III. Walkable urban places — Environmental benefits

Concern for the environment may be one of the earliest and most straightforward drivers for increased walking and active mobility.

From climate change to air pollution, loss of biodiversity to green infrastructure, walking provides an active means for people to mitigate and address local and global environmental concerns.1

“The recovery of sprawl to vibrant places is literally our generation’s greatest challenge.”

Steve Mouzon, Architect and New Urbanist

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square (a CNU Journal), has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report, which shows the benefits of walkable cities – social, economic, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post itemizes the list from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), and includes additional details from the report.

Ten environmental benefits of walkable places

  1. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
    Fewer cars, fewer emissions.
  2. Improves urban microclimates
    The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, where denser urban areas are significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas, is a major issue facing cities today. Increased urban vegetation and mature tree canopies contribute to the mitigation of the urban heat island effect by reducing the air temperature and provide pleasant strolling temperatures.
  3. Optimises land use
    Soil is not a renewable resource and is essential to nurture plants and animals. In addition, it is vulnerable to impacts from vehicular traffic, industry and construction. Walkability improvements can help reduce the amount of land required for transport facilities (roads and parking), encouraging denser land use patterns.
  4. Reduces air pollution
    When walkable environments incorporate more trees and vegetation, they will inherently clean the air: 17 trees can absorb enough CO2 annually to offest nearly 42,000 km of driving.
  5. Improves water management
    Reallocating investment from motor vehicle infrastructure into parks and pedestrian environments improves the overall health of city ecosystems and help divert millions of litres of stormwater runoff.
  6. Promotes alternative transportation
    Public transit users are pedestrians or a combination of pedestrian/cyclist. Purposeful investment in walking and active transportation networks encourages increased pedestrian and cycling activity.
  7. Makes cities more beautiful
    Streets that offer a robust, attractive experience can accommodate a variety of diverse uses such as outdoor dining, seating and gathering areas. Additionally, beautification through landscaping, public art, and wayfinding becomes an important feature.
  8. Increases active use of space
    Pedestrian improvements can provide people with more pleasant spaces to stay, and lead to an increase in the active use of public space and the facilities it contains, such as benches, playgrounds, water bubblers, public gyms and skate areas.
  9. Cuts ambient noise
    Plant leaves have been shown to tone down noise by reflecting, diverting and absorbing acoustic energy. Trees with abundant foliage are especially effective at minimizing noise levels.
  10. It makes better use of space
    Street designs that restructure the street network better serve pedestrians and cyclists, often repurposing space reclaimed from vehicle travel lanes and on-street parking to accommodate cycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

“The pedestrian is an extremely fragile species, the canary in the coal mine of urban livability.”

Smart Growth America, nationwide coalition promoting a better way to growth

1 Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


More on this topic:

II. Walkable urban places — Economic benefits

Walkable environments are not just healthier, but also wealthier. Research has shown positive correlations between improved walkability, raised local retail spend, enhanced value of local services and goods, and the creation of more job opportunities.1

“The economic value of walking has been described as the walking economy. There is a direct link between the city’s economic prosperity and the safety and convenience of the pedestrian experience.”

City of Melbourne, 2012

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square (a CNU Journal), has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report, which shows the benefits of walkable cities – social, economic, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post itemizes the list from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), and includes additional details from the report.

Ten economic benefits of walkable places

  1. Boosts prosperity
    Investing in better streets and spaces for walking can provide a competitive return compared to other transport projects. Cycling and walking are estimated to provide up to $11.80 return of investment per $1 invested.
  2. Supports local business
    Clustering and proximity are critical to the success of commercial districts. While car dependency determined the rise of suburban malls, with associated issues such as ‘food deserts’, a dense and walkable urban network may facilitate the spread of small local shops and street markets, able to increase variety of goods and services, independent retailing, local employment and start-up opportunities.
  3. Enhances creative thinking and productivity
    According to studies, exercise improves the ability to make decisions and organise thoughts. And walking boosts creative inspiration.
  4. Enhances a city’s identity
    Investing in walking may contribute to a city’s efforts to transform its profile and create opportunities to shape the liveability, amenities and culture in the city.
  5. Promotes tourism
    For tourists, walking is the best way to experience a city since it increases the ‘imageability’ of a place – the quality that makes it recognisable and memorable.
  6. Encourages investments in cities and towns
    As cities continue to compete with each other to attract capital, walking may be a successful tool for the promotion of a city’s prosperity, making it attractive to private investments and providing economic benefits to the community.
  7. Attracts the “creative class”
  8. Increases land and property values
    Since young generations prefer living in walkable urban cores, a city’s walkability is predicted to be one of the main factors driving real estate values for many years to come.
  9. Activates street façades
    Promoting walking contributes to the vibrancy of the streetscape. The creation of a walkable environment, therefore, is a fundamental incentive to reduce vacancies and to promote the creation of thriving active street frontages.
  10. Reduces motor vehicle and road costs
    Walking is a free mode of transport. Creating more walkable environments — together with investment in public transport — can reduce congestion and maintenance costs and provide long-term transport solutions.

