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

Archive for June 16th, 2008

Men do ask for directions, after all

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Globe and Mail

It is actually about how people at work use their employers equipment to print out personal information. But the point surely is that a source like Google maps is a whole lot more reliable and usable than what you might get by asking the random stranger.

I don’t ask for directions because the answers you get nearly always start with

“No speak English”

” Well, you could go to the end here and make a left then take the right fork by the old church. Hney what was that old church called? No, no the carpet warehouse, the one that did bingo……”

” I am a stranger here myself”

” Well you could take the Highway, but that gets backed up right about now. Now if you follow the railroad tracks ….”

Alice always asked for directions and would not have had any adventures if she hadn’t. Some adventures i can do without.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 16, 2008 at 9:51 am

Posted in Transportation

Honda rolls out Hydrogen Car

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Globe and Mail

Well you can find it there and many other places. It is actually an agency story from Tokyo.

New Honda Fuel Cell car

It is said to be the first production fuel cell car – but the volumes are going to be very low.

Honda expects to lease out a “few dozen” units this year and about 200 units within a year. In California, a three-year lease will run $600 (U.S.) a month, which includes maintenance and collision coverage.

Among the first customers are actress Jamie Lee Curtis and filmmaker husband Christopher Guest, actress Laura Harris, film producer Ron Yerxa, as well as businessmen Jon Spallino and Jim Salomon.

That’s payback for Arnie’s “hydrogen highway” but really delivers very little apart from column inches. And of course have a real Hollywood star name associated with the new car is good press too. But no-one is expected to go to a showroom and order one. In fact the chances of any ordinary Joe switching away from an SUV to one of these is slim to none.

As the piece points out, how you get the hydrogen determines whether this is a good policy move or not. And in terms of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in California these may be worse than a hybrid. The lease rates are artificially low too. Honda is charging these to its R&D budget, not making money on them for a long time.

For most people now the big issue is gas prices – not air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions – but their response is actually doing more to reduce both both than any alternative fuel. They are taking transit.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 16, 2008 at 9:40 am

Robertson wins Vision vote

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Frances Bula, Vancouver Sun

This is a big surprise, and shows the difficulty of accurately predicting how these things will go. All the speculation revolved around the use of second preferences, which turned out not to be important.

Robertson easily defeated Vision councillor Raymond Louie, who would have been the city’s first Chinese mayoral candidate if chosen, and park-board commissioner Allan De Genova.

He got 3,495 votes out of almost 6,800 cast, while Louie got only 2,244, drawing heavily from a variety of ethnic communities. De Genova got 981.

I think the lesson here is that the other two had a track record that held both of them back, and Roberston has a better chance of winning the backing of COPE, which avoids the risk of a left wing split and increases the likelihood that Peter Ladner will not get the Mayor’s chair. The NPA is fractured, but will doubtless now be galvanised into an anti-Robertson campaign.

It does seem a bit odd to me to see an MLA wanting to become a Mayor – I would have thought the more usual path is the other way around. After all both Gordon Campbell and Mike Harcourt were both Mayors before they became Premiers.

I must admit great distaste for people who organise blocks of voters based on their ethnicity. This seems to me to take us back to some of the most corrupt times in municipal government – Tammany Hall and all that. But also the idea that people can be both told how to vote, and marched around like troops from one party to another on the whims of the organisers based on what they claim they can deliver to their constituency, is wholly contrary to what I understand to be the meaning of the words “representative democracy”.

Robertson’s team does deserve credit for getting a much greater involvement of people who were formerly left out of local politics and especially younger people. This is an important message to the old guard at the NPA, who have assumed that they “owned” Vancouver, but whose time may now be up. I hope.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 16, 2008 at 8:58 am

Posted in politics

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Pilgrim’s progress

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The following is reproduced in its entirety by kind permission of Karl Perrin

Burns Bog June 7th

Welcome to Crescent Slough.

My name is Karl Perrin, from the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. Sister Cecelia Hudec and I helped organize this pilgrimage in 1999, and we did it again with a lot of help from a lot of people. Let’s hear it for all the volunteers! We did it with no budget, so do not donate money. Just share what you have with each other. Help each other.

Dear Friends,

Some things are—not for sale.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, pilgrims all, some things are not for sale.

We are walking to a sacred site, Burns Bog. This is our cathedral, and within our cathedral are many rooms. We’ve got Deas Island, the richest farmland in Canada, the magical Forest and Burns Bog, ten times the size of Stanley Park.

Today, from Deas Island we crossed a two lane highway, with traffic monitors guarding our safety. Imagine an additional four-lane highway, right here. The path of the proposed Gateway South Fraser Perimeter Road is beneath our feet. Imagine it.

We walked here safely, in spite of the traffic and the pollution. On this site, a huge Gateway interchange will be built, unless we stop it.

The fine particulate matter from diesel ships and trucks will clog, not only our lungs, but the “Lungs of the Lower Mainland”, all the animals and plants that live and breathe here.

I ask you: Do we want more pollution? (No!)

