The Transportation 2040 project for the city of Vancouver, B.C., makes pedestrians and bicyclists the stars. City planners want to change the way people move within its city, namely reducing vehicle traffic and giving more access to transit, pedestrian walkways and new bicycle lanes.

The Transportation 2040 project has been ongoing since spring 2011 and with plenty of discussions centered around the project this summer, expect it to enter its final preliminary stage with a proposal to the Vancouver City Council this fall.

But already the ideas embedded within the project has people talking, with a target of reducing the number of vehicles entering downtown by 20 percent, even if population there increases by as much as 75 percent in the next 30ish years. The in-your-face goal of “at least two-thirds of all trips on foot, bike or transit” will take some radical changes in both the way the city approaches transportation, but also in the way citizens approach their vehicles.

The grandest of the proposals includes a call to turn the eight-lane Granville Bridge, which connects the area south of False Creek (the art-heavy scene of Granville Island and the former Olympic Village area) to downtown, into a mix of vehicle traffic—they don’t really need all eight lanes at this point—and a tree-lined pedestrian and bicycle walking mall.

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While the Granville idea is plenty far from actually happening, it does represent an idea that is certainly doable, would likely pass muster of most citizens and works to promote the goals of Transportation 2040 with a striking new addition to the city. Basically, while appearing a little ambitious, it actually makes sense for Vancouver. In total, another nearly 200 proposals are included for consideration, many of which appear on a smaller scale than the Granville concept.

While the goals for pedestrians fall in line with what you would expect: make sidewalks more accessible with wider spaces, link walking corridors, update the streetscape, etc., the ideas for cyclists require some substantial upgrades, including removing more vehicle lanes for cycling lanes.

Already Vancouver’s transit is growing steadily, even if funding is an issue (and when isn’t it?). But to get to the goal of two-thirds of all trips not in a vehicle, transit must continue to grow, linking high population areas with easily accessible, fast and frequent options. There is no way Transportation 2040 will work on pedestrian and bicycle trips alone; the project needs a complete transit buy-in.

And as Vancouver continues its aim as getting recognized as a “world-class city,” a designation folks in Vancouver have talked about for years—especially during the 2010 Olympics—and has really turned into an indefinable goal that will always linger over the heads of folks in Vancouver, the Transportation 2040 plan says that embracing the “natural” beauty and the culture it brings to the city helps get Vancouver to that status. If nothing else, the Transportation 2040 plan has started to create real discussions based on conceptual ideas that could lead to actual improvements. That’s a good plan. 

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