Monday, April 30, 2007

Bill Good: The Recap

Well, I wrapped the interview on Bill Good. I'll admit: I was nervous. As an old reporter, I have a lot of respect for Bill's journalist roots--and for the CKNW Monday morning, 9 o'clock slot. A lot of people listen to Bill every morning.

I got my points across as best I could, and I feel I represented fairly the concerns of Langley residents. We need both more transit and more roads. It's just common sense.

To listen, visit the CKNW audio vault and click on the Monday, April 30, 9 a.m. slot.

And you may want to surf over to my political blog, where I talk about Gateway and other issues with many, many Langley residents.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bill Good Show

I will be on CKNW's Bill Good Show Monday morning, from 9 to 10, as part of a four-person panel talking about the provincial government's Gateway Project. Paul Landry of the BC Trucking Association and I will be representing the pro-Gateway side, while Donna Passmore of the FV Conservation Committee and Eric Doherty of the Livable Region Coalition will be speaking in opposition.

Ms. Passmore is already forwarding e-mails around pointing out that I'm a (GASP! Wait for it!) BC Liberal (the horror!) and therefore should be disqualified from speaking on Gateway. Sigh. I guess elected officials shouldn't have the opportunity to express their residents' strong support for twinning the Port Mann and the other Gateway projects?

Anyway, the Bill Good Show is promoting the slot as "More highways versus more public transit... we'll hear from both sides in the debate over the Gateway Project." For me, there is no "versus"--we need both. In fact, you can't have one without the other. We need to find a balance. Right now, we are starving for both road and transit options--Gateway will help us with both.

Feel free to post your thoughts on Gateway in the comments, or e-mail me at jbateman@tol.bc.ca.

SFPR will reduce pollution

The Surrey Leader had a fascinating letter from an Annieville resident pointing out the value of the South Fraser Perimeter Road:
After all the recent criticism of the South Fraser Perimeter Road and Deltaport expansion I feel that my support of said project must be voiced.

I am a lifelong resident of North Delta/Annieville and have worked at Deltaport and am currently employed at Fraser Surrey Docks.

Firstly, the issue of diesel exhaust pollution at present is caused not by truck volume alone but by the designated truck route along River Road that they are forced to take.

Diesel engines, by their design, are meant to run at high revolutions where they pollute the least.

The current situation has trucks idling and repeatedly gearing up and down in stop and go traffic, the worst possible situation for diesel particulate pollution.

In addition when you consider that the average truck loads are 60,000 to 95,000 pounds, the physics of accelerating this mass from a dead stop, uphill, in heavy traffic, burns a huge amount of diesel fuel.

The SFPR being built at level grade will allow trucks to travel with optimum fuel efficiency and speed thereby reducing pollution and particulate.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Good South Fraser news

Two pieces of good news for south of the Fraser commuters...

The Langley Times reports that 11 intersections along Fraser Highway (from Surrey into Langley) will soon be synchronized, meaning less stop-and-wait for drivers.

And the Peace Arch News reports that Surrey will widen King George Highway at 152nd St. to four lanes. Surrey will also experiment with legal U-Turns (a common item in the United States) at this location.

Richmond roundabout

Blogger Stephen Rees thinks Granville and Garden City in Richmond would be the perfect spot for a roundabout.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bennett Bridge

Several construction webcams are now operating, letting Internet users keep an eye on the construction of the William Ro. Bennett Bridge across Okanagan Lake.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Abby-Aldergrove finally connect!

Finally! Abbotsford will connect its transit system to the Aldergrove border, meaning Lower Mainland residents will be able to take a bus into Abby, and vice versa. The Aldergrove Star has the story.

Kudos have to be given to Aldergrove resident Edith Griese, who has been fighting for this for years.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nice to see

The Maple Ridge Times has a story on a Pitt Meadows development that is being specifically marketed to West Coast Express commuters:
Eastbound commuters leaving the downtown Vancouver Waterfront station recently found copies of a brochure designed by the developer's marketing team. The brochure is aimed at commuters who might be renters or potential first-time homebuyers.

Both of Epta's properties are located near the Pitt Meadows West Coast Express stop.

Falcon in Abbotsford

The Abbotsford News reports that Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon will be the guest speaker at the April 27 Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce meeting. That should be interesting, as Fraser Valley mayors--including Abby's George Ferguson resist the idea of being swallowed by TransLink. Mission Mayor James Atebe is the latest to jump off the TransLink bandwagon (see the Maple Ridge News article here):
For example, said Atebe, an independent authority could look at creating better connections between Mission and Maple Ridge or ways to improve service between Abbotsford and Aldergrove, Surrey and Langley.

In other TransLink news, Falcon has apparently told Lower Mainland mayors that they will select the 11-member TransLink Board. Again, from the MR News:
“Apparently we’re choosing them,” Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean told Black Press after mayors met behind closed doors to discuss the TransLink overhaul Tuesday.

