Owning a Dog Major Health Advantage

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This article will be no surprise to  dog owners-in a study published by the journal BMC Public Health,  “dog owners on average walked 22 minutes more per day compared to people who didn’t own a dog”.  That extra 22 minutes a day puts you into the Surgeon General of the United States recommendation of 150 minutes of walking a week for fitness and to alleviate a host of diseases and depression

Researchers found that not only was there an “increase in exercise, but also the exercise was at a moderate pace”.  Walking was at 3 miles an hour  or 4.8 kilometers per hour, a kilometer faster than the average.

Prior studies have shown that moderate-intensity walking is just as effective as running in lowering the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and other conditions. And the more people walk, the more the health benefits increase, according to the American Heart Association.”

The study used fitness devices that measured speed, distance. Researchers were surprised at the additional activity of dog owners.”As dog owners know, when your hound leaps up onto your bed in the morning, you have little choice but to get up and go”. Researchers note that pet ownership is also linked to longevity and lower rates of depression and stress, suggesting one more reason  to add a dog to your household.

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Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway Searches for New Urban Green Thumbs

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Amy Logan in the Westender has written about Judy Zipursky and the remarkable Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway situated behind Tupper Secondary School close to King Edward and Fraser Streets.

The Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway located on the 400 block of East 23rd Avenue on a block of street that has been closed since the 1970’s because of on street car racing. It remained an asphalted street closed off with chains until the tragic death of Jomar Lanot, a student at the school who was swarmed and murdered by a gang of youths outside the school grounds in 2003 after playing basketball. While none of the student at Tupper Secondary were involved with the incident, it impacted them deeply. The school and neighbourhood communities wanted to do something that celebrated their place, their spirit, and hope-that is what the Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway has become.

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This project was inspired locally and the students were an integral part of the process, from the imagining, the public process, to the building and the maintenance. The garden contains a rain garden, a council circle for outside classrooms, an area for a chef’s garden for the school kitchen, places to reflect and places to chat. The benches in the greenway were built by students in the school’s woodworking class. The Lanot family have been involved in the steering and caretaking of the space, and there is a special rock in the greenway with a saying of Jomar Lanot’s ” Culture is the root of our lives and Love is the most powerful force”.

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Neighbourhood greenways are different from city-wide greenways in that they are incepted and  taken care of by neighbours and interested community members. The gardening maintenance and planting of the Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway has been managed by a remarkable master gardener, Judy Zipursky.

As Amy Logan notes: “After 34 years as an occupational therapist in the mental health field, she’s now retired, but she hasn’t stopped giving back. “As a therapist, I incorporated gardening into my programs whenever I could,” she says. “It is therapeutic on many levels to be responsible for growing a garden and seeing flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables mature. It can give one’s life a sense of hope.”

While the Tupper Neighbourhood Greenway was opened in June of 2008, it is now looking for a new set of interested gardeners and community members willing to come out and work in the garden.  Judy Zipursky has co-ordinated work in the garden every month for nine years, and the results have made this neighbourhood greenway the “best urban space in Vancouver ” according to one Price Tags urbanist.

As the article states:  “Once a deserted and underused space, the greenway has blossomed into a gently winding series of flowerbeds, herb gardens and berry patches. Over the years, students from the school’s art classes have added pottery plaques and mosaics – one class grew and tended a vegetable garden –­ and the garden has hosted festivals, plant swaps, and concerts. There’s always someone using the greenway, from a musician practising cello, to mothers visiting with each other while their children play.”

After ten years of commitment, the project is short of new gardeners and community members wanting to be  involved with the project. If you are interested, please contact Price Tags-we’d be delighted to forward your information and have you involved in the next decade of this superb urban space.

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Busy, Busy

Luke Ohlson of Brooklyn, NY has posted this video that contrasts the activity at a Citibike bike-share station with the motor vehicle storage area across the street.

It really does pointedly ask the question:  “Which is the better use of the city’s space?”

Note the replenishment of bikes that happens at around the 8 second mark of this time-lapse video, and again at the 18 second mark. Also note the inoperative bike, identifiable by its seat turned backwards. And the vast number of people travelling on foot.

A higher-res Vimeo precursor of this is dubbed “Flatiron”, and the cross street appears to be E 22nd Street.

To Bridge or Not To Bridge the Massey Tunnel?

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Ted Murphy  of the Delta Optimist ponders what is going to happen to those plans for the  George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, saying it is on “a death watch”. He also notes that  “many will be rejoicing at the prospect of the $3.5-billion undertaking not moving forward.”

