Driving

BC Election – Neither Liberals or NDP understand tolls

It’s been a long time since my last post, but recent transportation news is too big to ignore. Both the major political parties have announced their stances on tolls.

On the same day the Liberals announced they would cap tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges at $500 a year starting Jan. 1, 2018 — a move that could cut a motorist’s driving costs by up to $1,000 a year — NDP leader John Horgan stole the Liberals’ thunder by promising to get rid of tolls for both bridges altogether if elected.

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The Imminent Parking Re-Think

I just read a long, but worthwhile article on “An End to Parking?” on Mother Jones.

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An giant empty parking lot in Sapporo, Japan

If you haven’t heard, the future is coming soon to a road near you. And the future is self-driving cars. There’s been a lot of talk about self-driving cars over the years. I’ve even sat in one back in 2006 at a Toyota Showcase building in Odaiba area of Tokyo.

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Adam Ruins Everything, including Cars

 

I had been meaning to share these Adam Ruins Everything clips, but only got around to it now. Cars and car dealerships have changed the North American landscape. We don’t question the environment we live in, but it doesn’t have to function this way necessarily. Adam may ruin everything, but he definitely gives us food for thought.

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Cost savings by not owning a car

The Globe and Mail featured an article talking about Mr. Money Mustache. I had never heard about him before, but apparently he is a Canadian-trained computer scientist who decided to do something different with his money – stash it away.

One of the key ways that he saves money is by driving as little as possible. The money he would have been spending on an extra car at home, he just socks away. Whenever he can, he rides his bike.

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Mayor’s Council Updated Regional Transportation Vision

Here’s the highlights of the Metro Vancouver Mayor’s Council vision of regional transportation. This updated vision was prompted by Premier Christy Clark’s insistence on sending transit funding issues to a referendum in the Fall 2014.

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Reflections on Car Brain?

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Illustration by Josh Cochran (NYT)

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article from The New York Times by Paul Salopek. Salopek is embarking on a round the world journey by foot.  He started in the Ethiopia where the first homo sapiens are said to have roamed.  In Ethiopia, he found that many people still travelled everywhere by foot.  He could ask for directions and people would know how to direct him.

However, as he travelled through the more affluent Middle East, people were not so able to give him good foot-based directions.  Their minds and mental map have already been shaped by car travel.

In Saudi Arabia, I had trouble simply communicating with motorists who have lost the ability to imagine unconstrained movement to any point on the horizon. Asking directions is often pointless. Like drivers everywhere, their frame of reference is rectilinear and limited to narrow ribbons of space, axle-wide, that rocket blindly across the land.

From experience, I have found the same “Car Brain” happens in North America.  On one occasion when my wife’s family was visiting from Hong Kong, they wanted to walk back to their hotel in Richmond.  They were at Richmond Centre and needed to walk back up to Bridgeport Road.  Whenever one asks for “how long it will take to get there” people here automatically answer with the car in mind.  Well for my wife’s family, they were told that it was 10 minutes back to the hotel. In good traffic and in a car, the answer would be yes, but by foot, it took closer to an hour with a senior as part of the group.  No one here would ever think that somebody would want to walk anywhere.

How parts of Richmond treats pedestrians – no sidewalk

I had another experience where I was at Stanley Park cycling with a group of friends.  An emergency situation with my wife had happened down by Burrard and Pacific.  I had to get there quickly. My friend insisted that he drive me there because that would be quick. Yes, a car can travel faster than a bicycle, but in downtown Vancouver with traffic and parking, I knew for sure that I would bike to the scene faster than joining my friend in his car.

Car Brain is well and alive in North America.  I suspect I have Car Brain too.  Another friend would regularly walk from King Edward and Main to Kingsway and Fraser. I thought that was way too far to walk, but he did it pretty regularly.  Another couple that I know, even walked from King Edward and Main all the way to a restaurant along The Drive.  It took them about an hour on a beautiful sunny day.  I probably would not have done the same trek.  And sometimes, I don’t even walk to the supermarket for groceries even though it’s only about 5 blocks away.  I’ll admittedly drive there.  Yep. It’s all Car Brain.

A week of Road Pricing news

I’ve noticed that the Vancouver Sun has been featuring a lot of articles on Road Pricing in Metro Vancouver this week.  There’s been at least 6 articles in the past 4 days.  It’s a big topic with the impending Massey Tunnel replacement and need to replace the Patullo Bridge at the forefront of the Minister of Transportation’s agenda. Also, the features are meant to coincide with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue’s Moving in Metro discussion.

For once, it felt like a mainstream media outlet was allowing for a civilized conversation around transportation issues instead of the sensationalized and over-worn “War on Cars” theme.  All the articles are worth a read.  I’ve listed all of them here below for your reading convenience.