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

Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Research finds pervasive lobbying against climate change regulation by Canada’s oil & gas industry

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SHARE’s analysis shows fossil fuel companies across the sector participated in lobbying activities out of alignment with Paris Agreement climate goals.

September 16, 2020 –  The latest research from SHARE finds Canadian oil and gas companies are continuing to lobby for weaker climate regulations in the interest of short-term profits, while providing inadequate disclosure to investors.

The report Climate Lobbying in the Canadian Energy Sector: Investor Benchmark of Oversight and Disclosure analyzed 22 companies listed in the S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index (TTEN) on their climate lobbying disclosure and found that all have participated in lobbying activities, while none have disclosed their overall spending.

Because investors cannot protect their portfolios from the systemic nature of the climate crisis, they must rely on effective climate policy and regulation to mitigate those risks across the economy,” said SHARE CEO Kevin Thomas.

Even after the Canadian government adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015, parts of the Canadian oil & gas industry have actively lobbied policymakers to block, delay and weaken federal and provincial attempts to transition towards a low-carbon economy. 

“A failure to reach the Paris Agreement’s climate goals will result in massive costs that will ultimately be borne by investors and society as a whole,” said Sarah Couturier-Tanoh, Senior Shareholder Engagement and Policy Analyst at SHARE. “The millions of dollars spent on lobbying have delayed or undermined climate regulation, even though many oil and gas firms have publicly stated their commitment to tackling climate issues.”

The report identifies opportunities for investors to improve their due diligence of corporate lobbying and to engage with investee companies. It also provides companies with a reporting framework and points to better industry practice in Canada to help them improve their climate lobbying disclosure over time.

Read the full report here: https://share.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SHARE_climate_lobbying_3-1.pdf

About SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research & Education)

SHARE mobilizes investor leadership for a sustainable, inclusive and productive economy. We do this by mobilizing our investor network and amplifying their voices in support of improved corporate sustainability practices and better rules and regulations that govern capital markets.

For more information on SHARE, visit: www.share.ca

The above is copied from a Press Release of unusually appropriate content. I am not sure I agree about being unable to protect your portfolio. Divestment from fossil fuel corporations seems a good place to start. Then looking for promising opportunities in renewables will probably enhance investment performance. Big fossil is not doing very well right now so it is both an ethical and profitable approach to dump your holdings in those 22 companies and get something better oriented to the future.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 17, 2020 at 11:06 am

Posted in Transportation

Tagged with ,

The Social Dilemma

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You are using social media. WordPress is not mentioned in this movie. Facebook is. So are Twitter, Instagram, Google, …

The movie is a Netflix original.

I just posted this on Twitter

“I have just watched “The Social Dilemma” served to me by Netflix. (Netflix thinks I am someone else, btw.) I think you should watch it too. Because it deals with why social media – like Twitter – is a Real Problem. An existential problem.”

This is getting very post-modern very fast. But at one point during the movie I began to understand why it was so important for me to get off Facebook and Instagram.

I have the impression that I am probably controlling my social media consumption since I seldom accept what is offered to me. Except that I just wanted to watch something different and the last time we watched Netflix is came up with an interesting suggestion. The movie suggests you never accept another recommendation from YouTube.

I do not use Twitter through its webpage or its app, I use Tweetdeck. That changes how tweets get ranked. I just see a time series. No algorithm is deciding which tweets get priority. So it feels a lot more controllable.

I think that I understand what truth is and I have a pretty reliable bs meter. But using Facebook, bad actors has so managed to convince significant numbers of users of manifest falsehoods.

My suggestion is that if you have a Netflix account you watch the movie, because I would like to see the comments thread below start to fill with suggestions about what we can do to make sure the bad guys don’t win.

And since I have stopped worrying about Views on Flickr, I am also going to abandon any concerns I might have had about Favs.

I am now going to get my dopamine fix from a better source.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 14, 2020 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Transportation

Discounted Doctorow

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I was surprised and charmed to get an email from Cory Doctorow this morning. He had my email address since I wrote to him back in 2013 about an error I found in an ebook of his.

I am also authorised by his email to share its content with you. 



Tell your friends!  Social media is actually good for something,
every once in a while!

 

So I am going to share with you the opportunity to buy his latest audiobook for less than it will cost when it is published on October 13. 

Now I am going to overshare with you material that is about me – and you really want to read about this opportunity – but you can always scroll down now and come back later if you want. I don’t like audiobooks. I don’t listen to them. Or podcasts come to that. I don’t like my attention being monopolized any more. Which is odd because back in the day I was often entranced by radio – especially stories and drama. In fact for while I liked radio better than tv. When I first encountered “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, that was on radio. Now I like reading and  prefer old fashioned dead tree books, but put up with ebooks because sometimes they are free and occasionally more convenient than a real book. For instance in the old days when travelling. I haven’t been anywhere at all since January and don’t plan to go anywhere anytime soon. So when I got this offer I wasn’t sure that I was going to take this offer up.  

What Cory Doctorow has done is to start crowdfunding. And when I went to his page I found that there was a great more on offer than just one new audiobook

you can pre-order the ebook – and also buy the previous
ebooks and audiobooks (read by Wil Wheaton and Kirby Heyborne) – all DRM free, all free of license “agreements.”

The deal is: “You bought it, you own it, don’t violate copyright law and
we’re good.”

