Car free in Vancouver Part I: Transit and other vehicles

Post by Suzanne Anton in

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Anton on bike
Pedalheads: Councillor Suzanne Anton and her husband Olin

It’s not too hard to give up your car when you are at my stage in life, and have several adult children nearby in the summer and needing a vehicle. Kids in Vancouver don’t own vehicles any more and I’ve barely seen my car for weeks now.

But taking public transit does take planning and time, and I did breach my car free status on day 1 (19 July) by taking someone to UBC Emergency. The bus at that point just didn’t work.

Here’s what I did this week:

Sunday: Bicycle all day, to the SUCCESS Walk with the Dragon, and the BC Lions community practice at the Roundhouse summer picnic. However this became my one car driving day as I made my trip to UBC emergency ward.

Monday: Bicycle all day, including to a downtown lunch. Here’s the challenge – allow enough time, and have enough foresight so that you look good for the lunch in the nice restaurant.

Tuesday: Bicycle all day, including out to Broadway tech centre, Ray-Cam Centre and city hall. But our evening council meeting went to 11.30 and I got my son (who was out and about) to give me a ride home.

Wednesday: Got a ride downtown with my husband, and took buses, cabs and bummed rides the rest of the day.

Thursday: Long day at council, bike both ways, including home at 11.30 at night.

Friday: Bought a $9.00 all day transit pass, and went to numerous destinations, mainly by transit, also by rides from friends and one taxi ride.

Saturday: Bike to events; ride by vehicle to a wedding. (Not sure how to be car-free and go on a date with a car-driving spouse!)

Vancouver has good transit and 400 km of cycling routes. It’s easy to travel on the bus or skytrain if your destination is on a major route. But when it takes nearly an hour to go 20 blocks (last Friday, #41 and #7 Dunbar), it can make you really grumpy. That is the biggest car-free challenge: To have enough patience, time and flexibility to absorb the occasional really slow trip. Those trips are usually after hours – rush hour service is normally good and frequent enough to make a good option.

Here are the choices:

  1. SkyTrain: Fantastic if it’s going your way.
  2. Bus: Not bad if you can start or finish near the frequent transit network (15 minutes or shorter between buses; 15 hours a day). Buses are good for doing emails and phone calls. For privacy my preferred seat mate is a gum chewing plugged in teen. I’m lucky to live near the #22 and the #41, two particularly good services.
  3. Taxis: The refuge of the running-late transit user. Cabbies are hard up at the moment and appreciate your business.
  4. Rides from friends and acquaintances: Social, gets business done and friendships furthered, and more fun than driving alone.
  5. Cycling: The subject of the next post.
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