Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for the ‘shameless self promotion’ Category

“On Bicycles” edited by Amy Walker

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On Bicycles cover

It is available at your friendly local book store: there was a discussion and book signing at The People’s Co-op Boosktore on Commercial Drive last night, and I know that they had some copies left. Or you can buy it on Amazon. When I have done here, I will be posting a review there too. Amy Walker is, as I am sure many of you know the cofounder of Momentum magazine and she also has a blog at

I was asked originally to contribute a piece on the environmental impact of cycling: I responded – “That will be the shortest chapter in the book. There isn’t any.” Well, ok that is an exaggeration, but a pardonable one I think. So my piece now carries the unwieldy title “The Environmental Good of Switching from Car to Bike” and it takes 8 pages. Out of 372 – none of which I have had an opportunity to read until I got my copy last night. Readers of this blog can happily skip over my pages, of course, and now I have read a few of my other favourite contributors, I can only say that I wish I had done a much better job. Todd Littman and Amy herself (she wrote 8 chapters out of 50) set a very high standard indeed.

Amy Walker signing books

If you do not have a bicycle and wonder what benefits you might enjoy I would like to present to you what I think will be some of the most compelling reasons: Youth, Sex and Cake. In the spirit of “you learn something every day” I have to acknowledge that Kristen Steele surprised me when she wrote that cycling makes you better in bed – and she has all the correctly cited academic articles to support that. Of course cycling makes you fitter, and you do burn more calories when you substitute a bike for a ride in a car (or even transit), which is why more people really ought to consider commuting by bicycle. And, as Todd Litman demonstrates, that has economic benefits too. But more and better orgasms ….


Does reading a book actually persuade people to switch mode of travel? Obviously the publisher thinks there is a market for this book for they commissioned it, and not only do I hope that they are right, but that there is a follow up volume. For the common thought that occurred to the contributors in last night’s discussion was “that ought to go in to the next book”.

Unoccupied parking space, useful hitching post

Or is this really a handbook for cycling enthusiasts to use in their on-going cycle advocacy? Certainly on the basis of last night’s event, we were preaching to the converted. But it is definitely the book that I had wished had been written when I started looking at cycling as a transportation policy issue. We have come a long way since my boss said “We mustn’t encourage people to cycle, we will only be killing more of them”.

Of course I hope you will buy this book – or at the very least get your local library to get a copy. Richmond has two.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I’m No 2!

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BC Politics Blog Ranking

Thanks to votermedia on Twitter I thought I would check in on the latest blog rankings. I was gobsmacked to see that I have achieved the not quite top spot – and that is behind the Tyee which is, of course a highly professional operation.

I have not been paying attention to this site so I was completely unaware of this ranking until today. The page views on this blog have been pretty steadily bobbing along at around 15,000 views per month. To those of you who went to the ballot site and supported this blog – thank you.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 1, 2009 at 6:41 pm


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Copied from “Beyond Robson” 2k8 in review

Top Blogs
The Hook
Chalked Up
Vancouver is Awesome
(Tie) Miss 604, David Eby, Stephen Rees

Written by Stephen Rees

December 12, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Mount Baker

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Mount Baker, originally uploaded by Stephen Rees.

Cold clear weather and a stray beam of sunlight through the overcast. Remarkable clarity. Taken from the eastern end of Steveston Highway

This picture chosen by Claire Martin will be on the CBC Vancouver News at six on Tuesday November 25

Written by Stephen Rees

November 25, 2008 at 10:54 am

MicroPoll : Do you like the new look of this blog?

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Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 12:54 pm

They revised my theme and told me afterwards

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It took me by surprise and I do not know yet if it is an improvement. On principle I would rather that they offered me a choice first. I can switch back to the older style – it is still available. But should I?

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Written by Stephen Rees

September 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Political Savvy Meter

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I like Rafe Mair. He is, like me getting increasing green and radical as he ages. We are both grumpy old men. The Tyee’s Monday Headlines did not hit my inbox until after I had shut down yesterday evening (I wanted to watch “The Murder of Jesse James …” before I left for work if only for the steam train) so I have only just come across this gem

On the assumption that political columnists ought to declare their colours, I hereby disclose that I will vote Green. Under the Elections Act, the Greens will get $1.75 per vote cast and that, to me, is a better election return that anything the others promise.

The fact that the other parties have conspired to supress the Greens and refused to participate in the tv leaders debates if the Green Party was allowed in was another good reason for me to vote Green this time too. But I also like the Tyee as a source of news and comment, as they are not part of a media conglomerate – and their selection of stories “reported elsewhere” is often food for thought and blog posts.

I am heading out of town again this week. I want to take advanatge of the last week of summer sunshine. I remember from my school days that early September weather was always much better than that during the summer holidays – and of course venues like the Myra Canyon trestles should be much quieter than they were last month. The last time I travelled through that area, it was the summer when the whole province seemed to be burning. Our road trip had to be cut short in Canmore as I could not breathe due to the heavy pall of smoke everywhere. So we missed out on that section of the former Kettle Valley railway. The trestles have been rebuilt – and it has taken me some time to get orgainsed enough to get back there. Hopefully wifi access and a notebook computer will keep me in touch, and I will try harder to keep posting here. My summer holiday seems to have caused a considerable drop off in page views.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 9, 2008 at 7:48 am

In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop

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New York Times

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Apparently some bloggers are “paid by the piece”. For the record, I am not paid. Period. Not for this blog or the one on Blogspot or the pieces on Vancouver Metblog.

