New 2040 Transportation Plan wins overwhelming public support

Vancouver’s goal to have two-thirds of all trips in the city made by foot, bicycle or transit by 2040 — the key objective of the draft transportation plan adopted by council today —  won overwhelming support from speakers, despite the meltdown it triggered in the editorial offices of The Province.

The council motion moved by Mayor Gregor Robertson to endorse the plan directed staff to focus their first efforts on improving pedestrian connections on bridges, step up work on rapid transit to extend the Millennium line and the creation of public spaces and plazas.

Critics who did appear before council, like Commercial Drive BIA rep Federico Fuoco, were there to oppose specific measures in their own backyards. Fuoco, for example, reported strong opposition by local merchants to a separated bike lane on The Drive, which is in one of the most bike-friendly neighbourhoods in BC.

(Regrettably for The Province, an online poll that accompanied the opinion piece found 86 percent claiming to support Vision Vancouver’s “anti-car ideology.” Predictably, a CKNW poll got a reverse outcome on a straighter question. There is, however, no attack on cars in the plan, which assumes the number of auto trips declines slowly at rates experienced in the last 15 years.)

Consultations during the planning process found massive margins of support — in the 90 percent range and above — for all the key strategic  directions in the report.  Speakers at council were equally enthusiastic.

“Excellent,” declared Jill Weiss, the first speaker heard by council who was representing the city’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities.

The plan is  “revolutionary,” she declared, and will “change the lives of people with disabilities . . . Hats off!”  Council later approved some further improvements she recommended.

Rhiannon Chernencoff, of the city’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee, hailed the goal of achieving “zero fatalities,” then went on to say the plan has the potential to “drastically improve transportation.”

Also in favour: Erin O’Melinn, of HUB, the city’s cycling advocacy organization, who was emphatically in favour of cycling investments that improve connectivity by closing the gaps in the network.

Next Marian Robson, of the Board of Trade, who was “very pleased to see many of our recommendations incorporated.” Her colleague, Gregory Pinch, made some constructive suggestions, then declared the plan “a fantastic step in the right direction.”

Other supporters: the West End BIA and the Downtown Vancouver BIA, which offered “qualified” support in principle, along with a call for more emphasis on goods movement and a proposal to investigate regional licensing of bicycles.

Despite the intervention from Commercial Drive businesses — no bike lanes there, please — and Point Grey Road residents, who want early action to calm the traffic, it’s clear this far-reaching plan has an overwhelming mandate.