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Green Infrastructure: Learning from Canada on Diamond Lanes?

Dylan Collier
Dylan Collier

Mark Drakeford’s Labour government has taken significant steps in addressing air quality in Wales by enforcing 20mph speed zones across the country. However, looking abroad, there is more that could be done today.

Our Canadian cousins have successfully implemented a high occupancy vehicle lane or Diamond Lane, which successfully combats air pollution and congestion, taking positive steps towards a much greener automotive industry. These lessons learnt abroad can be implemented in Wales today.

In essence, a Diamond Lane can be implemented on any A road or motorway where to enter this lane, your vehicle must either be electric or have two passengers plus the driver. This creates a meritocratic approach to going green where the people of Wales can be rewarded for taking positive steps towards climate change.

In 50mph zones, this lane can return to the traditional 70mph speed limit due to air quality quotas already being met. These lanes can provide lower-cost alternatives for work commutes as single drivers will be more incentivised by a faster commute and shared fuel costs.

Canadian regional governments reported saving 14-17 minutes per commute into city hubs compared to pre-HOV lanes, highlighting how almost 40% of commuters have gradually shifted to carpooling.

Whilst it must be acknowledged that this plan has potential flaws, over 20 years of implementation in Canada proves how these can be overcome. For example, the potential problem of initial under usage as the Welsh population reacts to these new laws can be offset with the limited release of single-passenger passes to ensure that those on low incomes can still benefit from lower congestion until such a time when they can gain access to shared or electric vehicles.

The Canadian concept of ‘slugging’ can also be used, with designated ‘pickup points’ allowing potential passengers to get safely transported into city centres using the Diamond lanes. This could offer a new alternative to shared transport and take further pressure off our roads.

For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.

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