Comment 90922

By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted August 14, 2013 at 22:45:51 in reply to Comment 90602

Actually there are several examples of Complete Streets here in Canada. It's true that the idea has more traction so far in the US, but recently Complete Streets policies have been adopted by Edmonton, Waterloo and Ajax, among others. The difference is that, like many things to do with active transportation, many US jurisdictions are about 3-5 years ahead of jurisdictions here in Canada. So the examples that exist in Canada are simply too young to really point to just yet, but give them a couple of years, and they'll be showcased as well.

To reiterate the equity component, Complete Streets are about making our streets, which are public space, work for all users. This includes children, seniors, people with disabilities and those who choose to walk or cycle to get around as well as those who drive. It really all boils down to giving people choices. As you mention, the HSR is currently not very reliable or convenient, and walking and cycling around the city is not very hospitable or safe, so your choices are currently quite limited - if you're like me, an experienced, strong adult male cyclist, then choosing cycling doesn't seem so bad, but the age and gender divide among those who choose to ride around Hamilton is particularly stark. For most people, the only choice for reliable, (perceived) safe transportation is vehicle ownership, and that means paying car payments, insurance, gas, maintenance and other costs that average $8,000 - 10,000 per year in Ontario. Someone in the mid-to-high income bracket might not notice those costs that much, but someone living below the poverty line certainly will, so giving people the choice to use their car less or to explore other means of transportation certainly is an equity issue. So to my mind, it seems like a pretty simple equation of how this addresses equity.

When someone making $20,000 a year has to pay $8,000 a year for transportation, that doesn't leave them a whole lot of discretionary income, but if they feel like that is their only real option to get to and from work, the grocery store, etc then they don't really have much of a choice. If that same person lives in a neighbourhood where amenities and employment opportunities are close by, then maybe they won't use their car as much to go to work, the grocery store or to take their kids to school, and maybe they'll save a thousand bucks or so a year, which means more money in their pocket at the end of every month.

As for your last point, I somewhat agree with you - cars are not the problem. The problem is that we are not providing people with any viable alternative to using a vehicle as their only means of transportation. We can build our cities to work better for everyone and, indeed, if we want to continue to compete in a world where people are increasingly making their choices about where to live work and play based on livability, we have to start doing better right now.

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