Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for March 6th, 2009

Intersection cameras to target bad drivers in B.C

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Vancouver Sun

This week’s Friday afternoon announcement is not very significant. The old film cameras at red lights are going to be replaced by digital. There are currently only 30 cameras and 120 locations, but there will be 140 in future.

Of course this is not going to happen quickly or before the election and will still concentrate on intersections. Not speeding. And while crashes at intersections are important, excessive speed is the thing that turns a fender bender into a major casualty. And as the cops on Highway 99 at Bridgeport Rpad this lunch time know it is pretty easy to pick up a bunch of speeders. Actually they had their radar gun on the wrong side of the road, but it is easy pickings as the freeway dimension road has a 60 limit for quite a distance south of the bridge. The other direction should have been the priority as that is a work zone – with narrow lanes and a zig-zag – so the grossly excessive speeds I noticed there were a real threat to other vehicles – and workers on the bus lane construction. A much nigher priority in my estimation. Not that the cops stayed long once the traffic radio stations noticed them.

What are really needed in this province are average speed cameras. And the new intersection camera could indeed be set up to work like that as well, in the right places. Since the number plate is recorded and the distance between two cameras is known, and vehicle covering that distance in too short a time should be ticketed. And there should be none of the shenanigans that befuddled the courts over photo radar.

But of course we actually do not really care about road safety or the lives that could be saved. Much better to hope no-one really notices so get the news out when they are looking elsewhere, because there is an election coming up.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Road safety

Business community rejects councillor’s ‘car-free’ plan

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Vancouver Courier (thanks to the Morning Brew) headline wrier manages a bit of editorialising and stretches the truth a bit. The business community has not even been asked

Lyn Hellyar, executive director of the West End BIA, believes her association isn’t keen to close streets over several Sundays.

“Why would any merchants want our streets closed for a day for 12 Sundays?” she said. “It depends, I guess, if they feel it brings business or doesn’t and we haven’t asked our members that yet.”

And, of course, when they are asked the exact wording of the question will be really important – and would you trust Lyn Hellyar to word it objectively?

To quote myself  “Cities are supposed to be about people interacting – not cars blasting through as fast they can.” I wrote that about a plan to close parts of Broadway in New York City. The Vancouver proposal is much more modest – and refers to a proposal to close a few shopping streets on Sundays – a move which has already increased takings on the streets where it has been tried. Of course, Lyn Hellyar also appears ignorant of that – and of the many other cities where car free streets work well.

Street cafe

I started a group on flickr for pictures of such places – and the variety and geographic distribution of them is stunning. This picture happens to be of “Davie Day” – a daylong car free street festival at Davie Village in Downtown Vancouver last year. And, by all accounts, was very successful. But of course when you are dealing with entrenched opinion moulders like BIA leaders and journalists who work for “the man” do not expect anything like facts or experience get in the way of the usual spin.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 6, 2009 at 11:17 am

Posted in car free day

Protestors and mainstream media

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The residents of Bridgeview in North Surrey have been protesting this week against the destruction of houses in their neighborhood to facilitate the construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road. It is expected that heavy machinery will be brought in shortly to demolish the last house that stands in its proposed route.  This protest has been going on for the last four days, but a Google news search turns up only one reference to it – in the Tyee.

Gateway blockade, day 4

Gateway blockade, day 4

If you relied on the mainstream media for your news and information, you would have remained in ignorance of this protest. It is simply “not news” as far as the corporate mainstream  media are concerned. It is of course being covered by the Livable Region Blog and Gatewaysucks – both of whom are encouraging opponents of the freeway to join the protest.  So neither are exactly news media. Both are campaigns for saner transportation planning – just as this blog is.

Now while I understand  that news editors have to make hard choices everyday about what to put in the paper, with electronic versions of most papers now mandatory, the pressure on page space has lessened. It is quite possible for lesser items to be skipped in the dead tree version but still appear on line. (The Tyee only exists on line and is adamantly not mainstream.) It is clear to me that the media in this region are failing – and failing badly – and not just because they refuse to report on an issue I care about. The Gateway is a huge government program affecting all three levels 0f government. The story here should surely be that billions of money are being thrown at a program for reasons which no longer make any sense – even if they  did originally, which is debatable but really has not been examined very much.

I am not supporting any illegal activity. But I do wonder what it takes to get some attention – and why it is that protests such as this one – the Eagleridge Buffs protest 0r the treesit in Langford got so little attention.  I think it is not coincidental that mainstream media in this region is in very few  hands – and those hands are also very much identified with the right wing political views that currently dominate national and provincial governments. The press, tv and radio here have been notably easy going on these governments – despite a string of scandals which are far more momentous than the deck and the pocket knife that the press used to bring down a left wing premier. If it wasn’t for journalists such as Bill Tieleman and Rafe Mair shameful issues such as the “railgate” scandal and the P3 power boondoggles would have been ignored completely.

One reason that right wing governments keep getting elected (aside from the failings of the first past the post electoral system) is that most of media – being controlled by big business – will give any government that favours busines interests an easy ride. It is not until you go to other places and look at their media you realise how ill served we are.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 6, 2009 at 9:37 am

Posted in Gateway