Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story

As cities all over the world are starting to rethink their urban planning in general and transportation strategy in particular, one of the best transportation success stories comes from Vancouver, British Columbia.

The city proudly achieves a 50% sustainable mode share (bike, walk and transit) a full four year earlier than its goal (2020). 10% of all work commuters now ride bikes to work.

As this latest Streetfilms video shows, the phenomenal transformation of the city’s transportation landscape was institutionalized in 2008 when the new city council made a strategic move from recreational to transportation cycling.

But the evolution of its public landscape and transportation network dated back much earlier than that, and, according to this film, can be demarcated by three seminal events.

The first one took place in the late 1960s when the citizens rejected a proposal to have a freeway cut through the city. To date the city remains the only major city in North America without a freeway within its city limit.

The second event took place during Expo ‘86. The world fair showcased the city’s different model of downtown living and its multi-modal city making. Expo transformed the city’s waterfront, with the now famous Seawall which is viewed as the best public space at least in Canada.

The last event was the 2010 Winter Olympics, which was arguably the most urban Olympics ever. The viaducts and large sections of the downtown streets were closed off to make room for parties. Not only did the city not choke from traffic nightmares, the concept of pop-up urban spaces by closing off streets for human only activities were wildly popular and continued to be practice downtown today.

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