Saturday, 19 November 2011

Saturday Photo: Denser Development, Less Reliance on Cars

This is a good traffic day in Montreal, where the problems of urban sprawl are considerablly less than in many other North American cities and where public transit ridership is growing fast.

Nevertheless, the Metropolitan Montreal Community reports that urban sprawl is perceived as a real threat by people who attended a series of hearings on agricultural rezoning and urban development.

The Montreal Gazette reports that more than 1,400 people attneded the hearings while 344 briefs were submitted, 225 of which were presented verbally. As a result the study committee recommends that the plan for future development

"— include firm goals for conservation of green space, wetlands and shorelines. The document suggests 12 per cent of the territory should be protected by 2015, and 17 per cent by 2020.

"— favour dense, residential development around public transit hubs (at least 40 per cent of new homes built over the next two decades should be built near public transit)

"— encourage the development of a regional bicycle network for recreational and commuting purposes

"— encourage significant improvements to public transit service

"— favour maintenance of existing road and public transit infrastructure over construction of new roads and highways.:

While the preservation of wetlands and the bicycle path plan are laudable, what really is important is the last item, with the goal of denser development around transit hubs coming in a close second. It's true that if you build them they will come...or drive the roads and buy the houses. So don't.

1 comment:

lagatta à montréal said...

Montrealize blog features a post on "Imaginer le Québec autrement" and some good visual lessons from northern European cities:

(Rememembering that there is a lot of poor design in such countries as well, and many of the places shown seem middle-class and mostly "indigenous" white European areas. However I have seen good human-centric design in largely working-class and multicultural areas of Amsterdam and Rotterdam).

Yes, of course intelligent densification and better development of public transport are the cornerstones, and will make neighbourhoods more walkable and cyclable even without any added infrastructure, but both dedicated bicycle paths and improved amenities for people walking (benches, public toilets etc) will also encourage active transport and make pedestrians' and cyclists' journeys more pleasant and safe.