Friday, 19 July 2013
EINSTEIN'S DEFINITION OF INSANITY
On May 23, 2012 I posted the story about how a traffic diverter was put up on 41st to prevent turns north onto Angus Drive. As intended, this caused traffic to be shunted on to Marguerite Street. The increase on Marguerite Street north of 41st was immediately apparent. The problem is that Marguerite is narrower than Angus.
One of the resident’s cars was sideswiped a couple of times. He blamed the increased traffic volume on the diverter and emailed City Hall to complain. In reply the City advised that it had already done a count and determined that there was no increase in traffic on Marguerite Street.
It was apparent to everyone that traffic had doubled when the barrier on Angus was installed. The neighbor, a crown prosecutor, called the engineering department, and said that he wanted to see the traffic survey.
He was told that --- well, er umm actually, they had never done a count but they had done studies of other areas.
To be polite, the first letter was a bald faced lie.
We all know about the massive increases in ridership of bikes and the great success of our separated lanes. Not since Paul Pot reported on the success of his population redistribution program have we heard of such success.
On July 19th, however, the Vancouver Province Newspaper's Ian Austin reported that ridership on the Burrard Street separated lane had actually declined! He wrote:
"Despite years of Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver councillors peddling the merits of pedalling, ridership on the controversial Burrard Bridge separated bike lanes has declined in the past year.
Total bike trips compiled by the city for the 12 months ending April 2013 — the most recent statistics available — show that ridership is down by 16,000 compared to the previous 12-month period from May 2011 to April 2012.
On the Dunsmuir Street bike lane for the same periods, ridership fell by 30,000."
So, why would the City now propose to build an expensive bike lane on Point Grey Road, which provides access for residents of Point Grey and Dunbar/ Southlands to and through the downtown, when to date there has been so little to show for it? There are three plausible explanations:
The first is that the City does not believe, let alone read its own reports. As when they shifted traffic intentionally from Angus Drive to Marguerite Street based on non-existent studies, maybe they have reason to doubt the accuracy let alone existence of their own traffic counts on the bridge.
The second is that it is all being done for the safety of bike riders. If that were the case, then they could save millions of dollars just designating one of the low volume parallel streets to the South as bike lanes. If Point Grey Road is dangerous, the simple solution is not to allow bike riders and skate boarders to use it.
The third possibility is that City Hall, collectively, is stark raving mad. Einstein's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (Donizetti portrayed madness in Lucia de Lammamoor somewhat more artistically than council but with great dramatic effect.)
Mad Scene from Lucia de Lammamoor
Recently, Simon Fraser University invited Prof. John Pucher of New Jersey's Rutgers University. Pucher is the Einstein of bike experts having published numerous works on the subject. In Cycling to work in 90 large American cities: new evidence on the role of bike paths and lanes [http://policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher/bikepaths.pdf
Pucher concludes that Portland has the highest number of commuters by bike (4.7%) in North America. He also says that "the percentage of college students in the city population is a signiﬁcant predictor of bike commuting....we did not ﬁnd a signiﬁcant relationship between bike commuting and precipitation...Inclusion of additional control variables in our study revealed that cities with safer cycling, less sprawl, and higher gasoline prices have more cycling.
When it is raining one observes, at least in Vancouver, fewer bike riders. This intuitive result means that bike riders, unlike our local politicians, have enough sense to come in out of the rain.
Based on Prof. Pucher's studies one can conclude that the City is about to prohibit 95.3% of commuters (assuming that all days in Vancouver are without precipitation) in favour of at most 4.7% of the population. (Since it seems to rain at least half of the time here, the actual statistics would be closer to 98% to 2%.)
All of this also benefits some of the properties on Point Grey Road. When the established rights of 95.3 % of the population are sacrificed for a handful of multi-millionaire waterfront property owners (soon to include the Mayor) some political party is having its palms greased.