This video builds on a blog post from last year where I used Lego to illustrate some principles of urban design. I’ve since turned that into a popular slideshow that I’ve presented to several different audiences. It seems people enjoy seeing concepts illustrated using Lego, so we thought why not do the same for one of the campaign videos? Needless to say we had some fun:
The main theme is that I’ve worked and will continue to work on improving transportation choices by making walking and cycling safer and easier and by supporting further expansion of LRT and improvements to bus services. In my mind, dealing with the growth of our city can be accomodated with more freeways or more LRT – both are costly, but the long term savings to our economy of a strong LRT system are clear.
In the Edmonton region households spend more on transportation than any other Canadian city, according to the 2008 Statistics Canada Survey of Household Spending. $13,903 per year compared with $12,216 in Calgary, the next highest. We spend correspondingly less on shelter. It seems evident to me that one way to help with the rising cost of shelter is to make it easier for people to chose less costly transportation options to meet some of their mobility needs.
Look at where the money goes if we can pull that off: if people spend it on shelter, that’s an investment in our community since real estate isn’t really portable. If they spend some of their savings at businesses that are along their walking or transit route, that creates a different kind of local wealth. In contrast, household spending on private automobile transportation represents a leakage from our local economy since we don’t build cars here and of course cars tend to diminish in value over time; there is a local economy around retail and service but most of the expenditure on initial purchase, insurance and parts leaves our city.
Of course private automobiles will remain essential for most Edmonton households, but I believe there’s more we can do to improve transportation choice and help ease pressure on household budgets. There are environmental and public health benefits too, of course, which just improve the case.