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.

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 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.

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?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Transportation Summit 2009 - Portland

Happy Thanksgiving Monday! I'd thought I would repost something that arrived in my inbox:
CNU's Transportation Summit Tours Offer In-Depth Look at Transportation's Role in Great Urban Places

Filling up fast, tours are another great reason to be in Portland for CNU's top event for advancing livable transportation reform to bring convenience, value and sustainability to communities nationwide

Register before October 15th for best rates — and the reassurance of having a reserved place on your favourite tour!

Tour what many believe is the most networked, pedestrian-oriented and bike-friendly city in the US at this year's CNU Transportation Summit. Guided by expert urbanists, you will gain in-depth insight into Portland's green streets network and its innovative street designs, bicycle network, transit-oriented downtown mall and modern streetcar network.

It's all part of CNU's 2009 Transportation Summit, this year's key conference for advancing the highly networked multi-modal transportation solutions that support sustainable communities. CNU's Summit is the best way for you to get involved in the professional revolution that's replacing conventional auto-oriented design with transportation that supports healthier, safer and more livable neighbourhoods. Check out some top reasons to attend the the 2009 summit and read about how conference buzz is building.

The Best Transportation City in the United States?
To complement the conference's cutting-edge presentations, seminars and problem-solving sessions, the summit provides ample opportunities to get onto the streets of Portland and examine reforms that have proved influential around the country. View detailed information about each of the five tours online. See up close if Portland is as good as everyone says it is and learn how to apply lessons from this urban innovation center to your own city or town. Each of the five separate tours offer a firsthand look at concepts touted by pioneers of New Urbanism and Smart Growth. Be a part of these innovative tours on November 4:

-See how Portland's 20-year Green Streets Network will reduce runoff and promote context-sensitive design on over 700 miles of public and private streets.

-Join CNU for a two-wheeled summit first! Ride Portland's Bicycle Network to understand why bikes now account for between 3 percent and 8 percent of all trips within the city. Bring your own bike or rent one with a special CNU discount. Join one of the original planners of the network who will lead this tour.

-Experience the transit mall first-hand to see how a city can transform itself by removing a freeway and focusing on public transportation. Learn how and why it's a truly inter-modal public space that accommodates today's needs and tomorrow's potential.

-See Portland's Modern Streetcar Network a transit system scaled to its surroundings, offering a truly viable alternative to driving. Experience the best of streetcar transit within Portland's small-block pedestrian friendly network structure. Learn how this public investment has fostered private investment and complements a superb network of streets.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cycling in the City (of Langley)

Way back in 2004, the City of Langley commissioned a master transportation plan. Part of that plan included the City’s cycling network. I’ve included a map of the proposed network.

The City’s current financial plan on improving cycling infrastructure is tied to general road reconstruction. As you can imagine, it might take 20 years to see the network implemented under this plan. I think that is too long. In 2004 dollars, the City expected to spend which is about the same cost as building four Spirit Squares. Now $4 million is a sizable amount of money and I don’t expect the City to complete the network in two years, but I think a 10 year plan would be reasonable. That would committee the City to spending $400k a year on cycling. To put that number into perspective, the City will be spending about $13 million on capital projects this year. Adding cycling into the work might increase the capital budget by 3%. This may be less if the City can get grant money from higher orders of government. They may also be able to use DCC’s (money paid by developers) to improve cycling infrastructure. The first step of course would be for the City to committee any sort of sustained funding for cycling. The City’s 2009-2011 Strategic Plan identifies improving the connectivity of its cycling network to the rest of the region though I haven’t seen any funding attached to that. The new Fraser Highway Bridge will include bike lanes and so will the new, improved 208th Street, but the network is still a patchwork.

I had a chat with another cyclist in the City and while the City’s Bike Plan is great, we felt that there are some areas where it could be improved. The City's report recommends something called a wide curb lane for most of their cycling network. As the picture shows, a wide curb lane is a shared lane that is marked with a bike symbol.

While this is appropriate for most places in the City, on high traffic corridors it doesn’t make the cut. It would make sense for the City to tie into the bike network the Township is building on 200th Street. Also, Fraser Highway should have a bike lane that connects to the bike lane that Surrey has completed. Finally, 203rd Street is the perfect North/South cycling corridor for the City and should be reflected accordingly. In fact, if the City was to spend money on a pilot project for cycling, I feel that it should be 203rd Street. We have our next cycling meeting in a few weeks, so bring your ideas and thoughts about cycling in Langley.

On a side note, I’ve got to give a credit to the Province for including cycling in their highway reconstruction projects. I’ve noticed that they’ve now put up cycling route signs on Highway 10/Langley Bypass.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Meeting Next Week

Next Wednesday 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 a getting an expert from Portland to speak at the event and also engage Township staff. There is still much planning to be done, so our next meeting will focus planning for this event. Hope to see you there.

