2010 Games as a traffic reality check

Will the transportation plan for the 2010 Olympic Games force a new look at long-standing Vancouver traffic problems like the neighbour-killing impacts of the Georgia Viaduct? Last night’s meeting of the Grandview Woodlands Area Council,  featuring a dialogue between traffic-weary community leaders and city engineer Jerry Dobrovolny, suggests it might.

The viaduct, the vestigial remnant of the NPA’s city-wrecking freeway plan defeated by Strathcona and Grandview in the 1970s, still pours heavy traffic down Prior and Venables. Grandview activists yearn for the Malkin connector, a new link from the east end of the viaduct along railway lands to Clark Drive. This long-studied option — I first heard about it when I lived in Strathcona in the 1980s — is nowhere in sight in the city’s capital plans.

For the past decade, commutes into the city have declined 10 percent and travel into the downtown core is down seven percent. Good news, but the mode shift from cars to buses, bikes and feet is too slow.  (Some of the city’s transportation numbers are here.)

That must change in 2010. As Dobrovolny made clear, traffic will rise and street capacity will decline dramatically.  That means transit, bicycle and your own two feet will be the preferred options.

Why? Because 2010 transportation and security planners are insisting on radical options. One is closure of the Gerogia Viaduct altogether for security reasons. Likewise, the Granville Mall will become a pedestrian zone, despite a decision by city and Translink planners to put buses back on the street after the Games.

Dobrolvolny’s quick sketch of the Olympic plans intrigued the GWAC leaders enough for them to invite him back for a longer discussion.

At that point, Councillor Andrea Reimer and I headed home, before discussion of a matter now before a public hearing, and long before the agenda item on Anti-Olympic Solidarity and Unity.