Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jammed, in more ways than one

As the Buckwold and Traffic bridges are currently closed, yesterday I necessarily had to go down Broadway to get downtown. It was 5:30 p.m and I expected the traffic congestion to be bad - but not horrific. As I inched my way down the avenue the realization that the city had shut down one lane on Broadway stunned me. With all the road closures and detours in the Nutana area over the past several months I couldn't believe that the sages at City Hall would add to the difficulty of moving traffic in this area during peak traffic hours.

Then I read today's SP (Sept. 22/10) on the number of vehicles in the city and had to wonder if this is a way to discourage vehicle traffic and direct citizens to public transit. If so, the only thing it will discourage is having people go downtown. Next time I agree to meet friends it will be outside of the city centre. And the big box centres are looking more appealing with each passing day.

I think council should start asking why people in Saskatchewan drive cars as opposed to using public transit. I suggest the main reason would be weather, followed by a poor public transit system. Add to the equation the fact that many people transport their kids to and from school and day care centres. When both Mom and Dad are working outside the home, they already have reduced time with their kids and are not prepared to lose any of that time waiting for a bus.

If City Council wants to discourage car use in the city, there are a few policies they should change. Quit working with the school divisions to build huge parking lots for student parking. Don't build complexes, such as the Shaw Centre, in areas that are difficult to access without a vehicle.

I am waiting for a councillor to stand up and put down a motion to eliminate the free parking passes to all councillors and city hall employees. If you want to expand City Hall, build the annex over the employee parking lot in back of the building. This, to me, would be leading by example.

And before a decision is made regarding a pedestrian/cyclist bridge only, lets use this winter to count the number of cyclists on the roadways between November 1 and March 31.


  1. Ever since the Danish savior Jan Gehl was here revving up the ped/cycle lobby they have been working on taking stuff away from anyone who doesn't bow down to the ped/cycle god. Instead of trying to create disention why not try to create winners, no one in there right mind who presently drives a car to any of there Saskatoon Destinations is going to take a bus and triple their travel time. The next salvo is coming from Gil Penalosa a cycle, pedestrian and transit adjocate from a third world country who now lives in Toronto. He is another one of the just take parking away until everyone has to ride the bus and Saskatoon can join the ranks of the third world. Can't you just see all the miners riding their bicycles out to the Cory mine. The statis quo is just fine and if bike types don't like how the VAST majority of Saskatoon people prefer to travel move somewhere like Bogata

  2. I'm a motorist, cyclist, mass transit user and pedestrian. I don't see why you have to pick winners and losers. What we should be doing is finding a good middle ground for all modes of transportation.

    There are some simple solutions that require a little bit of give and take on all ends. I think the mistress hits the nail on the head by suggesting we work to improve on our inefficient transportation system first. Better and more timely bus routes, better light syncronizations, and identified and upkept cycling routes are a good start.

    Frankly, the more people we can encourage to to hop on their bike, take the bus, or walk (voluntarily) the better it will be for those who want to drive.

    The status quo will eventually bankrupt the city, something our City Manager has made quite clear to all of city admin and council since coming into the job a couple years ago.

  3. Traffic is bad downtown - however, I was trying to get home between 5:00-5:30 and, in all fairness to the city, there was an accident on the Buckwold Bridge which was completely shut down - so they were down another bridge yesterday at this time. We have to cut a little slack for that.

  4. “What we should be doing is finding a good middle ground for all modes of transportation.”

    I disagree. Instead of trying to base a transportation policy on “all modes of transportation”, we should instead focus on moving people in the most efficient and effective manner. The mode of choice ought to support the movement of people rather than the other way around.

    Despite the ideological protestations of the bicycle brigade, the majority of residents in this town use the personal automobile for their transportation needs, not because they are ignorant troglodytes, but because it works. They get where they need to go quickly and safely and, in comparison to many other cities, efficiently. It is the best mode of transportation and we need to cater to it.

    Saskatoon sits in a sub-arctic climate, which of course subjects us to long, cold winters. This limits the amount of people who would conceivably bike on a regular basis, not to mention causing consternation to those who wait a half-hour or more to sit on a cold bus in thirty-below weather.

    Our transportation policies ought to reflect this reality. If global warming improbably envelopes the city in a temperate climate which makes it more amiable to cycling or transit use, then we should change our strategy to reflect that. But I’m not holding my breath for this to come about.

    Until that time comes, if it ever does, we need to ensure policies to encourage cycling or pedestrian travel do not mitigate the primary and best mode of transportation in the city – the automobile.


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