Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Transit News Update

Over in Bus Rapid Transit Ottawa, a new poll suggests that transportation and transit will be the number one issue during their fall election according to the Ottawa Citizen. The poll also suggests that light rail enjoys a strong major of support.
Asked for the single most important local issue facing their community, nearly three in 10 named transit or transportation.

That’s triple the number who named the No. 2 issue, high taxes, and nearly six times more than those who said the top issue was the Lansdowne Park redevelopment, which ranks third.
According the UK Telegraph, taking public transit helps you lose weight.
Taking the train, tram or bus instead of your car increases physical activity so much that the average person drops more than six pounds in as little as a year.

The findings suggests that increasing the use of public transport could improve health and lower obesity levels.
Check out the article from more information.

Finally, the Province has a story about a young man who's upset about the pending price hike at Scott Road and West Coast Express station for parking. What I found interesting about this story wasn’t his concern about the price of parking, but that his employer pass (which saved about 15% on the cost of a monthly pass) is the main reason that he takes transit. Also, I found it interesting that he would pay double to take West Coast Express from Coquitlam instead of the bus. This prove again that “choice riders” prefer rail over rubber.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A good reason to take transit

I received the following in my inbox from ICBC:
As you’ve probably heard, earlier this year the government of B.C. announced the toughest impaired driving laws in Canada, slated to take effect this fall. Alcohol remains one of the leading causes of fatal car crashes. Police will be out in full force looking for impaired drivers at roadchecks across the province.

To help implement this significant change, ICBC is leading a public awareness campaign, working closely with government, police and key stakeholders like you.

B.C.’s tougher new impaired driving laws and harsher penalties will soon be in effect and we’re reminding everyone that CounterAttack road checks are on in July and August. People who drink and drive will get caught.
For more information visit ICBC's website.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Segregated Bicycle Facilities in Langley City

As you may be aware, I sit on the Park and Environment Advisory Committee for the City of Langley. We passed the following resolution at our last meeting:

“THAT Council direct staff to investigate installing segregated bicycle facilities around intersections where there are cycling lanes to improve visibility of, and delineation between, cycling lanes and general travel lanes.”

I'm happy to report that Langley City council has endorsed the motion and staff will be preparing a report and presenting it to council sometime in the fall.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Post 800 - SkyTrain Technology

So I was looking at the first quarter results for Bombardier, because that is what I do, and I noticed something interesting. 68% of their rail business is in Europe, 15% is in Asia-Pacific, 14% is in North America, and the 3% is in what they call other. It is really interesting to note how much more into rail based transportation Europe is than North America. We really are in the dark ages by comparison. I’m sure that Bombardier's sales percentages are similar to other companies. I then moved on to the SkyTrain section of their website.

As you know, SkyTrain is a solution in search of a problem. It was developed by the Ontario government as a technology that was suppose to save money on vehicle maintenance due to the space-aged linear induction motor. As it turned out, the capital cost of the tracks made the system so costly that it never caught on (even in Ontario). For awhile Bombardier marketed the technology as advanced light rail due to its ability to be fully automated. Unfortunately fully automated, means fully grade separated. Why would you build advanced light rail when you could build normal light rail that can be automated or manually driven and can be run with traffic or grade separated? Only eight systems in the whole wide world were ever built (and the only one in Ontario is being ripped out ironically enough). Bombardier is now calling the system Advanced Rapid Transit and is selling it as a replacement for full-on Metro (subway) systems. I wonder if they’ll have better luck. Bombardier is successful with their standard rail equipment (trams and heavy-rail coaches) that is used all over the world, so I find it odd that the company hasn’t killed SkyTrain yet.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Light Rail News

Close to home, the Broadway merchants in Vancouver want light rail over SkyTrain according to an article in The Province:
Broadway merchants, such as Dobo, are concerned that SkyTrain construction like the Canada Line on Cambie Street would be detrimental to business. She, along with a contingent of like-minded merchants, would rather opt for a street-level electric system with stops to encourage passengers to use Broadway’s shops.

“I think [TransLink has] already decided to build a SkyTrain,” Lehan said.

