Car Ban Is Bad For Business: Reader



Great Bulldog contributor K.A. takes on the issue of banning cars:

Why do some people think banning cars from stretches of road is good for businesses?

Maybe for a hot-dog vendor or a café, but most businesses need more than passing pedestrians and cyclists on weekends with good weather.

Ottawa is a sprawling city, many live outside of the core and some have families. Banning cars from an area keeps people away and deprives the businesses. Just making it harder getting to an area (without outright banning cars) has consequences for businesses and their employees’ livelihoods.

Before we start banning cars, let’s acknowledge we’re not very good at making beautiful, useful and good use of car-free public spaces. Let’s do better with what we have now. Think of Sparks Street, last year’s Ottawa 2017 ship-container refugee camp down York Street with the awkwardly placed Ottawa sign, the ByWard Market and the struggle to set up a board to look after Ottawa’s markets, the concrete-heavy play area in Lansdowne and the random haphazard and unsafe creation of bike lanes.

People look at Copenhagen or Amsterdam and want to copy bits and pieces of things they liked without looking at the full picture. Copenhagen and Amsterdam didn’t build bike lanes and then to see everything else develop around it. It’s deeply misguided to see bike lanes as an end itself. Bike lanes should help you get to somewhere, but you need a vision of what that place looks like.

I love cycling, but I want interesting places to visit on my bike.


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6 thoughts on “Car Ban Is Bad For Business: Reader

  1. Ottawa’s planning department has a habit of assuming away reality.

    We held a town hall style meeting in Centrepointe a couple of years ago to address the city’s proposal of changing the minimum and maximum number of parking spaces to be permitted in new high-rise residential and commercial space.

    During the dialogue, one of the senior planners told those in attendance that he lives in Centretown and does not own a car. He went on to add that, in addition to taking the bus to work and to shop, he also takes his young daughter to soccer practice on OC Transpo, and that none of this was a constraint on his lifestyle. I asked him if he had ever had to take her to a suburban arena for a 6:00 a.m. hockey practice. No answer was forthcoming.

    My point is that assuming that one-size-fits-all is a mistake. Some people can thrive in the setting that this senior planner described. For others, it just won’t work. Telling the people who need a vehicle to earn a living, or to get from a residence that is not well served by OC Transpo to work, or a doctor’s appointment, or to a shopping centre where they intend to purchase more than they can carry or … is the height of arrogance, or standard operating procedure down on Laurier Avenue.

    1. Good points, Ron.

      I get the impression from city planners and a very small group of very vocal biking zealots that their thinking is that all will be able to use bike lanes.

      They will deny this, but their planning is for the fit.

      The rest of you … well you’re a nuisance or you don’t matter.

      Bike lanes are for the fit. Many, many people can’t use them.

      Many, many people need cars to survive. Planners and bike zealots need to realize that.



  2. Given how many Quebec licence plates are in the city hall parking lot, I often wonder how many of those putting forth proposals and doing analysis actually live in our city.
    Just wondering.

  3. These anti-bike lane comments ignore the fact that for decades North American cities were built with the car, and only the car in mind; Ottawa has been no exception. Separating live-work-shop-play functions was (and to a good extent still is) the urban principle that worked very well with that priority given to cars.

    The downsides of that arrangement are now clear — inefficient use of land, driving the only way to get anywhere, air pollution, increasing commuter times… Inadequate public transportation hasn’t help matters. Cities are beginning to change. The policy of Complete Streets (accommodating every user — on foot, in a wheelchair, cycling, or driving) is taking hold — it’s one of the few transportation policies that the City got right.

    So get over it, folks. Cars will always be with us but the era of their dominance is ending.

    1. EajD:

      Odd for me it has nothing to do with dominance of the car.

      It’s about safety and efficacy.

      Maybe you think in those narrow terms. I don’t.



      1. BTW EajD. Isn’t it your organization that wants to ban cars?

        Am I right?

        So like, who’s talking dominance here, my friend.




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