Report says pedestrians crossing intersection will have minimal effect on
Reopening Portage & Main not such a pain
There's undoubtedly a fortune to be made for the individual who can put
together at Portage & Main for Dummies ahead of the fall civic election.
It’s been 35 years since Winnipeggers were asked to vote on a ballot
question and having access to an easy-to-understand background briefing
could prove invaluable when it comes time to vote Yes or No to the question
of reopening the famous downtown intersection to pedestrians.
“I hope people will get themselves informed on this as much as possible
before they vote on it,” said Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, the longest-serving
council member and a strong supporter of the Yes vote.
City hall had commissioned an analysis on the effect of having pedestrians
use the intersection. The 95-page report from Dillon Consulting, titled
Portage and Main Transportation Study, was released in October 2017. (A
copy can be found online at wfp.to/KSA).
The Dillon report relies on a great deal of technical jargon, maps and
drawings, but the document best summarized the effect of pedestrians in two
pages (36 and 37), comparing travel time for pedestrians, vehicles and
transit through the intersection in 2016 with what it projected to be with
pedestrians in the mix, using what it calls micro simulation models.
“Overall roadway operations are relatively unaffected (with the
introduction of pedestrian crossings) with (delays) generally contained to
the individual turning movements,” the report states among its conclusions.
“There will be an increase in travel time through the area after the
crosswalks are restored, primarily to the turning movements at the Portage
and Main intersection as they must yield to pedestrians.
“This poses a risk to cross-city travel as congestion and variability will
increase on average. This, however, should be balanced with the
improvements to mobility for non-auto users and progress towards the city’s
goal of a multi-modal and sustainable transportation system.” Dillon
proposed only minor changes to the intersection to accommodate pedestrian
access, including pedestrian crossing at all four intersections; avoiding
scramble crossing; forbidding righthand turns from Northbound Main onto
Portage Avenue East; and reducing Portage Avenue East to one lane to
accomodate pedestrian crossing.
The study found that people can — and do — cross the intersection via
underground route that is about 400 metres long.
The report estimated it takes an able-bodied individual about four minutes
to manoeuvre the underground route (assuming they know where they are
going) but nine minutes for an individual in a wheelchair (again, assuming
they know where they are going and the elevators and escalators are in
working order, which they always aren’t, especially those located in
private buildings during evenings and weekends).
The study found that the at-grade crossing for able-bodied pedestrians
would be shortened, compared with the underground route, as they have to
wait for the lights to change.
While the report considered five options, it recommended one — Option 4 —
which had the least impact on traffic while providing the greatest degree
of safety to pedestrians.
The Dillon report was clear at the outset that introducing pedestrians
would negatively affect traffic flow.
“It can be seen from the tables that in all cases, the introduction of
at-grade pedestrian crossings to the intersection will have a negative
impact on vehicular traffic,” states the report.
“This is logical and to be expected as the traffic controls must be
adjusted toprovide safe crossing for pedestrians of all levels of mobility,
whereas existing conditions prohibit crossings by pedestrians and
prioritizes efficiency of vehicle movement over everything else.”
The report concluded that introducing pedestrians will have minimal impact
on traffic flows — traffic north and south on Main Street will see minimal
delays, if any, and the greatest impacts will be vehicles turning left and
right at the intersection, with greater delays for transit.
The chart on pages 36 and 37 laid out the differences in vehicle travel
times through the intersection as it was in 2016 and how it’s projected to
be for the recommended Option 4: peak morning traffic delay would average
about 30 seconds; peak afternoon traffic delay would average about 52
seconds; there would be no delay for northbound and southbound traffic on
Main Street; Transit will experience some delays: Morning travel times
through the intersection, in all directions, are projected to be unaffected
but afternoon travel times will see delays for left- and right-hand turns
through the intersection varying from under two minutes (eastbound Portage
right onto Main) to 4:39 (west-bound from Portage Avenue East).
Dillon estimated the cost of allowing pedestrians to cross the intersection
to be $11.1 million, but advised the dollar amount is based on “a high
conceptual design” and considered a Class 4 estimate, which means it could
be 30 per cent lower or 60 per cent higher.
City hall was expected to obtain a more realistic estimate and a more
detailed design through another consulting contract that was to be awarded
in July but, as a result of the ballot question, it will not be awarded
until after the Oct. 24 election.
Dillon said its estimate was for barebone streetscaping, but suggested the
intersection’s iconic status warrants more decorative and landscaping
elements in the final design, which will increase the cost.
