Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for August 28th, 2008

Zoom Airlines Goes Bust

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Zoom Airlines B767-300ER

Zoom Airlines B767-300ER

I saw this story on the CBC this evening and no doubt it will be all over the press in the morning. As usual passengers were given no warning as creditors slapped court orders onto planes.

I travelled by Zoom for the first – and only – time this year, when I went to London and back from Paris. They were very cheap compared to Air Canada and generally similar in terms of service quality, although the planes seemed a bit shabby and the interiors worn. I did wonder about their viability – I have been writing here for some time about the effect of rising fuel costs on airtlines – so I loaded up on flight insurance before we left. As usual the tv news managed to find some tearful people who were trying hard to make other arrangements, and finding the price of last minute ticket purchases to get home very expensive. It is not as if this was an unfamilar story – any  more than the Gulf Coast being the target of hurricanes, but as usual many are unprepared.

There will be other similar stories in the coming months. More airlines will go to the wall. Demand for air travel has also started to decline, as the economy begins to adjust to the new reality. But I wonder how long it will take for the boosters – the people who back Gateway and airport expansions – to wake up?

Written by Stephen Rees

August 28, 2008 at 7:17 pm

Posted in Air Travel

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Death leads to call for physically separated cycling network

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SURREY – The recent tragic death of a cyclist in Surrey has city council candidate Paul Hillsdon leading the call for safe cycling facilities across the city. The cyclist, in his 50’s, was hit from behind by a Honda Accord in Newton, and was pronounced dead at the scene. One of Hillsdon’s main platform pillars is sustainable transportation and his vision for cycling is bold – putting safety of the rider first and foremost.

“On average, bikes travel 15 km/h, while cars and trucks go 60 km/h +. Why these two forms of transportation are designated one and the same is beyond absurd,” said Hillsdon. “Surrey has, at best, bike lanes on some roads, and a thin white line of paint is not, and was not in this case, safe to cycle on. If a cycling route is not safe enough for a child or a senior to ride, then it is not safe.”
Hillsdon’s vision calls for a three pronged cycling network across Surrey. Neighbourhood roads would be traffic calmed with bike lanes, recreational greenways would meander through parks and natural spaces, while all major arterial streets would feature physically separated bike paths. Physical separation could be achieved through relatively cheap means such as bollards, cement blocks, or even small plant-filled boulevards.
“People should not have to fear for their lives on a bicycle. Over 1/3 of all citizens in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam use bikes as their main form of transport and it’s because the main travel routes are physically separated from the roadway and cars. It’s not rocket science!”
“If we want to get people out of their cars and onto bicycles, we need a safe network and this will only be achieved be showing leadership in the region and building physically separated bike routes along major arterials in Surrey. Cyclists like myself will not stand idly by while cars kill us for choosing a healthy, and environmentally friendly, mode of transport.”

Written by Stephen Rees

August 28, 2008 at 10:58 am

Posted in cycling

We must protest Highway to Hell

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Tom Sandborn, Vancouver Courier

Nothing you have not already read here, but this is a neat summary. And, as he says, while they still do not have federal sign off, it seems very unlikely that the civil servants at Health Canada and Environment Canada who raised some very important questions will get any backing from their political masters. Stephen Harper seems to regard the melting of the polar ice cap as simply an opportunity to drill for more oil. The fact that this may also lead to military confrontation with the Russians is probably a bonus from his perspective.

Protest all you like, it will not stop the Gateway. I happen to think that a legal challenge might. Despite the lax nature of the gutted legislation, even the most cursory glance through the documents submitted for the EA shows that there was no due diligence. The gaps and errors are glaring. The whole process was a sham. The government owes the people a duty of care and it is quite clear that narrow vested interest has overridden the public good. And I think it would not be too hard to get a judge to agree and get a writ requiring that they do the job properly. But it would, of course, be expensive. The law is open to everyone, just like the Ritz Hotel.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 28, 2008 at 10:45 am

Posted in Gateway