Three Strategies for Increasing Resilience in our Transportation Ecosystems

As we honor Earth Month (including Earth Day) this year, we believe it’s important to not just discuss the need for sustainable transportation options but to also derive inspiration and learning from nature’s success stories. One of which is Stanley Park.

Tucked away on the scenic shores of Vancouver, Canada, lies Stanley Park, a green oasis amidst the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s like stepping into another world when you stroll through its lush greenery and towering trees – you almost forget you’re in the middle of a busy urban landscape.

But what’s most fascinating about Stanley Park is its history of resilience. Despite facing numerous challenges over the years, from urban development to climate change, lightning storms to invasive species, it has stood its ground and remained resilient throughout. It’s not just a beautiful park, it’s a real-life lesson in sustainability and adaptability.

When you think about it, Stanley Park teaches us something profound. It shows that building sustainable and adaptable transportation systems isn’t just about infrastructure and technology. It’s about working with the systems we have, not against them. It’s about creating cities and transportation networks that can withstand the test of time, just like Stanley Park has done.

As transportation planners and designers, there are several key strategies that we can steal from Stanley park and incorporate them into our own transportation initiatives. Keep reading or watch the video below to find out what these are.

Three Strategies for Increasing Resilience in our Transportation Ecosystems

A Nature Success Story: The Resilience of Stanley Park

1. Diversity reduces vulnerability

One of the keys to Stanley Park’s resilience is its incredible biodiversity. From the towering Douglas Firs to the ancient cedar trunks to the delicate ferns carpeting the forest floor, every living thing in the park contributes to a complex, interconnected ecosystem. This diversity acts as a shield, protecting the park from the unpredictable forces of nature.

How can we translate this into our transportation systems?

Imagine a transportation landscape as rich and varied as the ecosystems of nature itself—where bustling bike lanes weave through city streets, electric scooters hum along dedicated pathways, public buses offer reliable service, and on-demand shuttles seamlessly fill in the gaps. In this landscape, not only do we enjoy numerous transportation options, but we also benefit from accessible shared mobility services that are both affordable and equitable. This mix creates alternative travel options that reduce dependency on personally owned vehicles, reduces congestion and emissions and promotes economic resilience in both local and wider communities.

When considering diversity, it’s not always about launching a completely new service. One method to enhance diversity within existing shared mobility services is by incorporating a range of vehicle options, such as bicycles, scooters, or the integration of electric vehicles. This approach ensures that all users have access to clean transportation, addressing the typical affordability hurdle associated with it.

A project that we are working on to achieve this is one with Colorado Carshare, the City and County of Denver and supported by the Colorado Energy Office (CAMP grant). movmi is helping identify the most ideal locations for EV carshare stations. These locations are being identified on a set of parameters including neighbourhoods with affordable housing projects, availability and feasibility of EV infrastructure, availability of transportation options, density and target demographics. Together, our analysis is aimed at not only making access to electrified carsharing equitable, but also to enhance the operations feasibility so that the initiative grows to be self-sustaining, adaptable and ultimately, a system that is resilient – just like Stanley Park.

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2. Connecting Different Systems

However, mere diversity is only part of the equation. Within Stanley Park, the natural boundaries between ecosystems are blurred. This allows energy and resources to flow and be shared across the park. It’s this connectivity that truly strengthens the park’s resilience, enabling species to migrate, seeds to spread, and the whole system to adapt to change.

How can we translate this into our transportation systems?

Let’s envision a transportation system where travelers effortlessly transition from a bike share to a subway ride, all with the swipe of a single card. Just like the interconnected web of ecosystems in nature, these linkages between various modes of transit can knit together fragmented transportation networks into one cohesive, adaptable ecosystem. It’s about creating a seamless journey where each mode complements the others, offering travelers a world of mobility options at their fingertips.

An example of this, is movmi’s work with Vancouver’s public transit system TransLink, Evo Car share, Modo car share and Mobi bikeshare.

In February TransLink announced the launch of the RideLink app. The new app brings together transit, carshare, and bikeshare services. The app makes planning, booking, and paying for trips easier and more convenient. movmi’s role in this phase of the project was to manage the entire stakeholder group and led product vision and implementation. Plus we secured 0.5 million federal grant funding for TransLink.

The RideLink app features:

  • Trip planning with transit, carshare, and bikeshare options with real-time information about vehicle and bike locations.   
  • Simple booking and payments for carshare and bikeshare services. 
  • Easy registration for Evo, Modo, and Mobi Bike services. 
  • An upgraded Compass Card that will allow users to tap onto transit, Evo, and Modo vehicles as well as Mobi Bikes at bikeshare stations.  
  • There are over 200,000 registered users of bikeshare and carshare in Metro Vancouver, this new app will allow users to easily transfer between transit and each mode, with the goal of encouraging even more users to consider multi-modal journeys.  
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3. Active Management and Stress Reduction

Of course, Stanley Park’s resilience isn’t just a happy nature accident. Behind the scenes, there is a dedicated team of stewards who work tirelessly to monitor the park, manage invasive species, and allow natural processes to unfold. It’s a delicate balance of intervention and non-intervention that keeps the park thriving.

How can we translate this into our transportation systems?

Similarly, building resilient transportation systems will require a holistic, proactive approach to regulation. We need a framework that encourages innovation, rewards sustainability, and removes the red tape that so often stifles progress.

For example, the region of Vancouver has implemented inter-municipal business licenses for e-bikesharing (North Shore program) rather than individually regulating e-bikesharing for each of the cities in the North Shore. Secondly, recently more municipalities have approved carsharing licenses which becomes specially convenient when it comes to free-floating carshare such as Evo. Both these examples show how transportation solutions need to be looked at a regional level, which otherwise can become complicated for users and costly for operators.

By adopting this kind of forward-thinking regulation, we can create the conditions for resilience to flourish.

As we celebrate Earth Day, let’s take inspiration from the timeless resilience of Stanley Park. By embracing diversity, fostering connectivity, and empowering active management, we can build transportation systems that are resilient – ensuring a brighter, more sustainable future for all. The lessons of nature are there for the taking, if we’re willing to listen.

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