I  am not sure people are “rejoicing” at the prospect of the Massey Bridge being shelved, but anything that will  impact the  sensitive river delta, the agricultural land, and was voted against by every mayor on the Mayors Council  (save one) should have a solid rethink. Are there other locations that this crossing that should be bolstered? Why do we keep throwing our hands in the air about “congestion”? Why are we not encouraging ride share incentives  and rapid transit/bus options? Why are we still not asking the Port of Vancouver to be a good corporate citizen and be part of the solution? But never mind. Back to Mr Murphy.

Should the NDP-Green coalition form a razor-thin majority, it will have the votes needed to kill the massive infrastructure project, which is most definitely the prerogative of the party – or, in this case, parties – in power. Should that happen, the obvious question is: What’s the alternative? What’s being said by opponents doesn’t offer much comfort on that front, let alone make a lot of sense.”

“One of the popular arguments is that building a bridge would just move the morning bottleneck to the Oak Street Bridge. That ignores traffic counts that show almost 60 per cent of vehicles heading northbound through the tunnel on a weekday morning will end their journey in Richmond, never making it as far as one of the three bridges across the north arm of the Fraser.”

“It also conveniently overlooks the fact the Oak Street Bridge has absolutely nothing to do with lengthy southbound lineups for the tube every afternoon. The tunnel is a bottleneck all on its own and a plan needs to be developed to address the situation.”

Why don’t we have a Port Mann tunnel, a Golden Ears tunnel or even one other tunnel in the area? Nearing its 60th birthday, the George Massey Tunnel has struggled to cope with traffic volumes for decades now…and others  (must)  come up with a plan that not only satisfies their supporters, but commuters as well.”

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Shocking Robbery

Persons unknown have purloined some of the NDP’s most treasured property — their platform.  It may be hard to fence this stuff, since almost everyone knows where it came from and who it belongs to.  Smart operators should sit on it for a while before trying to sell the material in the media marketplace.

NDP.BreakinBC NDP Leader John Horgan, who delivered a press conference the following morning, had this to say: “Last night, unknown individuals broke into the BC NDP head office and stole most of our election platform.”

Obviously distraught, Horgan explained that nothing else of value was taken, but that the theft had left him feeling gutted: “That someone could so callously steal this platform that so many of our best people worked so hard on, well, it really undermines your faith in things, you know? Who could have done this?” asked Horgan, shaking his head solemnly.

Thanks to Geekman.ca for this fast-breaking story lead.

Clues are available to those who receive electronic messages from the world around them.  Like THIS ONE (thanks to David Moscrop in Macleans.ca).

 There’s an old joke, often attributed to Groucho Marx, that I spent the better part of Thursday thinking about after British Columbia’s premier, Christy Clark, presented her doomed government’s speech from the throne. The comedian is said to have quipped: “These are my principles. And if you don’t like them, I have others.”

Ackery’s Alley — Project Update

This project will only take place if backers’ pledges keep coming in.  Funding is now at 48% of the goal ($ 17,050 Friday, June 23).

Ackerys.AlleyYou’ve got 19 days to get your support in place.

Vancouver’s street grid includes over 200+ downtown blocks bisected by laneways. By reimagining and reconfiguring these city corridors as recreational, commercial and performance spaces, we can increase the pedestrian area of downtown up to 30% and inspire new opportunities for social connections.

Plus, it just looks as cool as hell.

Turn and Turn Again. The Wheels Go ‘Round

Build it; they come; business follows; and people turn around.

Vancouver’s separated bike lanes have attracted new people in new demographics to travel by bicycle.  But now, based on members’ opinions, Vancouver’s top business association has solidified their bike lane support and used terms like “evolution” and “competitive edge” to explain their reasoning.  Perhaps other business groups (Commercial Drive — are you following this?) will take note.

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Tina Lovegreen on CBC News covers a story that regular PT readers know already.  But this tangible landmark move signals a big step.  The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), led by CEO Charles Gauthier, has partnered with Hub Cycling to the tune of $ 15,000 per year as a platinum member.

Gauthier said many employers, especially those in the tech sector, are interested in office spaces that accommodate different types of transportation, such as cycling or car sharing.

“They want those options available so it’s easy for their employees to get to work by bike or transit or to be able to walk to work,” Gauthier said.  “Parking of private vehicles is less of a top priority and building owners want to attract those employers,” he said.

“I think it provides us with a competitive edge.”

. . .   Gauthier said there might be a few retailers that won’t be pleased with the move to support cycling, but he said those businesses that rely on street parking will most likely move out and be replaced by other tenants.  That’s what happened on Hornby Street when the bike lanes were built there, said Gauthier.

