Monday, 28 June 2010

How Many Light Trucks Equal How Many Cyclists and Pedestrians in the Great Green House Gas Equation?

The suburban vehicle versus the liveable city: that conflict showed up in striking contrast last week. First of all, an environmental watch dog group reported that car sales in Quebec have gone up 8 per cent since the start of 2010, but truck sales jumped 32 per cent. In Canada as a whole car sales went up 6 per cent while truck sales went up 24 per cent. This means that if this trend continues we'll have more rather than less greenhouse gas emissions, since heavy motor vehicles are a major cause of them.

At the same time, borough officials in Monteal's Plateau Mont-Royal/Mile End have announced a major reconfiguration of traffic on several busy streets, with the idea of making streets safer. The borough has the highest number of pedestrians and bike commuters, with a correspondingly high accident rates. It also is seeing an increasing number of young families choosing to live in the center of the city. Borough officials say the new traffic pattern--which include narrower lanes and routing cars off largely residential streets--is designed to make neighborhoods more attractive to them.

There are a couple of equations here: suburban life equals the demand for more and more vehicles with the SUV and pickups being increasingly favoured, while center city life equals a mixture of public, active and motorized transport. In my mind (and probably in Jane Jacobs') there is no question that the latter is much wiser public policy.


lagatta à montréal said...

It also means that such public policy must extend beyond individual cities, as all the work we are doing to make central Montréal neighbourhoods more walkable and cyclable are undone in environmental terms by the rise in purchase of those absurdly large private vehicles ... and the exurbs that supposedly require them.

One positive sign is the number of commuters in Laval who have opted for the métro now than it goes up there, and the densification around Montmorency and other Laval stations.

In the meantime, the Alberta tar sands development and the BP leak continue unabated, and that's just North America...

Mary Soderstrom said...

Depressing, I agree.