Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

It’s Bikes Baby!

Well as promised by the Mayor, here comes the Burrard Bridge bike lane! It’s great seeing the year over year improvement in terms of greening our city and encouraging awareness of alternative transportation.

We’ll see how this bike lane experiment pans out, but this coupled with BCAA’s fairly recent announcement of providing Roadside Assistance to cyclists are two definite strides in the right direction for cyclists I think.

These two things will hopefully encourage more riders and less drivers. Especially in the downtown core.

How BCAA “Bike Assist” works as quoted from their site:

  • The cyclist must have experienced a mechanical breakdown, which includes any issue that makes the bike inoperable during a rider’s commute, such as a broken chain or flat tire. No assistance will be provided to cyclists looking to avoid challenging terrain or inclement weather.
  • Service technicians will do their best to get the cyclist on the go, but if the repair cannot be made at the site of the breakdown, the technician will transport the cyclist and their bicycle to their destination, home or nearest bike shop. The kilometer allotment will be consistent with the member’s current level of membership (e.g. a basic member is entitled to a five kilometre tow).
  • Only two cyclists can be accommodated at a time.
  • BCAA cannot break bike locks, as bike ownership cannot be easily identified.

The Vancouver Sun currently has a more thorough view/opinion piece on the Burrard Bridge bike lane trial.

Springtime means two things…

…allergies and bike tuning.


So, I popped Loratadine for the allergies and took the bike to the local bike shop. Actually, being Vancouver, it turns out there are a lot of shop. Friends I quizzed each have their own favorite, but all shops appearing roughly equal, I ended up taking the bike to Our Community Bikes on Main and 17th – the closest one to my house. It seemed a decent place to check out, not only because it’s close, but because they open their workshop up to the public, helping to teach people bike repair. They also have an amazing amount of serviceable, but previously owned spare parts – so if you’re fixin’ on a budget…

I got my bike repair badge in Scouts, so someplace that had helpful brains to guide me through anything I didn’t fully grok seemed perfect.

This time however, I opted to get them to do the work – the bike in question (see above) is a fantastic, Olypmpic era (as in Montreal) Iverson that’s been sitting in an old shed for 20 years, and tires (not to mention the crazy, hub-enclosed 3 speed gear system) are beyond me at this point. Plus, paying them keeps them afloat – keeping them afloat means continued access to their skills and their programs of training and, for lack of a better term, pedal-empowerment.

Ideally I’d be familiar with several stores and could compare and contrast, so this wouldn’t seem so one-sided, but the fact is, I’ve been hear 10 years, I’ve only just gotten a bike again. But, to be fair – Vancouver is full of shops!

Got one you like? Don’t like? Isn’t on the Google map provided? Then comment!

Meanwhile, I have to go – I got a call today that my bike is ready. I want to try this wacky 3-speed out.

Snow: Informer

Snow it's not just a Canadian rapper anymore.
Snow it’s more than just slick rhymes.

To save money the management of the building that I work in shuts down the heat during the weekend.  Since it’s just our store and the Blendz open Saturday and Sunday they figure that nobody is going to care, and so that’s why I’m standing here wearing a thermal fleece, a thick sweater and mittens.  My co-workers are wearing full winter coats, and have set up two space heaters which seem to simply be draining electricity and making a great deal of noise.

Meanwhile Vancouver airport is, at this point, still open for business despite fresh snow throughout the day [yvr].  Flights are being delayed, though few have been cancelled out right and those seem to be because of snow on the other end of the flight. 
Road-wise the downtown streets were cleared about an hour ago, but they’re now back to being mostly slush and loose snow.  Smart driving is going to be okay, but I’d add a little more time to your schedule this evening if you are going anywhere.
It’ll be snowing throughout the night and into tomorrow so plan your commute to work accordingly.

Everyone in the nation is laughing at our driving right now

Vancouver in the Snow

If you’ve lived, and driven, anywhere else in Canada you’re likely going to spend the new few days groaning audibly.  See on the west coast we’re in the middle of what some of us might like to think of as a snow storm.  The definition of snow storm being when snow falls from the sky, lands on the ground and stays there.

Of course if you’ve spent a winter anywhere else in Canada you’re going to be laughing at first, because the snow storm thats going to see Vancouver hunker down in our homes with our gas powered fireplaces cranked up all the way, is a light snow fall anywhere else.  Hell in Winnipeg this qualifies as Spring.

Okay, maybe I’m indulging in a little hyperbole here, but trust me if you’re from outside of the Lower Mainland and this is your first time driving in Vancouver snow, you’re in for a treat.  And by treat I mean you’re going to pull your hair out as you watch a city full of people drive around like a half inch of snow might actually cause their car to flip and burst into flames.

It’s not the weather you’ve got to watch out for, it’s the drivers.

Smells on the Skytrain

I don’t generally like taking the Skytrain during the hot weather.  As much as it can smell like wet dog on those rainy winter days when people’s clothes mixes with the heaters to create a pungent oder, it’s during the summer that people’s B.O. problems really stand-out.

