Langley City Election 2018 - October 20th

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Two years and waiting...

As this decade draws to a close, there is one wish that I have for the next one; sustainable transportation options for the South Fraser region. Back in early 2008, then Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon promised to study light rail options for the South Fraser region. This promised study changed its scope from the South Fraser to Fraser Valley Regional District by late 2008. In February 2009, South Fraser OnTrax delivered a presentation to the FVRD study group and was told the study would be ready by December. Still no word on this study and still no light rail study for the South Fraser.

We have come far in raising awareness of the lack of quality transit options in the South Fraser this decade, the ball is now in the Province's court to do something about it in the coming decade.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Citizens Conservation Councils on Climate Action Report

Around Christmas Eve, the province released a report from the Citizens’ Conservation Councils on Climate Action. The report didn’t receive much press coverage, but I wanted to highlight some of the recommendations in the report.

The council is highly supportive of the carbon tax, and recommends that is continues. It also recommends that zero/low-emission vehicles and higher-emission vehicles should be licensed under one license to promote the use of zero/low-emission vehicles in many parts of BC where higher-emission vehicles may be needed during the winter. The council recommends providing incentives to allow for home energy-saving retrofits. The Province’s LiveSmartBC had such a plan, but it has been canceled.

The council recommends that climate action plans be developed on a region-by-region bases and recommended the following for Metro Vancouver:
Reduce the convenience of single occupancy vehicle travel
Government should promote alternative transportation options beyond transit through programs such as carpool services, bike rental programs, and car co-op programs. Government can also make single vehicle occupancy less convenient by:
1) Encouraging the installation of parking meters in all commercial areas;
2) Reducing highway speed limits; and
3) Encouraging local governments to create more transit only lanes.

Develop or support incentives to encourage people to live closer to their place of employment
Government can help encourage people to live closer to their place of employment by:
1) Working with financial institutions to provide incentives such as location specific mortgages to make it easier for people to purchase housing close to their place of employment; and
2) Using fiscal incentives to encourage businesses to locate in places close to housing suitable to the average income of their staff,
3) and encourage businesses to provide financially competitive alternative transportation

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Light Rail Ottawa

We have been following the story of what was once called the BRT capital of North America; Ottawa's change to light rail technology. This started in 2001 with an 8km diesel light rail line. This pilot project was a huge success and because of that the City of Ottawa is now committed to light rail.

Over the last year, they finalized their new $2.1 billion light rail plan which includes: 12.5 km of new electrified light rail and a 3.2 km long twin tunnels under the city’s downtown core.
“The flexibility of the LRT system is a good fit for Ottawa’s transit needs in and outside the core,” said Transit Committee Chair Councillor Alex Cullen. “LRT can achieve the high capacities needed on grade-separated track and provide service outside the core by operating at-grade with vehicular and pedestrian traffic."
On December 18th, the Province of Ontario committed $600 million to the project and according to the CBC, it appear the federal government will be matching that:
Ottawa's light rail project could receive a funding commitment from the federal government early in 2010, says federal transport minister John Baird.

Baird said Wednesday there is already hundreds of millions available for the project, but he and other Ottawa-area MPs will "go to bat" to get more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Separated Bike Lane in Victoria

I am in Victoria today enjoying the holidays, but I thought I would post some pictures. One of the things that I am a big supporter of is separated bike lanes. In Victoria, they have an extensive network of separated bike lanes and paths. I happen to be staying at a friend's house who lives right next to one of these lanes. Wouldn’t it be great to see something like this in the South Fraser?




Interesting to people in Langley is that horses also use the lane and as you can tell, they don’t clean up after. Apparently, this is an on going problem.

This can be a hazard for cyclists and I believe that is one of the issues that will need to be worked out as Langley builds its trail and bike network.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Holidays

Hi,

I will be taking a bit of a break from blogging for the next few weeks due to Christmas Holidays. I will continue to post up information during that time, mostly focusing on our upcoming Sustainability on the Edge Forum.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quick Update on Sustainability Forum II

Great news! We have confirmed the last two speakers for our Sustainability on the Edge Forum. TransLink will be delivering a presentation on Transit Oriented Development, along with Gordon Price, the Director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University. They will also be sitting on a panel for Q&A time after their presentation, together with keynote speaker Councilor Carlotta Collette from Metro Portland, and Township of Langley Staff. It is not everyday that an event like this comes together. I am very excited for January 12th.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick Update on Sustainability Forum

I hope everyone had a good weekend and is enjoying the snow. I thought I would give you a quick update on our January sustainability forum. We have confirmed that we will have special keynote speaker Councilor Carlotta Collette from Metro Portland. She will be speaking one “sustainability on the edge” in Portland and what successes and challenges Metro Portland has had in making their edge communities sustainable. You can read more about her on Metro’s website. We will also have staff from the Township of Langley on hand to answer any questions on sustainability in Langley, and have confirmed Councillor Jordan Bateman as the moderator for the event. We are also working on getting two other greater speakers for the forum, and I will post who once it is confirmed.

In the meantime, you should mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 12th starting at 7pm at the Township of Langley Hall. It is not very often an event like this happens in Langley.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More fun with the ALC

As you may be aware, I have spent the better part of the year trying to get statistics and copies of Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) decision from the last 10 years. As I blogged about in August, the ALC wants a large sum of money to produce this information. I wrote them back outlining that this information should be freely public under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Ac (FIPPA), just like every other government body. Anyway, they wrote back and told me that they would not waive the fee, but that I could go down to the ALC offices and look at the decisions. If I want a copy of the decisions, I am to let them know at that time. They will then adjust the fee based on the documents that I request. I have been trying for the last three weeks to contact someone at the ALC, but I have been hitting a brick wall. At the same time, I’ve launch an official complaint with the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia as I believe charging a fee for this kind of information inappropriate under section 75 of the FIPPA….

The drama continues…

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Picture of the Day


This is looking at Guildford Town Centre from the roof of the Sheraton Hotel (I took this last week.) Doesn't this just scream urban retrofit!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life Exists Beyond the Bridge

Did you ever notices that people that live on the “other side of the bridge” rarely venture over to the South Fraser? I have family that refuses to visit me because I live in Langley, which to them could be Kamloops, Kelowna, or Calgary. Of course, I’m expected to visit them regularly in Vancouver. The same can be said of people that used to live in the South Fraser. I have a few friends that used to live out this way and ever since moving to Vancouver, refuse to come out this way. It almost seems like there is something in the air that prevents people from seeing that there is more to this region than just the Burrard Peninsula. I’ve been reading Douglas Coupland’s City of Glass (a great book BTW), and I think this map from the book speaks volumes.


People either think that the South Fraser is only single family housing or farms (I do like the farms.) What is really scary is that I’ve talked to some people that are making the plans for our region that have only seen the South of Fraser on a map. I took one of these types on a tour once, and he was surprised that we had complete communities like Downtown Langley or that there was mixed use in Walnut Grove. I think that this is real reason why we have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to transit funding. People have no idea what is out here. Maybe the local governments in the South of Fraser should invest in a campaign to let people in “Metro Vancouver” know that there is indeed a civilization of 500,000+ people out here… Maybe then, we will get the transit we deserve.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TOD in Willowbrook?