But TransLink’s Ken Hardie dismissed the notion. “I honestly don’t know where they got that idea that a SkyTrain is the front-runner,” Hardie said. “We are looking at a variety of options.”
In the other Vancouver (Washington), a group of citizens is working on a ballot measure to block light rail from going into their community. According to The Columbian:
The petition, if approved by voters, would enact an ordinance prohibiting the city from taking any action related to light rail.

It’s not clear whether the petition would have any binding effect on the multibillion-dollar Columbia River Crossing project, even if it passes.
The other Vancouver is the complete antithesis of Metro Portland across the river: sprawling and light rail free. Light rail is part of the Columbia River Crossing which is the "Port Mann" of the Portland region that will bridge Oregon and Washington State. Light rail is likely to go ahead as it is being paid for with federal dollars. A recent poll of Vancouver residents suggests that there is 61 percent support for light rail. The main issue seems to be that people don't like the sale tax that pays for transit improvements. According to The Columbian:
Light rail has been something of a third rail in Clark County politics, ever since voters in 1995 rejected a proposed six-mile extension from Portland to Northeast 99th Street by a 2-1 margin. This time, the federal government would pay to build the line to downtown Vancouver with a new Interstate 5 bridge. Local residents will be asked to pick up the operating cost —$2 million to $3 million annually — on the Washington side of the river, using sales tax receipts.
Finally in Alberta, the provincial government has pledged $800 million for local transit according to the Vancouver Sun:
Calgary-area politicians had been expecting only a third of that fund, with equal portions going to the capital region and the rest of Alberta.

Instead, Ouellette devoted 40 per cent each to the province's two major centres, and less for smaller communities.

"We think that's reasonable, and we're happy to see the dollars actually rolling out," said Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride, whose city wants to purchase double-deckers for service to Calgary by 2012.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Surrey Rapid Transit Study Stakeholders Workshop - Part Two

Last night, I had the chance to attend the second stakeholder workshop for TransLink’s Surrey Rapid Transit Study. The following graph shows the study area, you can also read about the study on TransLink’s website and about the first workshop on this blog. TransLink's goal for the study area is to reduce vehicle usage to 50% of all trips by 2040 (currently is it at 84% ).

We participated in three exercises. First, we put green dots on places people want to go on a table-sized map of the South Fraser. These included places like post-secondary schools, hospitals, immigrate services, malls, and town centres. Next, we looked at places of opportunity; places where transit can improve the urban environment. Fleetwood and connecting to 200th Street and Aldergrove got the blue opportunity dot. Finally, we looked at no-go places for rapid transit. This included putting transit through environmentally sensitive areas and putting rapid transit stops in the agricultural land reserve.

The second exercise looked at how TransLink’s goals for the study matched up with our objectives. The big take away from that exercise was that their goals needs to more clearly articulate the objectives of financial cost effectiveness, economic development, and deliverability.

The final exercise looked at how we could engage the community for the public workshops in the fall. This included everything from online web forums, transit evangelist, ethnic media, and newspapers to giving away free food for seniors. TransLink will now compile all the information from the stakeholder workshops, develop technology alternatives, and put lines on a map of possible routes for the fall workshops.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


One of the interesting things about public hearings is the people who show up. Some people have valid concerns and comments, but there are those who don’t like change, population growth, or official community plans. It usually works like this: people in large lot homes don’t want people with small lot homes in their neighbourhood. People in small lot homes don’t want people living in townhouses in their neighbourhood. People in townhouses don’t want people living in walk-up apartments in their neighbourhood. And people in walk-up apartments don’t want high-rise condos in their neighbourhood. The reasons are usually over parking, privacy, “undesirables” and land value with a hint of elitism beneath the surface.

On the matter of parking, these NIMBY types fail to see the connection between higher densities, increased transportation choice, and reduced parking requirements. High density areas like False Creek have more transportation choice and less parking per capita than Brookswood for example.

On the matter of privacy, these NIMBY types seem to think that everyone is interested in their person living space and will be spying on them. Let’s be honest for a moment, most people are too wrapped up in their own lives to care about yours. If you happen to have a nosey neighbour, density will not make it any worse. In fact, I’ve would argue that people are more nosey in single family neighbourhoods than in higher density ones.