That $11.1 million included $3.8 million for construction, $2.3 million for
possible construction over-runs and $5.5 million for the purchase of 11
additional transit buses to offset transit delays.
Dillon said city officials informed it that Winnipeg Transit could expect
to see an additional $1.8 million in annual operating costs due to the
hiring of 12.5 equivalent full-time drivers and other staff as a result of
adding the buses.
* * * * *
Highlights of the Dillon Consulting report
A copy of the Dillon report can be found online at: wfp.to/KSA
Traffic delays through the intersection
● Average vehicle delay time, for all directions, based on the recommended
design and 2016 data: Mornings: 30.6 seconds; Afternoons: 52.6 seconds
● No delay for afternoon traffic in either northbound or southbound Main
● A projected 15-second delay for morning southbound Main Street traffic
● Afternoon eastbound Portage Avenue traffic turning right onto Main: 2:42
● Afternoon eastbound Portage Avenue traffic turning left onto Main: 1:59
● Afternoon westbound Portage Avenue traffic turning right onto Main: 5:06
● Morning travel times through the intersection, in all directions, is
projected to be unaffected
● Afternoon travel times will see delays for left- and right-hand turns
through the intersection varying from less than 2 minutes (east-bound
Portage right onto Main) to 4:39 (west-bound from Portage Avenue East)
● Afternoon buses travelling north and south on Main through the
intersection are not projected to experience any delays
A Class 4 estimate (considered accurate to within 30 per cent under and 60
per cent over), based on “a highly conceptual design”
● $11.1 million, including: $3.8 million construction, $2.3 million for
possible construction over-runs, $5.5 million for the purchase of 11
additional transit buses to offset transit delays
● $1.8 million: additional annual operating costs to Winnipeg Transit for
the hiring of 12.5 equivalent full-time drivers and other staff
● Pedestrian crossings at all four intersections
● Scramble crossing will not be allowed
● No right-hand turns from northbound Main traffic onto Portage Avenue East
● Portage Avenue East reduced to one lane to accommodate pedestrian crossing
Thieves target bike repair stations
REPEATED theft from the bike repair station outside the Broadway
Neighbourhood Centre has left the community no choice but to keep the tools
At least 15 public repair stations are available in Winnipeg 24-7. The free
stations differ in colour and style — they look like random coloured poles,
either red, yellow or green, from a distance — but they usually have a
stand so users can lift a bike up to work on it, as well as a pump and a
range of multi-tools.
There are a handful downtown, including one in West Broadway that only
consists of a single metal stand because the tools and pump have been
The station was installed last summer. It had to be replaced one month
later. And now, the tools are gone again.
“It’s unfortunate because there are a lot of families — not just bikers,
moms who are pushing a stroller around and want to put air in their
stroller tires,” said Lawrence Mulhall, director of the community centre.
He blamed bike theft rings in the neighbourhood.
Mulhall said they’re going to leave the stand outside and keep the tools
and pump inside the centre, so people can take their bikes inside or sign
out tools to do repairs at home.
Meanwhile, the station outside thedowntown Millennium Library is going to
be moved because of repeated theft, said Currie Gillespie, a cycling
advocate and the general manager of Rackworks, a company that builds and
sells made-in-Manitoba bike-repair stations in Winnipeg.
Gillespie said the problem isn’t isolated to downtown; tools are stolen
from stations all over the city.
“All the (Rackworks) locations that are opento the public have been vandalized
at least once,” he said. Those include the BNC pit stops, two on the Bishop
Grandin Greenway and two in Transcona — the most recent targets.
The Transcona BIZ installed two repair stations earlier this summer, one at
the corner of Pandora Avenue and Bond Street and another at 135 Regent Ave.
The cost to purchase and install the stations was $3,000.
(The BIZ funded the project with part of an active transportation grant
from the city; other pit stops have been installed thanks to private
donations and city councillor budgets.) Both east end stations have been
vandalized twice, said Alex Morrison, executive director of the BIZ. The
latest robbery took place on the long weekend.
“The idea is to bring your bike to the tools, don’t bring the tools to your
bike,” Morrison said.
“It’s frustrating. I don’t know if it’s maliciousness or someone who has
beefagainst biking and this is their way of making their feelings known.”
She said the BIZ set aside $400 in its annual budget for service stop
maintenance. If needed, the general maintenance fund can be used for fixing
things such as broken benches.
“We’re creative, we could do a lot with $400 to improve the community if we
didn’t have to set that aside for stupid things like replacing tools that
have been stolen.”