As reported on Langley Politics, I want to highlight a presentation by Aplin & Martin Consulting, on behalf of Berezan Management, on Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in Willowbrook. Joe Zaccaria, co-founder of SFOT, was at last night’s Township of Langley Council meet and saw the presentation. He was very excited about the possibility of this kind of development in Langley. This kind of development would further add to already strong case that rapid transit be brought into Langley. Also, this kind of development would allow us to try things out like a central heating district which would help reduce GHG emissions. If it was successful in Willowbrook, it could be rolled out to other areas in Langley. Getting TOD development is key to the sustainability of Langley and SFOT fully supports this kind of development.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cycling Update in Langley

Due to the recent creation of the Langley Area Cycling Coalition, some of us have been heading to the Langley Municipal Halls to hear about what our local governments are doing to improve cycling. While many of the details are being worked on, one item will be required: funding. Funding will be the key to improving cycling in our area. While finding funding can be challenging at times, we are lucky that cycling infrastructure is something that our local governments have direct control over. Because of that, I’m very positive that we will see better cycling in Langley.

Today we had a meeting with staff at the Township of Langley. There are a few things that I took away from that meeting. You would think that improving cycling in older neighborhoods like Brookswood and Aldergrove would be a major expense. Thought as both these neighborhoods are older, they are likely to be redeveloped over the next 20 -30 years. As redevelopment occurs, cycling infrastructure can be improved as part of the redevelopment process with something call DCCs (Developer Cost Charges). It turns out that the most costly areas to improve will be Walnut Grove and Murrayville. These areas were build out starting in the 1990’s and will not redeveloped for a long time. You basically have to retrofit cycling into these neighborhoods which has an expense.

Also interesting is that the new 202nd Street underpass for the new Langley Park and Ride will including cycling lanes and bike parking at the Park and Ride lot. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Next Langley Area Cycling Coalition Meeting

The newly formed Langley Area Cycling Coalition requests your support and involvement to create a network of cycling trails and routes throughout the Langleys. If you would like to learn more about this exciting project, please attend their upcoming meeting to share your ideas and visions with other like-mined cyclists. Working together, we can make cycling in the Langleys safer, convenient, and more enjoyable. Contact Richard or Dan at thelangleys@vacc.bc.ca for more information. Hope to see you there!

Details:
Tuesday, December 8th starting at 7pm
WC Blair Recreation Centre
22200 Fraser Highway

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quick Update

One of the good things about TransLink is that it is a regional transportation authority. Basically it allows us to have an easy to use, consistent system. It also helps because we can plan and provide transportation from a regional perspective which is very important. Traveling in many places in the US, I can see how confusing and inefficient multiply agencies serving the same region can be. Anyway, I found this interesting article about Detroit and how that region is looking at creating a regional transit agency.
President Barack Obama has made it clear: Regions that don’t cooperate will lose federal aid. So it’s important for the city of Detroit to join Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties now in pushing a plan to create a regional transit authority. Without it, the city and region will be in no spot to compete for federal funds in the next six-year transportation bill. Protect what we have? Bump that. Let’s go out and get something bigger and better.
In other news, it looks like Surrey will be bus shelter-free this winter.
Two hundred and sixty bus shelters in this city have been removed to make way for new ones. But the plan has some people wondering what transit riders are to do during the wettest and coldest days of the year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Steel Bridge


This has to be one of the coolest bridges on the West Coast. It is the Steel Bridge that crosses the Willamette River in Portland, OR. There are a few reasons why this bridge is so amazing.

First, it was built in 1912 in is still heavily used today. Unlike our 100+-year-old New Westminster Rail Bridge, this structure is double-tracked and does not have the deadly corners like our rail bridge. Secondly, this bridge is a amazing example of how private and public interests can work together. The bridge is owned by Union Pacific Railroad, with the lower deck reserved for heavy rail. There is also a multiuse path on the lower deck that is a key link for Portland's active transportation network. The top deck is leased to the Oregon Department of Transportation, who in turn sub-leases a part to TriMet. What this mean is that the bridge is used by Portland's light rail system, road network, cycle network, and pedestrian network. It is a true multi-modal wonder! Also, the lower deck can be lifted independent of the upper deck. I wonder why we have never seen anything like this in BC?

Monday, November 30, 2009

More Proof that SkyTrain is a Waste of Money

A report called “A Cost Comparison of Transportation Modes” has been making the rounds on listservs and blogs, so I thought I would talk about it as well. This is a report from Professor Patrick M. Condon and Kari Dow from the Sustainability by Design program at UBC.

Condon and Dow looks at the total costs of transportation modes. I encourage you to read the whole report, but I wanted to post this telling tabling. One of the thing that we are told is that while SkyTrain costs double or more to build than light rail, you get major saving in the operating costs. This savings is suppose to offset the capital costs. This apparently is not true according to Condon and Dow. SkyTrain costs $2.66 per passenger-mile; light rail is $1.68 per passenger-mile.

Click Table to Enlarge

Also telling is that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) cost more to build and operate than light rail! So, why are we building BRT and SkyTrain? It doesn’t make sense… I hope someone from the Ministry of Transportation sees this report.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Where we Shine in BC

This is the last post of my mini-series on the Statistics Canada report, "From Roads to Rinks: Government Spending on Infrastructure in Canada, 1961 to 2005". BC is the leader when it comes to government-owned capital as it relates to the environment. BC is also numbers two in recycling, just behind Nova Scotia. Local Government own 80% of environmental assets.

Some facts about Metro Vancouver.

-Metro Vancouver is spending close to $1 billion dollars to improve water quality with the Seymour-Capilano filtration project.

-Metro Vancouver is removing combined sewers in the region to eliminate raw sewage from overflowing into our rivers.

-Metro Vancouver has completed work on improving the efficiency of our wastewater treatment plants

-Metro Vancouver has a waste diversion rate of 55 percent that is far higher than most Canadian municipalities.

Anyway, I think we can be a little proud in BC on what we have done and continue to do on this front. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What is Wrong with this Picture

As I was waiting for the bus today, I noticed the owner of this truck try to park this thing in the "small car" spot. It took him three times to get his truck over the curb in order to "park" it... Really fella, is this truck even remotely near a small car in size?



I snapped the following picture by my work in downtown Vancouver. This is what is left of the Pantages Theatre on Hasting Street. This theatre was built in 1907 and is the oldest remaining vaudeville theatre in Canada. You can read more about the theatre on the History of Vancouver website. There was a plan to restore this theatre in 2008, but the City of Vancouver turned the proposal down. It appears now that the theatre will be torn down due to recent water damage. It is the Heritage Vancouver Society's number one endanger site.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Road and Other Infrastructure in Canada

This is part two of a multi-part series on a report from Statistics Canada Report titled, "From Roads to Rinks: Government Spending on Infrastructure in Canada, 1961 to 2005". Today I want to focus on transportation infrastructure spending. One of the thing that you constantly hear is that BC has underinvested in road for so long that we have to play “catch up”. Looking at the information from this report, it would appear that this is not as dire as people say. In fact since 1961, BC has seen an average annual grow of 2.3% for road infrastructure; the highest rate in Canada. Looking at the following graph, we can see that BC largest per capita infrastructure boom was between about 1985 and 1992.