On the matter of “undesirables”, if you consider seniors, young families, and working professionals undesirables than you should oppose higher density neighbourhoods. When I think of all the pot busts reported in the newspaper, how many grow-ops are in apartments and townhouse as opposed to single family homes?

On the matter of land value, higher density developments actually increase property value as they are usually combined with amenities like green space, high streets, recreation, and cultural amenities. I think many people have visions of large scale, low-income towers.

When you talk to many of the NIMBY types, they will tell you that they want transportation choice and walkable communities. They will also say that they support higher density development, just not in their neighbourhood. I had to have a bit of a laugh when I was at a Township of Langley public hearing last week. The NIMBYs from Aldergrove said they supported high-rises in Willoughby and the NIMBYs in Willoughby wanted high-rises elsewhere. Way back, I was at a public hearing in the City of Langley where someone who lived in an area zoned for medium density was complaining about medium density development. A quick look at the official community planning before moving into his townhouse would have saved him a world of grief.

Communities need a mix of housing types and uses in each and every neighbourhood to be sustainable. NIMBYism comes from a lack of understand on how changes will affect people’s neighbourhood, it's a knee-jerk reaction. Once people see the benefit of the change to their neighbourhood, they tend to unNIMBYfy. One recent example of this is the Spirit Square Bandshell in the City of Langley that almost got the mayor unelected. The strongest opponents of this project became supporters once it was built.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cost of Transportation

Last week, I talked about how it takes around the same amount of time to get between Downtown Vancouver and Langley comparing transit to driving. Today, I thought I would look at the cost of getting between these locations. The most you will pay for transit is $5 per one-way trip. If you buy a monthly pass and commute daily, it will cost you $3.78 per one-way trip.

Based on the current fuel price of $1.119/L, fuel ratings, and travel distance of 47km: If you own a hybrid car it will cost you about $2.07 per one-way trip, $3.86 if you own a sub-compact car, and $5.60 if you own an average car on fuel. If you own a pickup truck, you’ll spend on average $7.83 per one-way trip on fuel. Now if you factor in the cost of parking at $4 per day, you’ll be looking at $8.14 to $19.66 per day on transportation. Transit cost $7.56 to $10.00 per day: an average saving of 28%! With the upcoming Port Mann toll of $6 per day, driving your car into Vancouver will be like burning money and I haven’t even talked about the upkeep costs of daily commuting.

Most people are smart and take transit into Downtown Vancouver, but where we really need improved service is to areas within the South Fraser. With high quality, frequent service that can compete with the automobile, coupled with transit-friendly neighborhoods, we can certainly attract people to transit in my neck-of-the-woods.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Rant

Every so often I have to make a trip to Victoria for work. When in Victoria, I’m always impressed with the amount of cycling infrastructure and the number of cyclists. You can read more on a previous blog post. Anyway when I go to Victoria, I take a company vehicle home with me from downtown Vancouver to Langley the night before (as I go directly to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal) and return to work with it the next day.

When people make the decision between taking transit and taking their car they should factor in speed, the cost of parking, tolls, and fuel. Living in downtown Langley, it takes me 1 hour and 24 minutes to get to my work in downtown Vancouver by transit. It takes me 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive. People always tell me that driving is much faster than transit. I guess I ALWAYS get the freeway on freaky busy days. Yea. When you factor in the cost of driving to Vancouver, transit comes out ahead. With the toll coming to the new Port Mann bridge, the cost benefit will be overwhelmingly on transit’s side.

I think one of the reasons that people still commute in their car to downtown Vancouver is the stigma attached with taking a bus. I have a friend that used to take the bus with me from Langley to downtown Vancouver. He now drives to Scott Road SkyTrain station. I’m sure you know where this is all going: choice riders want rail.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

West Kelowna in Picture

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Kelowna. The development pattern in West Kelowna is the antithesis of modern urban planning. It is so bad that Loblaw Companies Limited is building a Superstore right next to their current Extra Foods which is right next to Zellers to compete with the Wal-Mart Supercenter across the road. I snapped a few pictures.

