Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for January 2018

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silence

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via Photo Challenge: Silence


I am a bit dubious about a challenge that asks for silence but then illustrates it with a picture of the ocean – at Big Sur – and states

The only sounds came from the ocean, the birds, and the chapel bells that rang several times a day.

Sorry Cheri that does not sound like silence to me. Now, on the top of a mountain there might be birdsong – and probably the noise of the wind – but I do not recall there was much of either at this location. Manning Park, southern BC, and in what the map said were “subalpine meadows” next to Blackwall Peak (2063m). One of the quietest places I can recall because at the end of September there were very few people.


Pingback notes  the top link takes you to a much earlier WordPress challenge – not today’s photo challenge. That is embedded in the text above the map. Odd how often WordPress challenges muck up pingbacks. The first one comes from using the “post about silence” tag in the WordPress reader version. The second from the instructions from the DailyPost version.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 17, 2018 at 11:05 am

Posted in photography

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That graphic again

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You have seen this more than once on this blog.  I am adding this to my collection of street space stats picsCanberra bsu car walk

They put 40 cars for 69 people. That is 1.7 people per car – way more than most North American cities manage. We get around 1.2.


Written by Stephen Rees

January 11, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Transportation

Weekly Photo Challenge: Weathered

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This is a photo I took in May of 2011 at the Seattle Art Museum. The text below it is taken from the museum’s web page.


Curve XXIV


Ellsworth Kelly

American, 1923 – 2015

Ellsworth Kelly arrives at his work through a prolonged experience of observing nature and the distilling of observations and sensations to simple lines, planes and forms. Although its silhouette appears entirely abstract, Curve XXIV suggests a rust-hued autumn gingko leaf. The narrowest of relief sculptures, it projects and expansive space: its surface coloration and texture echo painting-a reflection of the artist’s fascination with the overlap of these art forms.
3/8″ weathering steel, 76 x 228 x 3/8 in.; 5″ off wall (193 x 579.1 x 1 cm), Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2016.17.2, © Ellsworth Kelly

Provenance: [Leo Castelli, New York]; Purchased from gallery by Virginia and Bagley Wright, Seattle, August 1, 1981.

Now on view at Olympic Sculpture Park


You can also see other weathered pictures of mine from the flickr group “Rusty and Crusty” 

Written by Stephen Rees

January 10, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Who will pay for the subway?

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This weekend Mike Smythe of the Province got a jump on the debate that will re-awaken this year.

“The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission is studying a range of new taxes, fees, levies, surcharges and, yes, tolls as a way to pay for badly needed transportation improvements.”

And as usual for the mouthpiece of the far right, business is all important, lobby he put the question in the way the Republicans like to see things framed

 “it could mean you’ll have to do something nobody likes: paying more money to the government. “

Actually there are quite a few things I am vehemently in favour of: healthcare, education, contract enforcement

Did that last one surprise you? If you are trying to run a business, or if you want to pay a business to provide what you need, contract enforcement is a critical issue. If people can cheat you without fear of consequences, then we have anarchy. Government delivers a wide range of services – and some of them could be delivered by private enterprise, but you would not want to live in such a society. You simply cannot afford to pay for private healthcare or private education. Very few people can, which is why we should be looking very hard indeed at the record of the BC Liberals who did their best to hobble public services in favour of their private sector friends. There used to be a system that ensured that people who could not afford a lawyer still had access to the courts. That has been carefully removed in BC. But the courts are a public service and must not become a tool of the wealthy to oppress the poor. Justice and the rule of law are too important to be contracted out to Securicor or the Hell’s Angels.

In the case of where we live and how we get around simple geometry means that not everyone can drive to meet every need all the time. Cars do not work very well in a crowded city – but a crowded city is exactly what is needed to meet most human requirements. Until cars were mass produced, most people got around under their own power and mostly on their own two feet. It has only been relatively recently that walking became a crime.

You need to read this article in the New York Times Magazine to understand why good transit is essential to the success of a city – if it isn’t already apparent to you.

This why Derek Corrigan is wrong when he says that the Patullo Bridge replacement is more important than the Broadway subway and the Surrey LRT. And it is not about the war on the car or the battle between the city and the suburbs – both of which make for Good Copy for papers like the Province, but are both largely mythical. It is about the kind of place we want to live in, the kind of place that will attract the footloose industries like hi-tech and tourism, and the kind of future we face. It is the economy – and it is also the environment. It is also livability, sustainability and whatever the current buzzword is that says, ‘we have seen what urban sprawl looks like and works like and we don’t want that here’.


Written by Stephen Rees

January 8, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Posted in Transportation

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

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The Arbutus Greenway has been covered extensively in this blog. A disused railway line has been converted into a multiple use trail, with different, temporary, uses in several sections. The bikeway and walkway is continuous but in other sections there is a chip trail for runners (and dogs) not that either of them seem to use it very much. Early responses to the use of blacktop for the bike/walk path was that it did not look very green, but a number of areas had been hydroseeded with native species – wildflowers if you prefer – weeds if you are an urban gardener.


The close-up shows a yellow poppy and some white flowering something or other. The seeded areas had been looking barren for most of the summer: it was too dry and hot for the seeds to germinate. But with the return of the rains (these images were taken in September) this lot seemed to pop up overnight. OK – pardonable exaggeration. But growth nevertheless.

Like I said, all this is temporary pursuant yet more consultations and a more permanent landscaping plan, until, in the fullness of time, trams return.



Written by Stephen Rees

January 3, 2018 at 4:19 pm