Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An idea to encourage people to get out of their cars, and to Cycle, Walk or use Public Transit

Just about everyone agrees that we need to start weaning our society of our excessive use of the personal automobile. We need to encourage use of public transport, car pooling, cycling and walking.
I believe that one very effective way of doing this is to start making people aware of the cost of each trip that is taken. Most of the population is still more likely to be motivated to change their habits when there is a direct impact on their wallet.
The technology for this has been around for a while now. One such device is called a Scangauge. It can measure your actual fuel economy at the moment or averaged over a trip. The current cost of fuel can also be programmed to give a cost per kilometer or per trip. These devices can be very useful in helping people adjust their driving habits to improve their fuel economy. (Volkswagen has been making this sort of gauge as standard in most of their vehicles for years) If the cost per kilometer is displayed it would act something like the meter in a cab, making people very aware of the cost of a trip. This tool could help someone see that it might be cheaper to take public transport, or perhaps instead of spending $2.50 in gas to go to the grocery store, to take a bicycle instead. Even many small trips of only a few blocks end up getting costly over a period of time. The short 5 minute trip we make to drive our daughter to school costs us about $0.80 round trip. That adds up if we were to do it every day!
I believe our government should take the step to legislate the auto manufacturers to make these sort of gauges standard equipment in all new vehicles. This could have a huge impact in fuel savings as people start to adjust their driving habits, and it could potentially improve peoples health if it encourages them to walk or cycle! For existing vehicles there could be some kind of promotion and subsidy to encourage people to purchase and install them on their vehicles.
We must start changing our habits of the free and easy use of motor vehicles. I believe this is one way the government has the power to make it happen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

BC Transit Proposals

Transit Commission Meeting; On March 9th I made a presentation to the BC Transit Commission and presented 3 proposals;
  1. Pilot project to allow bikes on board buses on the Sooke-Victoria and Victoria- Swartz Bay run during summer weekends.
  2. Retro-fit these same routes with racks capable of carrying 3 bikes
  3. Create a policy of allowing folding bikes on board all buses
Here is a link to the actual proposal

All of these proposals were received very well and John Luton was there as well, speaking in support of improving the Cycling/Transit interface and supporting our proposals.

It looks like they will try the Pilot Project and allow folding bikes as well. We should know by the May Transit Commission meeting. The 3 Bike racks have some technical challenges but they will be looking into this as well, though it might take a bit longer to implement. The BC Transit staff was given direction to look into all these proposals and report back in May.