Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Removal of Railway Crossing Signals: Arbutus at 12th

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I know that recently I read somewhere about the hopes of preserving the railway heritage of the Arbutus Greenway. It had a lyrical bit about nostalgia for the trains and an old guy painting one of the remaining signals. Of course, I can’t find that now.

I am quite pleased to see that the signals at 12th Avenue were being removed this morning. I do understand the nostalgia for the way railways used to be, but in this case I think it is more important that redundant equipment and signs out to be taken away. I want drivers to treat railway crossings with the respect they deserve. Keeping these signals in place after the tracks were removed simply reduces amount of attention a signal will get by people unfamiliar with the neighbourhood. If they get accustomed to ignoring signals here that might get transferred to other locations where trains operate but infrequently and unpredictably – in other words almost everywhere else in Canada.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!

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CN 2627 and 2591 at Ballantine Pier

via Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!

Pingbacks have been causing issues recently – and one reason might be that the way the URL appears in the “post about shiny” button is different to the one in the address bar. As is the one in the instructions at the bottom of challenge Ooh, Shiny!

(I did tell WordPress about this on Twitter and they have fixed it. )

So the challenge this week – “what is guaranteed to distract you? What is your “Ooh, shiny!”?”

Trains.

Yesterday I was out in East Vancouver for the third day running trying to make sure I captured all of the new murals that have appeared due to the annual Vancouver Mural Festival. There are now three posts on this blog about the murals – just scroll down to see them. We were in Strathcona – down by the docks – where there are now two clusters of murals and I was checking the address on my phone when I saw the distinctive red and black of a CN C44-9W. I immediately knew that the two locomotives would not be there for very long. Trains – especially freight trains in North America – can be very unpredictable. Real train enthusiasts carry “scanners”: portable radios that monitor the frequencies used by train crews and dispatchers. That way they can figure out where a train might be photographable. I don’t do that as I can’t usually understand what they are saying and often it’s just chatter.

But while the murals will be around for a very long time, this train was going to being heading east with its load of containers sooner rather than later. While it was sitting about a block away from where we were, I could see at least a couple of possible angles. There is a new, real obstacle on Alexander Street: a high chainlink fence with the metal chain encased in heavy duty plastic. It is possible to get a lens into the mesh, but there is not much wiggle room for a clear shot. But at least the sun was behind me and the cruise ship terminal building was a decent backdrop. I tried several but the picture I chose to use was one that showed both locos and lots of nice blue sky – a novelty in Vancouver this summer – as well as the mountains.

Once upon a time I used to spend quite a lot of time trying to be a railway photographer. It is quite a challenge to get decent shots – and in this region it has got harder as more tracks have been fenced or more strenuously policed by officious security people who have nothing better to do than harass harmless photographers. And anyway there are now other distractions.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 16, 2017 at 9:50 am

Vancouver Mural Festival part 3

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The last two sites are remote from the others, in the industrial port area around the Cordova diversion.

Some of the murals are so large and difficult to get into one shot, so for these I have made large stitched panoramas that are hosted on my flickr photostream

Bicicleta Sem Frio

Tristesse Seliger "Infinite Line"

Stace Forand "Tiny Flora"

Stace Forand “Tiny Flora”
Stace Forand tattoos at the Steveston Tattoo Company, with a focus on contemporary Japanese art.

Destroy All Machines

More information

Written by Stephen Rees

August 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Vancouver Mural Festival part 2

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The northern end of Main Street at Industrial Avenue plus the Red Truck Brewery. There are seven more murals at Makerlabs, 780 East Cordova which are now covered in part 3. I have also now made up for missing half of the murals at Belvedere Court which is the large bottom image in the mosaic as well as the featured image (The Present).

Written by Stephen Rees

August 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Transit Report Card released

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Nathan Pachal has posted his annual Transit Report Card on the South Fraser blog. This report compares information from the major transit authorities that is derived from the Canada Transit Fact Book published by the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

I am not going to say very much about the report itself because I think you should follow the link and go read it for yourself. It does show that Translink is doing pretty well. Or perhaps I need to rephrase that. It shows that in 2015 Translink did pretty well. Because despite this being 2017 and all of us having the equivalent of the data processing capacity of the Apollo space missions in our hip pocket, it still takes a bunch of publicly funded and regulated agencies that long to get their act together on comparative data. In the United States APTA and FTA seem to be able to do things better in the sense of “easy to get hold of” if not actually faster. Go to the CUTA web site and you will read “Please note that these publications are not available for distribution to non-CUTA members.” In other words you, the people who pay for and use public transportation cannot access this sort of information easily in Canada. So thanks to Nathan Pachal for performing a very necessary public service – and smack upside the head to the people who think this data needs to be locked away somewhere.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 14, 2017 at 11:16 am

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Vancouver Mural Festival

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The festival ran from August 7 to 12 but, of course, the murals themselves will last a lot longer than that. Thinking to avoid the crowds, I went out the day after the festival events were over, but there were still plenty of people out taking pictures. Other blogs are already ahead of me with their postings and so far I have only covered those near Main Street from 14th to 4th. There’s a lot more to come but to get a taste of what else is out there see Ken Ohrn’s series on Price Tags. His pictures show many of the murals being created.

Click on the image in the gallery to see the larger version
Check out the festival’s page for artist details and so on – I have added a copy of their map at the bottom of this post.

 

 

Some of the murals were much bigger than I could get into one shot so there are some much larger, stitched panorama images on my flickr stream

VMF 2016 GODZILYA

Actually from the 2016 Festival but one of my personal favourites

Native Education College

Native Education Centre

Hoot Suite

And only in that last one was I unable to get a clear shot without people. I do not understand why so many were getting themselves photographed in front of the murals. This last one is on the Hoot Suite building.

Vancouver Mural Festival Map

Vancouver Mural Festival Map

There are now two further posts that cover the murals not shown in this one. There is also a flickr album of all of these pictures, which are downloadable at their original size and covered by a Creative Commons license.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 13, 2017 at 5:13 pm

Weekly Photo Challenge: Elemental

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Posted in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Elemental
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Earth, water and fire – but neither of those in the third category are actually what I wanted. I was quite surprised that there is nothing of mine that is a photo of a fire. Of course, right now we are still socked in by the smoke from the BC wildfires – but that looks like nothing at all. Just a white haze.

Maybe I will get lucky later if I actually follow the original instruction “as you pick up your camera this week.” All of these come from the archives!

POSTSCRIPT

So posting a picture of “air” is pretty much impossible – but I have a picture of a willow tree in strong wind at Kits Beach and I did find these pictures of the impact of strong winds

Snapped off

Another wreck

Hadden Park stranding

The wind in its leaves

And one of actual flames (from a gas fire)

Dockside

and a beach bonfire

Bonfire on Okanagan Beach

So there we have all four elements – earth, water, wind and fire!

Written by Stephen Rees

August 9, 2017 at 9:53 am