Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for April 2018

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

with 5 comments

Lines

I took this photo back in 2009, when I lived in Richmond.

Much more recently, we were checking out the improvements that have been made to the seawall around False Creek near Granville Island. On flickr someone commented on the “leading line” – but all I thought I was doing was noting how much better the path is when there is a separate space for cyclists and pedestrians.

IMG_3161IMG_3162

So this is my response to the challenge Lines

Written by Stephen Rees

April 25, 2018 at 11:27 am

Consultations on the BLine for 41st and the Greenway

leave a comment »

Thanks to Rick Jelfs of Transport Action BC for the heads up on two sets of consultations going on at present. This illustration comes from the City of Vancouver’s PDF of the Arbutus Greenway in its expected final form with a streetcar!

Screen Shot 2018-04-20 at 10.00.32 AM

  • TransLink is asking for public input on four new B-Line routes – 41st Ave (UBC – Joyce Stn);  Fraser Hwy (Surrey Central – Langley); Lougheed Hwy (Coquitlam Central – Maple Ridge); Marine Drive (Dundarave – Phibbs Exchange). The 41st Ave. proposal includes the return of local trolley coach service along 41st Ave. More information at https://www.translink.ca/bline.
  • Vancouver has a “proposed design concept” for the Arbutus Greenway at http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/arbutus-greenway.aspx

I must admit I was a bit sceptical of the 41st Avenue B-Line until I saw what was actually proposed – which involves a considerable change to the current #41 – which would be cut back to Crown and would use trolleybuses – which is something that I have been pushing whenever anyone would listen for many years.

2149 Training on 41st at Cambie

Trolleybuses aren’t used on the 41 right now, but the wires on 41st are used for training and relocating trolleys. Probably much less now that Oakridge OMC has been sold.

V9486 Hybrid

The current generation of hybrid Novabus, has a final electric drive – but no poles even though 600v is within easy reach.

Xcelsior bendy on 41st at Arbutus

The articulated buses used on the 43 and 49 that will be on the B Line

BYD Battery Bus

The short lived experiment with loaned battery buses from China (BYD). Another trial of different battery buses was recently announced. They will be able to charge along the route (100 Marine Drive) but again not using trolleypoles.  All those pictures were taken by me along West 41st Avenue.

I am of course also pleased to see a cross North Shore B Line running through both West and North Vancouver. I was involved with the first groundbreaking bus service to cut through the iron curtain that used to separate transit on that side of the water. There is even talk of combining City and District in North Van which at that time was unthinkable! But I digress. Even if you can’t manage the open houses you can still do the surveys.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 20, 2018 at 10:45 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Prolific

with 6 comments

My choice this week is to highlight an artist who was indeed highly prolific. Marc Chagall lived a long life (1887 – 1985) and his entry in wikipedia is huge. He not only produced lots of paintings but his work extends to a quite astonishing number of different media. And a great deal of it is displayed for all to see, not just squirrelled away by collectors, or hidden in the vaults of museums.

Marc Chagall's Ceiling

This is the ceiling of the Paris Opera (Palais Garnier) commissioned in 1963.

The Four Seasons: Chagall

“The Four Seasons” is a ceramic mosaic on four sides of this huge block of concrete in Chicago.

Chagall panorama 2 plane

I made a stitched panorama from one side – its 4535 wide so worth downloading from Flickr. Here are a couple of details

IMG_7570IMG_7575

And then there are these stained glass windows at the Art Institute

IMG_7398IMG_7399IMG_7400

And we have only lightly touched the surface of his oeuvre.

Bonus – I found another from our trip to Paris in 2012 – this was in the Centre Pompidou

IMG_5144

Written by Stephen Rees

April 18, 2018 at 10:18 am

How to Blog

leave a comment »

I am not going to claim any special wisdom here.

However, someone called Garret P Vreeland ran a blog for twelve years and summarised what he had learned in this blog post which one of my twitter contacts decided to post there.

I am not going to suggest that his experience is the same as mine. For one thing I am still a hunt and peck typist and my technical knowledge of things computery is patchy and self taught. I have never earned a living through that – but I have been sitting at a keyboard for many years now. But I think he hits more than a few nails on the head. Just as for instances:-

Read blogs and doubt, for God’s sake. We are largely editorialists without the pedigrees you find at the major news outlets. The news media considers us vultures picking meat from the bones of intrepid journalists who collect the information first-hand. It’s a cute metaphor, but it points up something vitally important. We’re making judgments second, third, fourth-hand from the actual originators. Read us, yes. Then go on and test our statements as hypotheses, not declarations of fact.

The last risk I’d like to mention is that of social isolation. I see both social media aficionados and new webloggers falling into this trap. Your most compelling experiences will happen away from the computer or smartphone. As Groucho said, “I love my cigar, but I put it down once in a while.” I call it my “Marxist rule”. The internet will always be there when you come back. Never, ever trade interacting via computer for having a great time away from the internet.

Monetization. Cha-ching, cha-ching. Not everything needs to be, or should be, monetized. Virtually all ‘blog’ related articles nowadays are focused on turning your weblog into a money generating device right from the get-go. None of the folks I know got into weblogging for the money – we did it because we loved the form, the community.

I hope that is enough to whet your appetite. One thing I disagree with is his determination of font size. Maybe that is because I use wordpress.com which takes care of how this thing looks on different screens. I also use the command and + keys together to make html formatted page types larger when I am reading them. This also works for a lot of the email I see too. There is also a gesture that can be made on the touchpad, which I seem to make involuntarily when trying to do something else. Chrome has a command in the View menu to correct that too.