Welcome to Motordom

Single family houses being constructed along Highway 97

All retail is oriented along Highway 97

Sidewalks to nowhere...

...if you are even lucky enough to get a sidewalk.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Public Hearing Last Night

Last night, I was at a public hearing on the Jericho Sub-Neighbourhood Plan in the Township of Langley. Some developers and even some on council would like to see large-scale, standalone retail before mixed-use development in the area. History has shown us that if you allow standalone retail before mixed-use, you will not see mixed-use development. You will also not see the benefit of mixed-use development which is that of a walkable, transit friendly community. That is why Joe Zaccaria presented to council the following on how limiting commercial floorspace and building mixed-use from the get go is better for sustainability and better for the local economy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Public Hearing Tomorrow

What: Jericho Sub-Neighbourhood Plan Public Hearing
Where: Township of Langley Municipal Facility
4th Floor, Fraser River Presentation Theatre
20338 65th Avenue, Langley
Time: 7:00pm


In early 2008 Township Council received a Terms of Reference report for a Jericho Sub-Neighbourhood Plan (Jericho SNP) which resulted in a planning process for lands south of 80th Avenue and east of the Langley Events Centre (East Latimer Neighbourhood Plan). The planning process has since been expanded based on resident input. Several years ago, Council also designated 200th Street as a major transit corridor that should be protected as such.

The main interest of South Fraser OnTrax in this process is for sustainable development in this Jericho SNP area. Township staff have recommended that development in this area be sustainable in nature and help encourage and support the range of transportation options that our community desires. So, we do not oppose development, but we do want to see sustainable development in the area.

In a staff report to Council dated July 20, 2009, staff recommended mixed-use, transit oriented development. A mixture of residential units and commercial units that serve the local community was encouraged by staff. It was also communicated that this commercial development should not “impact the economic viability or delay the development of other town centres”.

Staff recommended that residential and commercial development occur together at one time, that commercial floor space be limited to no more than 5,000 sq. ft. and that the commercial development in this area be orientated towards the local community and not 200th Street.

There were discussions by some Council members over the past year of allowing expanded commercial floor space to 15,000-20,000 sq. ft. in the Jericho SNP, and also to allow commercial development to occur ahead of residential development. Both plans would kill the sustainability objectives and lead to a Langley “Motordom”, where everything is geared towards the automobile, making a range of transit options non-viable because of a lack of density.

It should be noted that large commercial shopping areas and big box stores are available in Walnut Grove and Willowbrook, both within 5 minutes of the Jericho SN area. Motordom Langley should be avoided at all cost and your support at this meeting for our presentation will help send a clear message that we want transportation options and smart-growth development.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meeting Last Night - Urban Form

Last night, we had a great presentation by Andrew Devlin who is a researcher out of UBC. The great thing about Andrew's work is that it confirms what we already know about walkable communities and how they are less carbon intense. His research backs this up with hard science.

There is a direct correlation between urban built form and energy use. The more walkable, mixed-use, and dense an area is, the less GHG emissions it produces. North of Fraser communities produce 5.21kgCO2e per capita while South of Fraser communities produce 8.77kgCO2e per capita. 61% of travel emissions in the South of Fraser are caused by commuting. So what are the solutions to reduce GHG emission and build healthier communities?

We need a balanced approach with “carrots” such as strong land use regulation and accessible, affordable green transportation option. We also need “sticks” such as vehicle, parking, and road pricing. We need rapid transit spines that we can focus our development along such as 200th Street in Langley. I suggestion that you check out this great presentation for all the facts and listen to the audio below.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Last Meeting of Season Tonight

Join us at our society’s last meeting before summer break (July & August). Come out to hear Andrew Devlin as he presents the results of some intense research he and his colleagues have recently completed at UBC.