In a quality city, a person should be able to live their entire life without a car, and not feel deprived.

Paul Bedford, former City of Toronto Planning Director

1 Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


Read more:

Walking is economic growth (by Tristan Cleveland) — You know walking is good for your physical health, and even your emotional wellbeing. But did you know it’s critical for the fiscal health of your city too?

The Economics of Walking (by Melissa Bruntlett) — This simple mode of travel could be the easy solution cities need to maintain and even bolster their economy.

Car Blindness (by Alex Dyer)— Ignoring the true cost of cars (and vision for the future)

I. Walkable urban places — Social benefits

Walking is our first mean of transport: every trip begins and ends with walking. Consequently, walkability is an extremely fascinating, evocative and inclusive concept. It goes beyond the good design of sidewalks and street-crossings which guarantee the ‘ability to walk’ for citizens. It expresses a multifaceted measure of how friendly an area is to walking, taking into consideration a complex and diversified set of features in its evaluation.

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square: A CNU Journal, has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report [166 pages], which shows the benefits of walkable cities – economic, social, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post lists the benefits from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), but includes additional details from the report.

Ten social benefits of walking

  1. Promotes active living, for longer and better lives
    Walkability increases the accessibility of public space for people with different mobility levels and backgrounds, providing the chance to diversify and enrich street life and to create an attractive environment for people of all ages.
  2. Improves happiness and mental health
    Walking improves our mood. It reduces the risk of stress, anxiety and depression, positively affecting people’s mental health and happiness.
  3. Reduces obesity and chronic disease
  4. Fosters social interaction
    Redesigning the urban environment to encourage walking ability brings back people in the streets and increases activities in public space, dramatically improving the perception of safety and individual confidence.
  5. Saves lives on the street
    The increasing demands for safer streets in cities raise the urgency to prioritise pedestrian safety measures and to increase walkability levels.
  6. Tends to reduce crime
  7. Enhances “sense of place” and community identity
    Walking provides a great opportunity for people to experience cities at the human scale.
  8. Broadens universal accessibility and encourages inclusiveness
    Everyone is a pedestrian. Even those who usually drive, ride a bike, or commute by public transport, at some point of the day will change his or her mode and cross a street. Improving walkability and focusing the street design to less mobile citizens’ needs can unlock the city to everyone, increasing the street attractiveness and accessibility.
  9. Supports cultural initiatives
    Art that can best be enjoyed while on foot brings a local feel to an area, increasing the cultural vibrancy of the street life and the attractiveness for pedestrians.
  10. Promotes a vibrant urban experience
    Walkable streets shape the environment for a more active – and consquently most attractive – use of public realm.

“Restore human legs as a means of travel.
Pedestrians rely on food for fuel and need no special parking facilities.”

Lewis Mumford (1895–1990), American sociologist

Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


Read more:

Canada Walks – a leader in Canada’s walking movement – has a Municipal Action page.

Pedestrians First is an organization that promotes walkability and all its benefits (under Why measure walkability?)

Urban renewal: What is a compact city?

Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only in the last three generations that we have scaled places to the automobile.1

Cities and towns are meant to strengthen human social connections, enhance economic efficiencies, and promote well-being and community. Communities thrive in cities where the built environment is designed with people in mind. Public spaces should be universally accessible and as safe and inclusive as possible. Roads are public spaces.

Promoting compact land use is a way to reduce the expense of constructing and maintaining roads, sewers, and other public works while also increasing property values in the community. Compact land use enhances the walkability of a community and fosters a stronger sense of place.

