Self-driving cars and micromobility vehicles are among the items making their way into an update to the City of New Westminster’s master transportation plan.
On Aug. 29, council adopted a number of amendments to the master transportation plan (MTP) that address new mobility and curbside management, as well as a monitoring plan that helps the city determine how the MTP is meeting the city’s goals. A staff report notes that transportation technology – and how it’s managed – has evolved since the city approved its current master transportation plan in 2015.
“New mobility modes are providing new options for how people and goods can move,” stated the report. “These new choices present both opportunities and challenges, including how curbside space should be used.”
The report states that new mobility encompasses three areas:
* micromobility – a range of small, lightweight vehicles that includes bicycles, e-bikes, electric scooters and other portable mobility devices);
* autonomous mobility – which will likely include many forms of technology and services, such as the use of ground robots or drones for deliveries, and self-driving cars; and
* the electrification of mobility – such as electric vehicles.
Mayor Jonathan Cote said the amendments reflect some of the changes in technology and regional transportation plans since the MTP was adopted seven years ago.
“We realized, as the years went by, updates were needed to include new items as things have changed and evolved in the community,” he said. “I think this council recognized it wasn't the right time to be overhauling or starting from scratch, given that so much of the existing plan is still very much relevant, but that an update was important.”
Staff expect that the City of New Westminster’s master transportation plan will require a comprehensive update in 2026 to further address continued changes in transportation. This includes Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries and has been incorporated into the transportation plans of several Metro Vancouver municipalities.
On Monday, council approved a motion directing staff to report back on future MTP amendments that would bring a Vision Zero model to transportation safety in New West.
Coun. Patrick Johnstone said it’s timely to discuss a Vision Zero approach to road safety in the city.
“The unfortunate reality is that our roads actually became much less safe during the pandemic times across North America,” he said.
According to Johnstone, decades of road-safety improvements have gone backwards, and death rates on roads across North America are as high as they were in the 1990s.
“Speeds are going up and speeding is going up after many years of reduction and roads being safer. And unfortunately, it's vulnerable road users – it's pedestrians and cyclists – who are actually bearing the brunt of a lot of the increased danger on roads right now,” he said. “People inside vehicles are as safe as they have ever been, but people outside of vehicles are actually less safe right now. So I really think it's important that we include a new focus on safety in our master transportation plan.”
All of the details of the amendments to the master transportation plan are included in an Aug. 29 report to city council.
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