That was during the time of the Alex Fraser Bridge, Highway 91, Coquihalla, Okanagan Connector era. Between 1992 and 2005, road infrastructure spending was reduced throughout all of Canada, but we had more road infrastructure than Ontario and Quebec until 2002. If we look at absolute dollars in the following table, we can see that BC has kept pace with the rest of Canada and is number 3 in road infrastructure after Ontario and Quebec.


What is more interesting to look at is something called “Other transportation” in this report; this includes railway tracks and passenger terminals. Between 1961 and 2005, we saw a -1.0% loss of value in this kind of infrastructure in Canada and -1.6% in BC. This is the only area nation-wide that has seen negative growth at the provincial level (p.24), with local government trying to make up the difference. Again, TransLink in Vancouver and the TTC in Toronto are the perfect example. The TTC lost its provincial funding in the 1990’s, and has been in financial trouble ever since.

So looking at areas to improve, we can see that road spending has seen growth in absolute terms, but it would appear that other transportation has been sliding. Looking at these numbers and the environment, it would appear that we really need to play “catch up” more so with public transit and other transportation infrastructure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Government Downloading

I came across a great report from the Statistics Canada website called, “From Roads to Rinks: Government Spending on Infrastructure in Canada, 1961 to 2005”. Over the next little while I wanted to highlight some of the interesting facts.

Click to Enlarge

The first fact is that over the last 45, provinces have downloaded responsibility to provide services and infrastructure without providing proper funding to local municipalities. We can see this with TransLink in Vancouver or the TTC in Toronto. The problems of downloading are very apparent. Both TransLink and the TTC, for example, have faced funding shortages ever since they were turned over to local control. Now I don’t have a problem with local control, in fact I support it, but higher orders of government have a responsibility to insure that there is proper funding in place when they download a service. The BC Community Charter that was passed a few years ago is meant to protect local governments from downloading without funding.

Up until the recent economic downturn, both the federal and provincial governments had record surpluses while local governments continued to raise taxes. Now there is only one taxpayer, but the burden is lighter when you have 4 million people paying for a project instead of 30,000.

Departing CEO of TransLink says Light Rail, not SkyTrain, is the future…

From the Langley Times:
"There's really no impediment," Prendergast responded. "It's overcoming the cultural embracement of SkyTrain that has existed to date."

He said TransLink is seeking to cut through the pro-SkyTrain "cultural bias" as it embarks on a careful examination of rapid transit technologies for line extensions west along Broadway and south of the Fraser.

At-grade light rail typically can't carry as many people or run as fast as grade-separated SkyTrain, but it's much cheaper and advocates say many more lines could be quickly built for the same budget, particularly in sparsely populated areas.

Prendergast predicted the first light rail line that comes to the Lower Mainland will lead to much greater appreciation of its potential.
So there you have it, it would appear that SkyTrain is something that the Province has been forcing onto our region for the last 30 years... I know this is old news, but there is a reason no other city in North America is expanding SkyTrain. It doesn't make business sense.

Monday, November 23, 2009

History of the Interurban

Henry Ewert

About 40 people came out to hear Henry Ewert’s presentation, “When Interurban Travel Dominated the Fraser Valley.” Henry took us on an hour-long photo journey of the Interurban line. If you want more information on the Interurban, I would suggest that you check out our website. Interesting to note was that the line was the longest of its kind in Canada. Also, the Interurban cars had washrooms and water coolers. Talk about luxury! In 1950, the Interurban system was ripped up and cars burned underneath the Burrard Bridge on the promise that local municipal would get $40,000 each for improved roads, and improved transit service with buses. 60 years later, and we are still waiting for improved transit service. In 1910 it took 1 hour and 30 minutes to get from Downtown Vancouver to Langley City. Almost 100 years in 2009, it takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to two hours to get into Downtown Vancouver on transit… What’s wrong with this picture? People in the 1950’s were sold a bill of goods that we are still paying for today.

Anyway, you can download the presentation notes for our document archive.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hear and See the History of the Interurban Tomorrow

Author and historian Henry Ewert will be lecturing on the history of the Interurban Line and will also be showing an extensive collection of photos chronicling the history of the line tomorrow afternoon.

Details:
Saturday, November 21 from 1pm-3pm
Douglas Recreation Centre
20550 Douglas Crescent, Langley

Big Frakking Parking Lot

If you missed the news yesterday, Langley is getting a $54.6 million, 1000 spot park and ride lot. It’s actually more than that:
Eastbound access from Highway 1 to the Park and Ride and Transit Exchange will be created, with underpass access on and off Highway 1 connecting to HOV lanes being extended as part of the Port Mann Bridge/Highway 1 project.
202nd Street will be extended to cross under Highway 1 and will permit Transit and

HOV vehicles access to Highway 1. This will also provide a new north/south transit connection from 200th St. to the Golden Ears Bridge. The Park and Ride will have room for approximately 1,000 vehicles.
This is welcome news for sure, and I’ve seen how successful park and ride lots can be in suburban areas (park and ride lots are very successful in Calgary), but Langley has bigger plans; it wants to be a truly urban, transit-friendly centre. For that to happen, we need to do two things to RapidBus to support this goal while we wait for light rail. First, the new Highway One RapidBus does not go down 200th Street into Langley City or into the depths of Walnut Grove. Transit service runs every 30mins down 200th and every hour in Walnut Grove today. We know that transit needs to run every 15 minutes or better for people to use it, so RapidBus needs to go down 200th Street and into Walnut Grove. Maybe we need two difference lines? Secondly, 80% of all trip in the South of the Fraser stay in the South of the Fraser. RapidBus goes along Highway One, which bypasses most of the urban areas in the South of the Fraser. Unless there is major chance to transit service, only the 388, 501/590, 595, and two community shuttle buses will tie into the RapidBus line on the south side of the river. All these buses run every 30mins of worse. Something will have to change unless this service is solely for people like me who commute into downtown Vancouver.

Anyway, it is great to see transit investment in Langley and I’m very happy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ottawa Approves Light Rail Trains

In a blow to Bus Rapid Transit and metro-style technology (like our SkyTrain), the City of Ottawa's transit committee has approved light rail trains. According to the Ottawa Citizen:

The city had also looked at metro-style rail technology, which is used in cities such as Montreal and Toronto.

However, those trains have higher floors that are difficult for some passengers to climb onto because a lot of the mechanics are under the train cars.

The heavier trains would also require expensive grade separation of the corridor and fencing off of the corridor in areas such as the Ottawa River Parkway.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

GHG Emissions from 1990 to 2006 in Canada

I came across a very interesting report from Environment Canada called “Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions: understating the trends, 1990-2006.” The report is based on data from Statistics Canada in March 2008. I was pleasantly surprised to find that GHG emissions have seemed to peak in 2003, and we are starting to see a downward trend. Though as you can see from the following charts, we still have a long ways to go to get our GHG emissions under control.


