1. Do you support re-aligning municipal and regional transportation plans and investments to meet the provincial government’s CleanBC target to “reduce distances travelled in light-duty vehicles by 2030 compared to 2020″?
Absolutely! And thank you for sharing Eric Doherty’s helpful article explaining the requirement and the concepts of induced demand and traffic evaporation. The City of Copenhagen has been a leader in reducing vehicle trips for many decades, ever since it began removing parking from its streets. If you provide better alternatives to car trips, people will change their travel habits.
2. Do you support making the default speed limit 30 km/h for streets without centrelines?
Lower speeds reduce severity of injuries in the event of accidents as well as traffic noise. Significantly, research shows that lower speed limits DO NOT reduce travel times over short distances in urban areas. Moving at a slower but steady speed can get you where you’re going in the same amount of time, but in a lot calmer fashion! So, yes, I support such an initiative. I also think it’s important to have a consistent approach across the region, and definitely in adjoining municipalities so that drivers know what to expect as they move across the invisible lines between jurisdictions. This supports compliance and reduces driver frustration. So, if Victoria is doing this, Oak Bay should follow suit.
3. Do you commit to budgeting sufficient funds to accelerate the Oak Bay Active Transportation Strategy?
This is a high priority for me if I am elected. On September 20, 2022, I was pleased to watch the council accept staff’s recommendation to prepare an Active Transportation Program with increased funding, for consideration in the 2023-2027 Financial Plan. I agree that it has taken far, far too long for Oak Bay to get to this point: the community wants the District to invest money to make our streets and sidewalks safe, inclusive and pleasant, with good travel routes for bikes and rollers of all ages. Municipal expenditure can leverage provincial and federal contributions to make our property tax dollars go even further. The staff report to Council presented a scenario of what could be achieved if we spent $1 million per year. If we did this for five years, we would really start to experience the benefits.
4. Do you support using neighbourhood-wide traffic calming to create low traffic neighbourhoods with much lower traffic volume with quick build materials?
I am not sure this is necessary in Oak Bay, given current traffic volumes, travel patterns, and the fact that we are at the end of the line, so to speak, surrounded by ocean on three sides. Before doing anything, I would like to see the evidence that drivers use residential streets in Oak Bay to cut through neighbourhoods and measure the impact of that behaviour, if it exists. And a caution: diverting traffic from one street may simply shift a problem and create unintended consequences on adjacent streets. It is likely more effective to reduce car travel by providing better alternatives. With the COVID-induced shift to more work-from-home, the rapid uptake in use of electric bikes, including electric cargo bikes, plus the expansion of car-share services, I think we should be planning for a different future than the car-dominant one that this question seems to be concerned about.
5. How would you support making walking safer and more enjoyable in Oak Bay?
At the highest level, by voting for significant annual funding to implement our Active Transportation Strategy to create “complete streets”. Specific changes we could implement to support walking are more safe crossing points (e.g. curb extensions, or bulb-outs to narrow the roadway); wider sidewalks in our village centres, and wayfinding assistance through pleasant routes, including our unpaved laneway network. Our “walking” networks must also work for people with limited mobility, including those using walkers and mobility scooters; parents with strollers accompanied by little tykes on push bikes; and mixed groups, such as a fit walker with a frail walker. The heavily used pathway between Monterey and Oak Bay High School, along Bowker Creek, should be prioritized for redesign. Another priority for walkability is Oak Bay Village, where it is extremely hazardous for anyone with mobility challenges: it needs a complete redesign to turn it into a pedestrian-first environment. In addition to widening the sidewalks from Foul Bay Rd. to Monterey Avenue, we should consider having the entire pedestrian zone on the same level by removing the curb cuts at every intersection and raising the road crossings to match the sidewalk height: one continuous plane for pedestrians. This provides maximum space for pedestrian movement as there are no sloped areas running into the street and also has the benefit of slowing cars as they approach and traverse the raised pedestrian crossing points.
