Hey @CityofVancouver? this is second incident I’ve seen caused by these useless ‘slow street’ barricades installed last month. They don’t slow down traffic; they cause crashes and traffic chaos. pic.twitter.com/A4xZOwMCGi
— Jill Bennett (@jillreports) March 23, 2023
In North American cities the disease known as Car Brain infected urban planners and today we are dealing with the side effects. Cars have been purposefully prioritized over other forms of transportation from walking to gondolas to the point that some people think they “need” cars. What we ought to do in the 21st century is bring rational thinking into urban planning by gibing space to sustainable, future proof forms of urban transportation solutions. For now we need to change the conversation to be about people moving instead of car moving.
In theory, creating alternatives to driving is a win–win situation. The number of cars on the road increases each year, creating more traffic and pollution. Building more lanes for vehicles only makes things worse, while investing in transit and dedicated infrastructure for bicycles improves safety and reduces congestion. Driving makes people miserable, exacerbates climate change, and causes thousands of preventable injuries and deaths each year. While witty replies were piling up under Bennett’s tweet, three people were hit by a car in the Downtown Eastside; days later, a woman was struck at an east Vancouver crosswalk and was critically injured.
The case for modifying roads to encourage other modes of transport makes itself. We should all want fewer cars on the road as well as alternatives to spending hours of our lives (around 144 hours, or six days, each year, according to recent data from TomTom) inching through rush-hour traffic. So why don’t we? Because infrastructure, of all things, elicits not rational responses but deeply emotional ones. Changing our roads, even slightly, feels like an exhortation to change ourselves, because how we get around says a lot about who we think we are.