1 https://www.strongtowns.org/the-growth-ponzi-scheme/


Walking is the most democratic way to get around.

The truth is, however, that all of the infrastructure in Charlottetown is designed for motor vehicles. Cars have become such a pervasive presence that we now find ourselves living and working in places that do more to serve the needs of cars than of people.  The result is that pedestrian connections cater to vehicles, because it is assumed that anyone who lives or visits here can drive. Over the past couple of decades, humans have become secondary to cars in urban planning and design.

A COMPACT CITY helps make a community walkable, decreases automobile dependence, and supports a socially vibrant public realm. It incorporates proximity, connectivity, mobility, accessibility, and nature in the urban built environment context.

  • Proximity is the degree of integration of businesses, homes, and recreation opportunities within walking distance of each other. This leads to:
  • Connectivity: As connectivity improves, travel distances decrease and walkable/cyclable route options increase. This encourages:
  • Mobility: The availability of potential destinations together makes walking and cycling a more competitive and attractive mode of travel to other options. Combine this with:
  • Public transportation: Public transit serves more people at a lower cost, lower land use, and greater benefits. This improves:
  • Accessibility: The current lack of environmental accessibility faced by people with disabilities presents a major challenge. “If you make things accessible for all, you automatically make things easier for everyone.” And every community has a right to:
  • Green Space/Nature: What is being done to protect the natural environment of the urban area? A city’s under appreciated green assets are quietly making oxygen, absorbing pollutants, sponging up storm water, and controlling erosion.  The economic benefits of protecting nature now outweigh those of exploiting it.

Could Charlottetown become a compact city?
Or is it one already?

Related posts

Update (9): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

After an initial 8-1 vote in April to reject the resolution for Mel’s Convenience store/gas station owner Dan MacIsaacʼs rezoning application, several councillors did an about-face and voted to rescind that resolution at a Special Meeting of Council on Monday, 28 June 2021 (video-recording starts here), with a 6–3 vote. This means that Mr MacIsaac’s Request for Reconsideration was accepted and a new, slightly modified, resolution for the rezoning application was approved, and passed first reading the same evening.

The two most vocal speakers at this Special Council meeting were Councillors Mitchell Tweel (speaking for the residents of the Angus Drive neighbourhood) and Terry Bernard (speaking in favour of the roundabout).

Highlights

  1. Councillor Mitchell Tweel raised a Point of Order to question the validity and legality of the June 23 public meeting: If the applicant for the Request for Reconsideration was Mel’s Convenience owner Dan MacIsaac, why was the Province (Stephen Yeo) at the meeting and why was he allowed to make a presentation about the $20-million St Peters Road project?
  2. Before allowing lawyer David Hooley to respond to Tweel’s Point of Order, Mayor Brown put Planner Laurel Thompson on the spot by asking her to justify Yeoʼs presence at the public meeting.
  3. Lawyer David Hooley responded to Tweelʼs question about the legality of the public meeting without really answering it, with Mayor Brown interjecting rather aggressively several times.
  4. Councillor Terry Bernard brought up “the importance of the roundabout (as explained by the Province), and that was new information” (hence Council accepting the Request for Reconsideration). He also asked for clarification about a resident who called his integrity into question during the public meeting because of a letter he had written to inform his constituents about the roundabout without mentioning the rezoning application.
  5. Lawyer David Hooley stood again to give a legal opinion on the letter written by Bernard, and certain remarks made by Councillor Mike Duffy, both of whom were subject to disqualification from a vote on the Request for Reconsideration by being in a conflict of interest, according to information provided by Angus Drive resident Patty Good at the June 22 public meeting. Hooley’s response: “In our opionion, these two individuals are not disqualified from participating in this process… The acid test is councillors need to maintain an open mind until they get to the final decision… You are also required to not prejudge, and I did not see any evidence of prejudgement in the letter, I did not see any evidence of prejudgement in Counc. Duffyʼs remarks… In our opinion, they are not in conflict…” [= Two votes in favour of Dan MacIsaacʼs rezoning application].
  6. Councillor Greg Rivard (also the Chair of the Protective and Emergency Services Standing Committee) said he spoke with someone at the Fire Department about various scenarios concerning emergency services, and how the presence or absence of a roundabout would affect their response time. In a court of law, this would be considered hearsay. In any case, the opinion or expertise of the Fire Department was not sought for this rezoning application.
  7. Councillor Julie McCabe responded to Rivardʼs concern by saying that he made some good points but it really is a provincial issue, one that the Province should be thinking about.
  8. With talk about safety on St Peters Road, Councillor Tweel asked why no one had considered the safety of the residents living on Angus Drive (and Short Street), residents who had been, time and again, against this rezoning application.
  9. A fifteen-minute back and forth between Councillors Bernard and Tweel ensued, who were obviously in disagreement with each otherʼs points of view [Mayor Brownʼs subtle agreement heard at 1:43:02 while Bernard spoke].
  10. Councillor Bob Doiron voiced his opinion that other options surely must exist that would eliminate the need for vehicles arriving/departing Melʼs from using Angus Drive.
  11. Tweel agreed with Doiron and questioned why the City didn’t do its own due diligence to solicit a couple of engineers to ask them to …, and without getting to the end of his question, the Mayor jumped right in and said “It’s not our road [St Peters].” To which Tweel replied: “That’s right it’s not our road, itʼs two separate issues, and that’s how the residents feel.”
  12. Mayor Brown repeated again that the resolution states “… in order to facilitate road upgrades” without specifying what those upgrades are. Planner Laurel Thompson reiterated that safety is the primary reason for the new access road.

