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EDITORIAL: Patience a virtue in ongoing mode shift efforts

EDITORIAL: The push forward for alternative transit means needs to remain a priority for not only the Bow Valley, but the entire country.

There is never one silver bullet that can solve everyone’s problems.

To make an impact or real change, it often takes a series of moves, decisions and an abundance of patience.

As much as we’d all like to snap our fingers and see our wildest dreams come true, the reality is far harsher and painstakingly slow.

Across the country, municipalities and provinces have moved towards an active mode shift in helping people get from point A to B.

Whether it’s public transit, bikes, walking or means other than a personal vehicle, the shift is gradually taking place, albeit not without a fight.

Part of it has come from goals of limiting greenhouse gas emissions in attempts to curtail climate change and another is simply to reimagine local and regional transit systems.

Personal vehicles offer comfort and convenience that are hard to replace, but the hard truth is it’s impossible to build yourself out of congestion.

The growing cost of fuel, repairs, insurance and parking has also made having a vehicle an affordability issue at a time when many people count each dollar leaving their bank account.

The emphasis Bow Valley communities have placed on transit options outside of personal vehicles has been ongoing for several years. From the Legacy Trail, adding to the comprehensive cycling and walking network, a future paved pathway along the Bow River, the growth of Roam transit to a gradually increasing free network, the move has come over several years of work.

As people, we are all impatient. We want immediate satisfaction. We want to know the decisions made in the morning are immediately paying off before the sun goes down.

Life, as with most things, rarely works in that fashion.

Anyone who has waited in traffic – whether it be at the infamous and maligned Canmore intersection or trying to cross the Bow River bridge in Banff during a long weekend – knows patience is a virtue.

Each success should be measured in baby steps as opposed to leaps and bounds or diving head first.

Roam transit took another step forward with its budget being passed Oct. 17, and while there will still be tinkering as its member municipalities approve their own budgets, it’s set to once again increase service in 2023. Kananaskis Improvement District council will also discuss a pilot transit program along part of Highway. 40 during its budget cycle.

Despite having relatively close visitor numbers through 2022 to pre-COVID-19 levels in 2019, Banff saw a drop in vehicle traffic. The Banff Avenue pedestrian zone also entices people to get out of a vehicle and travel by foot rather than aimlessly circling the town looking for a parking spot.

The new Banff National Park management plan emphasizes having people travel to and from the park by means other than personal vehicles. Though some may still be looking for another intercept lot, Parks Canada has slammed the door shut, leaving only delusion and fantasy for anyone thinking otherwise.

The work will continue to happen, but a shift in thinking is equally important. The idea that taking a bus or riding a bike is only for a demographic on the lower socio-economic spectrum is just as dangerous as shutting down opposition with someone who has a different opinion.

The turning of minds is just as vital as introducing a new transit route or increasing safety for people choosing to walk or cycle.

Much of the transportation mess found in North America comes from a post-Second World War world where communities built out and became more detached as people looked to get further away from one another.

With land historically rarely an issue – until it actually becomes one – the easiest solution has often been to keep adding lanes to roads and hope for the best.

But with the mountains pushing in from all sides and people realizing using land for housing instead of pavement is a better option, the push forward for alternative transit means needs to remain a priority for not only the Bow Valley, but the entire country.

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