Comment 96264

By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted December 21, 2013 at 19:31:15 in reply to Comment 96262

I don't really know how I "wander" - so I'd be interested in hearing some clarification on this.

I've only ever made the same point, time and again: We need to make out road network work better for all road users. We need to start thinking about creating safe spaces for those that don't drive, can't drive or choose not to drive to get around, and we need, most importantly, to start thinking about moving people rather than moving cars. If we're trying to do more with less with our scarce road resources, to move more people in less space, then that means reducing the number of people using their vehicle as the be-all and end-all when it comes to their transportation options - which means making it safe and convenient for them to choose other modes like walking, cycling or transit. And that means investing in infrastructure and occasionally reducing lane capacity for automobiles, especially where it makes sense. Luckily for us, there are VERY few roads in Hamilton that it doesn't make good transportation policy sense to reduce lane capacity. We're spending a lot of money on road infrastructure that is under-utilized, and we could be using that scarce public space much better to create spaces where people feel safe and comfortable travelling by a mode other than a car. It's important to note that nowhere in my arguments have I ever said that we need to get rid of cars, and I've never heard anyone who claims to champion complete streets in Hamilton make those assertions.

I, much like Ryan, Jason and most other complete streets advocates in Hamilton, use a car on occasion. Heck, I used mine today. I see my car as another tool in my transportation toolkit. The best analogy I can give you is one from my kitchen.

I'm a pretty active home cook - I make most of the food around our home. When I am cutting up an apple in the morning, I'll usually reach for a small paring knife. When I am preparing veggies for dinner in the evening and I have a stack of things to cut, I'll reach for my prized chef's knife - it requires a bit more effort to clean, so I don't use it all the time, but it's great for my every day cooking needs. Now on those occasions where I'm cutting up a bunch of stuff - say, making salsa or making a big batch of coleslaw, I'll pull out my food processor. My food processor is the most expensive, most powerful piece of equipment in my stuff-cutting arsenal - but that doesn't make it the right tool for every job. I think of walking as my paring knife - the thing I use for all my small jobs. My bike is like my chef's knife - the tool I turn to most often for most jobs. My car, much like my food processor, also has a place in my toolkit - but it's certainly not the only thing I rely on.

And that's really what Complete Streets are all about. It's about giving people the choice to use the right tool for the job when it comes to their transportation. Right now, we have a road network set up only for cars - it's like telling someone to peel and core an apple and then only handing them a food processor. 50% of our car trips in Canada are under 5 km, 30% of them are under 3 km. Here in Hamilton, about 33% of people live within 5 km of their work - 59% live within 10 km. So for 33% of Hamiltonians, their workplace is an easy 20 minute bike ride away from their home. For an additional 26%, it's not a stretch to think that they could get there in 35 min or less on a bike. The way we've been building our roads encourages people to use the wrong tool for the job - it makes the most expensive, most powerful and least efficient option for transportation the only one that feels safe and seems viable. Complete Streets is about reversing that trend, about giving people the choice in how they move around back, and about making our streets places where life, commerce and community life can play out. Nobody's talking about getting rid of cars - that's not realistic, nor is it something any of us want. I like being able to take my dogs and wife camping, being able to drive to Niagara with my neighbours to go wine touring, and to be perfectly honest I love a good road trip. What I don't love is community streets where vehicle mobility is prioritized over all else, and that's what we all (the complete streets advocates) want to change.

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