I remember my first experience with a high occupancy vehicle lane during a road trip through Vancouver on my way to Horseshoe Bay.
Being from a small prairie setting, where the metropolis concept of traffic itself is an anomaly, I was left scratching my head as I whisked past the jam-packed motorists from the HOV lane discreetly taunting their hungry idling vehicles I’m sure.
I probably even infuriated a few motorists with my gaping smile while I zipped past, but the exuberance of unhindered travel from Metro Vancouver to the Sea-to-Sky Highway during rush hour was absolutely sacrosanct.
Yes, I just likened wide-open travel in rush hour to a spiritual experience.
The city is moving on a plan to go to council this June for a system of high occupancy lanes to bait drivers into carpooling and riding transit.
And while those choosing to ride solo might moan and groan over sitting idly peering into a wide open lane to the left, they should remember this is the point of the HOV lane, and a cost-effective measure for council to use in its quest to make Calgary more pedestrian, and cut back major road projects.
The city wants people to salivate at the sight of flowing traffic and empty lanes, they want motorists to experience the inertia and potential, and in effect prompt them to conjure passengers and let their vehicles stretch their legs.
Carpooling suddenly becomes more attractive, riding a bus becomes a reward, and cars dissipate.
For every three individuals who commute by auto each day, the right to use an HOV lane takes two cars off the road.
This is a good and thoughtful initiative but the best case scenario will only be attained by a shift in transportation consciousness.
For instance, according to 2006 transportation study completed by the City of Calgary, 140,000 vehicles pass Glenmore Trail S.W. and 14 Street. S.W. daily. If we assume every car is occupied by one person and applied the HOV rule of three to each car, we could potentially eliminate 93,333 cars in that area daily. A nice incentive indeed, but can it work in Calgary where failing past infrastructure plans have gridlocked most major causeways during rush hour? It is a wait-and-see scenario, and Calgary is at a tipping point when it comes to traffic.
If HOV lanes are positioned smartly, it could aid in free and blissful passage for accountable drivers.