Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jacques Blackstone, candidate Maple Ridge Council 2011

1. What modes of transportation do you normally use within your community and within Metro Vancouver?
I have to travel by car. I work in the film industry and the locations and hours change all the time. On top of that, there is equipment I need to carry with me that does not like rain and sometimes weighs over 100lbs. I cycle with my 2 boys on my side street as it is the only safe street to cycle on. I wish that there were safer routes to take and travel further but I must live with what is provided. I do, however, walk my boy to kindergarten every morning instead of driving (rain or shine) and do my part in reducing emissions and promote health.

2. How would you support and encourage cycling for transportation - for people of all ages and abilities - to promote healthy and livable communities?
For now I would allow for bicycles to ride on sidewalks (provided they dismount and respect pedestrians) as we do not have designated bike lanes but all of this has to be done within logical reason. We do live in a mountainous part of the world. Going downhill is great but I’m sorry pedaling up a hill is not fun. Maple Ridge is not designed as a downtown type of lifestyle as Vancouver and alternate modes of transportation did not seem to be part of the planner’s visions in the past. Should we start to introduce lanes for cyclists, segways, rollerblades, joggers, mom’s with strollers? Yes. But everyone also seems to forget that we do live in a rainforest and our municipality being that much closer to the mountains attracts more rain. 
I love the dike for a bike, but to take my kids there we need to drive there. A 3 and 5 year old on the Abernethy connector is pure insanity.

3. There have been many surveys asking people what it would take to get them on a bike. The number one thing people want is separated cycling facilities. How would you support separated bike lanes on key routes? If you are not in support, please explain why.
I’m only, and emphasize only, in support of separated cycle lanes if it does not take away from existing car lanes. Cyclists share the road with cars which is fine. But many cyclists do not follow the rules of the road. They will cross red lights, merge with traffic, go opposite of traffic, so in all of these regards, I do not think we should proliferate the expansion of cycle lanes until we can get a clear cut definition of the rules, proper cyclist road tests, licenses, and insurance.
It may sound a little harsh what I said but when it’s dark out in rush hour and the rain is coming down sideways in January and I have a cyclist darting out in front of me, who’s fault is the pending accident?
So back to your question about cycle lanes on key routes: No. For their safety, keep them away from potential harm. To penalize a car driver’s and cyclists’ safety is not a good idea. We have so many side streets that we could seriously look into creating bike lanes in the residential areas (side streets) and create a bike crossing preference.

4. Maple Ridge has no off-road (non-mountain-) biking/multi-use trails and is lagging behind other Lower Mainland communities in this respect. How do you feel off-road biking/multi-use trails can benefit Maple Ridge, and how do you suggest to start developing a network of trails.
Personally, I cannot comment on this as I am not a mountain biker. I do help out yearly in the BC Bike Race that lasts 7 days, but have no involvement in the tracks. The logical answer to this question is to get a couple of mountain bikers and ask them. I can recommend some individuals as they are the ones that manage these global events. But really, how many bike trail enthusiasts do we have in Maple Ridge to justify a financial expense paid by tax dollars?
5. If elected, would you aim to increase or decrease cycling funding from current levels? Do you feel that cycling funding levels should merely reflect the present level of cycling in our communities, or should it reflect the potential of cycling - not only as a means of transportation and for recreation, but also in view of the many desirable benefits cycling has for individuals as well as for our communities/society, such as health benefits, improved livability, reduced greenhouse gasses/pollution, reduced oil-dependency, reduced need for expensive car infrastructure/parking lots, reduced congestion, etc.?
Again, we live in a mountainous rain forest that gets cold. This kind of hardcore cycling is only shared by few. All you are saying in this question is true: we should reduce pollution, but not at the cost of our citizens. My wife cannot ride a bike and carry 2 children to the grocery store and back.
We need to build a better infrastructure of roads that reduce stops and starts and promote the electric car. If you own and drive an electric car, to allow single riders in car pool lanes, designate closer parking spots for electric vehicles, reduce the hydro bill of an electric car owner, etc… Incentives for everyone and not just one group.
This would do everything you are saying in a matter of years. We have to be logical and realistic as to where we live, not how to make us live. Forcing people to commute a certain way is not freedom. Giving us the electric car with incentives is freedom from oil.

No matter the path we take in developing our infrastructure, the one thing we need is better roads with less stops and less ‘T’ intersections that cause collisions. If we add rail, or bike lanes, or electric cars, or gondolas, or whatever the ‘catch-phrase’ of the day may be, traffic flow is the key. We need to respect the commuters time away from home and bring them home sooner. That will benefit what we know as family, as more family time is important for our children.
We need to re-think this global initiative of urban planning as looking ahead by 10 or 20 years is not enough. We need to look ahead at 100 years and build it once and build it right. It will save us money in the long run, save us time right now, and build a socially cohesive community.

6. What is your level of interest in a public bike-share system integrated with the transit system? How do you think a public bike-share system in Vancouver can benefit Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows residents?
None whatsoever. We are all about to pay more in gas tax for a transit system that is a ½ hour drive from here (over 1 hour on a bike). If Vancouver wishes to adopt a system as this, the more power to them.
7. What role do you think the municipality has in supporting and promoting cycling education for children, cyclists and motorists?
When I was a kid (in Montreal), my friends and I rode our bicycles to school and everywhere else, everyday! When the snows came, we took the school bus. Today it seems that school buses are pretty much gone and parents who have to get to work have to drive their kids to school. We cannot penalize the hard working citizen for an infrastructure that was ill-designed to start with that only allows for cars.
Every child likes riding a bike already; just let them be. You cannot promote an ideology into a child that one day may have to commute to Vancouver for employment. Maple Ridge has not allowed for business growth and now wants to penalize commuters for having to drive to work and earn a living.
Let me put it this way: if all of the municipality employees and elected officials start riding their bikes to work, then maybe the municipality can better justify this initiative (lead by example). Just like Translink: I would love to see the CEO and VP’s take a bus.

8. How do you feel e-bikes can play a role in our transportation system?
What do you see as the benefits of e-bikes as compared to cars?
What can e-bikes mean for less densely populated suburban communities like Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows?
I don’t know what an e-bike is; this needs clarification. I’ve got an iBike, not an e-bike.
9. Would you be interested in joining members of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition on a bike ride through your community?
I would love to but I have to pass. At the age of 45, there are some things that my body has done with age that a bicycle will injure. I support you 100% as since biking is something you are passionate about, no one should be denounced their passion but no one should impose their passions on others. We live in a free country and a Democracy and that’s what I intend to uphold.

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