Vancouver has managed a near-miraculous transformation of its city transportation. Today, 50% of journeys are made by sustainable means–on a bike, walking, or using public transit. The city set a goal that 10% of all commutes would take place on bikes by 2020, and it hit that goal four years early. Street Films interviewed the people behind this success, along with citizens who are enjoying their newly car-independent city, in this new movie: Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story.
The story is long and began back in the 1960s when Vancouver rejected freeways. The city remains the only major North American city with no freeways within city limits, says Vancouver’s former chief planner Brent Toderian. Instead of ripping up the city, and building a bridge across the bay, the citizens instead decided to create the Sea Bus, a ferry service that takes 10 minutes to cross the water.
Today the plan is multi-modal. Walking, bikes, and transit all link up so you can travel car-free. And because almost a quarter of all bike lanes are protected, regular people have started to ride. Kids and elderly folks can take their bikes without having to share the roads with cars and trucks.
Cycling is the fasted growing mode of transport in Vancouver, and it seems that the city is already on target to easily meet its goal of two-thirds of all trips being sustainable by 2040.
Vancouver’s story shows that, once again, transit plans move slowly, and then fast. This can be off-putting to cities that have still to begin a serious push to grow sustainable transport, but it also shows that small efforts build to eventually make big differences. It reminds me of an old proverb I always half-remember: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.