Saturday, January 22, 2011

Evolving Douglas Street

Douglas Street is the right corridor for rapid transit in Victoria and Saanich.  It ranked high in evaluations conducted by BC Transit analysts.  Certainly those in the community who understand how transit works also support Douglas for the new project.

There is some resistance, however, from those in the community who believe that any project that proposes to diminish capacity for vehicle travel or storage (parking), will ruin downtown.

I expect to work my blog, Facebook updates and my Flickr page to counter some of the myths over the next few weeks as we work towards a decision at the Regional Transit Commission, where I also sit as a member.  We need to be mindful of the concerns of our business community but we do need to build a more effective and responsive transit system.

One flaw in the argument about how traffic works on Douglas (or throughout most of the system in fact), is that the demand for vehicle travel and parking is constant and overwhelming.  It's not supported by the facts, and for many retailers, their most important market is the 17 shopping days leading up to Christmas.  Traffic congestion and the demand for parking is high and it is the formula that drives the design of shopping mall parking lots.  Street design can't provide for that small slice of the travel market only to leave streets underutilized and parking spaces empty for the rest of the year.

That's a bit simplistic.  Traffic on Douglas does bunch up in morning and afternoon rush hours when workforces are commuting to and fro, but transit improvements would sure help to relieve the pressure and make it easier for those who must or choose to drive to get into or out of downtown.  For shoppers, who may not always be traveling at commute times, that congestion is irrelevant - Douglas St. is not overburdened at other hours of the day.

More to come but here's a glimpse of Douglas during the day.  There's no lack of space for shoppers coming downtown by car here:

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