It appears to be quite evident that the Province (in the person of Chief Engineer Stephen Yeo) designed the roundabout at Angus Drive to accommodate Dan MacIsaac’s desire for an additional access route to his business (Melʼs Convenience store).

Because, why else would the provincial chief engineer state that there is no other option but to have an exit and entrance on Angus Drive — precisely where Mr MacIsaac has his lots that heʼs been wanting to consolidate to expand his business — otherwise the roundabout cannot be constructed?


Second reading of the rezoning application resolution is scheduled to take place at another Special Meeting of Council on Monday, July 5, 2021 (agenda, which also includes the item Marshfield annexation). The second reading is a formality. Once passed, the final recourse for the Angus Drive residents would be to file an appeal with IRAC by no later than 21 days following Councilʼs approval.

Update (8): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

The public meeting on Tuesday, 22 June, was called to allow Melʼs Convenience owner Mr MacIsaac to present a Request For Reconsideration in an attempt to persuade City Council to reverse its original 12 April decision to reject the resolution that would have approved his rezoning application.

As a reminder, a Request for Reconsideration [Section 3.15 in the Zoning & Development Bylaw] is permitted when “the applicant or an aggrieved person feels that the decision is unjustified or unwarranted”. Furthermore, “Council shall give all interested persons an opportunity to be heard”.

During this public meeting, the first speaker was Mr MacIsaac, who was allowed to speak for fifteen minutes, starting with a bit of history, and admitting that its becoming a PEI Liquor Agency Store is what has made Melʼs so popular.

The next speaker was Stephen Yeo, the provinceʼs Director of Capital Projects, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. Was his participation necessary and a standard part of a rezoning application reconsideration process? The City clearly believed it was justified and, with Mr Yeoʼs introduction “that a few details werenʼt presented well enough” at the last public meeting, provided him with another opportunity to express the Provinceʼs rationale for constructing “better facilities” and “a better design or more efficient design”. Mr Yeo was allowed to speak for fourteen minutes on how a roundabout at Angus Drive will make driving easier, safer, faster, more efficient, and accommodate tens of thousands of vehicles.

Public participantsʼ contributions were limited to five minutes, with a large timer facing them that counted down the minutes and seconds. How nerve-wracking must this be for a person unaccustomed to speaking in public? Or for someone who may have spent hours composing their written comment, only to be cut off because it took more than five minutes (interruptions included) to read the entire text out loud?

Particularly worth listening to: Angus Drive residents Laura Morgan and Patty Goode.


The fact that East Royalty has expanded — according to its original concept of single-family houses — in recent years without a reliable public transit service has left residents with little choice but to rely on personal vehicles as their sole method of transportation.

The entire St Peters Road project is geared to favour motor vehicles. Indeed, the concerns about safety and efficiency disproportionately benefits drivers. In contrast, pedestrians, cyclists, and other active travellers are left with a fraction of the road space. The public transportation schedule is minimal with two runs in the morning to Charlottetown and two (?) runs in the evening to East Royalty.

