Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Changing patterns of how we move around the region

It would love to see the CRD focus a lot more energy on improving walking and biking in this region. There is no reason why we could not see a lot more people walking and biking in this region, and for my own unelightened reasons, I need to walk and bike more.

We need more and better infrastructure.

In Saanich, where the largest group of people live, we need to see a plan to have sidewalks on most streets ASAP, not just 1.5 km a year. Saanich needs to add 100 to 200 km of sidewalks per year.

We need more bike lanes - a lot more bike lanes. We need to build purpose built bridges, overpasses and underpasses for bikes and pedestrians. As an example, there needs to be a bike/pedestrian bridge next to the Bay Street bridge and a much better access to the Johnson street bridge for non cars. The rail portion would seem to make sense to change this to a dedicated set of lanes for bikes, the E and N does not need to go any further than the roundhouse in any case.

Personally I would like to see the regional governments find ways to build new dedicated bike routes. As an example, Maddock does not connect with the Galloping Goose. If four properties were purchased, there could be a dedicated connection from the end of Maddock through to Cecelia Road and then the Goose. The cost to do this would be about $2 000 000 and in return there would now be a good bike route from Tillicum Mall/Pearkes/Silvercity and the core of the city. It would also offer a nice commuting route from my neighbourhood into the city, something that does not exist now. Victoria would also have about another 3000 sq metres of parkland in an area where there is not enough.

The cost of the infrastructure for bikes and walkers is not very expensive but the benefits are huge for the community and the people.

The CRD could also work towards encouraging more people to bike by offering subsidies for offices to build facilities for cyclists. The CRD could also put a lot more bike racks in place and have them watched by cameras to reduce theft. Finally, why not an annual grant to all people living in this region to buy either a bike or good runners? Say $50 per person per year? The easiest way to finance this would be for the CRD, or other local government, would be to charge a $50 per year annual tax per commercial parking space.


Here is a recent article on the same issue.

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Victoria News

More infrastructure wanted for biking, walking


By Sam Van Schie - Victoria News

Published: August 16, 2008 10:00 AM
Updated: August 17, 2008 7:52 AM

Significant investments in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure are needed to get more people out of their cars and reduce carbon emissions, according to a report by the B.C. Climate Action Team released for public comment this month.

The team would like to see the number of trips made by bike and on foot doubled by 2020. That is one of 31 suggestions outlined in the report that could bring the province closer to its goal of reducing carbon emissions to 33 per cent below 2007 output by 2020.

But John Luton, executive director of Capital Bike and Walk, said this goal is too modest. A doubling of trips would only mean two per cent fewer car rides across the province. He thinks a better goal would be to increase the share of cycling and pedestrian trips to 10 per cent.

It’s better to set the goal too high and fall short, rather than reach it easily and then push that one aside,” said Luton.

Bob Lapham, general manager of planning and protective services for the Capital Regional District, said the CRD saw 3.2 per cent of trips made by bike or foot in 2006. That’s up from 2.4 per cent in 2001 when the CRD started its Cycling Strategy.

The strategy also aimed to double cycling, but had a 25 year timeline to do it. Something Lapham said will likely be achieved sooner than planned.

We got a major financial contribution from the the federal gas tax,” Lapham explained. “Whenever we can afford new infrastructure, we see a big spike in ridership.”

The CRD is ready to begin a $13-million project to convert the E&N rail line to a trail from Goldstream Park to downtown. It is also improving some problem intersections and adding more signs to mark bike routes this year.

But Maurine Karagianis, Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA and NDP transportation critic, said pressuring individuals to change their travel mode is just a symbolic gesture towards reducing carbon emissions.

A couple more cyclists, people not driving cars – that’s made irrelevant by what big polluters continue to do, unchecked by the (Gordon) Campbell government,” said Karagianis.

Climate Action Team member Naomi Devine said transportation is an important focus of the report because that’s where the largest proportion of carbon is produced.

She said the goal to double cycling is a good starting point and she thinks Victoria will meet and exceed the target, but the rest of the province may have a little more trouble.

We need to re-think how cities are designed, and get people living in walking and biking distance to their work, with reliable mass transit between cities,” she said. “You can’t look at climate change as a simple issue – it requires wide spread behavioural change at all levels.”

The full report by the climate action team is available online at www.LiveSmartBC.ca. Public comments on the report are accepted until Oct. 6.

The final targets set in the report will be set into law by the end of the year.

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