Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for September 20th, 2007

Road space

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These three images were created for a BC Transit ad for the Go Green campaign. They are currently being used by SPEC for their new TransitLab web site
Originally it was produced for London Transport – with a double decker bus of course, with the explanatory text – quite needless of course – “these people, in all these cars, could be all on this one bus”

It is an illustration of the rather dull statistics – if a picture is worth a thousand words, it can also replace a spreadsheet.

A single lane of urban road can handle around 1,000 vehicles per hour. (A lane of freeway since it has no traffic lights can handle around 2,000) At current average vehicle occupancies that equals 1,300 people. But a bus lane with frequent, fully loaded artics – like you get on the 98 or 99 B-lines could be handling 10,000 t0 15,000 per hour. The same space devoted to rail based rapid transit 20,000 and up. Add signal priority at intersections for transit and you can do even better. That is why cities like Curitiba use bus rapid transit. It is relatively cheap and very effective at moving people.

Because that is what we need in cities. The ability to move lots of people in a very limited space. A North American bus is 8’6″ wide so it only needs a 10′ lane.

For example, a street in downtown Washington with 12-foot lanes will probably
have lower speeds than a commuter route into the city with 10-foot lanes. …
There is no consensus in the literature on the relationship between lane width and speed.

source :

I would argue that narrow lanes are actually safer since they require the driver’s full attention. I think widening lanes, as was done of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, only increases traffic speeds and hence the severity of the collisions when they do occur. A larger number of lower speed collisions may be more acceptable if you run a CBA.

I strongly recommend you check out Transit Lab – it is well worth registering to use the site which will be growing as more features are added.

What is Transit Lab? It is a new and innovative way to develop and build support for solutions to climate change and peak oil by “bettering the better way”. It is a solutions playground where we can go beyond simply putting up with an inadequate transit system and instead come up with creative solutions to make it better for everybody. Think you need to be an expert? If you already use transit then you have all the expertise you need. We think that transit users collaborating with concerned citizens, experts and others will generate new ideas on how to make our transit system safer and more effective.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 20, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Posted in transit, Transportation

Damien Gillis guest shot: Gateway on CBC Almanac

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I just listened to yesterday’s Almanac show on Gateway on the Almanac archives – thanks to Sue for the link: I recommend checking it out.

First off, Richard, you were awesome! You managed to clearly articulate all the major arguments against Gateway and in favor of transit, in a way that anyone could relate to–within the challenging time constraints of the talk radio soundbite. I’m confident that listeners who didn’t know much about Gateway before the show left with some real food for thought…and I wouldn’t be surprised if some pro-Gateway folks just might not be contemplating a change of heart. Thanks also to the many excellent callers, including John Vissers who very effectively brought up air quality and health impacts not only on residents in the Valley but also on our neighbours across the border.

I just wanted to point out what I remarked as a new stage in the evolution of the pro-Gateway argument. About 5 or 6 months ago, on the Bill Good show where Eric Doherty and Don Hunt were guests discussing Gateway, for the first time I heard the phrase “It’s not an either/or thing.” Up to that point it was simply that Gateway’s essential for goods and people movement in the region — a necessary modernization of infrastructure that took obvious precedence over investment in public transit. And, of course, it was a “done deal.” While we’re still hearing the “done deal” rhetoric, the mere acknowledgment on Bill Good that transit must be a part of the solution seemed a watershed moment in our campaign. The “not either/or” language has been increasingly prevalent in pro-Gateway discussions ever since. But what caught my attention in yesterday’s program–what I believe could be interpreted as the next evolution (or regression) in pro-Gateway PR–was the acknowledgment and support of specific major transit initiatives and an overall priority placed on transit development that I have yet to hear from a pro-Gateway spokesperson.

Speaking of putting an LRT lane on the Port Mann, getmovingbc’s Ian MacPherson said “That is one particular initiative that we would strongly support…Among a number of other public transit initiatives throughout the Lower Mainland, including the Mayor of Vancouver’s latest suggestion that we have to get going on an extension of the skytrain to UBC, the Evergreen Line, and significant additions to–either via skytrain extensions or LRT in the south Valley–between Surrey and Langley and onward to Abbotsford. These are things that must be done. We’ve got to get going on it and we’ve got to work together on it.”

This level of detailed support for public transit is to my knowledge a recent development and I think a significant indication that we’re on the right track. It seems to me that the pro-Gateway argument is really wearing thin. At one point Ian MacPherson even corrected Mark Forsythe for calling getmovingbc a “coalition” like the Gateway 40 network. In a rare moment of self-deprecation(for a Gateway spokesperson) he dismissed his own organization as being merely a group of six people. Contrasted with the strong group of well-informed anti-Gateway callers and a clear sense of Gateway 40’s growing momentum as a region-wide coalition, getmovingbc seemed, well, kind of pathetic. Furthermore, on the Bill Good show a few months back I calculated two thirds of the air time going to pro-Gateway speakers, this time I’d say it was the other way around–a remarkable development in the mainstream media’s dealing with Gateway, though perhaps we have CBC radio (I emphasize radio) to thank for that.

Anyway, I point these things out to remind everyone just how far we’ve come from the days of “done deal.” This show reaffirmed for me that this is anything but a done deal. In fact, I predict the imminent extinction of those words from the pro-Gateway lexicon, not only for their patently autocratic undertones, but because it will soon seem a laughable contention, given the growing controversy over Gateway, and the unmistakable chorus of cheers for public transit throughout the entire region. And we’re going to make that abundantly clear to the world on September 29th.

Great job Richard and callers, and all the folks and organizations who have worked so tirelessly and effectively to put public transit on the table. Let’s make sure we keep it there, building on the momentum we’ve clearly developed thus far.


Written by Stephen Rees

September 20, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Gateway