The latest Winnipeg Police Service report says theft of items worth $5,000
or less in Winnipeg increased 15 per cent in 2017.
For women, opening Portage and Main is a safety issue
WOMEN often experience the city differently than men. Many women who
regularly occupy the urban environment consider their navigation of the
city carefully and avoid areas with a higher potential for a dangerous
situation to arise. The reopening of Portage and Main to pedestrians would
have a positive impact on safety in downtown Winnipeg, especially for
women, and most notably at night.
Hollaback! is a non-profit organization that combats street harassment in
cities. Its 2013 study noted that more than two-thirds of Winnipeg women
experience harassment, including honking, leering, whistling and comments
of a sexual nature, at least once a month, and more than one-third
experience street harassment at least once a week. These occurrences limit
a woman’s right to safe and harassment-free public space.
Winnipeg became the first Canadian city to join the UN Global Safe Cities
Initiative in 2013. This initiative aims to reduce harassment and sexual
violence againstwomen and girls in public spaces. An equitable city is a
city in which all people — regardless of gender, socioeconomic status,
race, physical ability or age — have equal access to the city. Downtown
should be the heart of a vibrant modern city; however, there is a lack of
actual and perceived safety at Portage and Main that prevents much of the
population from engaging with ourmost famous intersection.
A 2014 study conducted by Winnipeg Safe City concluded that 27.5 per cent
of reported sexual offences in Winnipeg occur in the northwest area of
downtown. Between 2011 and 2015, 22.9 per cent of assaults in this area
occurred in South Portage, a zone which includes Portage and Main.
How physical environments are designed can affect a sense of safety and
limit or enhance a woman’s access to the city. The public entrances to the
Portage and Main underground are unsafe, especially for women at night. The
dark, unsupervised stairwells are beyond the sightlines of the adjacent
streets and sidewalks. Once a pedestrian reaches the underground crossing,
they are met by a privately owned mall with shops that close shortly after
5 p.m. The underground concourse after hours is sparsely supervised and
difficult to navigate.
Clear sightlines, navigation and views are important for safe movement
throughout the city. The concrete walls above ground at Portage and Main
create blind corners and limit visibility to the sidewalk for nearby
motorists and pedestrians. While avoiding the underground stairs, a
pedestrian at street level must still navigate a path that offers
to exit if an unsafe situation arises. Adding pedestrian crossings at
Portage and Main will provide alternate paths of travel, allowing
individuals to avoid dangerous situations and find refuge more quickly when
Surveillance technology and professional supervision can aid safety;
however, these measures are costly and do less to increase perceived
comfort than the presence of others. The simplest and most cost-effective
way to make an urban environment safer is to increase the amount of foot
traffic by encouraging pedestrian activity. Increasing the number of
pedestrians improves safety, prevents street harassment through
accountability and provides immediate access to assistance if an incident
A pedestrian-friendly environment that includes restaurant patios,
storefronts, entertainment, green space, public seating and lighting has
made the Exchange District more attractive to people throughout the day. In
contrast, the design of Portage and Main repels pedestrians, forcing them
underground or towards alternative routes. This calculated reduction in
pedestrian activity creates a dead zone, with few pedestrians, storefronts
or building entries, which heightens the feeling of isolation and lack of
In 2017, a poll conducted by Mainstreet/Postmedia revealed Canadians
believe Winnipeg is the least-safe city in the country. We can begin to
change this negative perception by implementing a design that encourages
more pedestrians to be on the sidewalk, creating strength in numbers during
the day and night.
The Forks, downtown theatres, Old Market Square and Bell MTS Place are
visitor hotspots. A direct and obvious connection on foot between these
places will provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for the 110,000
people who are downtown each day.
Everyone should feel safe in their own city. Removing the walls and
inviting more people back to Portage and Main will increase the sense of
safety in the area and improve navigation and movement through the
downtown. Perceived safety can have a large impact on the livability of a
city forwomen and girls. Women should be afforded the same right to evening
mobility in the city as men, free from the concern of harassment and
Reopening Portage and Main will help Winnipeg’s downtown feel more
comfortable at all times of day, for all genders.
*Erin Riediger is an architectural graduate student and interior designer.*
Shedding light on Portage and Main
FOR 40 years, we have been arguing over adding 18 seconds in the morning
and 54 seconds in the afternoon to a daily Winnipeg commute that averages
24 minutes each way.
