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Readers weigh in on ‘the war on the car’


A B.C. Transit bus negotiates a narrow Lane on Fort Street between Government and Douglas Street. A reader’s concerns about the narrow roadway are echoed by comments from B.C. Transit drivers, Steve Wallace writes.



Last week’s column, “Victoria’s war on the car,” yielded a significant response from readers.

Fritz reminded me of the Ontario practice of traffic light altering. On his trip into work in Toronto in the early evening, he would take a circular route from Scarborough to Etobicoke on the freeway. He found it much easier to return home at about 11 p.m. by going straight through town, since all the traffic lights had been switched to flashing amber on major streets and to flashing red on minor streets, giving him clear sailing all the way home without the interference of the standard stoplights halting traffic unnecessarily. He has two great quotes.

“Unfortunately, half a century later, that is much too advanced a concept for Victoria.”
“Anytime I am more pleased about something I do not deserve, all I have to do as an antidote is think about city hall, and I am cured.”

Mike grew up in Victoria. He is now a senior and would appreciate a mid-day free bus pass. This is the time of day when many buses are relatively empty. He thinks it would be a good gesture, since he barely recognizes the town where he grew up. He is a retired professional driver and hates driving in Victoria. Stan watches empty bike lanes as he enters and exits his popular restaurant in the evening on Fort Street. His main beef is the narrow lanes on this same street, despite it being a well-travelled road.

Bus drivers are also very concerned about the lack of space for all modes of transportation on this street. It would be better for all of us to just listen to the bus drivers and follow their sage
advice. They should be included on every transportation advisory committee.

Ted had some questions for the anti-car crew. How does a parent with two kids shop for groceries? How does a senior get to a medical appointment? There are a host of other circumstances that require a motor vehicle.

There is quite a double standard being promoted when one considers the electric-car alternative. One can’t go anywhere on Vancouver Island without seeing a great number and variety of electric vehicles. Are they going to be subject to the same criticism and disdain as gas-powered vehicles? Time will tell, but my prediction is a resounding yes.

Peter gave me a quote from the city of Victoria’s transportation priorities, and it is stunning. When he asked the city about trafficlight synchronizing, he got this reply: “Our traffic system overall reviews consider pedestrians, cyclists and transit as priority, and single-occupancy motor vehicles with a lesser priority. Most of our investment will be going toward our cycling network, pedestrian connectivity and transit improvements.”

He believes the traffic-light patterns could be better handled by a group of high school students, as a for-credit project. Mike noted my namesake Wallace Drive as being very dangerous for cyclists. He is right to yearn for a dedicated bike lane. Rob wrote to Victoria and got a positive reply from the engineering department. The traffic lights on Wharf Street will return to a demand signalization once construction is complete.

Car travel is very popular for many reasons, some not so obvious. Travelers feel safe in a car, with the doors locked. They can come and go according to their own schedule. They can listen to the radio, music or other devices without interruption. They are protected from the elements. It is easy to load stuff in the trunk. It is a sign of independence. They can choose their travel companions, or enjoy their privacy.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.







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