Towards a Less Carbon Intensive Built Environment: Evidence and Ideas for South of the Fraser

Andrew Devlin is a Vancouver-based researcher specializing in the interactions between the built environment, urban mobility, air pollution and health. He has lead and co-authored various studies and reports on these topics directed at the Metro Vancouver region, including a comprehensive empirical study exploring the active transportation benefits of walkable approaches to community design and, more recently, the first structural analysis of the relative effects of neighbourhood urban form and regional accessibility on activity patterns and greenhouse gas emissions. Findings from his work have been used for local outreach and in policy development at the municipal level and have been presented at numerous conferences and workshops across Canada. Andrew's technical expertise are centred on database development, emissions modeling, and advanced statistical and spatial analysis method. Andrew holds a an MA in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC and a BES in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Waterloo.

See you tonight!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Township of Langley Civic Facility
20338 – 65th Avenue, Langley
4th Floor, Yorkson Creek Meeting Room
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MoT and Setbacks

I snapped the following pictures on the weekend about a government jurisdictional sign that I saw on 200th Street by the Langley Bypass to give you an idea of how much control the Ministry of Transportation has in the area.

Ministry of Transportation Boundary on 200th Street

Looking North, Langley Bypass in the Distance

Most people don't know this, but the Ministry of Transportation has something called controlled areas. A controlled area "is the area within a radius of 800 metres from the intersection of a controlled access highway with any other highway [this is any public road]. This power ensures that local government rezonings within Controlled Areas do not affect the integrity of provincial highways in developed areas."

The Langley Bypass is a controlled access highway. With the Ministry's mandate to move as much much traffic as possible on the Langley Bypass, it comes as no surprise that we have the kind of big-box development along that route today. Thanks to regulations, I don't believe that the Ministry of Transportation would even be allowed to make the Lanlgey Bypass more livable. I've talked about provincial highways before, but I truly believe that a urban provincial highway standard needs to be developed that balances provincial transportation needs with local livability. When I was in Europe and in San Fransisco, I saw boulevards that allowed for both local and through-traffic use. It would be great to see this kind of thing in BC.

Bike Parking

Back in December 2009, we reported about the new 202nd Street Park and Ride. Part of the plan at that time included bike parking. Last month, we learned that secure bike park somehow slipped through the cracks. I'm happy to report that Township of Langley Council put a motion forward to included secure bike parking. This is good news as secure bike parking is one of the things that attracts people to cycling.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sustainable Transportation Future

I found a website called the New York Times - Special Edition this weekend. Published in November 2008, it was put together by a group called The Yes Men who "correct" business and government identities at conferences, on television, and on the street. Anyway, they had a very interesting article about what our transportation future could look like:
As the $1.6 trillion Infrastructure Modernization Bill moves through Congress, a wide swath of public advocacy groups is assuring that the focus of rebuilding remains on proven, sustainable technologies that can move the country away from its dependency on fossil fuels.

One key to the Infrastructure Modernization Bill will be light rail in cities, as well as high-occupancy overland vehicles — i.e. buses — operating at higher speeds in segregated lanes and roadways.

“We can dig out some of our old streetcar tracks, which are now buried in asphalt, but new buses are also a good solution, and much less expensive,” Mr. Blumenauer noted.

In 1922 there were fourteen thousand miles of streetcar track in American cities, according to Colleen Burgess, a representative of the Surface Transportation Board. “Berlin had the most extensive network in Europe, but that was smaller than 22 American cities. Today, we’ve got next to nothing. But we’ve got to look forward.”
It goes on to talk about making national high speed rail a reality, improving cycling infrastructure, and supporting mixed-use zoning.

*Update: We got a call from the US Surface Transportation Board today and they wanted to make it clear that no one from their office way actually interviewed for this alternate reality article.*

Let's jump ahead a years to today. I'll start with the car capital of the world LA. This is from an article that appeared in Bloomberg:
Los Angeles: city of freeways, smog, and -- bike lanes?

That’s where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to take his town. In one of the less likely transformations in the global effort to cut carbon output, Los Angeles plans to spend $230 million on 1,700 miles of bicycle paths, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its June 7 issue.

“We have to make a change,” says Michelle Mowery, senior coordinator for the city’s bike program. “We can’t fit any more cars in.”
Closer to home, the City of Vancouver approved $25 million over the next 2 years to improve and increase the size of their cycling network. Some of the improvements include the installation of bike parking, installing cycling signals at intersections, and building separated bike lanes.