Enough from me on this: go read him.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 18, 2018 at 8:05 am

Posted in blogging

False Creek Seawall Improvement

leave a comment »

The latest upgrade of the seawall from Granville Island to Hinge Park is now open. The separation between bicycles and pedestrians has been greatly improved, and the experience of walking on this path is much better. However, there are still people who do not appreciate what they need to do to make it conflict free.

For a start, the sort of pedestrian who simply wanders, oblivious of others, and pays no attention to signs or paviours.

Groups of people, who think their simple number gives them some kind of priority.

Cyclists who want to break their personal best time.

People who do not fit into either category of “on foot” or “on bike” – wheelchairs, rollerblades (one of whom was pushing a sort of racing basinette/SUV) – they don’t know which side they are supposed to use.

Very young children who have just had the training wheels taken off their bikes. (Actually they are doing fine: it’s the “adults” who are the issue. )

While there is not nearly as much dodging and weaving going on, most of the probable collisions are avoided more by luck than forethought. To the MAMILs I would say, why ride at speed into a blind bend on a path used by a lot of people, some of whom may be unpredictable?

I am also a bit disappointed about the lack of foresight shown by the engineers who designed the drainage. Guys, you need to think of the next twenty years, not the last twenty years, when it comes to rainfall.

Seawall separation

Really good, strong white concrete line and contrast in surfaces: failing paint is not going to be an issue. I know the problems that bollards cause – but could you consider a raised curb? Or something tactile?

Separation

Is that sign actually necessary?

More mud on the path

There needs to be something here to intercept the water/mud streaming down the slope. And you do not want the soil washing into the creek!

Muddy path

And this is a mess!

New improved seawall path

This is better!

 

 

 

Written by Stephen Rees

April 15, 2018 at 6:08 pm

Posted in Transportation

WPC Awakening – part two

with one comment

Yesterday I responded to the Weekly Photo Challenge with pictures of a Blooming Spring taken in 2015, basically because of the absence of sunshine and blue sky. I am pleased to report that conditions in Vancouver BC have recovered today – though the forecast is a return to rain tomorrow. However, I made the best of it, with an outdoor patio lunch and a brief walk through the neighborhood to get a car2go.

Tulips & Heather

Blossom

White blossom

White blossom

As usual I am not good at putting names on botanical objects, so by all means add the information – if you have it off the top of your head – by clicking on the image and leaving a comment on the picture’s flickr page. Thank you.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 12, 2018 at 5:24 pm

Oilsands research “game changer”

leave a comment »

This is a story I saw on the CBC News web page this morning. The short version is that it is possible to recover vanadium from bitumen, and this may have a commercial future in battery production. It is about time that this kind of attention was paid to raw materials in general and mining in particular. One of the first stories I recall reading when I was new to BC (and working for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources) was how new technologies were making mining spoil sites worth re- processing to capture valuable minerals missed in early extractions. The oil sands tailing ponds are currently viewed as simply something to be ignored, and quite probably left for someone else to clean up, once the current “gold rush” approach to exploitation of the tarsands as fast as possible is over.

What caused me to open a new browser window was this bit from the CBC story

“Without storage capabilities, renewable energy production still has to be backstopped by natural gas or other types of traditional power plants.”

That is simply not true. There are all sorts of storage capabilities that can be employed with existing technologies. Elon Musk’s battery project is just one example, but actually it is also recently been reported that one big change has been the re-use of older electric vehicle batteries as longer term off-vehicle storage of power once the initial life in the battery has been completed.

UPDATE

In its first four months of operation, Tesla’s mega-battery system in South Australia was faster, smarter, and cheaper than conventional gas turbines, according to a new report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The performance milestone has observers and analysts excited about a breakthrough in grid security and resilience that could be a death knell for natural gas peaker plants.

 “The 100MW/129MWh Tesla big battery, officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR), was officially switched on December 1,” RenewEconomy recalls, “with 70 MW providing network security for the grid operator, and another 30 MW operating energy arbitrage in wholesale markets.”

A particular highlight was the battery’s “virtually immediate” response to “a major outage of a fossil fuel generator in [New South Wales] on December 18,” prompting AEMO to conclude that “commissioning tests and simulations confirm that the HPR is capable of responding more rapidly to a contingency event than conventional synchronous generation.”

 

Perhaps the most obvious example of available storage is the current hydro installations. Just pump the water back uphill, refill the reservoir and then run it through the generation cycle again. Pumped storage was in use in North Wales at the Trawsfynydd nuclear power station  since 1965! (It has since been decommissioned.) Nuclear power stations have a similar problem to renewables. The power they produce cannot be turned off. The reactor runs all the time including times when there is no need for the electricity. That is just a different way of looking at the intermittent power production of wind and solar power.

Pumped storage is the largest-capacity form of grid energy storage available, and, as of 2017, the United States Department of Energy Global Energy Storage Database reports that PSH accounts for over 96% of all active tracked storage installations worldwide, with a total installed nameplate capacity of over 168 GW.[3]

Pumpstor_racoon_mtn

source

“the study shows the huge advantage to both the United States and Canada of working together to supply much of the zero-carbon energy from Canada’s hydroelectric potential, and to store excess flows of renewable energy in Canada’s hydroelectric reservoirs (just as Denmark stores its excess wind power in Norway’s hydroelectric reservoirs)”

Jeffrey Sachs oped in the Globe

 

There are also proposals to to provide power storage by driving a heavy electric train up a hill when power is available and then letting it run down again using regenerative braking when power is needed. SkyTrain in Vancouver – and trolleybuses – both do this now! And electric motor is a generator run backwards.

The CBC seems far too ready to promote natural gas.  It is actually a worse greenhouse gas producer than coal simply due to the volumes of methane released due to fracking and subsequent processing.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 12, 2018 at 11:50 am