The Town of Lake Cowichan wants to get more people out of their cars. That should be the goal of all of the transportation plans currently under review in the Cowichan Valley. (Gazette file)

The Town of Lake Cowichan wants to get more people out of their cars. That should be the goal of all of the transportation plans currently under review in the Cowichan Valley. (Gazette file)

Editorial: Time to dream up better transportation

How are we going to get there from here?

How are we going to get there from here?

It seems like a simple enough question, but it’s one that communities must increasingly pay attention to as they change and grow.

In the Cowichan Valley we’re at a crossroads right now when it comes to what transportation in our communities is going to look like in the years and decades to come. The City of Duncan and the Municipality of North Cowichan are both launching reviews of their transportation plans, and the Town of Lake Cowichan has recently invested in an Active Transportation Network Plan for that community, with the goal of getting more people out of their cars.

Getting people out of their cars should be a goal of all of the transportation plans going forward. Not only is it better for the environment, it is better for individuals and solves problems for communities as a whole.

We were not always such a car-centric society. In the not-so-distant past not everyone owned a vehicle, and far more people put feet to pavement or cycled, especially within relatively short distances around our urban centres. The increased exercise was healthy for people, and it also brought people face-to-face more, creating more of a sense of familiarity and community.

One of the biggest headaches for our urban centres is parking. If we can get more people out of their vehicles, we will have less of a problem with accommodating everyone’s car. Public transport must be further encouraged and made attractive for people to take. This can include buses, and trains. And we can reinvision what we want our streets to look like. In many areas we still need sidewalks, and the ones that are there need to be assessed for safety and accessibility. We also need space for bikes, and not just an afterthought lane encroached upon regularly by cars. There are templates we can look at other than our traditional two lanes of traffic bordered by sidewalk, which clearly prioritizes vehicles over all else. In some cities roads have been designed with cycling traffic down the middle, sidewalks on either side of that, with lanes for cars beside those and then bordered again on the outside by more sidewalks.

For the cars that will inevitably still be driving our streets we must consider that the majority of them will begin to be electric or hybrid, and we’ll need to have more charging stations available for public use.

There are so many ideas that can make out cities better through thoughtful transportation. It’s time to dream a little.

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