The idea of letting people cross the street at Portage and Main has long
evoked images of gridlocked cars lined to the Perimeter Highway, but with a
public r eferendum n ow foisted upon us, it is time to investigate the
Last year, the respected engineering firm Dillon Consulting completed the
Portage and Main Transportation Study, a comprehensive 95-page document
which looked at the effects of introducing pedestrians at each corner,
during both the morning and afternoon rush hours. Dillon compiled
extensive, real-world data and used it to create precise computer
simulation models, with cutting-edge software that is considered a global
leader in accuracy and precision.
The study found that the greatest impacts to traffic will be experienced in
the peak of afternoon rush hour, when the average time it will take for
cars to get through the intersection will be 33 seconds longer than today.
When the impact of this is telegraphed across downtown, the average time of
an overall commute will increase by a total of 54 seconds (cumulative delay
for all cars/ number of cars).
The two largest routes, Main Street northbound and southbound through
traffic, representing 50 per cent of all cars entering the intersection,
will experience no change from current travel times, because pedestrians
will cross parallel with drivers. Eastbound traffic on Portage Avenue,
representing 25 per cent of all vehicles, will experience the most notable
increases, adding an average of about 2½ minutes to a total commute in
afternoon peak hours.
The conclusion for the morning rush hour states that “the overall
experience for drivers will not be significantly different.” Cars will take
an average of only 10 seconds longer to get through the intersection, and
the average overall commute across downtown will increase by just 18
The minimal impact that introducing pedestrians at Portage and Main has on
car traffic can be explained by the fact the intersection doesn’t exist in
isolation. As an example, there are 10 pedestrian crossings on the one
kilometre of Portage Avenue between Memorial Boulevard and Main Street. The
study shows that adding one more does not significantly change average
vehicle commuting times across downtown.
Of 20 transit routes studied, one saw a delay of more than two minutes, and
six were delayed by more than a minute. These time delays seem
insignificant, but because every bus carries so many people, there would be
a compound effect on transit capacity, so further study of transit times
and routing would be needed to address the issue. It should be noted that
the study did not examine opportunities to look at managing the effects on
traffic through downtown m ore holistically, including signal-timing
co-ordination, transit routing or changes in driver habits as conditions
Interestingly, the model uses adjacent crosswalk volumes to predict the number
of pedestrians that will use Portage a nd Main, revealing a reasonable
balance, with 6 ,000 cars and 2,000 pedestrian crossings per hour at peak
The Dillon study also addresses the cost of reopening the intersection by
providing a detailed breakdown of work required to remove the barricades
and restore the corner to a level typical of other city intersections. A
$3.8-million construction cost has been identified, with a significant
contingency of $2.3 m illion to cover any cost overruns or unknowns that
could be found when digging up 4 0-year-old infrastructure. If the purchase
of new buses is to be contemplated, a cost of $5.5 m illion was included as
a separate line item in the budget.
To put the $6.1-million overall constructioncost into perspective, the city
currently has 82 capital projects underway that each cost more than $5
million. The study did not look at the cost of repairing the barricades and
stairwells that are currently crumbling, with rusting steel rebar exposed
in many locations. The cost of these longoverdue repairs, if the barricades
were to remain, might begin to rival the expense of removing the walls
The study addresses pedestrian safety by proposing the use of signal timing
that allows pedestrians to get a head start into the intersection, a
technique currently proving effective at Broadway and Main Street. The
study states that “while the risks of a collision with pedestrians will
undoubtedly increase from zero, they will not be any greater than at other
major intersections in Winnipeg.” Portage Avenue at Memorial Boulevard a nd
Main Street at Broadway are intersections with similar ranges of vehicle
traffic volumes and significant pedestrian numbers.
The Dillon study touches on accessibility by indicating people who use
wheelchairs or have limited m obility can currently t ake m ore than nine
minutes to cross the street through the underground, and when the private
office towers close after the workday, it is not accessible to people who
are unable to navigate stairs. This requires an above-ground crossing,
which for two of the four directions is a journey of about 400 m etres.
The Dillon report provides an important resource of factual information to
help inform the debate as w e m ove toward a public vote.
The study alleviates fears of significant traffic congestion by
demonstrating that most expected commuter delays will b e m inimal.
It also makes some other important conclusions, stating that reconfiguring
Portage and Main will improve the pedestrian experience, encourage a shift
from single-occupant vehicles, ensure wheelchair accessibility exists at
all times, improve area safety by b ringing m ore people to the sidewalks
and make urban living more attractive.