Both the Province and the City continue to perpetuate a car-dominated vision with plans for more roads or wider roads. Why are cars still being prioritized? Drivers first, pedestrians and cyclists second? When will transportation planners and policy-makers make public transit/active travel more equitable and inclusive in Charlottetown and on PEI?

While Mr MacIsaac had his reasons to request a reconsideration of City Councilʼs decision to reject his rezoning application, the provinceʼs Transportation Department could have been more creative in proposing “better facilities” and “a better design or more efficient design” that would have benefitted all road users alike. Examples are not hard to find. Instead, a confuse-divide-and-conquer tactic was used that has left residents in two wards on opposing sides, with choices that really satisfied none of them.

As for City councillors, the majority has yet again failed to propose a more equitable share-the-road solution to promote mobility designed for people, not vehicles. In so doing, those councillors have sacrificed the well-being and safety of Charlottetown residents to advance the agenda of a business owner and the Department of Transportation.


The East Royalty Master Plan (pp. 93-155 in the Official Plan) was adopted in 2015. Just as the Charlottetown Official Plan was conceived in 1999 with a vision and strategic directions, so too was the East Royalty Master Plan. Just as the Official Plan has never fully been reviewed since its adoption, so too can one surmise that the East Royalty Master Plan has not been reviewed to take societal and (extreme) environmental changes into account.

In the intervening six years, global warming has accelerated to the point that countless cities have declared a climate emergency, the intent being to set priorities to mitigate climate change. Charlottetownʼs City Council voted unanimously on a resolution in 2019 that recognized and declared the climate breakdown an emergency, yet has implemented few significant measures to reduce CO2 emissions.

Nevertheless, the following sections from the East Royalty Master Plan specifically emphasize walking and the pedestrian experience:

2.0 THE EAST ROYALTY MASTER PLAN
2.3. Vision
Above all, East Royalty will incorporate best practices for sustainability and active transportation, leading to a community that promotes healthy lifestyles. Planning for the East Royalty Area will promote safe residential neighbourhoods that are planned based on the concept of RSVP – Resilient, Sustainable, Vibrant and Pedestrian-friendly.

APPENDIX A
Section 2.2 RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
Residential development within the East Royalty Master Plan will include a variety of housing types that address the street and open spaces to enhance the pedestrian experience.

APPENDIX B. Design Guidelines
Section 2.1 ROADS Ensure pedestrian access throughout the community by providing sidewalks and trails throughout the community; and,
•Promote tree‐lined and well‐shaded streets to create sense of comfort and promote walking and cycling
Section 2.1.1 St. Peter’s Road/Arterial Roads
Arterial Roads will have minimum 1.8 metre bicycle lanes on both sides, as well as minimum 1.8 metre sidewalks on both sides.

2.2.2 Streetscaping for Transit
Seven points including:
Transit stops should be designed to offer amenities such as seating areas and weather protection. Benches and other roadside furniture such as waste baskets, bike racks, telephones, notice boards, newspaper boxes and refuse containers should be concentrated at bus stops along the main street collectors to maximize their utility and create active public space. [Wowza! Where are these dream stops?!]


A report and resolution on Dan MacIsaacʼs Request for Reconsideration is being held during the Special Meeting of Council, Monday, June 28, 2021 (agenda).

CBC report: “Those for and against Angus Drive access road have their say again

UPDATE (5): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

A special meeting of the Planning Board, was held on Tuesday, 25 May, to review the Request for Reconsideration for Angus Drive (Lot 40) (PID #419143) & 413 St. Peters Road (PID #419135).

The Planning & Heritage Department encouraged the Planning Board to recommend to Council that it reconsider its 12 May decision to reject the rezoning application resolution.

A bit of history

It is worth remembering that Mel’s started out as a fruit stand some twenty-five years ago. Over time, that fruit stand began to offer gas for motorists coming and going from the Charlottetown area. Today, Mel’s has nine locations in two provinces.

2014: First rezoning application

In January 2014, wishing to develop the property, Mel’s owner sought to rezone part of one R-1L (single-detached residential dwelling) lot and all of one R-2 (low density residential) lot into a ‘Mixed Use Commercial’ in what is a Mature Neighbourhood. That application was deferred, but brought back before Council in April 2015, still with the purpose to expand the store and parking lot, but to two thirds (1,200 ft2 instead of 1,800 ft2) of the original area. Following a public meeting, the 2015 rezoning application was rejected.

