Stephen Rees's blog

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

Grandview Widening

with one comment

Over on the Livable Blog Eric Doherty writes about how Vancouver Council has flip flopped over this issue – and finally gone with the “traffic must be accommodated” argument.

I am currently reading Jane Jacobs’ “Dark Age Ahead” (2004). She is pretty harsh about traffic engineers – and rightly so. They trot out this nonsense that traffic is like water that finds it own level and must be accommodated otherwise it floods into other streets. She talks about how engineers did this in Washington Square, New York in the 1950s, in Toronto in the 1980s – and they are still at it in Vancouver in the 2000s.

Let me be absolutely clear. I am a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Not all engineers still believe this stuff. Most of the well read ones are well aware of the studies that show that traffic expands to fill the space available – that it is more like a gas than water, if you need a physical comparison. Roads that are closed or traffic calmed do not tip more traffic into other streets. The number of trips on a network is not a just a function of land use and population – it responds to the number of trip opportunities available and their generalised cost. If Vancouver had decided not to widen Grandview, it would not have been a disaster. It is perfectly legitimate to restrict access to residential neighbourhoods – in fact Vancouver already does this extensively. I happen to think that turning 12th Avenue into a drain to take traffic from the Highway was probably a mistake – and I do not see why it has to be repeated.

Traffic by Richard Masoner

“Traffic” photo by Richard Masoner

Ocean Street, Santa Cruz CA

For a very thorough examination of traffic calming try Todd Litman’s site – it is a lot easier than sorting through half a million hits on Google!

Written by Stephen Rees

December 14, 2007 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Transportation

One Response

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  1. Thanks Stephen.

    And thanks, also, for the link to Mr. Litman’s site.



    December 15, 2007 at 3:59 pm

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