Zipcar and the Co-operative Auto Network both have cars parked right outside my building. Members can use the cars when they need one. This would be great except for the fact that neither of them will let me join.
Zipcar and the Co-op both require customers to have 3 year driving records. I only recently got my BC driver's license, and I still have my N, labeled as a novice driver.
As a new driver, I think I'm the prime demographic for a car sharing service. Lock me into your program when I'm young and getting started driving and there's a good chance they'd have me as a customer for a long, long time.
It's been good to see the 2 services competing against each other by adding more locations around Vancouver. I'm hopeful that one will see the opportunity here and create a way for new drivers to join.
Vancouver Transit Camp is an open-invitation unconference about transportation being held on December 8th. The BC government has shown an appalling lack of wisdom in handling transportation planning. I'm hopeful that the geeks of Vancouver can start improving things despite them. Check the website for some funky transit inspired designs, sign-up info, and more.
Proponents of hedonics, or happiness economics, have been gaining influence... [They] assert that, contrary to the guiding principle of a century of economists, income is a poor measure of happiness. Economic growth in England and the U.S. in the past half-century hasn't measurably increased life satisfaction.
How do you make people happier?
Recent studies on life satisfaction show that commuting makes people more unhappy than anything else in life. (It is, apparently, the opposite of sex.) Commuting also happens to rob us of time for family and friends.
The facts show that building freeways is not a good way to reduce commute times.
The only major Canadian city where commute times didn't shoot up in the past decade was freeway-free Vancouver, where the city stopped adding road capacity in 1997 and has been aggressively "traffic-calming" ever since.
The mayor of Bogata started dramatic changes in their transportation system and funding.
"A city can be friendly to people or it can be friendly to cars, but it can't be both," the new mayor announced. He shelved the highway plans and poured the billions saved into parks, schools, libraries, bike routes and the world's longest "pedestrian freeway."
He increased gas taxes and prohibited car owners from driving during rush hour more than three times per week. He also handed over prime space on the city's main arteries to the Transmilenio, a bus rapid-transit system based on that of Curitiba, Brazil.
Bogotans almost impeached their new mayor. Business owners were outraged. Yet by the end of his three-year term, Mr. Peņalosa was immensely popular and his reforms were being lauded for making Bogota remarkably fairer, more tolerable and more efficient.
Moreover, by shifting the budget away from private cars, Mr. Peņalosa was able to boost school enrolment by 30 per cent, build 1,200 parks, revitalize the core of the city and provide running water to hundreds of thousands of poor.
How relevant is this for North America?
When Manhattan held a conference in October asking for a prescription for the gridlocked streets of New York, Mr. Peņalosa cheerily suggested banning cars entirely from Broadway.
"He got a standing ovation," observed an astounded Deputy Borough President Rose Pierre-Louis. New York is now considering charging drivers to enter Manhattan.
Mr. Peņalosa was also given a hero's welcome by hundreds of cheering urbanists, planners and politicians at last summer's World Urban Forum in Vancouver. Stuart Ramsey, a B.C. transportation engineer, suggested it was because the Colombian had gone ahead and done what they had all been talking about for years.
"Bogota has demonstrated that it is possible to make dramatic change to how we move around in our cities in a very short time frame," Mr. Ramsey said afterward. "It's simply a matter of choosing to do so."
It all ties into climate change too.
"We could improve our air quality and dramatically reduce our emissions any time we want. It's easy to do. All it would take is a can of paint and you'd have dedicated bus lanes. It doesn't require huge amounts of money. It simply requires a choice."
This video does a great job of showing how bike lanes that share roadspace with car traffic on busy streets suck. It's entitled The Case for Separated Bike Lanes and was created by StreetFilms, an NYC group dedicated to making their urban spaces more livable.
Vancouver could use this advice in a number of places. I was biking in the shared bike lanes along Pender and Richards coming home today, and in both cases it was an exercise in avoiding the buses that are making stops along those same streets. It's dangerous and not very fun. Bring on the separated lanes!
Gord Thompson may be the only man in Ontario ever charged under the Highway Traffic Act for obeying the letter of the law. The teacher from Campbellford and another motorist caused a four-kilometre traffic jam on Highway 401 seven years ago by driving side by side at the posted 100 km/h speed limit. They were charged with obstructing traffic and had their licences temporarily suspended.
Weeks earlier, Thompson had been ticketed for going 117 km/h on the same road and staged his slow-motion protest after a judge told him he was breaking the law by going even a kilometre over the posted limit.
I was interested to find out the percentage of adults in Vancouver (or any big city) who had a driver's license. I wasn't able to find this info (anybody know?), but I did stumble upon some interesting Vancouver police traffic stats. One item was a list of the top 10 Vancouver car crash locations (2004 data):
Knight St & Marine Dr
49th Ave & Knight St
41st Ave & Granville St
41st Ave & Cambie St
Main St & Terminal Ave
41st Ave & Oak St
Burrard St & Pacific St
41st Ave & Knight St
Granville St & King Edward Ave
1st Ave & Clark Dr
The number 1 spot of Knight and Marine has almost double the crashes as the second intersection does. I wonder if they've been able to improve that at all since 2004?