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Surrey Rapid Transit Study

I received an email from TransLink that they have just started a study of rapid transit options for Surrey. The study will be three phases and will look at three proposed rapid transit corridors; Fraser Hwy, King George Hwy and 104 Avenue.
Phase 1 - Undertake a high-level assessment of a range of technology and alignment options to identify the options that will be further defined and evaluated in the next phase.

Phase 2 - Building on the phase 1 assessment, undertake a more detailed evaluation of the options to identify the preferred technology and alignment for the Surrey Rapid Transit line(s)

Phase 3 - Develop the detailed design, including budget, timeline and phasing, for the project approval.
Stay Tuned!

Roads in Surrey

I have always believed that local government is more responsive than higher levels of government in addressing citizen's concerns. Point in case is the 84 Avenue Extension. The extension was to skirt around the south side of Break Creek Park. Surrey Council voted no to the plan yesterday night due to public outcry. From the Vancouver Sun:
Martin said that at one time she supported the extension, but changed her mind a few weeks ago. "There must be other viable alternatives to just building another road," she said.

Stephanie Ryan, president of the Surrey Civil Coalition, said the organization was concerned the road would damage salmon-bearing streams.
Compare Bear Creek Park to the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR). The SFPR has a greater impact to neighbourhoods in Surrey (75 Sunbury homes have been expropriated) and the environment with Burns Bog, yet it is being built. The public outcry seemed to land on deaf ears.

Between the SFPR and SkyTrain, I have to wonder what’s happening in Victoria sometimes. To be fair, there are great examples of inter-government cooperation (the Langley Events Centre comes to mind), but it seems that sometimes the province gets fixated on something, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Light Rail Manufacturing

A last year, we had a light rail expert Brent Graham present to the Township of Langley Council on how our region could be a light rail manufacturing hub with our connectivity to the West Coast, Edmonton, and Calgary. Well, it appears that another region has heeded his advice, Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday praised the planned construction of a light-rail car manufacturing plant along the Los Angeles River, saying it would bring "decent middle-class jobs" and attract clean technology firms to a city hard-hit by the national recession.

Italian rail-car maker AnsaldoBreda agreed to build a $70-million plant as part of its successful bid to deliver 100 additional light-rail cars to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Our recently purchase SkyTrain cars were made in Mexico...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bike Network Issues

The following photo was sent to me by Richard Edge. The picture is a bit blurry, but it shows the issues that we identified around cycling in Langley at our first Cycling Meeting. We identified seven broad categories of issues: Engineering Routes (better bike lanes, complete the network), Safe Biking (lack of separated bike paths, more safety on the roads), Security (bike storage, racks), Maintenance (sweep lanes, remove snow), Education (driver and cyclist rules-of-the-road, cycling awareness), Public Relations/ Advocacy, and Enforcement.

Politics of transit can get messy

Mathew Claxton wrote an interesting opinion piece in today’s Langley Advance. He pointed out the inequality in transit service between the North Fraser communities (Vancouver, Burnaby, New West, Tri-Cities) and the South Fraser. He also noted that much of the problem lies with the fact that North Fraser people have no idea about the transportation issues facing the South Fraser and how we are developing. There’s this notion that we are evil suburban dwellers or country bumpkins. These facts are compounded with the fact that most of the political clout is still in the North Fraser communities. It all spell continued poor transit for the South Fraser.
So Vancouver/Burnaby/New West politicians have no incentive to share transit cash, and politicians south of the river are caught between the contradictory impulses to grab as much as they can, and to put a stake in TransLink's black heart.
Mathew made a great suggestion that we have a directly elected board that is not based on municipal boundaries. I would suggest going one step further and have a system like Metro Portland. People in Metro Portland vote for regional councillors based on geography, not population. It’s not perfect, but it might help balance things out. Of course another issue that needs to be solved is how the province delivers transportation infrastructure and its funding in Metro Vancouver.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What I found on Google

The people over at the Langley Politics blog have been supporters of light rail for some time. Yesterday they posted an article that I wholly agree with. Check it out.
I think, however, that transit planners do need to carefully look at what is happening in Vancouver and other cities around the world and stop trotting out the "chicken before the egg" argument of pre-existing ridership support as the only point of discussion. Because clearly ridership will only increase along the Canada Line over the next decade or so as developments come on line -- manufacturing ridership, as it were. We need to have serious discussions with the stakeholders about how light rail, for a fraction of the cost of Canada Line, could do a similar thing for the 200th Street corridor in Langley.
In other news, it would appear that there is still a disconnect between the Ministry of Transportation and our local governments. I’m not sure why this is. It has seemed to be that way since I was born. If anyone has any ideas please enlighten me. On that note, I found the following article in the Maple Ridge News:
The bundle of cash announced by senior governments Friday included a whopping $16 million for a 2.2-kilometre RapidBus lane from Golden Ears Bridge to Harris Road.

Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean appreciates the money, but admits it came as a surprise and raises a few questions.

“I’m just a little confused. It seems once again the government is not speaking with TransLink in putting together these plans.”