In some part of North America, cities are taking the steps towards a sustainable transportation future. In Canada, I think it's going to take support from senior levels of government to truly help all cities with the funding required for sustainable transportation initiatives.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Meeting Next Week

Join our society’s last meeting before summer break (July & August). Come out to hear Andrew Devlin as he presents the results of some intense research he and his colleagues have recently completed at UBC.

The Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability – UBC
Towards a Less Carbon Intensive Built Environment: Evidence and Ideas for South of the Fraser

Learn about the fascinating links between urban form, transportation investment, travel behaviour, health, access to food, and emissions in the South Fraser Region. This talk will contain groundbreaking information on trends that impact our lives and our community.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Township of Langley Civic Facility
20338 – 65th Avenue, Langley
4th Floor, Yorkson Creek Meeting Room
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

See you next week!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rule of the Road

Last weekend, I was visiting some friends who live on W 10th Avenue in Vancouver and we got into a chat about cycling. For those of you who don’t know, W 10th is a major east-west bike route and is shared with motorized traffic. My friends that lived on this road didn’t like cyclist because they basically got in the way of their car and cyclist “rode all over the place.” They also said that cyclist don’t obey the rules of the road, don’t wear helmets, and ride on the sidewalk. They wanted to make cyclists get insurance in case a cyclist ran into a car and dinged it. My friends had a few valid points.

Riding on the sidewalk when you are on a busy bike route is dangerous for pedestrians and unnecessary. Also, people don’t seem to wear helmets anymore. Maybe the police should start helmet checks just like they have seatbelt checks? I think the real root of the issues is that cyclist education is lacking. One of the solutions could be as simple as to provide information on cycling safety with every new bike purchase. The last comment about cyclist dinging car really set me off. I know several people, included my aunt, who are now on a disability pension because they “dinged” a car. For some reason, people don’t realize that when a bike comes in contact with a car, the car always wins. This is why I so strongly believe in separated bike lanes. Again, I think the root of the issue is that Vancouver is following the transportation hierarchy and focusing on walking, cyclist, and transit and people are resistant to change. With all change people can be resistant, even if that change is for the better. I’ll leave you with the following message that was posted to the message board of the Great Langley Area Cycling Coalition:
My commute home from work today was a little eventful. I had a 'little' disagreement with a police officer on the way home.

It was raining lightly but mild and I had my full rain gear on so I decided to take a longer route home from work via Fort Langley and 96th, left on 204th to 88th and then home. As I rode along 96th Avenue and saw the weather was getting little worse I decided that instead of attempting to take my usual route by turning left at 199A and 96th to get onto 200th, I decided to turn left on 204th to follow this much quieter residential street to 88th Ave to home. The 199a and 96th intersection can get a little busy with heavy truck traffic at this time of day. After turning left at 204th I was riding up a little bit of a short hill along side some parked cars and a bus stop being sure to maintain a safe distance from these same parked cars. I then came up to a point where the curb in this parking lane then extends out to the driving lane. narrowing the road to the single lane each way. At that point I knew there was a vehicle behind me so I kept about a foot away from the curb to allow him room to pass. All of a sudden heard a very short siren burst. I didn't realize it was a police car at first (no markings on the car) until he then flashed the coloured lights and hit the siren again. He tried to order me to ride on the side of the road through his opened passenger side window while driving beside me. Oddly he did this at a point I was already close to the curb. This is on a residential road with several sections of a parking lane where the curb extends to the driving lane periodically narrowing the road. I was riding as I was supposed to be maintaining a predictable path only taking as much of the lane as I needed to do. After I stated I was where I was allowed to be according to the law, he hollered back "I am the law". I answered back to him that he should double check the BC motor vehicle act regarding my rights to the use of the road before he tried to suggest that I was breaking the law. I also suggested to him as he hollered again to get to the side of the road that the law also states that I only need to be as close as practical to the side of the road and if I need to I am allowed to take the lane, which I had to do at the first point where he hit his siren. At that point I was just passing parked cars and coming up to the lane narrowing.