Sure sometimes I don’t feel as fresh as I’d like, walking down Kingsway on my way to the station I can work up a sweat when it’s as hot as it has been the past few days, but I’d like to believe that I don’t cast a thirty foot protection spell of smell.  I’d like to believe that I’m invisible to your nasal nerves.

Maybe I’m not as silent smelling as I’d like to think.  Maybe I assault the senses of others just as strongly as the large man whose clearly seen a loaf of garlic bread more recently than he’s seen a shower or a toothbrush, though I do doubt it.   I think he’s some kind of terrorist weapon to make us lose faith in public transportation, to increase our dependence on foreign oil.

So despite the transit pass I’m walking as much as I can, at least until I can be assured that everyone on tram has met minimum levels of cleanliness.

What are your transit pet peeves that other riders subject you to?

Happy Carbon Tax Day!

It’s kind of clever – diabolical even. Pick the one day everyone is outdoors walking around, pondering a hot dog and looking for the best spot to see fireworks, to launch the new provincial carbon tax on fuel sales! Brilliant! Oh sure, they’ll complain tomorrow, but day one will be buried under red and white flags, explosions in the sky, and photos of tots with ice-cream all over their faces (they may optionally also be looking at fireworks while holding tiny paper Canadian Flags.)

What does this mean to you? Do you have a car? If you’ve answered no, it means little to you, though in theory over time the tax will lessen personal and business taxes – time will tell on that. If you’ve answered yes, then it means from this day forward, you’re paying 2.4 cents per litre more for petrol – and that will increase another five and quarter cents per over the next four years, on top of wherever the price of oil takes us in the coming months.

Never has a hybrid looked so good, and the ZENN and Volt can’t go on sale fast enough! Save the petroleum for vital K-Way production, I say.

Bike to Work Week

Bike to Work Week, originally uploaded by Rob Baxter.

Metblogs acknowledges those brave souls who have got on their bikes for their first commute ride this week. Vancouver does make some efforts to try and give cyclists are reasonable route choice, but in my recent experience there are still way too many drivers who regard cyclists as legitimate targets. While the rest just don’t see cyclists, though this outfit should draw some attention.

Which, by the way, is why you need a helmet. Falling from a bike is unlikely to result in a head injury for a commuter. Being hit by a motor vehicle is.

BC 2546 JM 2008-04-22 1500

BC 2546 JM 2008-04-22 1500, originally uploaded by Stephen Rees.

This is a 2008 Honda Ridgeline. Its driver thought that he was entitled to take up four parking spaces (the front and rear both overhang the yellow stall lines). Everyone else manages to park in one space by parking perpendicular to the kerb. This genius had to park parallel.

This vehicle emits 6 tonnes of CO2 pa (source: Honda)

Canada has about 0.5 per cent of the world’s population but contributes about two per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions

Location Impark lot Gilbert Road at Westminster Highway, Richmond

Happy Earth Day, Vancouver!

Wreck Beach Nudist: An Endangered Species

There hasn’t been a story about this beach here since 2007. I checked. So the fact that this one is a bit old, but turned up on the Tyee news summary for last Friday might be worth noting too. Before you click on the link at work, note that the story is illustrated, and I have not, in an excess of care for your welfare, not put any of the (I think rather nice) pictures in this post.

The source is also, as it happens, new to me. But I do like the idea of “Citizen News”. And as a transport economist and local transit activist, I am a bit perturbed that the idea of a ferry from Wreck Beach to Squamish had been proposed at all – and this back in November of last year – and I did not know about it.

How dare we enjoy ourselves for almost free, just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver? It seems to me this can no longer be tolerated by the University of British Columbia and its towers of mass destruction – their hopes for a ferry terminal that will one day expediently transport thousands of polluting tourists directly up to Squamish without having to go all the way around, through the city and across the bridge.

Now I am fairly sure that even if there are not (admitted) Wreck Beach users here there may be folk at UBC who know more about this and will comment. Enquiring minds need to know.

And yes, when I was younger and lived in Europe, beaches like this were usually on my holiday list. The topography of Wreck Beach, more than anything, has put me off. Up to now. For if there is anything that stimulates my interest in doing something it is when I learn of some officials who want to stop me. I read banned books. I go out of my way to see movies that have been prohibited. I support civil disobedience as a way of changing society – for it is the only thing that ever has. I just hope it gets warmer soon.

Port Expansion Roberts Bank BC 2008 04 12

It may be a really stupid idea, given that the US economy has gone into a tailspin, US freight and container imports in particular having been in decline for the last two years. It has also miserably failed any objective environmental assessment. And the port is actually under utilised at present. But the construction of new container berths at Deltaport continues.


A story in this morning’s Vancouver Sun emphasizes why this development has to be stopped.

An international team has discovered why half the world’s western sandpipers touch down on a specific tidal flat just south of Vancouver every spring. The secret is in the mud, more specifically in the snot-like “biofilm” coating the mud.

The tiny shorebirds, weighing about 30 grams each, suck a remarkable 20 tonnes of the sticky slime off the mud every day as huge flocks swoop down to refuel during the spring migration, the scientists estimate.

This is not a trivial issue. The port expansion has always been dubious from an environmental standpoint. Now it stands condemned. The response from the federal government (ports are a federal not a provincial responsibility) should be firm and swift.

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