|Congested traffic on Oak St. near 70th and the Oak Street Bridge in Vancouver. (Rob Kruyt/QMI Agency)
VANCOUVER - Greater Vancouver is the most congested metropolitan area in Canada, and the second-most in North America behind Los Angeles, according to a report released Tuesday.
On average, it takes 30% longer to travel through Greater Vancouver than it should were traffic flowing freely. During evening rush hour that time grows to 65% longer, the study by TomTom, a European GPS manufacturer, showed. It also said the average Vancouver driver with a 30-minute commute is delayed 83 hours per year.
The study also ranked Toronto and Ottawa in the top 10 - 9th and 10th respectively - among 26 major cities across North America.
TomTom said it used GPS-based data to take into account local roads, arterials, as well as highways.
But the report is heavily skewed, warned urban planner Gordon Price. Because it only takes data from people in cars, the bulk of the data comes from areas where vehicles are heavily used.
“It’s a good reflection of people stuck in cars who have no choice,” said Price, the director of SFU’s city program. “The study shows if you build around the car, you turn into Los Angeles.
“The part of the region reflected in the TomTom study is the part that built themselves around wide arterials, freeway interchanges, parking lots, big box retail, single–use low density suburban development.”
Price said areas like downtown Vancouver, Richmond and New Westminster — which have kept transit, introduced bike lanes, increased housing density, combined mixed-use residential and commercial space around transit, and given people transportation choices — contributed less to TomTom’s data because they’re less reliant on cars.
“The City of Vancouver shows if you give people transportation choice and above all the opportunity to live closer to where they work and play, you get less congestion,” he said.
1. Los Angeles.