You Really Don’t Count if You Don’t Have a Car – Dr. Brad Cross

Brad Cross

Dr. Brad Cross

(Transcription of presentation by Professor Dr. Brad Cross, Saint Thomas University, history)

My name is Brad and I have a car, played with matchbox, dinky toys as a boy.  I don’t know what my life would be like without cars. Cars fit part of my life.

I wanted to talk about cars, and how it seems that anyone without a car doesn’t count in our systems..

Automobile culture has changed our language our use of language. Our point of reference is by car travel.

Planning is from the perspective from Google maps  cars has influence our understanding time and distance so much so that pedestrian  scale is no longer the scale of our daily lives.  How do we want to live in our cities?

If you don’t have a car it maybe because it costs huge amount money or even an old beater requires a steady infusion of cash just to keep it on the road. or if you don’t have a car it might because you are not old enough to drive or unable to drive for some other reason, or if you don’t have a car it might be that you don’t want to have one, that you renounce them which would put you among tiny minority of people with means to afford one, but the commitment is to resist own one   like a vegan, or something, you opted out, of mainstream society, or you lack of money, means you have been opted out by mainstream society.

One  average  owning a car  cost about 4000$  per  year apart from the actual price of the car, there is the gasoline, the insurance, the motor vehicle inspection, long list of maintenance  cost  everything from oil, tires and repairs.   Energy costs are bound to increase of course driving up  cost of the car even higher, but the economy of the car goes far beyond the vehicle its self,  and this is where mainstream society has invested a lot of money, there are billions of dollars of public money being spent every year to subsidizing the use of private vehicles.  we see this in growing an maintaining road infrastructures; paving, bridges,  intersection signals, plowing, cleaning ,painting, parking lots on an on.

Death Before Inconvience
These infrastructure as design by mainly by engineering and traffic services and municipal governments standards developed by provincial levels.  Lately Fredericton has been road widening spree  and building a series of new roads leading to expanding retail mica’s and increasing remote low  density housing subdivision.

This is one aspect of the car that is over looked, that a great deal of public money is goes to facilitate private motor vehicle use,  much is made of the cost of public transit but those cost fail in comparison when the real cost of  maintain  and funding a car culture.

Generally a high reliance on private vehicle use results in a decentralized and spread out urban form, sometimes call sprawl, sprawl makes both private car travel and public transit increasingly difficult. Traffic volumes increase in arterial routs results in longer travel during peak periods.  Fredericton has overall density foot print that is the lowest among capital cities in all of Canada. 487 people per square kilometer, ranking last in the 2006 provincial census among Canadian cities, why  most new development except for few exception tends to be low density residential or nonresidential retail.

New development offers financial incentive for developers:

1. Land is cheaper for all land categories.

2.  Acceleration and depreciation, so big buck retailer can claim lost overall value on their cheaply constructed  building up to 10 years into the future so that by the time they open the doors to retail, they already made money back on the building.

3.  They are few neighbors in a new site to protest against this kind of development.

4.  Municipal government give tax incentives for new development rather than retrofitting old development, and this is support is given road construction, intersection construction and utilities to the new development all paid by public money. and of course the discourse of progress,  when don’t have a big buck retailer like in Moncton, we need one.

So how does Fredericton’s density in the urban places stand up by comparison; Charlottetown has double the double the density of Fredericton, Saint John Newfoundland has three times the density and Toronto has twelve times the density.

if you have a chance to go on line check this www.walkscore.com and plug in where you live in the address bar and it will give you a score out of a hundred not just in terms of who walking friendly it is but it’s an another index for seeing the density looks like in your neighborhood and what other things are available beyond other residential unites where you live.

Where we are standing it get of 95 out of 100, up at Windsor streets kings college  by the gates of the University it gets 57 out of a 100, if you go out to the Golf Club road it gets 17 out of 100, on the North side up at Douglas Ave and Maple it gets a 40, if you head out to Kimble it gets a 15.

It’s kind of fun to plug in where you live and where your friends live where you  have to go to find out in part where in ranks, odds are you don’t want these kinds places.  There is also a good chance that the Transit does not regularly service the places with low number either and that’s one of the strange logical disconnect between public transit and density.

Here are some statistics from Fredericton’s public Transit that relate to density and as relates to car culture.

82% of a survey conducted among Fredericton riders are identified as captive riders’ means they rely on public transit to get around only 18% of choice riders, they have some alternative method of transportation, of those who travel public transit in Fredericton 63% of the ridership is females, and 37% Male. Only 3.2% of riders us public transit to get to work, and the average commuting distance is 5.5 kilometers.

Ok, what are some possible solutions? Just to wrap this up. I have 7 possible remarks.

Well, 1 is work to convenience municipal and provincial legislature slate to mandate    higher densities in our cities and reduce sprawl.  Ontario for example recently enacted a plan mandated that 40% of all new buildings have to occur in already developed areas.

2.  Work to convince municipal legislators and developer to make it legal to build mixed use medium density buildings that include retail, commercial, and residential in the same block housing, shopping employment and services relatively close where people live and put this on a walk able scale.

3. With higher density public transportation   becomes more cost effective and more desirable with more frequent services there is also the possibility of building exclusive bus lanes or exclusive bus routes and redesign patterns to cover all of Fredericton. The slogan for this may be “Make public transit the best choice, not the last choice”

4.  Complete Communities rethink the city as a series of neighborhoods   on a pedestrian scale, the province and city governments can provide incentives to retrofit single family residential neighbor hoods with hubs that provide local services food shopping medical services daycare employment opportunities etc., with the need of a car on daily bases, think of it you walk in within a 10 min radius you have access to most of what you need on a daily bases.

5. Put pressure on local politicians to enhance activities that foster pedestrian and cyclist. Pedestrian and cyclist pay the price inn any collision with cars. So what about bike lanes in high traffic areas that are more than just lines painted on the road?

6. Car share programs or Car coop programs these are usually seen in areas of higher population density they are business for example like zip cars that work as car cooperatives here the goal is to reduce the overall presence of cars on the road but make cars available when needed. Reserve them on weekly bases for making those household trips out to the big retailer who are out at the fringes that are otherwise impossible by bike or foot.

7. You want to be a green business, employer incentives to use public transient. Subsidize your employers with a monthly bus pass and leave the car at home. You want to be a green municipal mandate that city employers use public transit to get to work.

If we want changes we you have to begin at the local community, there is all kinds of reasons to use cars   but do we the fact the Fredericton seems to hang on the news that the Princess Margret Bridge will open in another week, this is only one symptom of how the system is b built around the car, what would it take to convince us to get rid of our cars, what would Fredericton have to look like for this to happen, simple what would it have to look like.  The end.

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