Click Chart to Enlarge

Click Chart to Enlarge

We are 22% over 1990 GHG emission levels. Looking at the previous chart, you can see that our industrial processes are become more efficient which is a good thing, but there has been a large increase in GHG emission due to road transportation. If you look at the total absolute level of GHG emission fossil fuel industries are responsible for a full 49% of GHG emission increases, transportation 29%, and electricity at 17%. Alberta is responsible for 49% of GHG emission increases, following by Saskatchewan at 22%, Ontario at 13%, and BC at 10%. All other provinces account for 3% of all increases since 1990.

A full 15% of GHG emission increases are from passenger (not goods movement) transportation in Canada, building walkable transit-friendly communities with good public transit will help reduce GHG emission from transportation. As of last year, BC had one of the most progressive GHG reduction strategies in Canada. Sometimes I have to wonder how we are going to meet our goals.

Looking at the South of Fraser, we are building the South Fraser Perimeter Road, expanding Highway One, completed construction on the Golden Ears Bridge, Highway 10, Highway 15, and Fraser Highway. What major transit projects have we completed in that same time period in the South Fraser? Nothing...

Another area that BC will have to reconcile is GHG emissions and our Oil and Gas sector. The Province wants to expand this sector in a big way, but how it will reduce GHG emission at the same time? I don’t know. Alberta is responsible for almost half of Canada’s GHG emission increases since 1990 in large part from their Oil and Gas sector. How BC will be different than Alberta?

Finally in BC, 11% of GHG emissions are from residential and commercial building. You can read about BC’s Green Building Code at the government’s website which should help in a big way.

We are lucky to have hydroelectric generation in BC. GHG emissions from electrical generation account 2% of BC’s total. We must stay proactive in to ensure that we have "green" electrical generation for the future.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Liveability and the Township

Last night, Township of Langley Council heard from Urban Development Institute about development in the Township. One of the items brought up was that it can cost double to develop in the Township as opposed to other neighbouring municipalities. They identified that it is because the Township requires developer to pay for things like trails, bike lanes, parks, and amenities. They suggested that the Township reduce these developments costs. I actually think it’s a good idea that the Township maintains its development policy; charging higher fees to provide a better urban fabric. Also, Urban Development Institute noted the disconnection between transportation planning and Metro Vancouver’s regional plan. On that note, Township Council approved a report from Township Staff on Metro Vancouver’s updated Liveability Region Strategy. Since I last blogged about this topic, the latest draft of the plan designates the Carvolth area (200th and the Freeway) as industrial and mixed employment center. The Township would like to see the following and I would strong encourage Metro Vancouver to allow this:
The significant potential of the Township’s Carvolth area, which is strategically located around the 200 Street/Highway #1 Interchange, must be recognized in the regional plan. With the completion of the Golden Ears Bridge and TranLink’s plan to develop a major bus exchange and park and ride in the area, Carvolth is set to become a major centre for mixed use and transit-oriented development. It will offer residential, commercial, and office uses, and provide opportunities for different types of employment.
The Township still has some issues with the proposed Urban Containment Boundaries, Future Growth in Fernridge, and Sewer Servicing which you can read about on their website.

One of the major issues that needs to be addressed is the disconnect between our region’s growth plans and transportation plans. It is completely obvious that it is hard to build a mixed-use, transit friendly neighbourhood without transit, yet this is what we are being told to do currently. Maybe as part of TransLink 3.0, there should be a requirement to build transit service with mixed-use, transit friendly community as identified by our region…

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 10th 2009 SFOT Meeting with Port Metro Vancouver

As promised, though I had to journey from Langley City to Fort Langley to Walnut Grove to get a CD, I have uploaded the audio from our meeting last week with Peter Xotta from Port Metro Vancouver. You can download the audio and read the post about the meeting. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

News Roundup

First we go for Quebec. In Montreal, they are spending $1.5 billion to reconstruct the Turcot Freeway Interchange. According to the CBC, "A report from Quebec's environmental board that slams renovation plans for a busy Montreal highway interchange doesn't offer enough suggestions to better promote 'mass transit,' the city says."
"At the very least, the Turcot project should be done to deal with mass transit and to deal with the whole question of how we can get people to convert from their cars into other means of transportation," DeSouza told CBC News on Thursday
Meanwhile in Calgary, it look like transit service will be cut according to the Calgary Herald.
After rapidly expanding service to meet a booming city's needs and encourage people to drive less, Calgary Transit is cutting back several routes in the city's hard-times budget for 2010.

"From a percentage point of view, it's not very big," Ald. Brian Pincott said.

"We've got to make sure we're providing service that allows regular Calgarians to get to work, especially in these times, and I want to make sure we're not harming that."

Back at home, the Vancouver Sun is demanding that the Province step up and fund transit properly in Metro Vancouver.
The management structure of TransLink does need fixing, as the comptroller-general suggests. We need a system that won't get so bogged down in regional squabbling over priorities. We may also be able to reduce administration costs. But those changes alone won't address the major challenge facing TransLink, the need for more general revenue.

That means looking for funding from senior levels of government. If that's not forthcoming, it means looking at some measures that won't be popular -- raising fares, higher fuel taxes, more tolls or congestion levies. One surprising finding in the comptroller-general's report is that the transit portion of property and utility taxes collected in Vancouver is the lowest of any of Canada's major cities.
Finally in the Toronto Star "Making a case for toll roads":
Should we put tolls on existing roads in the Greater Toronto Area?

The case for tolls, or "congestion charges," was strengthened this week by a report from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report makes a compelling argument for tolls as an effective tool for regulating traffic congestion, cutting air pollution and funding public transit.

According to the OECD, tolls elsewhere have successfully reduced congestion – by levels ranging up to 22 per cent in Stockholm – and also cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SFOT Meeting with Port of Vancouver

We had a great meeting on Tuesday evening with Peter Xotta from Port Metro Vancouver. Peter is the Vice President of Planning and Development for the Port. I would encourage you to download the audio from our meeting, but I want to highlight some of the information I learned.

Nathan Pachal, Councillor Grant Ward, Bill Taylor, Peter Xotta

One of the larger changes happening at the Port is the way that they interact with the community. As a federal organization, the Port has the ability to ignore municipal zoning and not pay property taxes. The Port does pay something called a PILT (Payment in Lieu of Tax) amounting to $6 million annually to municipalities in which the Port owns property. Though the Port has the ability to ignore the community in which it operates, the Port is now starting to consult with communities; realizing the importance of partnering with, and listening to the concerns of, our region. To that end they are making a real effort to reach out. The Port is working on something called PMV 2050 which is their long range master plan for the Port and our region. They are also working on plans to improve air quality, deal with truck traffic, noise, and reduce their environmental footprint. I was told that by 2011 their long term plan should be complete. Some of the exciting sustainability initiatives that have happened recently are the addition of shore power for cruise ships to reduce GHG emissions when they are in port. Also, the Port has a tiered fee system for ships that use the port facilities. Ships that use cleaner fuel, pay lower fees. Right now about 30 to 35% of the ships are paying the lower dues, so there is lots of room for this program to grow. Also, the Port is taking a serious look at short sea shipping (running ships up the Fraser River) and rail shuttling to reduce truck traffic.