*Brent Bellamy is a senior design architect for Number Ten Architectural
A wrong turn for mayoral candidate
Motkaluk’s Portage and Main conspiracy theory does little to advance debate
LAST week, we got to see the first serious week of campaigning in the
referendum on whether to reopen Portage and Main. In short, it was a
frequently rough-and-tumble, horrendously misinformed thrill ride.
Facebook and Twitter were alight with debate between citizens in favour and
opposed to pedestrian traffic at Portage and Main.
Opponents suggested the return of pedestrians would cripple traffic and
endanger lives; proponents countered with engineering studies showing
commuters would, at worst, face delays of up to 50 seconds.
In general, the debate has been well conducted: citizens exchanging ideas
and background information on a pressing issue of public concern.
Lamentably, there were a few participants determined to drag the discourse
down into the gutter with all manner of incendiary allegations.
Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk was at the head of the pack that sought to
divert the debate from the impact of reopening the intersection to
political conspiracy theories.
In an Aug. 3 post on her campaign website, Motkaluk said there was a
“rumour” Mayor Brian Bowman was having trouble raising money for his
re-election campaign. As a result, Motkaluk expressed concern Bowman was
going to misuse taxpayer resources to support his bid for a second term. That’s
an incendiary allegation, and one that Motkaluk did little to back up with
evidence. What proof she did claim to have focused more on the lack of
rules governing the referendum, and how that might end up benefiting Bowman.
On that one point — the issue of the lack of guidelines — Motkaluk is not
wrong to raise a red flag.
The referendum motion tabled by Coun. Jeff Browaty and Coun. Janice Lukes
on July 18 made no attempt to define the rules for campaigning. This was a
problem because Manitoba is one of only three provinces that does not have
legislation governing plebiscites and referenda.
An opponent of the referendum, Motkaluk said she is concerned there will be
“unchecked third-party spending” that could affect the civic election.
Again, on that point she has a valid concern.
At the same time they were building support for a referendum, Browaty and
Lukes certainly should have proposed a bylaw to outline the rules of
engagement. But they didn’t and, as a result, we are facing a potential
free-for-all referendum campaign.
However, rather than question the wisdom of those who brought forward the
referendum, Motkaluk seems to be consumed with an elaborate conspiracy
theory about how “unchecked spending on the Yes side would be an important
element to (Bowman’s) reelectioncampaign.” If the ‘Yes’ campaign sticks to
the issue of Portage and Main itself and does not get into the business of
endorsing any candidate for public office, then the allegation that it
supports Bowman’s re-election campaign is a long bow to draw. Yes, Bowman
wants to reopen Portage and Main. And yes, citizens who support that view
may choose to support Bowman. But it’s a stretch to say the ‘Yes’ campaign
is a ‘re-elect Brian Bowman’ campaign.
And the same could be said about the ‘No’ campaign. Any resources that go
into that effort would, in essence, support Motkaluk’s bid for the
mayoralty. Although it’s unclear that a fully operational ‘No’ campaign
will materialize, this is a level playing field for the most part.
Motkaluk also alleged that city-funded agencies supporting the ‘Yes’
campaign were effectively using taxpayer money to support Bowman’s campaign.
In particular, Motkaluk called out the Downtown BIZ and Exchange District
BIZ, both of which have publicly argued in favour of reopening Portage and
Main for years and now are providing operational support to the ‘Yes’
The Business Improvement Zones were created as advocacy organizations,
supported primarily through a levy charged to business owners in each zone.
The city does collect that money, but it is remitted entirely to the
appropriate BIZ. The BIZs also earn some revenue by providing other
services to the city, such as security and litter control.
“I think Jenny has the right to express her concerns,” Stefano Grande, CEO
of the Downtown BIZ, said in an interview. “But the truth and facts are
that the Downtown BIZ, and others, have been already expending resources on
this issue for several years now. We have the data and research to educate
our members and the public on the importance of opening up Portage and
Main. This is our role.”
The conspiracy theories offered last week by Motkaluk did not stop at the
BIZs. She also went after architect Brent Bellamy, spokesman for the ‘Yes’
In addition to fronting the ‘Yes’ campaign, Bellamy is a member of a number
of architecture and planning organizations and a regular contributor
to the Free
Press. Plus, he was appointed by Bowman as the chairman of Centre Venture,
the city’s downtown development agency.
“Brian Bowman is the honorary chairman (of Centre Venture),” Motkaluk wrote
in her post. “Hmmm. That’s interesting.”
