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Vancouver Diary: ‘Ah, Spring’ public service announcement

April 24, 2014

From my seawall-riding observer, Dianna:


Heads up on the seawall, riders! It’s spring, which means everyone in Vancouver it seems has knocked the cobwebs off their bikes and they’re all on the seawall. It’s their first two wheeled outing since last fall, so they’re a bit wobbly, and too busy remembering how to shift and brake to ride predictably.

Not to mention after many months of cold rain the glorious pink cherry blossoms and yellow whatever-they-are bushes compete for attention so there’s much unexpected stopping and starting.

Plus, it seems like lots of folks have recently fallen in love and when they ride together can only look at each other, not where they’re going.



Not to worry. All this chaos will settle down in a few months when we’re a bit more experienced and sunny days are the norm. But in the meantime, heads up, friends! And use your bell.


???????????????????????????????Update: On the seawall today I have good reason for hope. Two little ones, maybe six and her younger brother, had ridden ahead of mom with two other youngsters. What did they do while they waited for the other? They pulled off the cycle track onto the grass.

That’s right. Someone has clearly invested time in training these tiny riders.

Subject to Interpretation: The Environment Minister’s Earth Day Statement

April 23, 2014

Neil Salmond picked up on this: Environment Minister Mary Polak’s Earth Day Statement - with, he says, the sneaky rhetoric (in bold).

Earth Day is a time to not only reflect on and appreciate British Columbia’s natural splendour, but to also consider the role we want our province to take in the global climate challenge.

British Columbia has a deserved reputation as a climate action leader. Our revenue-neutral carbon tax and our status as a carbon-neutral government are just two of our well-documented climate achievements. In terms of government action, those accomplishments were ground breaking and have since been emulated by other jurisdictions.

But, though only less than a decade old, they were also conceived in a different time – in a time before the worst economic recession in generations touched the entire world, and in a time before we could imagine how clean natural gas could revolutionize the global fight against climate change.

Is this “buttering up readers for the end of the carbon tax”?

Neil is not alone:

It was renewables lawyer Warren Brazier that spotted it first – here. And UBC’s George Hoberg - here – and Edmonton Energy Economist Andrew Leach - here - agreed.


The optimist’s counterpoint points to the Pacific Coast Collaborative at the end of last year – here – and this trumpeting in March - here.


One thing for sure, it’s another example of doublespeak: We will address climate change by burning more fossil fuels.

Our proven track record of climate leadership and our unwavering commitment to sustainable economic growth will also guide the development of B.C.’s liquefied natural gas industry. Climate change is a global issue. By exporting our abundant natural gas, B.C. will supply growing markets with the cleanest burning fossil fuel from the world’s cleanest LNG plants.

It’s certainly an example of how “sustainable” becomes a totally co-opted word when used next to “economic growth.”

Sam Sullivan’s 19th Public Salon – May 14

April 23, 2014

Sam Sullivan’s 19th Public Salon is at the Vancouver Playhouse next month: Eight remarkable people from your community have seven minutes each to challenge the way you think. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
7:30 – 9:00 pm
Vancouver Playhouse

9:00 to 10:00 pm please join the presenters for a Post-Salon Reception

Purchase Your Tickets Online
  • Omer Arbel, designer of the Olympic 2010 medals is pioneering a new relationship between designer and object.
  • Jack Austin, Former Senator and Chief of Staff of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on the next frontier.
  • Christopher Gaze, founder of Bard on the Beach makes Shakespeare relevant to the modern age.
  • Tasha Guenther turns her frightening experience with eating disorder into a greater understanding of society.
  • Shimi Kang a Harvard educated mother and author challenges the myth of the tiger mom.
  • Sarah Maitland gets disadvantaged youth excited about literacy.
  • Lauren Mote wants more people to know that Vancouver is a world centre for cocktails.
  • Ben Sparrow a young inventor is leading Vancouver into the new economy.

A Ten-Minute Contribution for Better Transportation

April 23, 2014

Don’t forget about the Moving in a Livable Region Survey.

This commuter survey will help us understand how residents in Metro Vancouver travel to and from work and community amenities, whether they are affected by traffic congestion or transit cuts, and what they want to see from their transportation system in the future.

To be statistically significant, the survey needs a broad base – which includes you.

It takes only 10 minutes.  Start here.

What I Learned: World-Class Roads for B.C.

April 23, 2014

Just back from a panel on “Innovative Design and Development for World-Class Roadways for B.C.”  (One of several cross-Canada events held by the Transportation Association of Canada to celebrate its centenary).

Some quick notes:

  • Traditional highway design is significantly about influencing driver behavior.  Those sightlines and passing lanes are designed to give you an indication of what’s up ahead so you maintain a steady driving speed.
  • I’m struck again by the likely impacts of ‘autonomous vehicle technology’ – or so-called driverless cars.  Of the four factors that influence safety – driver, road, vehicle and speed – the vehicle will now be the one that can reduce injury and fatality the most.
  • So how much should we be concentrating on the others?  Why spend billions to build bigger and safer roads when we can eliminate most of the problem by installing collision prevention technology in the cars.
  • And then, what should be government’s role in requiring that cars be effectively automated, monitored and literally taken out of the hands of the least reliable factor: the human being?  How will that play out politically?
  • It may well be that insurance companies have the real power of change. Collisions cost $5.4 billion annually just in B.C.  A single fatality is estimated at $6.1 million – and last year there were 350 of them, plus 22,000 injuries (the rate, however, is dropping).   If that can be reduced to a fraction, shouldn’t costs be reflected in insurance rates: lowest for those who have the safest technologies, with the liability transferred to those who don’t?   The speed of change to new technologies could be a function of insurance rates.
  • Smart phones will likely be used to determine circumstances (and liability) related to accidents, rather than the installation of ‘black boxes’ in cars.  (Too political.)
  • B.C. is a leader in innovative design because we have had to be: it’s a consequence of our topography.  They aren’t that responsive to wild variations in curvature and grade in Saskatchewan.  Our firms (“the two Peters”) have often pushed the boundaries: in the hinge on the north tower of the Lions Gate Bridge (don’t ask, it’s the first I’ve ever heard about that) or the length of the Alex Fraser using that particular suspension technology (longest in the world at the time).
  • There are 54,000 lane-kilometers of road in B.C.   Repaving costs $90,000 a lane-kilometer – or $4.5 billion to redo all our roads.  Ecopave, a technology developed in B.C., gets that down to $50,000.
  • The Ministry of Transportation is in discussion with the B.C. Trucking Association about a ’125-tonne’ corridor.  In other words, roads and bridges that can handle a single truck and load weighing 125 tonnes, possibly needed for LNG development.  I wonder who will be paying for that kind of upgrade.


Jane’s Walk 3: Our Transit Future, in New Westminster – May 4

April 23, 2014

Walk this historic route with members of the NWEP and GetOnBoard to hear how streetcars shaped our community.  This walk will include short talks given by walk leaders, along with opportunities for people to share their streetcar memories and ideas.


Walk The Route That Could Inspire Our Transit Future

May 4, 2014
11:00 am
Walk Leaders: Members of NWEP & GetOnBoard, Virginia Ayers, Eric Doherty, Matt Laird, Patrick Johnstone, Deni Loubert

Meeting Place: 6th Ave and 6th Street (Public Meeting Area in front of Royal City Centre Mall.)

More here.

Our Times: Last call

April 23, 2014


Pacific Central Station


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