On the topic of Rail, the Port sees rail as very important for the future sustainability of commercial trade. As part of their new model of working together with all levels of government, the Port (with other organizations) has been working to improve rail in the region, the Roberts Bank Corridor Project being one example. The Robert Bank Corridor has been a bit controversial in Langley as many people would like to see the trains gone from Langley. I asked why trains couldn’t be diverted away from Langley. I was told that there would not be enough capacity on other rail lines to do this. It would trigger massive, costly expansion on the other lines. I was told that for at least the next 25 years, there will not be any double-tracking of the rail line going through Langley. One of the Port’s major priorities that it would like to see addressed is a plan for replacing the over-100-year-old New Westminster Rail Bridge. The bridge is owned by the Government of Canada and the Port estimates that it would cost $300 million to replace. The new bridge would allow for both freight and passenger rail operations. There was recent talk about making the new Pattullo Bridge a joint rail/road bridge. It has been decided that the bridge will not be a joint structure due to liability issues and construction costs.

I asked about many of the environmental concerns raised by many in the community like the Pacific Flyway. I was told that the Port takes this issue seriously, and I’m hoping to get some more information about the mitigation measures they are taking. Another interesting thing that the Port is looking into is using the material from river dredging to create new land, possibly for ALR use.

It was really great to hear about the Port from Peter and really how important it is in Metro Vancouver. Did you know that the Port accounts for 40% of all port traffic in Canada? That makes it pretty important for our nation. Also, the Port receives $0 funding from government. While the Port definitely has positive externalities for our region, it will be interesting to see how they address the negative externalities in the coming years. I am looking forward to their 2050 long-range plan. Peter said that with all the infrastructure being added and expanded in the region, we will not even recognize it in the next 5 years. If we manage the new infrastructure properly, we will have a system that will work well into the future, but I fear we may not, and may even lose our region’s livability in the process.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meeting Tonight

We will be hearing from Peter Xotta, Vice President of Planning and Development for the Port of Vancouver. He will be speaking on sustainable at the port and sustainable goods movement tonight.

Details:
Date: November 10th, 2009
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Township of Langley Municipal Facility
4th Floor, Yorkson Creek Meeting Room
20338 – 65 Avenue, Langley

See you there!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Comptroller General Report, Again

I was looking at the Comptroller General’s report again and found it amusing that the cover page has a picture of Surrey Central Station from back in the BC Transit days. Is it a sign of things to come?


I wanted to follow up on my previous post about the report with a few more insights. First off, since the Province has been actively involved in transit planning since the inception of TransLink, it is probably a good idea for them to be at the table. The original TransLink was supposed to have representation from the Province. The issue was that no one from the Province would show up.

The other major issue is still funding and TransLink’s debt. The Comptroller notes:
Public transportation systems typically require some form of ongoing financial support in addition to fares. TransLinks current rate for fare box recovery to cost is 55%. That is, just over half the costs of operating a transit vehicle are recovered at the fare box, on average. The other 45% of the cost needs to be funded from sources other than fares.

TransLink’s financial situation is further stressed because some of the new infrastructure is expected to cost more than the revenues it will generate. For example, the cost of operating the Canada Line (net of bus fleet operating efficiencies) is expected to exceed the additional system revenue it generates until 2025…
The comptroller notes that the largest source of debt are from expand service in “lower ridership, geographically sparse areas.” (aka: South Fraser). She goes on to state that “actions should have been taken to contain rising costs through service rationalizations and other means to mitigate or prevent the known structural deficit that was being predicted.” Basically, don’t improve transit in the South Fraser.

Reading this report, it would seem like the major issue with transit in Metro Vancouver is the lack of proper funding. I think the Province has a choice to make. Will they work with the mayors to find new funding for TransLink to improve service in areas like the South Fraser, or lock us into a future of single modal dependency (driving)? I know that the current government likes using the words “balanced transportation”. Well unless transit is improved in the South Fraser, we will never see a balanced transportation system in the South Fraser. In fact with a 58% of all trip in Vancouver and 87% of all trips in the South of Fraser by auto, we are not balanced at all...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

IBM, Congestion Pricing, and Stockholm

Here is a great ad about congestion pricing in Stockholm... Makes me feel warm and fuzzy...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Goodbye TransLink 2.0, Welcome TransLink 1.0 SP 1

Starting with the Province’s restructuring of TransLink back in 2007 to Tom Prendergast leaving the organization yesterday, it has certainly been an exciting few years for public transit in Metro Vancouver. I will be the first to admit that I was apprehensive about the arms-length structure that Kevin Falcon introduced to TransLink, but I have to say that it has really shed light on how transportation planning is done in our region. In theory, TransLink is able to take our region’s plans and deliver transit service to meet those goals. TransLink is free to choose the technology, routing, and service level to meet regional objectives without politics getting in the way.

Under the helm of Prendergast, TransLink embarked on a massive public consultation process that confirmed people want better public transit. With public consultation out of the way, they developed a funding plan that including options such as road pricing. Very progressive stuff. Added to that, they even got our mayors talking about, and evening supporting the notion of, new funding sourcing like road pricing.

If TransLink was truly the regional transportation authority on the South Coast, we would now have a fullly-funded transit plan and a sustainable future within our reach. It would have been good news for people living in the South Fraser; we would have seen massive improvement in transit service. Of course, we all know who the real transportation authority is. Sure TransLink can play with its toy buses, but when it comes to the big stuff like planning our transportation future, it’s the Ministry of Transportation that’s calling the shots. The Province’s transit plan is one of many example of how the region comes up with a plan, only to have the Province veto it. I remember a TransLink planner telling me that they are constantly changing their plans to be in line with the Province’s wishes. If the Province want to control TransLink, why not change the governance model again?

This just in... BC Comptroller General Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland's report released today recommends that the Province rename the Mayors' Council to "Transit Authority", and give the Province 20% say in all matters of the new Transit Authority. Wenezenki-Yolland recommends giving the Transit Authority more power including the ability to appoint and remove TransLink board members, and provide oversight. Also recommended was clarifying the role of the Province as it relates to transit.
We recommend the province review, clarify and update the legislation to reflect fully its intentions and objectives for the TransLink governance model (including clear articulation of regional transportation priorities) and clarify in legislation the roles and responsibilities.
Province at the table - check
Mayor at the table - check
Politicians controlling TransLink - check

It seems like we've gone full circle with transit in Metro Vancouver... Have a great weekend!

PS: One of the interesting items from the report was the notions that TransLink could implement a vehicle levy, but only after "TransLink [can] fully demonstrate that cost containment strategies are in place and existing revenue streams are maximized before exploring alternative sources of revenue. The province could consider raising the existing limits in the revenue streams currently available to TransLink in order to maintain the guiding principle of balance between the types of revenue streams (1/3 from existing vehicle related taxes, 1/3 property taxes, 1/3 other revenues such as fares, advertising, land, etc)."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tom Prendergast Leaves TransLink

Well, it has been confirmed that Prendergast has left TransLink. There is a news release on the TransLink website:
Board Chair Dale Parker announced today that TransLink President Tom Prendergast will leave the organization to take the helm of North America’s largest subway and bus system, New York City Transit Authority.
According to the Surrey Leader, the Province's meddling in TransLink may have been one of the reasons he left.
Asked if [Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts] believes the conflict between the region and the provincial government over the future of TransLink was a factor, Watts said: "Tom, with the knowledge he had of transportation and the calibre of the work he brought to the table, I feel he probably wasn't fully appreciated by some."