No it’s not. As is the case with the two BIZ organizations, Bellamy was a
well-known advocate for reopening Portage and Main, and was appointed to
the Centre Venture board long before the referendum was proposed. To
suggest Bellamy is doing something wrong by supporting the ‘Yes’ campaign
is a brutal bit of logic.
Still, it’s easy to understand why Motkaluk is upset. She has worked hard
to create contrast between herself and Bowman, and clearly believed she
would have the upper hand in any debate on Portage and Main that took place
within the confines of the mayoral campaign. Now, she is concerned about
having to wage war on a second front against the forces behind the ‘Yes’
campaign who can operate without any constraints.
Unfortunately, Motkaluk’s concerns are coming out as poorly grounded
innuendo. If you follow her logic, you might even be willing to believe
Browaty and Lukes conspired with Bowman to create the referendum, thus
giving the incumbent mayor a huge advantage over challengers.
Anyone who knows the lay of the land at city hall knows Browaty and Lukes
have no interest in aiding Bowman in any way, shape or form. They are
easily among Bowman’s greatest council foes.
When it comes down to it, Motkaluk’s beef is not with Bowman, who has
argued that his 2014 election win gave him a mandate to reopen Portage and
Main, but rather with Browaty and Lukes, who unleashed a referendum — which
has no rules or guidelines — on the city just 90 days before Winnipeggers
go to the polls.
Council might want to consider an emergency meeting this month to set some
of those guidelines. These might include, but not be limited to, spending
limits for official campaigns, a requirement to reveal the identity of
donors and most importantly a directive that any referendum-related
advertising should steer clear of endorsing any one candidate.
These are guidelines all council members should embrace. Even Bowman, who
could kill any future allegation that he wants a lawless referendum
campaign by leading the charge to introduce firm rules.
Until that happens, all candidates seeking election in the fall would be
well advised to pick their fights more carefully.
Uber, Lyft creating more congestion, not reducing it: study
THE explosive growth of Uber and Lyft has created a new traffic problem for
major U.S. cities and ride-booking options such as Uber Pool and Lyft Line
are exacerbating the issue by appealing directly to customers who would
otherwise have taken transit, walked, biked or not used a ride-hail service
at all, according to a new study.
The report by Bruce Schaller, author of the influential study
Unsustainable?, which found ride-hailing services were making traffic
congestion in New York City worse, constructs a detailed profile of the
typical ride-hail user and issues a stark warning to cities: make efforts
to counter the growth of ride-hail services, or surrender city streets to
fleets of private cars, creating a more hostile environment for pedestrians
and cyclists and ultimately making urban cores less desirable places to
Schaller concludes that where private ride options such as Uber X and Lyft
have failed on promises to cut down on personal driving and car ownership—
both of which are trending up— pooled ride services have lured a different
market that directly competes with subway and bus systems, while failing to
achieve significantly better efficiency than their solo alternatives. The
result: more driving overall.
Ride-hailing has added about 9.2 billion vehicle kilometres to nine major
urban areas over six years, the report says, and the trend is “likely to
intensify” as the popularity of the services surges. (The study notes that
total ride-hailing trips in New York increased 72 per cent from 2016 to
2017 and 47 per cent in Seattle over that time. Revenue data from the D.C.
Department of For-Hire Vehicles showed the ride-hailing industry’s growth
quadrupled in the District from late 2015 to 2017.) The nine cities studied
were New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Miami,
Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.
Schaller found that while options such as Uber X add 2.8 new vehicle
kilometres for each kilometre of personal driving they eliminate, the
inclusion of options such as Uber-Pool and Lyft Line adds to traffic at
only a marginally lower rate: 2.6 new kilometres for every kilometre of
personal driving reduced.
The findings are based on published trip mileage data and the companies’
own claims about the share of solo and pooled rides.
“Shared rides add to traffic because most users switch from non-auto
modes,” the report says. “In addition, there is added mileage between trips
as drivers wait for the next dispatch and then drive to a pickup location.
Finally, even in a shared ride, some of the trip involves just one
passenger (e.g., between the first and second pickup).”
Schaller synthesizes data from surveys in eight cities and the state of
California to conclude 60 per cent of ride-hail users would have otherwise
used transit, walked or biked, or stayed home were it not for the
availability of services such as Uber and Lyft.
“It’s people getting out of the bus and metro getting into sedans,” said
Schaller, a former deputy commissioner for traffic and planning at the New
York City department of transportation.
Lyft disputed Schaller’s findings, pointing to its own sustainability
efforts, its urban mobility focus and claims from passengers who report
giving up their cars — though the locations where those reductions took
place were not immediately clear.
