Vancouver city council approves long-term transportation plan
City council approved a long-term transportation plan today (October 31) that sets a goal for at least two-thirds of trips in Vancouver to be made by foot, bike or transit by 2040.
Other targets approved as part of the strategy include implementing increased measures for cyclist and pedestrian safety, such as more crossing signals and better lighting, and a safety goal of zero traffic-related fatalities. The plan also identifies rapid transit along the Broadway corridor as a top priority.
Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs said there’s a “huge need” for rapid transit on the route, but acknowledged that funding challenges for regional transit must first be resolved.
“We’re really completely maxed out on Broadway, and have added bus service on 41st, 49th, 25th, 4th,” he said in a phone interview with the Straight. “All the cross-town services are being serviced as much as TransLink can. So it’s obviously time to step up to something more substantial.”
In the short-term, the city will look at measures such as traffic signal improvements and encouraging TransLink to buy some three-car buses or double-decker buses to increase service along the Broadway corridor.
“We’re going to be looking at any options we can to support TransLink’s increased capacity,” he said.
Meggs added that while the Transportation 2040 plan places increased emphasis on walking, cycling and transit, he maintained there’s “no push to reduce the number of car trips in a dramatic way”.
“The number of car trips has been declining by 1 percent a year for the last 15 years,” he said. “The plan assumes it will continue at that rate. It doesn’t require an absolute reduction on the number of car trips. What it proposes is to cover the growth with transit and walking and cycling.”
The current amount of trips made by foot, bike or transit in Vancouver is 44 percent.
Erin O’Melinn, the executive director of the cycling group HUB, spoke in favour of the plan in council chambers on Tuesday (October 30).
“It is a high level plan, so a lot of it is on principle and policy, rather than exactly how they’ll implement it, so we’re very supportive of the direction they’ve taken, and some key points that are really important are their goals for zero fatalities,” she told the Straight by phone.
O’Melinn said she was particularly pleased to see safety recommendations such as providing more education to cyclists, and encouraging ICBC to include more information about pedestrians and cyclists in their driver training.
“We’re really looking forward to the implementation plan that will get more specific,” she noted. “And I’m sure we’ll have lots more to say at that point, when they’re starting to talk about the specific actions that will be put in place.”
Council also heard from some speakers who were opposed to plans to expand bike infrastructure. Fedrico Fuoco of the Commercial Drive Business Improvement Association spoke out against the potential for a bike lane along Commercial Drive, citing a concern for sufficient parking to support businesses in the area.
Staff noted that specific actions in the plan will come back to council before implementation.
Other elements in the strategy approved today include a focus on supporting higher densities near transit stations, car-sharing, addressing gaps in the pedestrian network, and improving cycling integration with transit.
Through a series of additional recommendations approved by council today, staff were instructed to report back by February 2013 with options for consultation on the creation of public plazas throughout the city. Staff were also asked to come back by Spring 2013 with information on progress made to address immediate safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists.
According to the city, over 18,000 residents were included in a public consultation process on the transportation plan over the last two years.