SFU City Program director Gordon Price says the funding standoff with Victoria and now Prendergast's departure signals a "tragic" turning point for the region.

"As of this moment, our future is going to be auto-dependent," Price said. "The truckers have won."

He said he has no hope the province will now seriously come to the table.

Rumour: TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast is heading back to New York City

This has just shown up on Langley Politics Dotcom.
NEWS FLASH: Rumours swirl this morning that TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast is heading back to New York City to run the NYC transit authority. Still unconfirmed at this point, but I trust my source...
Has Prendergast had to much of the TransLink/Province melodrama? Stay tuned...

Light Rail Update Ottawa

Once Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) capital of North America, Ottawa has decided to rip out its BRT network in favour of “off-the-shelf” light rail technology. From the Ottawa Citizen:
Light-rail electric trains powered by overhead wires are being recommended as the best technology for Ottawa’s new public transit system.

The technology choice, to be confirmed by councillors Nov. 18, sets the stage for more detailed planning and negotiations for the transit project, which sees: a downtown tunnel; the bus transitway converted to rail from Blair Station to Tunney’s Pasture; rail extended eventually to Baseline Station, as well as to the south; and expansions of the bus system in suburban areas.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big Event - Henry Ewert

Many of you know Henry Ewert from his definitive book on the history of the Interurban, “The Story of the B.C. Electric Railway Company.” South Fraser OnTrax, with the help of a grant from the City of Langley, presents “When Interurban Travel Dominated the Fraser Valley.” Henry will be lecturing on the history of the Interurban Line and will also be showing an extensive collection of photos chronicling the history of the line. Hear about the Flood of 1948 and many other exciting bits of history. I had the chance to hear Henry speak about 3 years ago, and I would recommend that anyone interested in the Interurban and/or the history of the Fraser Valley attend.

He will be speaking at the Douglas Recreation Centre (20550 Douglas Crescent) on Saturday, November 21 starting at 1pm.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rolling Stops and Bridges

I came across an interesting video about rolling stops and cycling. The video talks about Idaho's laws for bicycles as it relates to stop signs. Recognizing the uniqueness of the bike, cyclist can treat stop signs as yield signs in Idaho. Here is a great video on that topic.

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

In other news, the Burrard Bridge Bike Lane Project has been well received. Many motorists predicted doom-and-gloom which never happened. This just proves that traffic is like a gas, it will fill whatever spare is provided. Also to prove that point, cycling is up 25% on the bridge. Check out the City of Vancouver's website for lots of interesting statistics on the bridge. I think the project was also successful because of the information campaign letting people know that there was going to be chances on the bridge.

Monday, November 2, 2009

An Integrated System is Better for Everyone

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a lecture by the New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. One of the thing that she loved about Metro Vancouver was our integrated transportation system; the fact that TransLink operates (in theory) all regional transportation systems. She called our tickets the "Willy Wonka Golden Ticket", and was impressed that one ticket could get you on SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express, and buses in the whole region. In many parts of the US and Canada, this is not the case. In places like Toronto or Montreal you might need to have tickets from up to three transportation organizations to travel throughout the respective regions. In the US, it’s much worse. The Seattle area has 6 transit agencies which includes the regional agency, Sound Transit. To get a monthly you need to almost be a math genius, they have 16 types of adult monthly passes. The San Francisco Bay Area has more transit agencies than I have fingers, included two regional authorities, all with different fare structures. When I visited the Bay Area this year, I had to use tickets from 4 difference transit agencies to get around.

In Metro Vancouver, we take the unlimited ride monthly pass for granted. You can get anywhere in the region with a three zone pass or ticket. It wasn’t until 1998 that New York City introduced an unlimited ride pass. They saw a surge in ridership. While many regions as now rolling out Smart Card so that transit users only need to have one payment device, you still need to load passes and money for multiply transit agencies.

All this to say that while TransLink has funding issues, the concept of a regional transportation authority with one pass makes transportation more accessible and less intimidating to new users.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Upcoming OnTrax Meeting with Port of Vancouver

Happy Friday, I wanted to let you know of an important South Fraser OnTrax meeting coming up on Tuesday, November 10th at the Township of Langley Municipal Building. We will be hearing from Peter Xotta , Vice President of Planning and Development for the Port of Vancouver. He will be speaking on sustainable at the port and sustainable goods movement. I’m sure you will not want to miss this opportunity to hear from him, so see you in a few weeks time.

H1N1 and Transit

I’ve been reading online lately that people are getting paranoid about taking transit for fear of getting H1N1. Sure you could stop taking transit to reduce your risk of getting ill, but then you’d also have to stop going to work, shopping, and going out in general. There are a few things people can do that may help stop the spread of the flu (which, by the way, you should be doing anyway.)

1. Stay home when you are sick (It still shocks me how many people with paid sick time go to work when they are sick.)

2. When you are hacking out a lung, please do so into your elbow (Again, I don’t understand why people don’t do this. People hacking all over the place is one of my pet peeves.)

3. Wash your hands with soap often.

3. Get the Flu shot.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last Night Cycling Network Meeting

Langley now has a cycling coalition. At last night's meeting, people voted to form a local chapter of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition called the Greater Langley Cycling Coalition! Work will now begin on formulating the plans and priorities of the group. The co-chairs are Dan Millsip and Richard Edge. Over the next month, they will be meeting up with City and Township staff. We are planning on having the next meeting on the last Tuesday of November, or first Tuesday of December. I will keep you posted.

I would also like to thank Mayor Peter Fassbender from the City and Councillor Grant Ward for attending the meeting.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bike Event Tonight


Help Us Create Safe and Connected Biking in the Langleys


Tonight from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
At the Douglas Recreation Centre,
20550 Douglas Crescent in "The City"


1. Will we start a local cycling advocacy groupthat is connected with the Vancouver Area Advocacy Coalition? If we go this
route, what will it mean? What will we need to do next?

2. Prioritization of Our (Langley) Key Biking Issues. We brainstormed a list at our first meeting, now let's do something with the issues.

3. Action Planning - who will do what to get us going?

4. Please bring any additional agenda items to the meeting.

See you there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Parking and Smart Growth

I received a mass email yesterday from Todd Litman at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. The email contained links to reports, and I thought I would share two of the more interesting ones.

The first report is called “Where We Want - To Be Home Location Preferences and their Implications for Smart Growth”. Litman points out that there is a shift in market preference from single-family housing to smart-growth housing. The reasons for this shift are: our aging population, smaller households and fewer households with children, rising fuel prices and financial constraints, growing congestions, changing attitudes about urban living, increasing health and environmental concerns, and shifting assumptions about suburban real estate values.


