A recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the city really illustrates how Vancouver operates on a different plane than most U.S. cities. Below are several excerpts and quotes from the article, which I feel illustrate my point well:
- For starters,
Vancouverresidents waged a 10-year battle to keep freeways from its urban core in the 1970s, eventually defeating a plan that would have placed a highway right through its Chinatownand adjacent its downtown waterfront.
- “We are the only North American city of any significance without an interstate at its core,” said Gordon Price, an urban affairs professor at
Simon Fraser University, who used to serve on ‘s City Council. Vancouver Vancouver’s core has become one of the most thriving urban areas in North America.
- Density has been a trademark of
’s success. “The greater the density, the better it is for transit. But density must be sensitively designed so it welcomes people at street level. ‘Once you get the street right — the first 30 feet of a building — how high you go is not important,’ Price said.” Vancouver
- “Density is good”, says Larry Beasley, former city planning director for
, who has been recognized worldwide as helping create a new urban model Vancouver
- City leaders readily admit that their
model is counter-intuitive. Vancouver
Note: We are always mentioning on TransitMiami how many aspects of smart growth, like higher densities and less parking, are very counter-intuitive.
- “We are building cities we don’t actually like,” Price said. “Everyone can drive everywhere for everything. But if it’s the only game in town, it doesn’t even work for the car.”
- However, in building a wide pedestrian and bicycle path around downtown, it created an environment free from cars.
- “There’s no better alternative to the car than walking,” Beasley said. “We have been doing everything in our power to make walking comfortable. We actually have fewer cars coming into the downtown area than we had 10 years ago.”
- The city also has invested strongly in transit, including rapid rail, commuter rail, electric buses, streetcars and ferries.
- “We like that it’s hard to get in and out of downtown (by automobiles)…We have a policy to not even expand one lane of roads coming in and out of our city.”
- One agency in Greater Vancouver — TransLink — oversees all transportation, including roads. Transportation projects and operations are largely financed through gas taxes, which total nearly $1.60 a gallon compared to 25.9 cents in
. And TransLink has total flexibility on how it can spend its money, meaning gas taxes subsidize transit and other modes of travel. Georgia
Alas, what I find very exciting is that only one agency, TransLink, oversees all transportation including roads. This allows for transportation planning to be much smoother and cohesive, especially in comparison to our terribly fragmented system with several competing entities. This also makes it much easier for planners and administrators to enhance and maintain transit. And, what I really love is that TransLink isn’t afraid to rise gasoline prices even higher through gas taxes – something unfathomable for most U.S. cities.
photo courtesy of clashmaker’s flick account
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