2021: Reconsideration Request

A Request for Reconsideration must comply with Section 3.15.3 of the Zoning & Development By-law by providing new material facts/evidence not available at the time of the decision. The Reconsideration Request Plan 2021-25-May-6A document signed by Planning Manager Alex Forbes states that “The applicant [owner Dan MacIsaac] contends that during the public hearing on 23 March 2021, it was not made clear to Council and area residents (that in the absence of the Angus Drive access), there is not sufficient distance for a vehicle to safely exit our parking lot and change lanes entering the roundabout and proceed in an easterly direction.” And “The Province did not discuss in detail the potential problems related to directing all of the traffic exiting Mel’s property heading west on to St Peters Road. It is the traffic and safety implications that will result from this scenario that the applicant now contends that neither the public or Council were fully aware of at the public meeting.”

Both the applicant and provincial representatives were present at the public meeting on 23 March. Why did none of them fully apprise Council and area residents at that time?

Letʼs backtrack to the 8 March 2021 Council Meeting Package, in which: “Mayor Brown asked Mr. Yeo if the construction for the roundabout along St. Peters Road and Angus Drive will begin this year. Mr. Yeo responded that tenders were closed last Thursday and construction for the roundabout and road widening along St. Peters Road is anticipated to begin in May and be completed around August or September of 2021.”  Clearly, the Province did not expect Charlottetown City Council to reject Mr MacIsaacʼs rezoning application and has now found itself in a bit of a pickle.

The Request for Reconsideration also has to comply with Section 3.15.3 of the Zoning & Development By-law in which a material change of circumstances has occurred since the initial order or decision [has been taken]. Mr Forbes’s Request document states: “At the public hearing, Councillor Tweel asked staff whether the proposed roundabout would proceed if the Angus Drive access and rezoning application request was not approved. [City planner] Laurel Palmer Thompson indicated that the roundabout would proceed if Mel’s rezoning application was denied. […] In hindsight, Ms Thompson should not have answered this question…”
Oopsies! I contend this ‘material change of circumstancesʼ doesnʼt pass the sniff test.
Listen to Coun. Tweel’s question and Ms Thompson’s reply in the video recording starting at 1:21:40.

Finally, Dan MacIsaac wrote in his Request for Reconsideration letter to Mr Forbes [p. 27 in 25 May Planning Board package]: “… but the traffic on Angus Drive will only increase from St Peters Road to the proposed Angus Drive access which is approximately 150 feet [=46 m].” And yet, in response to a question by Councillor Tweel, “Mr. Yeo responded that the increase in traffic along Angus Drive would be the first 100 metres [=328 ft].” See 6 April Planning Board package (p. 22/137).
Isn’t it about time that Canada become fully metricized so that everyone uses the same set of measurements?

Stay tuned for highlights of the 25 May Special Planning Board meeting.

It’s time to reclaim our roads

Video : Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

Even though this eighteen-minute video was shot in New York City, Rollie Williams does a fabulous job explaining how the car industry hijacked our roads.

Be prepared for some history, a bit of satire, a bit of comedy, and a lot of information. As he says, “Now is the time to get involved!” We cannot let motor vehicles continue to be the only way to travel on Prince Edward Island.


“Mum, why can’t I walk to school?”


Hey City!

REGIONAL TRAVEL: Post-WWII euphemism for long & unsustainable car trips

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: The Great Societal Equalizer

Original text published as a Guest Opinion on November 9, 2020, in The Guardian and Journal Pioneer.

Public transportation is the most sustainable and equitable form of transportation that exists. Richard A. White, President and CEO of American Public Transportation Association, observed that public transportation is the original “shared-economy” form of transportation.

The advantages of riding a bus are many. It provides independence to people of all ages and mobility to people living with a disability, it is inexpensive (or free in many cities nowadays), it is healthy because the user walks or cycles to/from the bus stop and it is less stressful than driving.

A lack of public transportation can have a disproportionate impact on working and low-income individuals and immigrants. According to an article in The Atlantic, “Access to just about everything associated with upward mobility and economic progress—jobs, quality food, and goods (at reasonable prices), healthcare, and schooling—relies on the ability to get around in an efficient way, and for an affordable price.” Education and jobs are often cited as the key to overcoming income inequality, while the means to achieving either of these goods remains overlooked.

