Here's a plan: book a day; sit down with the downtown business community representatives and tell them that bikes are coming, so we'd better plan for how to get a bike lane on every single street. We can do it all at once, and lose only through-traffic, no parking.
The bus improvements (bulges and traffic-light control) on Main street should be rolled out everywhere. It is insane that the 99 b-line has to stop at traffic lights: the traffic lights should only go red after the bus is through. Buses weaving across bike lanes and fighting back out into traffic is an appalling urban planning decision that needs correcting: bulges and correct placement of bike lanes on the other side of the parked cars will fix this.
Finally, the City must pressurise translink to double the number of buses per route. If you can't just turn up, wait 5 minutes, and get a bus, your system is unusable. 15 minute headways are not frequent service.
* bike lanes with no loss of parking (yay small businesses! boo thru-traffic)
* a usable bus network
Please see the following diagrams for a visualisation of all these corrections:
Transportation-wise, I am in favour of the increase in separated bike lanes downtown. However to truly put a "dent" in traffic congestion, intermunicipal projects to create more separated bike lanes between cities and close to existing public transportation infrastructure (i.e. Lougheed Hwy bike lanes and Central Valley Greenway) along with increased taxation for vehicles for improved cycling infrastructure will induce change.
Steven Forth commented
We need to create communities that people live and work in. Zoning laws need to be changed to mix more businesses in with residential housing and to make it easier to operate a business from a home. The current zoning laws act against sustainability on many levels.
I third ematheus. We need to create communities that people live in, not travel in and out of. Of course, people need to get out of their homes and be involved with this as well, but if amenities were available in our own community, the need for jumping in the car decreases. If we get to know the people in our community, there is a stronger bond and feeling of belonging. People take ownership of their community, enhance it, keep it tidy and have better relations with their neighbors, and also, better mental health. Burnaby has made some great efforts to create community along their portion of Skytrain (e.g. Gilmore & east) where they have mixed use surrounding stations, access to amenities & transit, and community spaces. If we saw this happening more around some of our stations, we may see less crime in these areas.
And to further Janine's point; if we get to know our neighbors more, children might walk/travel together to school and maybe parents will stop driving them and creating traffic jams outside schools.
Janine Brossard commented
Lets make it easier for children to cycle or walk to school on their own so parents don't have to drive them. This may even make it easier for parents to bike, walk or take transit to work in the mornings also. As it is currently illegal for children to bike on the sidewalks I propose designing safe bike friendly (e.g. with barriers) routes within 10 blocks of every school. Children 9 years and onwards should be able to get to school safely on their own and meet friends along the way. Many parents feel it is too dangerous for children under 16 to bike alone on the roads or on bike routes with no barriers.
Steven Forth commented
I would like to second @ eMatheus. Vancouver needs a complete redesign of its zoning as part of a Green City strategy. It has to become easier to have small offices (not just one person home offices) and workshops in homes and farming and industry have to be reintegrated into residential areas. The strict separation of function in modern NA urban planning has had many negative side effects. This is going to be a touch issue and we will need a lot of public consultation, experimentation and sympathy for each other, but I believe we can, over time and with experiment, come up with a much more liveable approach. I also think that zoning in Vancouver over planned and top down and that we need to shift to more community and evolutionary approaches. It is a mistake to think there is one optimum solution, we need to have options. Also, as part of a Green City we need to make recycling and maybe even sewage processing more local! The current mega solutions are points of failure and they are so expensive they do not allow for experimentation.
I totally agree. And land use is key. Most of the comments have focused on transit, which is obviously important, but just wanted to emphasize that the right mix of elements within a city will make it alive, both in the sense of being dynamic and green. If people have to travel far for any activity, be it working, living, shopping, entertainment, etc., it requires more energy to provide this transport (even if it is 'greener' energy and transportation as was already pointed out).
Additionally, the other transportation network, the one that moves goods as opposed to people, is also responsible for a high percentage of the carbon emissions and energy use of the city. When designing land use policies, the city should keep this in mind, since, for example, reducing industrial zoning might actually cause people to have to travel farther to their jobs and also mean that goods have to travel farther to get to the city. The same goes with other resources.
i agree, see my post on adding neighborhood amenities under the Georgia Street Viaduct
Just a quick note to second Juvarya. I've ranted enough in other fora about Vancouver being over-proud of it's every-15-minutes "frequent" bus service. Lets just build the transit network properly (real bus-only lanes, real frequent service) and maybe add a couple of destinations (I tried to get from mount pleasant to jericho the other evening: took an hour, same time as cycling) and it'll be profitable before you know it. As you say, they're jammed at rush hour: lets get everyone a seat, and everyone paying.
Juvarya Warsi commented
Where is Transit? I've lived in London, San Francisco, Sydney and never had as much frustration with the downtown transit system as I have had here.
I regularly wait more than 45 mintues for buses in Vancouver, even in what you would think would be well connected neighbourhoods like downtown or Kitsilano.
During rush hour buses are full, uncomfortable and even dangerous if there are sudden stops or pick pockets on board.
We will never get people out of their cars if this is the best we can offer.
I hear a lot about biking but not a lot about how to improve our public transit system, which is not a working system at all.
How about using our waterways?
How about BUS lanes, not just bike lanes?
How about street cars?
... and incorporate greenways along streams consisting of runoff storm water and Native plants along the bike routes and pedestrian routes.
Parking stall buildings could be turned into shelters or affordable housing complexes. with green roofs
Bylaws for businesses need to change to reduce the nos. of parking spots they are now obligated to provide.
Transcare: ICBC needs to charge more for insurance and pay by use is an idea catching on in other places. Some people like to keep a car for a road trip, or emer or a special occasion.At their current rates per day system, it is much cheaper to pay by the year so people use their cars regularly.
Or, we pay as with medicare. This is a public necessity.
Driving should be viewed as a luxury. Not a necessity.
Taxiis could offer great monthly/yearly memberships too
Parking rates MUST be increased.
Insurance rates must be increased because we all have to pay for accidents, car injuries, police surveillance, road maintenance and congestion and pollution.
At Coquitlam Centre and other shopping malls, buses don't even go into the malls, leaving seniors, parents, grandparents with small children to cross 8 to 10 lines of horrendous traffic before the light changes.
Making pedestrians share passageways with automobiles was one of the dumbest designs our civilization has done.
The dumbest is the use of the fossil fueled vehicle.In LA, vehicles out number people.
2 million injured yearly in the US annually and they kill each other on the roads 45,000 times per year.
The average maintenance cost per year for one vehicle is $9,750.
Oh yes! Transit should be free.
We have medicare, we should Transitcare too.
Besides, more transit, fewer accidents, pollution and less stress and money used for roads, repair, police surveillance, emergency response, hospital care,courts, rehab,street cleaning,etc.
Pradeep K.Verma MBBS commented
If there are not going to be enough users for all this infrastructure, would the cost be justified and borne happily by the citizens of Vancouver? 98% of people are still going to keep using the cars so would the investment made into the walkwasys a smart move?
Pradeep K.Verma MBBS commented
Let us give a serious thought to free transit for all as well folks! It is feasible and would alter our psyche in a meaningful way.