The City of Vancouver has released an initial draft of its Transportation 2040 Plan for public consideration. Within the plan, the city spells out its transportation mode priority for the next 30 years and its target mode share.
At the recent Velo-city Global 2012 Conference on cycling, international experts called the city’s cycling component of the plan and its target as too slow and not enough. Experts from around the world sensed that the next growth in cycling and attracting motorists to use cycling for transportation will come from physically separated bike lanes and from combined mobility trips of cycling and transit.
Cycling growth in the City of Vancouver has been very slow. From 1991, the mode share has climbed from 1.3% to 3.8% or 0.114% per year while Copenhagen has increased cycling by 4% in two years and Seville has increased it by 4.5% in 5 years.
The City is proposing that the target cycling mode share for the next 30 years should show growth of 3.2% from the current 3.8% level to 7%. With this target the growth rate will continue to remain slow at 0.11% per year. This growth rate is certainly not at a pace of a world-class green city. This growth is more like that of a follower city. One Transportation Planning Manager was trying to placate an audience at a consultation session by stating that the City normally reaches targets very early in its transportation plans lifecycle. Well, the question may be asked to the value of a target if it can be easily met rather than be challenging for city staff and the public and also be a signal of change in how we travel.
The city wants to be the greenest city in the world and has committed to achieving the Kyoto protocol calling for reduction in greenhouse gases to 6% less than the 1990 level. Basically, the Kyoto commitment means that all trips originating from population growth must be by active transportation modes, not by car.
Future cycling growth will need to come from those who drive today. The easy growth has been realized. Now is the time to shift into social marketing of cycling. Social marketing will not be effective unless a robust and highly desirable cycling infrastructure is in place. With the city’s desires and with the strong commitment from the public to the greenest city and Kyoto goals, it might be appropriate to adopt more challenging transportation mode share.
An aggressive set of transportation mode share targets will contribute towards this city to becoming a world-class green city, reducing air and noise pollution, helping improve individual health, and reducing the associated health care costs. Guided by the City’s gains in reduction of car trips within the downtown core and accomplishments of other cities in reducing driving and increasing cycling, consideration should be given to adopting aggressive targets for the 2040 transportation mode shares. Transportation mode share is usually defined by driving, transit, walking, cycling, and by others. For more effective direction of future efforts, a more detailed set of targets may be appropriate. Also, the current set of targets understates the use of each mode, as combined trips are not accounted fully in the statistics.
The accomplishments of other cycling-active cities and of the City of Vancouver in the downtown core would suggest a set of appropriate transportation mode share targets of:
- Walking 17%
Walking to transit stops >450 metres 3%
- Cycling 20%
- Transit 20%
- Combined Mobility 15%
Transit and Cycling – Personal bicycle 7%
Transit and Cycling – Public Bike Share System 3%
Driving and Cycling – Personal Bicycle 4%
Driving and Cycling – Public Bike Share System 1%
- Car 27%
- Other 1%
With this set of mode share targets, cycling would be involved in 35% of all trips, transit in 30%, and car trips in 32%.
With aggressive targets, staff has clear direction on strategies and speed of implementation for realizing the next transportation plan.
Some comments on the City of Vancouver’s initial draft of its Transportation 2040 Plan will be published on August 26, 2012.