The second report I found interesting is called “Who is Really Paying for Your Parking Space? Estimating the Marginal Implicit Value of Off-Street Parking Spaces for Condominiums in Central Edmonton, Canada” by Owen Jung. Jung states that it costs developers more money to provide underground (covered) parking then they can charge suggesting that there is an over-supply of parking in central Edmonton. He suggests that minimum parking requirements as set out by most municipalities in Canada are a bad idea.
As explained by Shoup (2005), this burden’s negative effect on profits likely induces developers to build larger and fewer condos per unit area and/or build them with fewer bedrooms. Such construction behaviour may ultimately act as a constraint on housing supply and therefore, assuming demand is unaffected, lead to a higher market-clearing price. Thus, the “bargain” on off-street parking spaces may in fact be an illusion since consumers may in the end face higher overall housing prices due to the oversupply of parking spaces. In other words, the misallocation of scarce resources (i.e., too much parking) will likely affect housing affordability in an adverse manner, whether directly or indirectly.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Myth and Truth

I happened to be flipping through the newspapers sitting in the front of my apartment this morning and I came across an article in the Langley Times about TransLink and Langley City Council. As you are probably aware, the region’s mayors voted to keep TransLink on life support until a more stable funding source can be found.

Not too many things upset me, but when I hear a myth repeated as truth is really grinds-my-gears. This myth is two-fold. 1.) The South of the Fraser does not have the density to support rapid transit and/or frequent transit, and 2.) you must have density before building transit.

Stats Canada and the City of Surrey have proven that both Langley City and urban Surrey have densities higher than communities like Burnaby (I don’t have the stats for the urban areas of the Township). Also, many cities build transit with new development to encourage transit usage. The Portland region built their light rail system "to the fields" to encourage transit usage as the area develops. If you build density before transit, you end up with the issues that Port Moody and many of the North-East Sector communities are having. Transit and development must go hand in hand if we want to build sustainable communities. Anyway, here are some of the comments from Councillor Storteboom from the City.
Councillor Rudy Storteboom “congratulated” the transit authority on managing to exist for 10 years with no stable source of funding.

“This is a business model that’s not working. You keep coming to ask for more money, and we’re not getting any service,” Storteboom chastised Ian Jarvis, TransLink’s vice-president of finance and corporate services.

“Your Power Point is generic. Langley City wants to be at the table. We’re only an afterthought, even in a presentation like this.

“Are you taking the bus home tonight?” Storteboom asked the TransLink reps.

“No,” replied Jarvis.

“No. It doesn’t work here,” said Storteboom.

While Jarvis agreed that Langley, parts of Surrey and South Surrey don’t enjoy the same service levels as Vancouver, he said that’s because the population density levels don’t warrant it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cycling for Langley Meeting Next Wednesday

Happy Friday Everyone!

We have posted the meeting agenda for our Bike Network Event coming up next Wednesday. We will be going over the key issues, and priorities our goals for improving cycling in Langley. If everyone agrees, we will also become a local chapter of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition. Members from the VACC will be on hand to answer our questions. Please bring your ideas for the name of our chapter and who (possibly yourself) might be a good chairperson.

I have also received confirmation that Mayor Peter Fassbender from the City will be joining us at the meeting. At a last meeting, we had Township Councillor Grant Ward. It is great to see that some of our local politicians are showing an interesting in cycling for Langley.

See you on Wednesday! You can download the agenda from the document archive.

Details:
Wednesday, October 28, 7pm – 9pm
Douglas Recreation Centre
20550 Douglas Crescent
Langley, BC

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Upcoming Event in Abbotsford

The Abbotsford Cycling Action Group invites everyone who has a bike, or can borrow one, for a fun and important bike ride to celebrate the International Day of Climate Action. Our ride, 10:30 - 12:30, Saturday October 24, will follow bike lanes and sections of the Discovery Trail. It will start and end at the Bevan Ave. Parking lot next to Mill Lake.

This is one of over 3000 events in 170 countries on October 24, (United Nations Day) raising community awareness about our responsibility to reduce CO2 emissions world wide. Scientists and Governments all over the world now know that the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere is 350 parts per million. Today we are nearing 390. If we continue increases at our present rate, we will soon reach 450. Climate Scientists concur this would be catastrophic for our environment and for much of the life on our planet. We need to persuade our political representatives at all levels to demand action now. See www.350.org for more information on how you can help.

This is a great opportunity to send a clear message from the Fraser Valley to our political leaders, and enjoy Abbotsford's bike lanes and Discovery Trail at the same time.

Call John Vissers for more information 604-308-0520

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mayor Fassbender on TransLink

I had the chance to chat with Mayor Peter Fassbender from the City of Langley about October 23rd's vote on TransLink’s ten year funding plan by the Council of Mayors. TransLink has basically given the mayor’s three options: cut service, maintain current service, and expand service. While the "expand service" option would seem like the plan to approve, it has a major problem. Under the current TransLink legislation, the plan could not be completely funded. The only logical choice is to approve the “maintain current service” plan. This is the plan that Mayor Fassbender supports and the plan that most of the South Fraser mayors support.

According Fassbender, this plan is only a short term solution for the next 6 to 12 months. By approving the plan, he hopes it will give the Province, TransLink, and the mayors more time to find a long-term funding solution for TransLink. He said that he supports the vision of TransLink’s "expand service" option and that the Mayor’s Council will be working with the Province to find funding to improve transit service. He also said funding TransLink “is not going to be easy”, but that Road Pricing and carbon tax redirection may be some of the option to fund TransLink.

Fassbender confirmed that the South Fraser mayors are still pushing hard for improved tranist service and that they recently had a very good conversation with the Minister of Transportation Shirley Bond, but wouldn’t comment further.

I believe that the Mayor’s Council has no choice but to approve the “maintain service plan” in the short-term, but that all orders of government need to work together, fast, if we are too see improved transportation in our region. It's about time that the South Fraser get the transit it needs...

Bike Lanes on 208th Street

According to a press release on the City of Langley's website:

The combined Federal, Provincial and Municipal funds will provide $5,039,043 to upgrade 208th Street, from 48th Avenue to Fraser Highway. The work will include bidirectional bicycle lanes, selective road widening, pavement and pavement markings, traffic control including signals and sidewalk, as well as curb and gutter repairs as required. Water mains and storm sewers will also be replaced and upsized, and the sanitary main will be replaced.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan

“One of the good legacies of Robert Moses is that, because he paved so much, we’re able to reclaim it and reuse it,” she says. “It’s sort of like Jane Jacobs’s revenge on Robert Moses.” - Janette Sadik-Khan New York Magazine

Last night I had the opportunity to attended a lecture called “Learn from New York.” The lecture is part of a larger Shifting Gear Series put on by the SFU City Program. New York’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan gave the lecture about transportation in NYC and their new focus on sustainable transportation. It was a packed house.