6. Do you support building a network of all ages and abilities (“AAA”) bike and roll routes throughout Oak Bay?
Yes, we need a properly-designed network, and a lot of it can be achieved without hard infrastructure on the roadway, although activated and priority crossings would help in a handful of locations. The most recent report to council notes that given traffic volumes on most streets, protected bike lanes are not necessary except on major corridors. One such corridor is Foul Bay/Henderson Rd between Oak Bay Avenue and Cedar Hill Cross Rd. This route does need a protected bike lane given traffic volumes and speeds.
7. Do you support welcoming people who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters to use all ages and abilities (AAA) bike and roll routes?
Yes. Please also see answer to Question #5.
8. Do you support rapidly completing bus lanes at key locations on busy bus routes in Oak Bay, including for BC Transit’s proposed RapidBus lines, as well as effective transit priority measures along all of BC Transit’s proposed RapidBus routes across the CRD?
We have at least four bus routes that traverse Oak Bay and I think we should give priority to buses to improve trip experience and encourage ridership. The design to be used along the Shelbourne Corridor could be implemented in Oak Bay on Oak Bay Avenue and Cadboro Bay Rd: keeping the bus in the travelled portion of the roadway at all bus stops by extending the passenger waiting area into the roadway.
9. With the court-imposed deadline of March 14, 2023 to keep the Island Rail Corridor intact, how would you support modern rail service for Vancouver Island?
This is a complex issue and I don’t feel I am sufficiently informed or competent to comment. Personally, I’d love to see the right of way preserved for light rail transit, but I have no idea what the triple-bottom-line business case would look like.
10. Do you support making transit fares more affordable, both by reducing the cost of passes and individual fares and free or discounted passes for youth, seniors, and people living on low incomes?
I’m not sure what this question is trying to address: How to reduce car dependency? Should we provide income supports by way of transportation subsidies? How to increase transit ridership? One SSHRC-funded study (not peer-reviewed) on the effect of transit subsidies on ridership and the environment suggests that the benefits for either are actually very small. (See Rivers and Plumptre, 2018, ResearchGate). And I’m sure there is much more peer-reviewed literature on this topic. However, if you subsidize the cost and provide better transit service, all other things being equal, you should expect to see an increase in ridership and the formation of new transit habits among those riders. If this increase in ridership also corresponds to a mode shift (from cars to buses), that’s a plus for the environment!
11. Do you support removing the requirements for off-street vehicle parking from new and infill developments while adding requirements for car share, EV charging, bike and other micromobilty parking, as well as expanding accessible parking?
As patterns of vehicle ownership and use change, we need to make sure we have the right infrastructure to support this. If it won’t be used, requiring “x “amount of parking in new developments–especially underground parking–is a big waste of resources and significantly increases the cost of housing. Private developers can probably figure out what amenities they must provide to sell their units, including parking, EV charging, etc., so perhaps we don’t even need to regulate this. Possibly more problematic are older condominium and rental buildings that don’t have the infrastructure to support changing transportation choices, such as electric vehicles. I argued strenuously for the removal of the mandatory additional parking space from Oak Bay’s secondary suites bylaw, and was absolutely thrilled that this happened. We have many miles of curb-side parking in Oak Bay that can be used instead of forcing owners to remove greenspace on their property to house cars.
12. How would you activate and bring more people into public spaces within Oak Bay, including sidewalks, public squares, streets and parks?
I love this question! Great public spaces for everyone is a central plank in my campaign platform. If you want to encourage people to come together and linger in the public domain, you have to create really high-quality spaces. Features of such spaces include comfortable street furniture and flexible seating options in sun and shade; weather protection, access to water for drinking and play; access to food and drink; public washrooms; opportunities to animate the space with performances, art, music, etc. Oak Bay doesn’t really have any high-quality spaces right now, and is sadly lacking a public square, although closing Oak Bay Avenue for community events does provide a substitute. But we can do better, with good design and public investment in our village centres (Oak Bay and Estevan), and committed funding to implement the Carnarvon Park Master Plan.
13. Do you support adding substantively more accessible public bathrooms across Oak Bay?
Yes: ideally, we should have at least one gender-neutral, accessible public bathroom at each urban node. Essential reading for all planners and local politicians: Lezlie Lowe’s No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail our Private Needs.