Saturday, February 26, 2011

David Suzuki: If there is a war on cars, which side is winning

By David Suzuki and Faisal Moola
We humans like our wars. We have a war on drugs, a war on terror, a war on crime, and now, it seems, a war on cars. The latter “war” has entered the political vocabulary in Vancouver, where city council has been trying to reduce reliance on private automobiles; in Toronto, where the mayor is driving the agenda in the opposite direction; and in Seattle, where bike lanes and increased parking fees have come under fire. In the U.K., they’ve been calling it a war on motorists.
It’s not really much of a war, though. If anything, it’s just a bit of catch-up to create better public spaces and to allow more sensible forms of transportation some room in our car-dominated cities. Let’s take a look at some of the battlefields—and the casualties.
In Vancouver, opponents and local media predicted “chaos” from a bike lane on the Burrard Bridge, which connects the city’s downtown with the West Side. After the chaos failed to emerge, opponents, rather than learning from experience, went on to predict the same thing for other bike lanes in the city, mostly in the downtown core. Despite a few bumps, the chaos has yet to reveal itself. At the same time, the provincial government is spending $3 billion on a new 10-lane bridge and expanded highways to move cars and trucks in and out of the city.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sustainable Food Production - local lecture

The Maple Ridge Agricultural Advisory Committee invites you to participate in a discussion on local solutions to a sustainable food system.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Take bikes away from helmetless riders: Maple Ridge councillor

People are ignoring the bicycle helmet law so perhaps they should have their bikes taken away, says a Maple Ridge councillor.
If people can’t afford a bicycle helmet, how can they afford to have a bicycle, asked Coun. Al Hogarth Monday.
Bicycles, in particular Maple Ridge’s new bylaw that allows them to be ridden on sidewalks, was back on council’s agenda Monday.
Staff are proposing the new Highway and Traffic Bylaw be reviewed after it was passed a year ago, including a provision allowing all cyclists to ride on district sidewalks.
The intent was to encourage families and kids to use two-wheeled transportation safely and as a means of avoiding dangerous roads such as Dewdney Trunk Road, providing they always yield to pedestrians.
“I have a real problem with bikes on sidewalks. I see many incidents of what I call mental midgets,” said Hogarth, adding he was recently almost bowled over by a cyclist on a sidewalk.
After being in place for the past year, staff report there have been three incidents involving cyclists on sidewalks.
In response, staff are suggesting that cycling on sidewalks be banned in certain areas, after consultation with the RCMP.
Staff are also suggesting that bylaw officers be allowed to ticket helmetless riders.
Maple Ridge is the only municipality that allows cyclists to ride on sidewalks. It’s a part of the bylaw that Coun. Cheryl Ashlie said she missed when it was passed.
“I think there are major challenges putting bikes on sidewalks.”
And what about allowing skateboards, she asked.
However, municipal engineer Andrew Wood said those aren’t allowed on sidewalks.
Maple Ridge sidewalks are safe, said Coun. Linda King. She often walks on downtown sidewalks and has “never even come close to being hit by a cyclist.
“On the whole, our sidewalks are not dangerous.”
She also rides her bike on the sidewalks, “because riding on Dewdney Trunk Road is impossibly dangerous.”
More people, especially seniors, will be riding bikes because they’re much cheaper than cars, she added.
Coun. Craig Speirs says the bylaw is needed because there’s a lack of bike lanes in Maple Ridge, particularly for Lougheed Highway and Dewdney Trunk Road.
But discussing the helmet law has nothing to do with riding on sidewalks, said cyclist Jackie Chow.
Any areas where there are problems with pedestrians are likely congested areas where cyclists need to ride on the sidewalks, she added.
Cyclists shouldn’t have to ride on sidewalks and suggested the speed limit in the downtown be 30 kilometres an hour, to improve safety for cyclists on the road, she added.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Portlandia - Hilarious episode! (oh yes, bike related)

Some fun from the new TV series Portlandia, and opening scenes from episode two.
First, a pair of former musicians get an audience with the Mayor in is spiffy little office. He boasts about having the best website for a Northwest city under 700,000 population. He gave the award to himself.
The follow-up scene is a send-up of the urban warrior cyclist. Portlandia is a winner because of these great character archetypes. The sad part of we cable TV starved Canadians is that the program is not yet broadcast in our country. However, YouTube is filling up with clips of the three episodes, so just search the program name and you'll find plenty.
I think in both scenes of the above clip Vancouverites will find some of the parallels to home pretty amusing. The Gregor-esque mayor is played beautifully by Kyle MacLachlan. And Portland's real mayor, Sam Adams, plays a cameo as MacLachlan's assistant.