But he said another Victoria-chosen group, comprised of heads of professional bodies like the Engineers Association of B.C., will draw up a list of candidates.

It would shift some power back toward the Council of Mayors, which critics said would be left with virtually no say over most TransLink decisions, except for a tightly constrained process to approve a 10-year strategic plan.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The truth about induced demand

A great piece from the Tri-City News:

It has become almost an accepted truth that building additional highway capacity is bad for the environment. Many people believe the more highways we build, the more cars and trucks we will put on the roads – and, therefore, the more greenhouse gases will be emitted.

Has anyone actually taken the time to study whether this is the case?

Until recently, the answer has been no but two new reports, one groundbreaking in terms of its research focus, helps to shed some light on this important question.

In December 2006, the Conference Board of Canada released a new research report titled “Build It and Will They Drive?” The purpose of this report was to identify the determinants of “induced travel,” which is defined as the increment of new vehicle travel on a particular roadway. The report was groundbreaking in that its methodology was based on two never-before used sets of data: one, a series of socio-economic variables and two, use of the Canadian Vehicle Survey, which is a new Statistics Canada measuring tool.

The results were surprising, even to the researchers who produced the report.

What this Conference Board report discovered was that there is no statistical relationship between induced travel and the capacity of highways available. In other words, there is no truth to the notion that more highways equals more cars, which equals more greenhouse gas emissions.

Instead, the Conference Board found the largest determinant of travel demand is population density (i.e., growth in urban and suburban development), followed by average wealth – the notion being that as Canadians become richer, they can afford the costs associated with driving additional vehicles.

Other factors having an impact on driving demand are population growth, past driving habits of individuals and the price of gasoline relative to the price of local transit.

The Conference Board (www.conferenceboard.ca) looked at the influence of an increase in the number of lane kilometres available to the local population and concluded that increased highway capacity had no influence on induced demand.

This report alone suggests building more highways does not lead to an increase in greenhouse gases. But in addition, a new report released in January by McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. of Surrey makes a case that additional highway capacity can play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing overall highway congestion.

The McElhanney report used computer modelling and real-life traffic counts to estimate vehicular emissions, including greenhouse gas emissions, at various speeds. The report concluded that emissions are at their highest when traffic moves at speeds between 5 and 15 km/h – standard stop-and-go congestion speeds. At these speeds, CO2 emissions in a typical car are close to 40,000 grams per mile travelled. But when speeds increase to approximately 50 to 55 km/h, emission levels drop to approximately 16,000 grams per mile travelled.

What this suggests is that stop-and-go congestion is responsible for emissions that are approximately three times higher than cars travelling at more regular speeds. The clear implication is that a reduction in congestion is desirable from a greenhouse gas reduction standpoint.

If we assume for a moment that driving habits are not likely to change in the immediate term, the logical choice for reducing congestion is to increase highway capacity – and as the Conference Report suggests, this can be done without any accompanying induced demand that would negate any effects of lower congestion.

The implications of these reports are clear. The old stereotype that more highways equal more pollution is unfounded. Instead, a strong case can be made that additional highway capacity plays a key role in reducing congestion, which in turn has a clear role to play in reducing greenhouse gas and other pollution emissions. This is an important conclusion for policy makers at all levels, particularly as Canadians demand action on reducing greenhouse gases while at the same time demanding safer, more reliable transportation. Added highway capacity would seem to achieve both goals.

Jeff Morrison is executive director of the Road and Infrastructure Program of Canada (TRIP Canada) and director of government relations and public affairs, Canadian Construction Association

(www.cca-acc.com).

Friday, April 6, 2007

Zipping around Vancouver

There's a new car sharing company in town: Zipcar has expanded service to Vancouver:
With Zipcar, Vancouver individuals and businesses seeking an alternative to the hassles and high costs of car ownership now have more viable transportation options. Recent studies by Zipcar indicate that members drive less and are more likely to walk, bike, and use of public transportation. Environmental benefits include an 80% decrease in vehicle kilometers driven per year by Zipcar members, thus reducing gas and emissions from going into the atmosphere. Additionally, Zipcar members report an average savings of more than $435 (approx. $500 CAD) per month compared to the costs of owning and operating a private car. With an average of 40% of Zipcar members getting rid of their vehicles or deciding not to purchase one, each Zipcar in Vancouver is expected to take 15-20 privately owned vehicles off the streets, significantly decreasing parking issues and traffic congestion.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The cost of circling the block

Never thought of this before... Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space blog has a fascinating post on the environmental cost of people circling the block looking for parking:
Over the course of a year, the search for curb parking in this 15-block district created about 950,000 excess vehicle miles of travel--equivalent to 38 trips around the earth, or four trips to the moon. And here's another inconvenient truth about underpriced curb parking: cruising those 950,000 miles wastes 47,000 gallons of gas and produces 730 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. If all this happens in one small business district, imagine the cumulative effect of all cruising in the United States.