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New technology hits Vancouver streets: parking meters, countdown lights

March 25th, 2011 · 34 Comments

After years where Vancouver seemed to be behind other cities I visited, where you could pay for your street parking with a credit card while locally you still had to dig out coins (what’s that?), the city started to catch up a couple of years ago by implementing a cellphone-pay parking system. Ooh, modern.

In the last few months, I’ve noticed several new technology gadgets on the streets. Along Granville, thanks to some kind of new gizmo attached to the top of the meters, you can now stick in a credit card to pay. I saw for the first time this week that the city appears to be getting its first Seattle-type parking meters, where instead of individual meters for each spot, there’s just a ticket machine on the sidewalk where you buy your parking and then stick the ticket in your car.

And I’m seeing an increasing number of streetlights that now have a countdown function on them, letting everyone know exactly how many seconds until the light turns. Very helpful, especially for those intersections that are pedestrian- or cyclist-controlled and people crossing, including the car drivers, have always had to guess how much time they had left to sprint across because there’s no traffic light for them. (Only a traffic light for the stopped cars on the main street, plus a flashing pedestrian signal that prompted many people to make a dash across the intersection at the last minute.)

I’m sure this is going to prevent some accidents. As I mentioned in the story I wrote last year about pedestrian accidents, San Francisco experimented with a number of ways to try to reduce pedestrian-car collisions and found this was one of the best.

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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