Ghost Of Dominance Past

In a few places along the new and temporary Arbutus Greenway, it appears that heritage blackberries are attempting renewed dominance over the growing number of travelers there.  Really, it’s sort of spooky, given the decades of time that the railroad was abandoned and these blackberries ruled it all. And it seems they’re not giving up so easily.

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San Jose California Partners with Google on new Transit Village

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The Mercury News reports that San Jose City Council has approved to negotiate only with Google to sell 16 city-owned parcels to the search engine company. Since September 2015 Trammell Crow, Google’s development partner has spent $58.5 million US dollars for an 8.3 acre “transit village” site to potentially build 1 million square feet of offices and 325 apartments.

“This is a once-in-a-century opportunity” for San Jose, Kim Walesh, the city’s economic development director, told the council. “This is a dramatic opportunity to expand the downtown core westward.”

“The transit village would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and add thousands of tech jobs in an area where experts have estimated that up to 3,000 housing units could be built, city officials said Tuesday. “It will mean more local jobs closer to home,” Nanci Klein, the city’s assistant director of economic development, said in a presentation to the council.”

While thousands of housing units have now been built in the downtown core, it is estimated that a further 3,00 units can be built within this new area. This adds significant tax dollars for San Jose, as well as more high-tech jobs to boost the economy.

“I am supportive of Google’s interest in coming to San Jose and expect they will continue to be the great corporate citizen they have shown to be in other communities,” San Jose City Councilman Sergio Jimenez stated in a letter to the City Council. “It is my sense that Google recognizes and appreciates the impacts this project will have on our city.”

While some locals have decried Google’s choke hold on potential downtown properties in a city that is experiencing high housing demand, the Mayor of  San Jose is more upbeat: “Google is not in the business of solving the city’s problems,” the mayor said. “Google didn’t cause these problems. These are problems we have to solve.”

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Job Jar — HUB Director of Communications

Rush to this one, because it’s a great organization. Details HERE.

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Role overview:

This role leads HUB Cycling’s work to improve cycling conditions in Metro Vancouver via internal and external communications, campaign management, and marketing activities. Leveraging the power of volunteers is a key responsibility of this role, as well as providing support to our local committee volunteers, and implementing strategic action and membership campaigns. This position affects positive change and strengthens the voice for better cycling region-wide.

Surrey Light Rail, and More

Occasional PT contributor and full-time Langley City councilor Nathan Pachal writes about recently released plans for the Surrey light rail projects, and much more.  Incidentally ever-more likely to happen, too, given the increasing likelihood of referendum-free local funding.

Check out this Translink site for more detail, especially upcoming open house events (display boards HERE). The City of Surrey’s info page is HERE.

For example, the plans includes changing King George Boulevard to a tree-lined multi-modal corridor.

Today it’s a six-lane urban arterial — almost a freeway in its design and usage. The change incorporates the “complete street” approach, where those who choose their feet or a bike will have a safe, useable and pleasant place to make their trip.

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As usual, let’s all prepare for yet another round of “Carmageddon“, the consequence-free game of predicting near-complete societal collapse as a result of changes to the existing allocation of road space.

The plan’s map shows two lines, with a combined total of 19 LRT stops over 27 km of travel.

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Stepping up Walking Infrastructure to Ward Off Depression

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The New York Times writes about   three new studies on depression and regular exercise that should  impact how we build cities and how we enhance walkability for sociability and mental fitness. Reviewing the habits of over one million men and women the studies  “strongly suggest that regular exercise  alters our bodies and brains in ways that make us resistant to despair.”

While the evidence has been clear that designing cities for walking has tremendous health benefits in keeping the population mobile and fit, the evidence about the mental health benefits of walkability has been less clear. By finding several studies that collectively followed  over 1.1 million adults, the link between fitness and mental health was “considerable“. Scientists found that people with the lowest fitness levels were 75 per cent more likely to have diagnoses of depression than the fittest people. The folks in the middle fitness level  were 25 per cent more likely to have  depression diagnoses.

“The pooled results persuasively showed that exercise, especially if it is moderately strenuous, such as brisk walking or jogging, and supervised, so that people complete the entire program, has a “large and significant effect” against depression, the authors wrote. People’s mental health tended to demonstrably improve if they were physically active.”

“The three reviews together make a sturdy case for exercise as a means to bolster mental as well as physical health, said Felipe Barreto Schuch, an exercise scientist at the Centro Universitário La Salle in Canoas, Brazil, who, with Brendon Stubbs, a professor at King’s College in London, was a primary author on all of the reviews.”  