“We strongly disagree with Schaller’s claims regarding shared rides,” Lyft
spokeswoman Campbell Matthews said. “Since Lyft’s founding, we’ve been
focused on increasing car occupancy and eliminating the need for car
ownership. That focus has paid off.
“Just last year, over 250,000 Lyft passengers gave up their personal cars
because of the availabilityof ride-share,” Matthews said. “We are
continuingto focus on our goals by redesigning the Lyft app to integrate
with public transit and introducing bike and scooter sharing to the Lyft
We are committed to ensuring passengers have access to a spectrum of
transportation options that serve our cities best.”
Uber said in a statement that it supports several of the policies Schaller
proposes, including the expansion of dedicated bus and bike lanes and
congestion pricing. The company argued that contrary to Schaller’s
conclusions, Uber saved more than 500 million global vehicle kilometres in
2017 by shifting riders to its pool service.
Schaller never argued, however, that pool services were less efficient than
solo rides. He concluded that at the rate the services are expanding— and
with appeals to transit users — the effects of any such reductions are
negligible and the growth is untenable.
Schaller’s conclusions cast doubt on notions that ride-hail services will
ultimately reduce private vehicle ownership and challenge arguments that
they do not compete with mass transit. Based on a profile of the average
ride-hail user, he concludes that the more services such as Uber Express
Pool resemble transit, the more they will draw riders away from urban rail
and bus systems, resulting in an increasing number of transit users turning
to private cars to get around. But sedans don’t have the capacity to match
the modes they are pulling from, he says.
“When you look at the numbers, what you see is that what is more sharing
for them is less sharing overall,” Schaller said.
Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the pro-transit Coalition for
Smarter Growth, pointed to another one of the report’s conclusions. Lyft
says that today, a third of its rides in major markets are shared. The
company has outlined a goal to make half of its ride shared by 2022.
“Even if Lyft managed to meet its 50 per cent shared ride goal, you still
increase (vehicle kilometres travelled) by 120 per cent,” Schwartz said,
citing the report’s finding that 50 per cent shared-ride adoption would
still add about 3.5 vehicle kilometres to roads, or a 120 per cent increase
in driving overall.
Schwartz called the conclusions “pretty sobering.”
Schaller’s analysis is “one of the first studies to really look at (Uber
and Lyft’s) impacts from across a national spectrum,” said Adam Stocker, a
staff researcher with the Transportation Sustainability Research Center,
who is part of a team pursuing a study on the impacts of Uber and Lyft
across three North American cities.
But individual cities face challenges in discerning how the findings apply
to them, Stocker said, because of a dearth of available data from the
“The main limitation of it is that mainly due to the sample size, the
city-by-city differences, some of that detail doesn’t stand out because
nine cities were put together,” he said. “Due to data limitations... you
can oftenmiss a lot of the nuance in the usage or the impacts between
Part of his team’s focus is to discern how the “mode replacement profile”
differs between those who use the pooled options versus solo riders. He
wouldn’t give away any of the findings, but suggested that the portrait of
a pool user aligns closely with those who use transit services.
“My overall sense from reading the entire report is this is the exact
reason why we need more data transparency on this,” Tomer said. “My hunch
is... the immediate reactions from both Uber and Lyft... They’re gonna
suggest, well, ‘This isn’t what our data says.’ And the reality is we don’t
— Washington Post
No charges in crosswalk death of eight-year-old boy
THERE will be no charges in the death of an eight-year-old boy who was hit
by a vehicle at a St. Vital crosswalk in February, Winnipeg police say.
Surafiel Musse Tesfamariam, a Grade 3 student at École Varennes, died in
hospital after he was struck crossing St. Anne’s Road near Varennes Avenue.
He was on his way to school with his mother.
“Ultimately, speed was not a factor and the investigation revealed no
criminal culpability,” Winnipeg Police Service traffic division Staff Sgt.
Sean Pollock said Tuesday.
Police would not elaborate further on the cause of the collision or whether
the driver’s view was obstructed.
The driver of the pickup truck remained on scene until emergency responders
arrived and co-operated with investigators, a police spokesman told the Free
Press in February.
In his obituary published in the Free Press in February, family remembered
Surafiel as an active boy who loved to swim. “(He) offered to the world his
unconditional love,” his obituary reads. He was survived by his three
siblings and parents.
Surafiel’s death wasn’t the first at that St. Anne’s Road crosswalk.
