Monday, August 18, 2008

In response to the comments from Ted Godwin

Ted Godwin commented on my post the other day on transit and road improvements needed in the region.

Peak Oil: It is not happening now and is not going to happen in my lifetime. The price of oil will rise and fall over the years, but the simple reality is that the current rate of consumption is not going to drain out the reserves we have globally. Because of the low oil prices a few years ago, exploration was dramatically reduced and reserves were not growing. Now with high prices there is renewed exploration and reserves are increasing.

In any case, the issue is not oil at all, it is energy. We are not facing any danger of running out of energy. As the price of oil rises, other energy sources will take the place of oil. You can only believe in peak oil as a problem if you have no understanding of economics. In the early 19th century we had 'peak wood' - the forests of the eastern US were disappearing to keep the forges of industry going and early trains rolling. The replacement fuel was coal. This in turn was replaced by oil in about 1900. Oil, which is no danger of running out, will be replaced as we develop cheaper alternative technologies.

What will not happen is that people are not going to give up their cars. There is a human love affair with being able to control your own travel. Numerous societies have measured their wealth based on how many horses or camels a man had. Others measured a man's worth by the size of his boat. These examples predate the car and show this is a fundamental human pattern. Trying to deny individual car ownership as being a core of our society is only set yourself up for disappointment.

Distribution of work and housing in the region: When I mentioned the big box stores in this context, it was not for the shoppers, but for the workers. Millstream road in Langford has become a major employment centre in the region. LRT will not work in this region for commuters because our pattern of new jobs is not to have the concentrated in one core location.

The biggest single commuter destination for transit in our region is UVic, but the pattern of where people come from to go there means that there is no clear LRT route one could construct to improve on the existing buses.

Road Works in This Region: The road works I was pointing out in that posting are not ones that would add to more suburban sprawl. For a road to to that it has to open up an area to development that was previously not available. All the roadworks I suggested, except for one, deal with existing congestion. In fact their construction would reduce the greenhouse gases we produce in this region by reducing idling.

I do admit that a interchange at the new Westshore parkway will only make that new sprawl of Westhills be more attractive, but I personally would like to be able to get out of town faster when I am going up island to camp.
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