Two items of note from today’s Metro Vancouver transportation committee, both delivered via twitter.
First of all, we can that plenty of people aren’t keen on paying a toll to drive over a bridge, no matter what impact driving over the Pattullo might have on their daily commute.
The second shows us just how challenging the next 30 years are going to be, whether we like it or not.
(Photo: Jason Sanders)
Recognize this view?
You’ve seen it, many times.
Hint: it’s downtown.
Another hint: the big apartment block isn’t there anymore.
Third hint: it’s not a parking lot anymore.
Here’s a high up view of what it looks like now:
Yes, our parking lot from 1973 is, in fact, now Robson Square.
Amazing how space can change, eh?
So, back to Surrey. That’s what Vancouver did; is there a spot in Surrey that you’d like to see undergo a similar transition?
(Oh, and that first pic? It’s a screen grab from a fascinating 1973 NFB short on Stanley King’s work with downtown Vancouver residents in re-designing what would become Robson Square.)
The gridlock’s already there, so the impetus towards alternatives to cars was obvious. But is it possible that Surrey’s density plans are reflective of trends in car ownership?
Diane Watts has been asking for other options for some time now. In her state-of-the-city address last March, Watts said that current trends suggested a 50 per cent increase in car licences by 2040, but with only a 12 per cent increase in road bed.
Like every major city has ever asked, the question is ‘where do we put all the cars?’
But hope may actually lie in demographics. That growth in licences may change. From the Report on Business in August:
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, just 28% of 16-year-olds and 45% of 17-year-olds had driver’s licences in 2010 (the most recent data available). In 1978, the corresponding figures were nearly half and more than two-thirds. A trend is in place, evidently. This past spring, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reported that the proportion of 14- to 34-year-olds without licences rose to 26% in 2010 from 21% in 2000. Research done by the Frontier Group and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that the use of public transportation by Americans between the ages of 16 and 34 climbed by 40% between 2001 and 2009.
Similar trends are in place in Canada, Australia, Europe and Japan. The Japanese call it “demotorization.” Cars used to be status symbols. Now, they’re becoming unaffordable burdens.
There are simply not going to be as many drivers in the future as there were in the past. The generation that is moving into prime adulthood simply does things differently from their parents and that trend should be matched by policy.
For Surrey, it makes a whole lot of sense. Looking at the number from the 2006 census, we see that Surrey had a large population advancing forward in age. Those are the baby boomers, whose car use, as mentioned above, is historically much higher than that of their children.
From the City of Surrey’s 2006 Census demographics report (pdf).
See that bubble in the 20-24 range and below? Those are the young people we speak of. This is from six years ago, so the leading edge has entered their thirties and are having kids. Cost of living is a huge factor for them – if they can get by without a car, they’ll be supremely happy.
It’s also worth noting that Surrey has one of the highest percentages of people aged 0 to 19 in the region:
Prompted by Gordon Price’s little post on PriceTags…
Here’s some grist for the mill on how density can allow for substantial changes to a pre-existing, high-use multi-lane roadway.
Columbus Circle in New York has had some serious alterations in traffic flows:
You can probably guess which was before and which is now.
The project was initiated as part of what the NYC Department of Transportation called Green Light for Midtown. Along with creating a massive pedestrian mall in Times Square, the above alterations were made leading from Columbus Circle.
The project was based on a feasibility analysis that indicated it would improve traffic flow on 6th and 7th Avenue and improve traffic safety along Broadway.
The results have been impressive. As ever, it’s about having alternatives for people to use. Take out the cars, provide other means of transport.
As Gordon Price points out, there are three big Lower Mainland shopping centres looking at redevelopment. Two are in the midst of the (re-)planning stage, one is being renovated as we speak. The reconsideration of the latter two is being driven by close connections to mass transit. The other? Not so much.
But there is one common fundamental: both are being driven by the arrival and presence of rapid transit. Which, come to think of it, makes them interesting comparisons with Guildford Mall in Surrey, currently undergoing redevelopment.
Only Guildford, given the nifty new interchange at 152nd Street and the absence of any serious transit, will be almost entirely car dependent.
As Price seems to be suggesting, the implication of having a 70-storey tower at Brentwood Mall in Burnaby is it would extra-dependent on moving people in and out of the area through modes other than a car. There’s not exactly a lot of road-bed that could be added to the area, and the Millenium Line stop is *right* there.
The Brentwood plan is comprehensive and very, very interesting.
So, what of Guildford, which is a year away from opening the new addition?
Here’s a pretty glaring problem, that I think we know all about:
That’s not a whole lot of transit variety. Compare it with roughly the same grid from Burnaby:
That’s transit variety. People are being moved in multiple ways (including bikes – the Central Greenway is absent from the map). There’s rapid transit and lots of routes covering a diversity of locations. Not quite the same story in Guildford is it? It’s the old story, give people the option to use transit, and they will use it.
Hey Chicken, stop waiting for Egg. Get moving!