No one likes to sit in traffic. That’s one reason why I ride a bike. Unfortunately for those who didn’t look at the big picture when deciding where to live, this isn’t much help. Thousands of folks bought homes in the ‘burbs to try to save money while continuing to work in or near the City. And while they’re stuck in traffic and losing their financial gamble, they aren’t the only ones fuming.
Now the BC Fiberals have their very own solution for this (and yes, I mean their very own). It is a solution much like everything else they’ve done over the past five years (i.e., good for big business, bad for people). They want to double the capacity of Highway #1 from Langley to Vancouver by paving more of paradise and twinning the Port Mann bridge.
Obviously, this appeals to the short-sighted folk sitting in the Trans-Canada parking lot. They don’t want to move, despite being in gridlock.
But this definitely doesn’t work for most of the million living in and around Vancouver. East Vancouver in particular, is already choked full of commuter cars. This is despite (or more likely, because of) most of our transportation tax dollars being spent by the bureaucrats in City Hall to maximize traffic flow and make mini, urban freeways through the Eastside.
So what to do?
We may simply have to battle it out with a fascist regime that is due to crack at anytime…not easy nor particularly fun but perhaps inevitable. Especially given their maniacal desire to privatize everything they can get their hands on.
If these fascists somehow stopped to listen for just a moment, we could find a way for everyone to win (well, except for Big Business, but they take care of themselves).
Let’s start with the obvious need to increase capacity. The general assumption is that increasing capacity on the highway means accommodating more cars. But the reality is we need to move more people, more efficiently.
Despite being the most efficient vehicle known to humankind, bikes are not the answer. Hell, people can’t even walk over the Port Mann bridge, much less cycle over it.
Translink, on the other hand, has put all its eggs in one expensive, privatized basket (RAV, now known as the Canada or Worm Line). Even if RAV is stopped, TransLink clearly doesn’t possess the skills or creativity to make a significant contribution (aside from doing the proposed paving or bridge building) to resolving this issue with bus technology.
So let’s take a quick peek at what’s happening now. There’s an average of five (5) empty seats per vehicle idling on that highway. Most vehicles (80- 90%) are completely empty (the cars can’t drive themselves…yet). Maybe the solution is simply staring us in the face!
Crunch a few numbers, and it is easy to see how we can not only double the capacity of the bridge and highway, but quadruple it or more! If 8 cars are currently carrying (at most) 10 people, and those cars have an average of 5 empty seats, it’s easy to see how we could reduce the number of vehicles dramatically and not pave over even one more patch of greenspace.
Okay, the numbers work. How do we actually do it?
Right now, there are two lanes leading from Langley through Surrey to the bridge. There are no restrictions on use. Hence the preponderance of Single Occupant Vehicles (SOVs).
Converting one of those lanes into a DOV (Double – 2), LOV (Low – 3), or – gasp! – HOV (High, as in 5 or more) would quickly change habits.
Thinking this through, let’s start with one DOV that is ENFORCED and continues right over the bridge to the current “HOV” lane. By the time this lane starts to clog up (a few weeks or months), we’ll have increased the capacity of the highway by 50% without doing anything more than posting a few signs and enforcing them consistently. We’re halfway home.
When the time comes (imagine, if you can, appropriate planning, not just planning for planning’s sake!), we can then upgrade the DOV to a LOV (3 or more people per car) or we can convert the other lane to a DOV. Both options achieve the current goal of doubling the capacity of this commute. I like the double DOV designation because it is simply criminal, not to mention extinction-making, to allow folks to drive around with empty vehicles. But it is safer to assume that the LOV option will be chosen.
When the LOV option starts to fill up, then we can move to a true HOV (5 or more) designation for one lane of the highway. This provides an opportunity to move more people than even the terrible twinning option could ever hope for. And it costs about $4 billion less.
Don’t let folks tell you that they need a passing lane or that no one will use the DOV, LOV, or HOV lane. Putting a few cops to a rare good use will ensure that the lane is used appropriately. A very important side benefit from this change of use will be a safer highway. Right now, drivers believe they have a “right” to pass, no matter how fast the other driver is moving. Speed kills, and on a highway where cars are moving in an uniform stream, many less people will die or be seriously injured. The twinning-spinsters can’t make this claim with a straight face.
Let’s put to rest the myth that we can build our way out of traffic once and for all. The private automobile has cost us all more than we can ever imagine. The population of automobiles continues to grow faster than humans in the Lower Mainland; putting billions of our money into an already failed experiment will only make it worse…even the fascists admit this.
It is time to stop the madness. It is time to rethink our current infrastructure. And even better, it is time to get back on my bike! See you at the Car-Free Fest on Commercial Drive…