The automobile’s pervasive presence has been normalised so much that we now find ourselves living and working in places that do more to serve the needs of cars than of people. A well planned public transportation system serves as an effective way to combat automobile dependency. Over-reliance on cars takes a toll on humanity: their emissions increase the likelihood that a healthy person will develop serious diseases, including heart disease or lung cancer, later in life, causing a similar number of premature deaths as traffic collisions. Public transit tends to produce less pollution per passenger-kilometre compared to personal motor vehicles. It is a climate change mitigation opportunity that has been shown to decrease air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Using public transportation is far more affordable that owning and operating a vehicle. A car costs between $8,600 and $13,000 a year, including insurance, gas, maintenance, tires, and depreciation. A T3 Transit monthly pass currently costs $58.50, or $702 a year (Greater Charlottetown Area). Who wouldn’t want to save at least $8,000 a year, or put that money towards better housing, healthier food choices, or education?

A publicly owned, managed, and operated transit system is usually cheaper, more likely to provide good service, and is more accountable to riders than privately run transit*. It is the great societal equalizer, granting everyone universal access to transportation. It’s a known fact that mass transportation makes cities more just, environmentally sustainable, and economically vibrant. On PEI, a public transit system would have to include the unique needs of rural and small-town residents. They, just as much as urban residents, have a right to mobility and a “right to the city” (slogan coined by Henri Lefebvre).

It is time for PEI’s political leaders to make a commitment to create car-free streets and spaces in our cities and towns, to de-prioritize the automobile in their transportation funding allocations, to charge drivers the full cost of their bad habit, and to use the revenue to fund not only a public transit system, but also infrastructure improvements for walking and cycling.

Barbara Dylla of Charlottetown has submitted this article through the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the 10 Days for Transit initiative.

*Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars? ©2020 James Wilt, pp 189–191

UPDATE (2): St Peters Road/Angus Dr

On April 5, I wrote a post explaining the Planning Board’s role in the planning and development process; and that the Board’s meeting agenda on April 6 would include the St Peters Road rezoning application.

Citizens may appreciate the fact that the meetings are live-streamed and archived. The major drawback is that viewers are unable to see the presentations (except when Cisco Webex is used), leaving them in the dark as to what those in the room are seeing. What is the City waiting for to upgrade its video technology?

Planning Board meeting: April 6

Despite that drawback, the Planning Board video-recording (go to minute 35:20) is well worth listening to, if only because it demonstrates once again that residents’ comments are trivialized. In a presentation and discussion that lasts 23 minutes, a scant minute (37:15–37:58) is devoted to listing the objections of “mainly area residents”. No mention is made of their suggestions, however.

So when the entire discussion is focussed on traffic, when the concluding sentence by the planner is “we feel that in the interest of the public, this is the best option” (40:55), when the objective is clearly to accommodate a retail business’s expansion (letʼs call it what it is), when public money is being used to construct a vehicle-only-friendly roundabout to enable that expansion, it is clear that both the Province and the City are less than willing to consider viable alternatives in favour of the people living in the community.

Call to action

If you want the City of Charlottetown and the Provincial Government to start thinking about the people who live here instead of the vehicles driving through, please write to your councillor, the mayor, your MLA, and Premier King (see Links for contact information).

Regular Meeting of Council: April 12

The Planning Board’s recommendation to proceed with the rezoning application will be discussed at the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, April 12 (starts at 5 p.m.). At time of writing, the Monthly Council Meeting package has not been made public.


Meeting moments of interest
→ 39:00 : Planner describing “mitigative measures” and “safety issue”
→ 43:35 : Exchange between Councillor McCabe and Planning Board Chair Duffy
→ 50:20 : Exchange between Coun. McCabe and Planner about Mel’s further expansion in future
→ 51:18 : Manager of Planning Mr Forbes on provincial control of St Peters Road
→ 52:10 : Coun. McCabe question “How many times has this application been before Council?”
→ 53:22 : Planning Board Chair Duffy and the “Fairness Factor”
→ 55:20 : Manager of Planning Mr Forbes and the “complicated traffic-related issue”

P.S. Heavens to Betsy, if I had a dollar for every time someone in Planning or Council said: “I’m not a traffic engineer” !