Transportation – moving cars or people?

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I have written about this in the past but here we go again. The thought behind this post arose last week at a Glenmore Valley Community Association meeting. Councillor Carol Gran was kind enough to address the people at the meeting and inevitably the topic of transportation came up.

While addressing this topic Carol alluded to the City’s responsibilities towards ensuring that motor vehicle traffic was routed in an efficient manner – of course this leads to more and more roads and pavement in a valley such as ours, dominated by huge amounts of development and big increases in population.

I got the distinct impression from Carol that she (along with many others) equates transportation with moving motor vehicles rather than transporting people – there is a huge difference. If you wish to move motor vehicles efficiently in an area such as ours, then you must build more and more roads. The end result is that there is no more room and the grid lock that the City has been trying to prevent will happen anyway. Many cities have reached that point and found that they have no choice but to take drastic measures – one example being congestion charges for busy areas and another is toll roads and bridges, a measure that is not likely to make motorists happy.

The City budget has been squeezed enormously in the last couple of years by huge increases in the costs of building roads and related infrastructure. Not only are commodities such as steel, concrete and asphalt seeing huge increases in price but the price of obtaining land for these road building efforts has gone up along with the price of houses and other real estate.

I find it exasperating that we (taxpayers) spend huge amounts of money to build roads which to a considerable extent are taken up by single occupancy vehicles. It just does not seem fair and equitable to pay huge amounts for this purpose and then reserve a tiny fraction for “single occupancy bicycles”. Why is the motorist automatically taken care of while to a large extent the cyclist is ignored. Both pay taxes yet the motorist uses by far the biggest amount of resources and causes the most problems in relation to safety, noise, pollution, GHG’s and budgets.

If a jurisdiction concentrates on moving people efficiently then progress can be made. Such a change in philosophy would result in better transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and more people friendly cities.

Unfortunately the City continues to hire engineers and engineering techs for their transportation department. This is a mistake as engineers exist to building things. Perhaps they should look at hiring social workers to find solutions that do not involve more pavement.

John.

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