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Tuesday, Feb. 16

OK, I have a confession. I have taken my car into downtown Vancouver and lived to tell the tale. The Olympic traffic plan put together by VANOC, the City of Vancouver and Translink, the regional transit authority, has implored people to leave their cars at home while maximizing transit resources. The plan has been heavily promoted for the past two months, with several designated transit days on which people were kindly requested to give transit a try. Planners were hoping for a 30 per cent drop in vehicle traffic into downtown but could do no better than 11 per cent in the week leading up to the opening ceremonies.

February 16, 2010
By Paul Dixon

Topics

Then a
change in attitude, apparently. On Friday, all modes of transit were jammed as
people headed downtown to witness the end of the torch relay and the opening
ceremonies.  Sunday, several hundreds of
thousands were drawn into downtown by blue skies and sunshine, with the vast
majority arriving by transit. The downtown stations for all Skytrain lines had
passengers queued on the streets, as transit security was limiting the number
of people down into the stations to minimize congestion. While transit
officials have been promoting all forms of transit as the best way to move
around during the Olympics, they have also been warning people to expect waits
of up to two hours at peak times. Yikes.

To aid in
the decision making process, parking has been eliminated at all venues in and
around Vancouver. The parking lots at the various venues is taken up by
the security screening tents and myriad other temporary structures. Parking on
surrounding streets is tightly restricted to residents only. If you have a
ticket to an Olympic event, the ticket is your transit pass for the day, which
makes the decision even easier to make. 

U.S. Veep
Joe Biden’s motorcade crash on Sunday gives one cause to wonder why organizers can’t
just give him and his retinue bus passes like everyone else. They did buy
tickets to all these events they keep showing up, don’t they?

Traffic
has dropped dramatically, over the weekend and again for the Monday morning
rush hour. The usually doom-and-gloom radio traffic reporters were in shock on
Monday morning with NO traffic backups to report. Maybe people can be coerced
into forsaking their cars for transit. Yes, a lot of people are working from
home and some have been able to alter their working hours and a lot of people
have simply left town, which really does get cars off the road.

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I’ll be
interested to see the numbers on motor vehicle accidents over the Olympic period
to determine if there is a correlation between the number of cars and the
number of accidents.  Then there would be
the types of accidents – fewer cars on the roads generally means higher
speeds. 

So what
about me? Well, I’m sticking with the story that I’m doing it all for you
because I’m out here and you’re not.


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