In September 1981, 10-year-old Daniel La France was killed by a vehicle at
the same crossing; in 2006, a 34-yearold woman died in hospital two days
after she was struck at the same location.
Surafiel’s death renewed calls for improved safety at the pedestrian
In 2012, St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes asked City of Winnipeg traffic
administration to consider installing a traffic light at the crossing
(following a request from a constituent). The requested change wasn’t
recommended, because traffic on the side streets was too low to warrant it.
After Surafiel’s death, Mayes yet again asked the city to study the
crossing, as part of an already-planned study of traffic safety on St.
In May, councillors on the public works committee unanimously approved the
administration plan for the installation of eye-level warning lights and
possibly strobe-like flashing LED lights at the crosswalk before the start of
the 2018-19 school year.
The city’s transportation manager, David Patman, also said tree branches
that might obscure the existing flashing amber lights at the crossing will
be pruned in order to improve driver vision.
Those safety improvements are on track to be completed before the start of
the school year, a city communications staffer said.
— with files from Aldo Santin
Need to make a pit stop?
More bike repair stations for cyclists popping up
WITHOUT a personal bike pump or tool kit packed for a ride, Winnipeg
cyclists who needed a pit stop a decade ago were out of luck.
“If we go back to five years ago, there may have been one repair station,”
said Currie Gillespie, a cycling advocate who co-owns Rackworks, a company
that builds and sells made-in- Manitoba bike repair stations in Winnipeg.
Today, there are at least 12 repair stations throughout the city, the
latest Winnipeg Cycling Map shows. Published in spring 2018, circles marked
with the letter R appear near Winnipeg libraries, parks and schools all
over the city map.
However, Gillespie said some stations are missing from the map — including
the newly installed Academy Road and Transcona service stops. He estimates
at least another five new repair stations (atop the map’s 12) will be
available to the public by the end of the summer. Two of his stations are
going in at Fort Whyte, he added.
The free stations differ from location to location, but they usually have a
stand so users can lift a bike up to work on it, a pump and a handful of
The pit stops allow Winnipeggers to make “a quick correction” if something
happens to their bike during a commute, said Mark Cohoe, executive director
at Bike Winnipeg — such as inflating low tires, changing an inner tube and
raising handlebar and seat heights.
Cohoe said the on-the-go facilities are especially important for cyclists
who can’t afford to buy a bike stand, tools or take their bike into a shop,
and Winnipeggers who live in apartments and don’t have room to work on
their bikes at home. Another benefit is the stations are available at all
hours of the day, he said.
The stations, which Gillespie said started appearing in Winnipeg in 2013,
have been funded by private businesses, the local Business Improvement
Zones and area councillors. They can cost up to $4,000, a City of Winnipeg
spokesperson said on Monday.
Rackworks has “easily” doubled production each year, Gillespie said.
The company charges $1,500 for both the product and installation. That’s
what the Transcona BIZ paid for each of its new stations: at the corner of
Pandora Avenue and Bond Street and at 135 Regent Ave.
The BIZ used part of its $10,000 active transportation grant from the city
towards the new stations to encourage cycling in Winnipeg’s east end
neighbourhood, executive director Alex Morrison said on Monday.
She said she hasn’t received a single negative comment about the stations.
“We really want to encourage people to use their bikes and use our trail
system,” Morrison said, adding the new infrastructure seems to be doing
“It’s been pretty popular. I often see people using them.”
A recent study conducted by Bike Winnipeg and CAA found 21 per cent of
Winnipeggers identify as regular cyclists; the highest self-reported figure
Bike Winnipeg has recorded.
“I think it’s becoming a part of the lifestyle here in Winnipeg,” Cohoe
said, echoing the findings.
Gillespie said he and Cohoe both agree there seems to be more bikes on the
road today than there was several years ago. “We’re thinking that because
there are more racks, more repair stations, more infrastructure, the people
who are riding their bikes are riding them more.”
There is a station as far north as the Health Sciences Centre, as far east
as Transcona, as far south as the University of Manitoba and as far west as
Assiniboine Park. While there’s more bike infrastructure around the city,
Cohoe said there still isn’t a huge density of repair stations. However, it
doesn’t look like Winnipeg will return to the bike repair station desert it
Along with the new Rackworks stations popping up this season, Red River
College plans to install a new station at its downtown campus by the start
of the fall semester.
“We’re adding one more thing that might be that deterrent for people
cycling to campus, the fear of, ‘What happens if my bike needs
adjustments?’ Or not wanting to be stranded with a flat tire,” said Sara
MacArthur, sustainability director at the college.