Janette Sadik-Khan is an avid cyclist and that show in what’s happening at the NYC DOT. The DOT is no longer planning around moving cars as fast as possible, but focusing on creating complete street that are safe and accessible to all. Janette Sadik-Khan said that New York is expecting an additional 1 million people to move into the city in the next decade or so, and sees cycling as a major component for getting people around. From the DOT website:
In June 2009, the NYC Department of Transportation completed the City’s ambitious goal of building 200 bike-lane miles in all five boroughs in just three years, nearly doubling the citywide on-street bike network while reshaping the city’s streets to make them safer for everyone who uses them. The same period also saw unprecedented expansion and innovation of the overall network, including the installation of 4.9 miles of bike paths physically separated from car traffic lanes, 20 sheltered bike parking structures and 3,100 bike racks, accompanied by a more than 45% growth in commuter cycling in that time.
The great thing about most of these improvements is that they are cost effective and mostly involved repainting lines on the road and placing planters on the street.

To encourage cycling further, New York City has passed legislation that requires all new buildings to have inside bike parking and old commercial buildings to have inside bike parking provided if requested by tenants. New York is giving Portland a run for its money in becoming the bike capital of North America. During QA time, the first question was “What is one thing that Vancouver could learn from New York?” The answer was to build separated bike lanes!

Another great that has coming out of NYC DOT is their new Street Design Manual. At last night’s lecture Sadik-Khan said that New York is partnering with other city to come up with a urban street manual that will replace Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices issued by the US Federal Highway Administration. She said that the MUTCD is too heavily focused on designing for highway and is not too relevant in modern, 21st century cities.

Anyway, check out New York DOT’s website which contains a wealth of information on their Sustainable Streets Plan.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Portland Bike Network 2030

Portland has a reputation as being the sustainability Mecca of the West Coast. As you many know, Portland has been working on their long term 2030 bike network plan and I have to say that it is pretty impressive. Right now their 2030 long term bike plan is in the public comment period.

In 1996, Portland adopted their first Bicycle Network Master Plan. Since that time, they have added 482km to their bike network. Portland was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008. Even with Portland’s success, the community recognizes that they have much work to do. According to Scientific America, men out ride women 2:1 in North America. This is not the case in Europe. It is suggested that this is due to the lack of off-street and separated cycling lanes in North America. With this in mind, Portland has identified the following goals for increasing ridership:
1) Introduce safe, comfortable, attractive bikeways that can carry more bicyclists and serve all types and all ages of users, building on the best design practices of great bicycling cities around the world.

2) Construct a dense network of bikeways so that all Portland residents can easily find and access a route.

3) Create a cohesive network with direct routes that take people where they want to go.
Portland plans on implementing a aggressive education program and adding an additional 965 to 1,496km to the network.

Looking at Portland’s Green Transportation policies, it really makes the South of Fraser region seem like we are in the dark ages when it comes to cycling. Check out the Bicycle Master Plan for 2030 website for more information.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How Stuff Works: 200th Street Traffic Lights

One of our members, Herb Klein, sent an email to Township of Langley Councillor Jordan Bateman inquiring about how traffic signals are coordinated along the 200th Street corridor. I found the information interest, so I thought I would share it. As a side note, I believe the traffic signals along and around the Langley Bypass as coordinated with the Ministry of Transportation (MoT), City, and Township.
-72 Ave operates independently. The nearest signal is 1 mile away, and there are no benefits to including it in coordination.

-80 Ave to 84 Ave are linked together on the Township's ICONS traffic management system and are coordinated. We are having some issues with vehicle detection at 80 Ave that our tech is trying to resolve.

-86 Ave to 92A Ave are interfaced with the MoT signals and are not linked to our ICONS system. Currently, 86 Ave to the [traffic signals on the 200th Street Overpass] are linked and communicating. There is additional equipment that is being ordered to add 91A and 92A Ave into the MoT system. Once this is complete, the signals from 86 Ave to 92A Ave will operate as one system.

-96 Ave is not linked into the system as it is too far away from 92A Ave to offer benefits from coordination.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Prendergast on Light Rail Demonstration Project for South of Fraser

On Tuesday, I blogged about a presentation to get South Fraser communities on board to start a Community Rail Taskforce to lobby TransLink, the province, and the feds to get a demonstration line started. I’ve obtained a letter from Tom Prendergast, CEO of TransLink outlining the authorities interest in the project. Prendergast states that basically TransLink could support the demonstration line if a.) the province, the federal government, and all municipalities affected by the demonstration project are 100% onboard, and b.) TransLink doesn’t have to pay for it. To me that doesn’t seem like much support.
Given all of these considerations, while TransLink can agree in principle that a Rail Demonstration project could be of value, we are not in a position to endorse the proposal without confirmed regional, provincial and federal government support and funding.
At the end of the day, I think it is going to take some extreme pressure from South Fraser communities to get a demonstration line built. It is also going to take municipal money. Right now the Township of Langley is the only municipality on the Community Rail Taskforce, let’s hope that others join.

On a side note, Prendergast stated that TransLink priorities are as follows:
Working with the Mayor's Council and the Province to gain approval of the $130M "Funding Stabilization" supplement. The sequence of priority at this level of funding being to:
-Maintain existing service
-Maintain assets in a state of good repair
-Find or generate revenue for TransLink's share of the Evergreen Line
-Work with provincial, federal and local governments and rail partners to keep the Roberts Bank Rail corridor projects moving forward in a timely manner so as not to loss available federal funding
-Completing the South of Fraser Rail Network Study
What this means is that the South Fraser will continue to get the short end of the transit stick for the next little while.

You can read the full letter in our document archive. You can also read the reply letter from Mayor Green.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meeting Tonight

Tonight we will be having our monthly South Fraser OnTrax meeting. We have received grant money from the Township of Langley for an event about sustainability and transportation. We are currently looking at getting an expert from Portland to speak at the event and also engage Township staff. There is still much planning to be done, so tonight will focus planning for this event.

We will also have a discussion about the future of a possible light rail demonstration project in the South Fraser.

Details:
Wednesday, October 14 from 7pm - 9pm
Yorkson Creek Meeting Room
Township of Langley Civic Facility
4th Floor 20338-65 Avenue

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Light Rail Demonstration Line

So, I was reading in one of the transit newspapers today that Vancouver will be getting a streetcar for the first quarter of 2010 running on the tracks between the Canada Line station at 2nd Ave and Granville Island. The 1.8km section of track cost $8.5 million or $4.7 million/km. Bombardier Transportation will be loaning Vancouver two Flexity Outlook streetcars from Brussels. Bombardier will also be operating the system.

I bring this up because last Monday, Peter Holt, on behalf of Mayor Rick Green, Lee Lockwood, Roy Mufford, and Terry Lyster, made a presentation to Township Council about setting up a task force of councillors from South Fraser communities to lobby senior levels of government to fund a light rail demonstration on the Interurban route. Township Council appointed Councillor Jordan Bateman and Councillor Steve Ferguson to the task force. I was doing some digging online at the Township of Langley’s website and found that an Interurban demonstration line has been supported by the Township of Langley since 1997. In fact Terry Lyster (who was the Director of Planning and Development in the Township at the time) had his name attached to the Interurban Initiative.

I hope it won’t take another 11 years for the South Fraser to get its fair share of transit. If Vancouver can get a demonstration line, why can’t the South Fraser?