Why I love to drive my car and Modeshift 2017


It was the day after boxing day. Tired of turkey, we wanted Pad Thai for dinner. The Baan Thai on Blanshard St. was closed. The Oak Bay location was open. It was rainy and dark and cold. As I drove to the Victoria-Oak Bay border down Fort Street to pick up the warm delicious food, I felt happy and thankful to be driving my car.

In the future, I likely won’t have a car. I’ll order a self-driving car using my smartphone app to arrive at my door and pick me up to go get the food. But that’s a little ways off. In the meantime, people do drive and we’ve got some work to do on transportation solutions.

We’ve had lots of feedback about #Biketoria. Some people love it. Some people hate it. It has become a polarizing issue in the community. And when the community is polarized, it’s hard to move forward.

When the city builders of the 20th century started to build the road network, they did not call it #Cartoria. They just built the infrastructure for the emerging transportation technology, the car. And there was likely much protest and complaint from carriage drivers, horse riders, and people who walked and rode bikes. But the city leaders at the time could see the future.

In 2017 I think we need to ditch the car-bike polarity that has plagued us in 2016. We need to work towards something much more inspiring as a community that other cities in the 21st century are so far ahead of Victoria on. We need to set a transportation mode shift goal and work to meet it.

A few years ago, Vancouver set a goal that by 2020, 50% of all trips in the city would be by transit, cycling or walking. Last year they hit their 2020 goal!

We don’t have a Skytrain but the Smart Bus is coming; you’ll soon be able to see on your phone, in real time, when the bus is arriving. And this federal government is committed to transit. Yes not everyone can walk, bike, or take transit. But what if as a community we tried a bit harder. I drove my car to get Pad Thai that night, but most days I either walk or bike to City Hall so that I’m freeing up a parking space for someone else. What if those of us who could did this even a few days a week to start.

Why should we care about aiming for a 50% mode shift to walking, cycling and transit? To make parking easier for those who need it. Because it’s good for our health and makes us happy to get fresh air and exercise. Because cities are ground zero for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking climate action. But most of all, simply because it’s the future.

Thanks to the Victoria News for originally publishing this piece and also to the Times Colonist for their coverage today of the topic. And thanks also to Eric Haight President and Co-founder of Kano Apps for both the push and the inspiration!




3 responses to “Why I love to drive my car and Modeshift 2017”

  1. Derry McDonell Avatar
    Derry McDonell

    Keep going Lisa. You will never get all the naysayers on board but if you persevere, Vic City will catch up to the 21st Century in spite of itself. PS I’m pleased to detect a little more of Peter Pollen’s plain spoken assertiveness in your responses to this kind of opposition. On y va!

  2. James Kyles Avatar
    James Kyles

    Hi Lisa – I think you are stretching things a bit to suggest cycling is ‘an emerging technology’ similar to the automobile early in the 20th century. You know I cycle in town almost every day, but I do not support the expensive approach you are taking with ‘Biketoria’. In my opinion, until such time as you solicit approval of the entire community for your bike network with some kind of referendum (as is planned for Crystal pool) – and that means giving folks the option to say no (an option absent from all previous surveys) that community will remain polarized. I worry that bike ridership along your $3 million per mile paths will remain modest, leading directly to the rather self-serving argument “Well, obviously we just need to build more and they will come”.
    By the way, I hope I am wrong in this expectation.
    Victoria is too small to be able to afford an LRT network but the possibility of a commuter train between Vic West and the western communities seems very sensible.
    No doubt self driving cars ordered up with smart phones represent a TRUE emerging technology, but the time frame for practical broad implementation is very uncertain despite exciting reports about experiments in various places (ie. don’t hold your breath).

  3. Jim Ford Avatar
    Jim Ford

    It is ironic that one of the primarily challenges that Google, Uber and Tesla are facing with their self-driving cars is … bike lanes. Google has given up on trying to produce their own cars and is now only working on the technology stack while Uber has had to remove cars from the road and Tesla is now months behind in their promised software delivery for their vehicles. Self-driving cars may be coming, but it will be decades and not years before they solve their challenges. You can’t build a policy on silicon valley hype.


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