I have recently been paid for some of my pictures. Not often and not enough. But something.

I do not do this for money. The internet was not built that way. Much the best feature of the internet experience is how much is given away – software, operating systems, information. And usually the free stuff is better than the stuff people sell. In fact the harder they try to sell it, the less I want it.

Blogging is simply about passing along what I have found and what I think about it. It is to some extent a way to give away the sort of analysis that clients and governments used to pay me for. Not that they paid much attention. I used to get the feeling sometimes that they regarded what I said as wrong because I was saying it. They accused me of paranoia. But fortunately I have been shown to have been right more often than wrong.

We all of us need others to pay attention to us. The cruelest thing society can do is to shun someone. Unfortunately since so much of the media here is in so few hands, and the control of the media is used to mainly to reinforce one world view (despite their claims about “balance”) that many of us seek other outlets for our views. It seems that there will be times when we have to force the powers that be to listen – since their pantomime of “consultation” is so ineffective. In between those times it is important I think to keep up a steady flow of what I hope looks like reason and thought and not just invective.

The only rewards I get are your comments and page views. And they are greatly appreciated.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 21, 2008 at 8:52 am


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Today we hit the all time record and broke through 1,000 views in a day

Best Day Ever: 1,016 — Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thank you one and all

Written by Stephen Rees

April 15, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Free Transit

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CBC 690 AM

Regular readers here will know that I do not think this is a good idea. Neither did the people of Geneva . Though it was a bit of a surprise that Frank Buckholz thought our fares were a bargain. But this idea keeps coming back.

On the radio Dave Olsen (who wrote the Tyee series) presented the other side and at the North Shore Transportation Panel were Eric Doherty and Jane Sterk (Leader of the Green Party of BC)

I was asked to provide my “usual summary” but sitting on a panel and sitting in the audience are two different things. Not only that but there was a timer on every speaker and the questions were set and then rotated. So the format was really not conducive to note taking. I didn’t take my lap top, and the notes I scribbled were to make sure I did not miss any of the points I wanted to make.

This is being written the next morning and I hope that if any of the participants feel that it does not reflect their views that they will post a comment. And there is no time limit here!

Dave Olsen has done a lot of research on this issue – and the first thing he says is that you should not just take out the farebox. He likes the example of Hasselt in Belgium. He also said that some larger high ridership systems are also considering fares free systems including San Francisco. He thought that we needed to have done transit in this region much better in the past – he likes surface light rail – and the first thing we need to do before we go for completely free is expand service and look at free fares off peak, where he said there is currently spare capacity. He thought that it should be possible to use the sources that now subsidize road users to finance transit use, and that abandoning fare collection would also reduce costs, although he did point out that Translink does not separate out the cost of fare collection in its accounts.

Jane Sterk is a very impressive politician. She was the only speaker who consistently spoke for less than the time allotted her but managed to be balanced and fair. She also was clear that free fares are not a solution in themselves but could be part of a much wider transformation of society, which would see more people living where they work and an overall reduction in transport demand. She opposed the idea of encouraging longer commutes, and thought that the carbon tax was a positive step in the right direction if only a very small step. I should perhaps point out that the meeting was actually organised by the Green Party, though it was free and open to the public.

Eric Doherty talked about UPass, and how it had out performed all predictions. He conceded that overcrowding had been (and still is) a major problem, but with better planning a universal pass system showed promise for promoting a shift from driving to transit. Unfortunately it also promoted a shift from car pooling and bike riding too. He spoke about the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from driving, and the costs that car dependency imposed on society. In contrast, the cost of supporting transit was trivial now and would not be very much greater if fares were lower, but the pay back in terms of health and the environment would far exceed the cost. He agreed with Jane that longer distance commuting – and he singled out West Coast Express – should not be free.

The discussion was really more about how we get from where we are – with an inadequate transit system that is expensive and difficult to use – to where we need to be. And that allowed concepts to be introduced like paying for road use as a way of funding transit. There was also an interesting comment that free transit could reduce walking. The pro-side thought that was worthwhile since it would reduce pedestrian casualties. But it also became clear that most people also wanted better walking and cycling facilities too. The title of the discussion might have been free transit but we spent quite a bit of time on what is wrong with bike lanes at present.

I am not going to use this space to repeat what I said as it is all here – somewhere or another. But there was a high degree of consensus – the main differences being priorities and methods. “How are you going to pay for that” is a difficult issue, and just identifying the current subsidies to car use (and disagreeing about how big they are) really did not resolve the issue.

No major transit system is fares free. All systems that are have support from national or federal taxes. They are all in smaller cities, none in major conurbations. But there are also wide ranging free passes for different groups, and widespread dissatisfaction with the way that BC treats people who cannot afford current transit fares. It was also generally agreed that BC communities outside Metro Vancouver would need to look to their rather different circumstances.

As it happens the Guardian’s travel blog looks at free bus passes in the UK this morning.

UPDATE April 5 A Guardian reporter and his Dad try to travel the length of England on his free bus pass

Written by Stephen Rees

March 31, 2008 at 7:38 pm