Vancouver Traffic: The problem and solutions:
This is a daily annoyance for hundreds of thousands of people. The causes of this problem are plentiful but the origins are basic: One, when you have a city on the water, and doubly when it’s against the mountains, the geography is detrimental to most solutions. For example there is a need and, subsequently, a cost for more and larger bridges or tunnels; highways can not go around the city and the number of major routes in and out of the city is limited. The Second origin is the love of the British (the culture that developed this city) towards laying a city out in a grid format. This generally creates a massive number of intersections and – in Vancouver’s case – an incompatibility with non- linear roads like those winding along the water or those linked to the historical and diagonal Kingsway, (the original road that linked Vancouver to the former provincial capital.) The easily conceived but costly and difficult-to-produce solutions to this problem are to build more bridges, overpasses, tunnels and massive reorganizations – all of which are not likely to occur. So the simpler solutions and more cost-effective solutions: “smart” traffic lights, fewer intersections and no left turns. “Smart” traffic programs exist. Traffic lights analyze traffic patterns and direct traffic through intersections. This will likely be standardized soon, but how well it helps will be reliant on how large and complete the network is. (Coupled with self driving cars, this could be the only solution required.) Another solution is no left turns. That of course sounds silly, but I mean no left turns off of or onto major arterial roads at peak traffic hours (at least to begin with.) I discovered this solution on a trip my wife and I took to Portland. While looking for our hotel and needed to turn left we found ourselves on a main road that had alternating “one way” roads at perpendicular intersections. The first road would indicate “no left turn” and the next would be one way only to the right. This pattern alternated. And once I figured it out I was completely on the other side of town in only moments. Making three rights and a little back tracking I was efficiently on my way. In Vancouver we have multi-lane arterial roads that are often reduced to a single, or no lanes, with parked cars blocking the right lane; large level of pedestrians slowing right turns; cars trying to turn left and waiting several minutes for a gap in oncoming traffic and unnessesary lights (made necessary by people trying to find short cuts through small roads.) No left turns on or off of major arteries during rush hours and (I will add) advanced pedestrian crossing, would free up at least the inner most lane increasing general flow. This would require a change in peoples’ driving habits, which is likely the most difficult problem. But a solution in the meantime may be just to ban left turns off of major arteries for the two blocks before and after a major intersection with an advanced left turn lane. Fewer intersections can easily be achieved by getting rid of every second traffic light on major arteries. Pedestrians can walk a block or two to cross the road.