(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) The “real estate has swallowed Vancouver’s economy” zombie is back, with wild claims by a City Councillor that “If you look at the long-form census data going back to 1986 every 5 years, […] we went from selling logs to selling real estate […], major shift from resource extraction to real estate property development and construction as the primary driver in the local economy.
With COVID-19 cases growing exponentially, Canada has introduced sweeping restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. People are asked to practice social distancing, work from home if possible, keep shopping trips to a minimum, keep a distance of at least 6 feet to people outside of their household, universities and schools have been closed, and travel has been restricted. Why social distancing? Just in case it’s not clear what the problem is, let’s take a look at the trajectory we are currently on.
Metro Vancouver is growing, both in terms of population and jobs. That means the number of people commuting to work is growing and putting a strain on our transportation system. The nature of that strain depends to a large extent on how people are getting to and from work. The Canadian census started collecting data on how people get to work in 1996, which allows us to see how commuters and commute choice have changed over time.
Two days ago we took a first look at motor vehicle traffic counts, now it is time to turn to pedestrian lights. Everyone knows the “beg buttons” that pedestrians need to push for the pedestrian signal to turn green. If you forget to push the pedestrian light might stay red even if parallel motor vehicle traffic has a green light, all in the name of efficiency of motor vehicle traffic.
School has started, and with it debate about people driving their kids to and from school is flaring up. And again people are questioning how much traffic is caused by this. As someone who bikes to school with his son every day I am keenly aware of the traffic mess around schools. But since I choose not to drive regularly, I don’t have a feeling for broader traffic patterns on non-school days to compare this too.