Do you know what happens when the ozone which burns our lungs, is inhaled by plants? I’ll tell you, they close down their stoma, the openings on their leaves, which take in carbon dioxide. So the wild trees, as well as our local farm produce, can’t breathe efficiently, and their growth is stunted. When you add in the acid rain, and the greenhouse gases which warm our climate, you wonder: who’s doing the math on this 7 billion dollar mega-project? The costs to our health, the costs to farm produce, the costs to our earth, far outweigh the profits going into a few developers’ pockets. Some things are not for sale!

I ask you people: Do we want this monstrosity? (No!)

Dear friends, brothers and sisters, very soon, as we gather for the final push to Sherwood Forest, we will compete with the Landfill traffic to get to the peace of the Forest.

I want you to be careful. I want you to take care of each other, because the shoulder between the road and the ditch is very narrow.

But I also want you to imagine what will happen to the Barn Owls, who sleep by day in the dim, calm corners of the forest, and at night come out to forage on mice and rats. The trucks will come right through here all night long, 24-7. The rodents scurry across four lanes, and some of them get squashed–fresh meat for a hungry owl. The owl will swoop down to pluck the road-kill stuck to the pavement. Meanwhile a truck is bearing down.

Now, an owl is no match for a big container rig. Bam! There goes an owl. Bam! There goes a skunk! Bam! There goes a deer…

Ladies and gentlemen, Gateway is a death trap.

Without the keystone species, the eagles, hawks, and owls, the rodents will run rampant. The gulls will over-populate and become malnourished.

The beautiful Sandhill cranes who forage on the farmland and rest in the Bog, will get no rest with the noise, the pollution, the lights flashing day and night.

The millions of birds, who rest here, migrating like pilgrims, north to south, and south to north, will get no rest, no food. The billions of birds, salmon, mammals, and the zillions of tiny plants, which make up this unique eco-system–all will be threatened, as the Bog itself dries out, and ignites, bringing fire upon fire.

And after it has burned and the children of Abbotsford, and the seniors of Chilliwack are intoxicated with the smog of the Bog, and the huge carbon reserves of these peatlands are added to diesel exhaust as we burn up the planet, after all that… we will say, “Why?” “Why did we let it happen?”

“Why did we think that truck traffic was a wonderful way to spend tax dollars?”

And then we will say, “Hey, we didn’t vote for that!” “Victoria never asked us if we wanted a truck freeway through our Bog, through Annieville and the 9,000 year old aboriginal archeological sites on the Fraser River.

No-one asked us if we wanted to “pave paradise, put up a parking lot.” Some things are not for sale. Some things are sacred. The Bog is sacred, our children are sacred, the eagles in Sherwood Forest and they never got a vote.

Our living, breathing children never got a vote.

Now I ask you people: Do we want this trucking freeway? (No!)

They said it was a “DONE DEAL” the day it was announced.

Well I’ve got an announcement for you, Mr. Kevin Falcon: Gateway is not a done deal. It’s a “dumb deal”, and with global warming it’s getting dumber and dumber.

As UBC’s Bill Rees says: “Gateway is ludicrous”.

It’s monumentally stupid. It’s like, we don’t have a Notre Dame, or a Golden Temple, or a Taj Mahal, but we do have the most beautiful place on earth, so let’s put a bunch of trucks on it, and stink up the place. Let’s improve the view with containers piled up to the sky.

Let me ask you, people, is that what we want? (No!)

Listen to the tigers, the polar bears, the coral and the cod. Where are the salmon and the cedar?

And so Mr. Falcon, I will not allow it.

My friends, the eagles and hawks will not allow it. The barn owls will lay down their lives on your freeway, Mr. Falcon. The river will run red, and we will cry and grieve, “Why did we ever let it happen?” But Mr. Falcon, I, for one, will not let it happen.

We, sir, are a peaceful people. But we are angry. We don’t want your stinking trucks.

Some things are: not for sale.

We don’t want your smoking ships.

Some things are: not for sale.

We don’t want your death trap highways.

Some things are: not for sale.

And Mr. Falcon, and Mr. Campbell, we love this land. Mr. Falcon and Mr. Campbell, listen to your hearts. You know this Gateway thing will never fly.

Put it down. Give peace a chance.

Because it just ain’t gonna happen.

Some things are not for sale, and our integrity as people of faith, is not for sale. Let the river live. Let Sherwood Forest live! Let Burns Bog survive. And let us all live together in peace. Let us love one another, and let us love this place, even though it hurts when we must protect what we love. Let our suffering be the pain inherent in the joy of love.

And so, let us hold up our hearts, to love and to suffer. Let us open our hearts to all that is, all that is horrible and all that is beautiful, two sides of the same coin. Let us be brave in our fear, and proud in our grief. No one said compassion was a bowl of cherries. But friends, we were born to love. Let us seek the grace of God to live openly and fully in the glory of Creation. Brothers and sisters, fellow pilgrims, let us walk.

Let us be careful as we hike and stagger to our final destination, Sherwood Forest on Nottingham’s Farm, where we will hold our closing ceremony.

Watch the cars coming through the tunnel under the freeway, and please walk on the far side of the road where the traffic is slower. Continue on the path to the second utility pole. Let’s go. Allez.


Written by Stephen Rees

June 16, 2008 at 8:03 am

Posted in Environment, Gateway, Transportation

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