Posted by clubsodaandsalt on May 2, 2007
Transportation planning is basically non-existent in Trinidad, and the people are paying a high price in congestion and pollution. Traffic continues to get worse, and the main solution is the same silly mistake made the world over — more roads! So now we see projects like the widening of the Beetham, or the extension of the Crystal Stream highway, and for what? To feed more cars into the inevitable gridlock in downtown POS? How does this make sense? Plans are in the works to build mass transit along the East-West Corridor, which strikes me as being a good start. However, given how used people are to their cars, I think the government is going to need to employ some more innovative solutions to really cut down on the morning mess.
For one thing, what about congestion pricing? London and Stockholm have seen great success in using this to cut down on traffic, and New York is considering heading down the same path. Not only do people switch to public transportation, but you also get revenue, which can be applied to further mass transit improvements! Tolls would also be a good idea on the major highways.
How about encouraging bike use? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a *single* bike lane in all of Trinidad. I grew up in Maraval, and most mornings it would probably have been faster for me to bike to school than drive, but it would also have been pretty dangerous. Some bike parking outside schools and offices in the city center would certainly help take people off the streets (though the heat might limit people’s willingness to hit the pedals).
Smart growth is another idea that Trinidad seems determined to ignore. Just look at the real estate developments around Port of Spain — all residential. Mixed use used to be common — just look at the Western Main Road in St. James, which is a model neighbourhood, with houses, offices, and stores all within walking distance of each other. There’s some progress being made, with One Woodbrook Place breaking the mold and including offices and retail, but the general planning attitude seems to be stuck in some kind of Moses-ian rut.
Why is Trinidad so lost on the urban planning front? The last great project was the Brian Lara Promenade, and that was over 10 years ago! It’s time to really put some thought into improving the capital city.