Sustainability requires redefining rules of the road - Metro US

Sustainability requires redefining rules of the road

Next year, the provincial government is slated to release a sustainable transportation plan.

This should be a welcome strategy, given the environmental and health impacts of transportation, fluctuating fuel costs, social equity issues, and the traffic congestion from major projects such as the Fairview Overpass.

If sustainable transportation is to be a true priority, connected infrastructure to support efficient, effective, and safe travel is needed.

Successful examples can be pulled from cities around the globe. One stunning transformation often cited is the three-year turnaround of Bogota, where vehicle traffic was reduced by 40 per cent through a rapid bus system, 300 kilometres of bike lanes, vehicle restrictions in the downtown core, car-free days and other measures.

Bogota funded this initial capital transformation through additional governmental funding and a fuel tax.

The announcement of the further expansion of Metro Transit through the acquisition of a new garage and the potential for new buses is good news.

In the Halifax Regional Municipality, Metro Transit buses get caught up in the same traffic as daily commuters. This is problematic given our pinch points onto the peninsula.

Many cities have dedicated bus and carpool lanes. This can make a bus trip much quicker and more attractive.

Helsinki has about 35 kilometres of bus lanes. Closer to home, Edmonton launched a dedicated bus lane this summer while other cities in Canada and around the globe are increasing the number of dedicated lanes.

More priority bus lights also assist buses in getting ahead of traffic. Ferries, of course, do not get caught up in a lot of traffic.

This is another potential strategy for reducing congestion from Bedford and the Arm/Purcell’s Cove side of the harbour.

This needs to be coupled with infrastructure such as carpool lots.

Other connected infrastructure investments include dedicated bike lanes/paths and end-of-use bike parking and facilities.

Priority on creating connectivity of key routes while also continuing to add bike lanes to new and existing roads can make a difference. New York City won the International Sustainable Transportation Award this year for creating 255 kilometres of on-street bike lanes, with bike ridership increasing by more than 35 per cent.

A trip to Montreal or Ottawa will highlight how major bike lane corridors can be incorporated and used. For the future, I think we need to redefine the road.

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