Businesses Voice Support Since Start of Bike Lanes

Increased safety for all road users, improved international reputation for the city, noted as business benefits of separated bike lanes

The creation of separated cycling lanes in Vancouver's central business district are not only the talk of the town locally, but have been noted elsewhere, with praise.
"Just last week one of my colleagues based in New York told me that Vancouver has a great reputation as a place for creative, fresh thinking. He thought it was a benefit in our marketing positioning that we come from here." says Jason Mogus of Communicopia, a local communications and digital design agency serving a global client base."I was proud to hear that, as Vancouver is not usually even on the radar of a big center like NY. Those are exactly the kinds of things that this city needs to become more known for: innovative ideas, real solutions, and leadership on the biggest global issues of our times. Having dedicated bike lanes - some of the first in North America, helps prove the point that Vancouver is a global leader, worthy of being listened to."
  Leadership is what will get us to long term sustainability, in terms of our economy, environment, and general quality of life. There is a limited amount of space left downtown, and encouraging the continuation of car travel is no solution. Congestion is a real threat to commerce, and we can see cities all over the world finding solutions.  
  London has introduced a congestion cordon around its downtown and built cycling superhighways that bring bikers in safely from the suburbs and relieves roads from traffic jams. New York has opened up streets to pedestrians and cyclists and it has improved the car congestion issues near Broadway and Fifth Avenue. It has also greatly improved safety. Injuries to motorists and passengers in the project area are down 63% and pedestrian injuries are down 35%.
  Mogus isn't alone in his appreciation of the downtown bike lanes.  In fact, nearly 100 businesses have joined Business for Bikes to support the cycling improvements they say benefit their bottom line and make the region a better place to do business.
Mathieson McRae, of Vancouver business Frogbox, appreciates the safety improvements and the feeling of comfort it gives his drivers. "As a delivery-based business serving the downtown core, we're happy to see infrastructure that allows for our relatively large trucks to safely share the streets with a greater number of cyclists." McRae notes that "Cycling provides a healthy, low impact mode of transport to and from work for 75% of our employees. More people cycling will mean less automobile traffic so our delivery trucks would spend less time on the road."
  Ensuring a thriving downtown economy depends on having the effective movement of goods and people. Vancouver is quickly going to move beyond the capacity to accommodate this growth with automobiles. Cycling is a low footprint, fast, and accessible form of transportation that has the potential to improve the efficiency of road space and simultaneously make the downtown core a nicer place to be. Both of those results are good for business, good for residents, and, it turns out, good for our reputation.
About the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition:
The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC) is a non-profit society whose members work to improve conditions for cycling in Metro Vancouver. The VACC promotes safe and respectful cycling for everyone through advocacy, education and events. For more information, please go to

For more information, please contact:
Erin O'Melinn
Director of Programs & Development
Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition

Monday, February 7, 2011

Encourage Leadership Candidates to Support Cycling

Please pass this on to your cycling friends. This can also be found at:

Three political parties, the BC NDP, BC Liberals and BC Conservative Party are in the midst of leadership races. This is an excellent opportunity to engage these political leaders regarding cycling. Please contact them through the links below and encourage them to support cycling.

Volunteering on their campaigns and going to campaign events are a great ways to show your support for cycling and build relationships with the candidates and their aids who may key people in government at some point.

Please indicate your support for the BCCC's recommendations and in particular the four year investment of $175 million dollars per year totalling $700 million to fund bicycle paths, separated bike lanes and other high quality cycling facilities in communities and on provincial roads throughout BC. A summary of the recommendations prepared for the candidates can be found at:

Your message to the candidates can be as short or as long as you want. The most important thing is to let them know that investing in cycling is important. It could include some or all of the following:
- The mention of any of the other recommendations that are important to your or your community.
- What these recommendations and improved cycling would mean for you, your family and your community
- Specific cycling facilities you would like to see built
- Stories on what new cycling facilities have meant to you and your community
- Stories about impact of the lack of cycling facilities in your community

BC Liberals

Contact information for the candidates:

BC Conservative Party
Deadline for joining to vote in election of the party leader: May 7, 2011 at midnight
Leadership convention: May 28, 2011 - Details to be announced

Green Party of BC
The Green Party is not holding a leadership race.


Richard Campbell

British Columbia Cycling Coalition