Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Public transit in the headlines: 21 May 2008

Media hits relating to Ottawa public transit:

Former Green Party deputy leader David Chernushenko, a local resident who ran in two elections in Ottawa Centre, writes in the Ottawa Citizen about the feasibility of "car-free" zones in Ottawa. Based on his daughter's fanciful illustrations of car-absent Venice, Italy, Chernushenko suggested Canada should at least consider the notion that we can move beyond cars.

Chernushenko pointed in particular to one of the city's most tourist-friendly districts as a potentially car-free zone.
The Byward Market district, on the other hand, could be a vibrant "people place" like Venice, with a car-free zone of eight to 12 blocks. Most of the ingredients are there: art galleries, museums, the Ch√Ęteau Laurier and Parliament Buildings, food vendors, clothing stores, furniture sellers, bars, restaurants, and the famous outdoor produce stalls that bring such colour and flavour. There's even a canal nearby, and gelato.
Chernushenko blames the lack of non-car discourse on fear: "Fear that shoppers will flee to the suburbs and the free parking of the shopping mall and the big box store."

A pedestrian-only zone would work, he writes, if planners adhere to the following steps.
First, a fully integrated public transit system that is frequent, affordable and comfortable to board and ride. Second, a "critical mass" in terms of the size of the precinct and the range of offerings. Third, a mixed-use zoning and city planning policy that encourages the development of a community that incorporates residential with commerce and retail, and that encourages housing for a diverse blend of income levels. Expensive condo precincts do not make for lively street interaction.
There should definitely be a place for this kind of dialogue in local media. Chernushenko's idea has some merit. So long as he doesn't call for a car-free city, a la Venice, perhaps a car-free zone is an option.

1 comment:

David Chernushenko said...

Nick,
Thanks for keeping my ideas alive. No, I am not calling for an entire car-free city, just a zone or several zones where people can feel what life is like without the constant hum of traffic. I own a car, and I use it. But I would love to be able to go to more places by bike, bus or tram/train. My 10 weeks in Europe took me to 20 or more towns and cities where integrated transit works very well. I will feature some of these in my documentary on living lightly in Europe. You can find more of my writings and photos at my two blogs:

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/ecovoyager/default.aspx

and:

http://www.livinglightly.ca/category/blog/

Regards,

David Chernushenko