Active transportation networks in cities enhance health, the safety of our communities and the long-term sustainability of our society. The recent debate on Vancouver's Pt. Grey and Cornwall active transport (walking, cycling, non-motorized options) corridor exemplifies the bumpy road ahead as we repurpose cities to more liveable neighbourhoods.
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This debate flared up because the City of Vancouver is considering active transportation infrastructure along a beautiful beachside drive. As a resident of Kitsilano and as a walker, cyclist, and driver, I'm aware that changes will have an impact but, a new, well-designed active transport network needs to work for everyone in the neighbourhood. This development would make the commuter route safer and more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians. And, by virtue of that, a safer route for drivers as well. It would also move the needle on the City achieving its transportation goals to make Vancouver a more liveable and sustainable city.
City planners have consulted with the community over six months and are adjusting the corridor design to meet resident concerns. Traffic will increase in some areas, decrease in others and some parking may be removed. The proposed new route will be accessible for all ages and abilities to enjoy the health benefits of cycling. Research has shown that every hour spent cycling increases your healthy life expectancy by more than one hour.
By 2020, the City aims to increase the share of active transport trips to 50 per cent. This is entirely possible if we continue to build the network of cycling infrastructure. Since 1992, when Vancouver began its ambitious cycling network, the share of active trips has increased 45 per cent and the use of vehicles is down 20 percent. In the past four years, active transport trips have increased to 44 per cent of all trips taken in the city. Dedicated cycling lanes on Burrard and Dunsmuir have bumped up use by 40 per cent. We can expect similar increases on Cornwall with the right infrastructure.
Residents need to be part of the solution. The new plan would provide a strong incentive for residents to use active transport more often, like those of all ages do in European cities. In Germany, those over 65 make 41 per cent of their trips by walking or biking, compared to the U.S. where only 0.5 per cent of those in that age group cycle. But it wasn't always this way: European cities had very similar levels of vehicle use to North American cities in the 1970s. After experiencing significant increases in fatalities and pollution, they began investing in active transport alternatives. Besides creating a more liveable and safer community, the transportation sector is the largest source of GHGs in B.C. and it's the toughest sector in which to reduce emissions. A combination of alternative fueled vehicles and getting people out of their cars is needed if we want to meet our climate targets. If all B.C. achieved Vancouver's Transportation 2040 plan goals of reducing vehicle trip share to 33 per cent we would reduce over 2 million tonnes of GHGs. Over the next decades, we can pave the way in Vancouver as a leader in tackling transportation changes. Let's find solutions that work for residents, Vancouverites and for the future.
For more info on the benefits of active transportation check out these videos from SFU.
Why the current situation is unsafe.
And you can join this event hosted by SFU to discuss changes to the network.