the renewed city.

ubc alumni dialogue
May 7, 2009, 9:51 am
Filed under: presentation

Last night, I had the chance to speak at a ubc alumni event entitled “Is there a light at the end of the tunnel: solutions to Surrey’s transportation quagmire.” The event was a panel discussion where myself, along with Mr. Clark Lim, a former transportation planer with TransLink and current PhD student at UBC, fielded questions and comments about both surrey’s and the larger fraser valley’s transportation woes. We had a great turn out of around 60 people who were very engaged and excited to talk about the subject (always a great thing to see).

At the onset I was able to give a brief overview of some of the local transportation research coming out of UBC. I touched on the idea that many of our transportation problems are the product of our daily travel behaviour which, in turn, is directly influenced by the way we plan and built our town and cities.I highlighted some key findings of recent research coming out of UBC that has explored the link between land use and travel patterns, physical activity and travel-related emissions. Of note:

  • Adults living in the top 25% most walkable areas in Metro Vancouver were between 2 and 3 times more likely to walk or take transit for any home-based trip compared to those in the least walkable neighbourhoods;
  • Adults living in the top 25% most walkable neighbourhoods drive approximately 58% less than those in more auto-oriented areas;
  • Residents living in the top 25% most walkable areas in Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria were half as likely to be overweight than those in the least walkable neighbourhoods;
  • Persons who felt they had many shops within easy walking distance were more than twice as likely to meet recommended physical activity requirements compared with those who did not.

The first two points are from a study entitled “Active Transportation Benefits of Walkable Approaches to Community Design in Metro Vancouver” which was completed by myself and Dr. Lawrence Frank with funding from the BC Recreation and Parks Association. The last two findings are found in “Promoting Physical Activity through Healthy Community Design,” a study funded by the Vancouver Foundation and prepared by Dr. Frank, Megan Winters, Brian Patterson and Cora Craig.

This work and others like it are helping to shape a local evidence base that supports the notion that encouraging less driving and increasing alternative forms of travel starts with planning and building places that make walking attractive, convenient and appropriate. 

You can download a copy of my presentation here. The event was also recorded as a podcast that can be downloaded at the iTunes Canada store


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