I don't think it was a traffic patrol cop as he hollered at me through the window instead of using his car bullhorn. I think he must have had a bad day and saw this recumbent trike riding on the road and did not quite know how to handle it. I thought I detected a slight hesitation when he first pulled alongside me and shouted "Get on the side...of the road" maybe he initially thought that I was disabled and in some kind of scooter and was actually going to shout "get on the sidewalk" and then realized when he got beside me that I was a trike and riding on the sidewalk would have been illegal. Just a guess on my part. Even though we were hollering back and forth and he looked a little agitated, he didn't pull me over and just drove on and made a left turn about a half a block further. I never saw him again for the rest of the ride home.

If he did issue me a ticket or fine I would have certainly challenged it. He ended up just driving off. It's pretty sad when the people entrusted to enforce the laws are ignorant of them themselves.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Transit Service

One of the biggest problems with transit outside Vancouver, Burnaby, and the Tri-Cities is that we don’t have a large frequent bus network. These are buses that run at least every 15 minutes for most parts of the day. We were getting more frequent bus service before the transit tap was shut off last year. My part of the region mostly has buses that run every 30 minutes or every hour. These routes aren’t pack with riders because only people like me and people that can’t afford a car will wait around 30 minutes to an hour for a bus. TransLink is really in a cart before the horse situation here. They will not increase route frequency until there is demand, but there will never be a demand until frequency is improved.

The West Coast Express is a premium service that I took from time to time from Vancouver to Maple Ridge. It connects with the 595 which goes over the Golden Ears Bridge every 30 minutes. In theory the 595 is suppose to meet up with the train and whisk us across the bridge with ease. If the train is more than 30 second late, the bus drives off empty leaving West Coast Express rider stuck in the rain with no transit shelters. This has happened to me twice and it’s not fun. Most people that take the West Coast Express have a car, note this kind of reliability, and decided to write off transit. If the 595 ran every 15 minutes, it won’t be such a big deal. The 502 runs every 7 minutes during rush hour between Langley and Surrey Central SkyTrain. I could care less if one of the buses was off schedule. I know the next bus will be in 7 minutes.

As TransLink looks at “rationalizing” service, we must remember that reducing transit service means reducing transit riders which means reducing revenue. Back when Tom Prendergast was in charge of TransLink, he had a presentation about how cutting transit service is the best way to kill a transit system. Right now TransLink spends 20% of its budget on debt servicing: that is more than they spend on operating SkyTrain and West Coast Express. Fixing transit should not be about cutting services and maybe not even about getting new revenue stream, it should be about senior levels of government not downloading costs to the region. Then we could get a 595 that ran every 15 minutes, light rail in the South Fraser, and world peace.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Langley City Official Community Plan

Last night, I attended a public hearing and council meeting at the City of Langley. The public hearing was on Official Community Plan amendments and other by-law amendments which the province requires to be passed by May 31, 2010 to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions. The GHG reduction targets for the City of Langley are from the Community Energy & GHG Emissions Plan which they completed last month. The City's Sustainability Framework was also covered.

The framework is similar to the Township of Langley's Sustainability Charter. The City's framework talks about improving cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and building complete, mixed-use communities as some of the key routes to sustainability.

Russ Haycock from Hyla Environmental Services Ltd reviewed the Community Energy & GHG Emissions Plan. The plan covers the City's own operations plus community building, waste, and on-road transportation. The plan proposes to reduce GHG 16% below 2007 levels. On-road transportation is responsible for about 50% of all GHG emission in the City of Langley. This plan bases its on-road GHG reduction targets on the provincial government's upcoming fuel efficiency and tailpipe emission standards. Walking and cycling was on the list of things that reduce GHG, but was not a major focal point of the plan. On-road transportation is the biggest area that need to be dealt in the City, but the plan looks to senior levels of government for funding and help. I believe that cycling and pedestrian infrastructure combined with sustainable land use is one of the few things that local government actually has control over.

City of Langley GHG Reduction Targets (Click Image to Enlarge)

Council voted to approve the Community Energy & GHG Emissions Plan.