That neuroscience advice to go for  a walk or go ride a bike when overwhelmed or stressed appears to be sound. Mental health improves the more active a population is. It is a  perfect rationale  to encourage the refit and reboot of wide comfortable walkable sidewalks and connections  in cities and in suburbs, keeping citizens of all ages active and engaged.

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Fraser Valley rapid transit in 1949

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This video on YouTube captures a bit of the B.C. Electric’s interurban line that ran from New Westminster to Chilliwack between 1910 and 1952. An interesting little “what if?” film – could a network of these have limited the suburban sprawl in the Valley, or was the car culture simply too powerful, as magnetic as the Uber/share/self-driving paradigm is becoming today for some people?

Apparently passenger service on the line had become unprofitable as early as the 1920s because of the growth of car ownership. Freight, especially the transportation of milk, kept the line going, and it was an essential piece of infrastructure during the gas- and tire-rationing period of the Second World War.

Whole Foods becoming Amazon Grocery Distribution Centres?

 

In one of those decisions that will resonate for decades NPR reports that Amazon the giant of on-line retailing has bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion dollars. That’s roughly three times the original cost of the proposed Massey Bridge.

Stock prices of large retail food chains such as Costco negatively  reacted. Why? Because almost a quarter of all millennials bought food from Whole Foods last year, and Whole Foods has  “a tremendous amount of credibility around the quality of the food and the reputation they have with their customer base.”  While one of the challenges for Amazon was how to deliver fresh groceries “the last mile” having 460 Whole Foods stores in the United States, Canada and Great Britain can serve as distribution centres to solve that issue. Owning Whole Foods and using those existing facilities for delivery will be early adopter to a new way of on-line marketing of fresh food delivery through Amazon, and if successful change the retail landscape of grocery stores in cities and suburbs.

If Amazon is able to be competitive with prices and deliveries, this will also  change how grocery stores function with other uses including cooking classes and education, not just the standard retail transaction. It also means that many grocery stores will be under pressure to either offer a home delivery similar to Amazon, or change their retail model to survive. While one in ten meals served in the USA are pre-prepared and bought, grocery stores may morph into “grocerants” where the classic buy your own groceries will be increasingly coupled with restaurant use. Grocery shopping has previously been only a small component of Amazon’s sales. Buying Whole Foods could be the classic disruptor in how food is distributed, and change grocery pricing, shopping and delivery drastically.

 

 

Wilson’s Words

Well-known Vancouverite Chip Wilson has placed this at the bus stop in front of Lululemon HQ on Cornwall.

Does anyone have any idea what it means?

I’m baffled, except that it’s a subtle and convoluted something or other about smartphones and life. I do echo the green felt-tip graffiti —   “So deep!” — which seems sarcastic and befuddled too.

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If I had to guess, I’d say one of two possibilities:

  1. Insider message-joke for Lululemon people (Wilson does occasionally flash a sense of humour).
  2. Advertising campaign teaser.  It’s got the requisite ad strategy for part A: “Big problem here; soon I’ll reveal the product that solves it. Meanwhile, whirl in befuddlement and talk it up.”

And yes, I know that I’m playing into item 2. I’m just a sucker for mysterioso.

BTW, if I see the message elsewhere besides at Lululemon HQ, I’ll start leaning towards item 2.

Parking At Car-Free Day

Always a major issue for some:  where to park the car when I go to car-free day this weekend. Because, of course, there is only one and only one way to travel to such an event. And the destination city and the event organizers are morally and ethically bound to provide me with a (preferably free) place to store my vehicle when I get there, or anywhere else for that matter.  No matter where, no matter when.

HERE’s a bunch of handy tips for solving this dilemma.  Thanks to Kudos and Kvetches at the Vancouver Courier.

Introduction: This weekend, wide swaths of Main Street in Mount Pleasant and Denman Street in the West End will be closed to vehicle traffic for something called Car Free Day — also known as the Day Angry Old People Go On Facebook, Use the Phrase ‘Mayor Moonbeam’ and Complain about Bike Lanes. Just kidding, that’s everyday on Facebook.

The annual street festival that “reclaims traffic thoroughfares as community focused public spaces” has grown in popularity since it started in 2008. So much so, that it’s nearly impossible to find parking for those who choose to drive to the event in honour of not driving. It’s a real conundrum.

Sample handy tip:

Park.on.a.lawnPark on someone’s lawn.    Despite what you’ve been led to believe with your eyes and mind, lots of people actually possess lawns in Vancouver. Find those people’s lawns and park on them. They won’t mind. They probably won’t even notice. The people who are renting out the house with a lawn through Airbnb might notice but not the owners of the house with a lawn. They’re probably somewhere else that’s way cheaper and listening to Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie” on repeat. Is there any other way?