So to backtrack just a little, here is the deal that Cory offered which I am passing along:



Attack Surface – AKA Little Brother 3- is coming out in
5 weeks. I retained audio rights and produced an AMAZING edition that
Audible refuses to carry. You can pre-order the audiobook, ebook (and
previous volumes), DRM- and EULA-free.



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/doctorow/attack-surface-audiobook-for-the-third-little-brother-book

That’s the summary, but the details matter. First: the book itself.
ATTACK SURFACE is a standalone Little Brother book about Masha, the
young woman from the start and end of the other two books; unlike
Marcus, who fights surveillance tech, Masha builds it.

Attack Surface is the story of how Masha has a long-overdue moral
reckoning with the way that her work has hurt people, something she
finally grapples with when she comes home to San Francisco.

Masha learns her childhood best friend is leading a BLM-style uprising –
and she’s being targeted by the same cyberweapons that Masha built to
hunt Iraqi insurgents and post-Soviet democracy movements.

I wrote Little Brother in 2006, it came out in 2008, and people tell me
it’s “prescient” because the digital human rights issues it grapples
with – high-tech authoritarianism and high-tech resistance – are so
present in our current world. But it’s not so much prescient as
OBSERVANT. I wrote Little Brother during the Bush administration’s
vicious, relentless, tech-driven war on human rights. Little Brother was
a bet that these would not get better on their own.

And it was a bet that tales of seizing the means of computation would
inspire people to take up digital arms of their own. It worked. Hundreds
of cryptographers, security experts, cyberlawyers, etc have told me that
Little Brother started them on their paths.

ATTACK SURFACE – a technothriller about racial injustice, police
brutality, high-tech turnkey totalitarianism, mass protests and mass
surveillance – was written between May 2016 and Nov 2018, before the
current uprisings and the tech worker walkouts.

But just as with Little Brother, the seeds of the current situation were
all around us in 2016, and if Little Brother inspired a cohort of
digital activists, I hope Attack Surface will give a much-needed push to
a group of techies (currently) on the wrong side of history.

As I learned from Little Brother, there is something powerful about
technologically rigorous thrillers about struggles for justice – stories
that marry excitement, praxis and ethics. Of all my career achievements,
the people I’ve reached this way matter the most.

 

 

So I am having so much fun trying to get this blog post to format properly thanks to WordPress imposing its new block system – where the old “classic” method is just another block.

What I can tell you is there is something mesmerising about watching this crowdfunder takeoff in front of your eyes. Click that kickstarter link to see how far he has got. Last time I looked it was four times the goal already with another 29 days to go.

And I started typing this before I had decided which of the offers I was going to choose. Ebooks of course. But just this one or all three? Hmmm.

I can tell you that a Doctorow book is all engrossing, hard to put down and gets under your skin. I also follow @doctorow on twitter – and there is also Boing Boing and Craphound – where you can also find all of this content too. And there is also pluralistic.net

Good luck Mr Doctorow – you deserve it!

Written by Stephen Rees

September 8, 2020 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Transportation

Stanley Park Survey

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I have copied below an email I received today. It is a reply to one I sent a while back as part of a campaign to retain a bike lane by reducing car capacity on a Stanley Park roadway.

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for your earlier feedback. I will do all that I can to try to make the separated bike lane in Stanley Park permanent.

Can you take the survey about the issue at:

https://shapeyourcity.ca/stanley-park?tool=survey_tool#tool_tab

Also, if you are able to ask any friends or family who are supportive to take the survey, then that would be great.

Take care

John Irwin Vancouver Park Board Commissioner

I have not been in Stanley Park at all this year, so I do not qualify for this survey, but maybe you do. If so please take a moment to let them know your thoughts.

 

Written by Stephen Rees

September 6, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Posted in Transportation

Uber Cannot Deliver

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This has been one of my continuing personal campaigns – to try and persuade the gullible that Uber is not now, nor ever has been, viable.

If you are on Twitter you ought to be following Cory Doctorow ( @doctorow) for a vast number of reasons but not least for information like this

“The only reason it [Uber] exists is that the Saudi royals decreed that they would diversify their income, and gave Softbank an unlimited investment budget. Softbank backs companies that it thinks can monopolize a sector, allows them to lose money for years – decades! Softbank assigns its companies absurd, unsupportable valuations, in the hopes of scaring off competitors. If the monopoly rents never materialize, Softbank flogs the company to rubes who were wowed by those sky-high valuations. That’s the Uber story.”

I did not know that. The reason I left the BC Green Party was that then Leader Andrew Weaver’s very personal commitment to getting Uber service in Vancouver. He had been inconvenienced at YVR one evening waiting for a taxi. So he used his leverage to get the market in BC broken open after years of successful opposition to an idea even dafter than Site C – which Weaver also implicitly supported by propping up the NDP.

So Cory recommends you to follow Hubert Horan. “40 years of experience in the management and regulation of transportation companies (primarily airlines). Horan has no financial links with any urban car service industry competitors, investors or regulators, or any firms that work on behalf of industry participants.”

Here is but a short excerpt of what Horan has to say at the link given above:

“Nothing has happened to change the fact that after ten years, riders have always been fundamentally unwilling to pay prices that would cover Uber’s actual costs, that Uber was always less efficient than the traditional taxis it drove out of business, that its only “efficiency improvement” was to push driver compensation to minimum wage levels, and that its growth depended entirely on unsustainable predatory subsidies.

But if anyone still thought that Uber could somehow magically reverse its multi-billion dollar losses, the coronavirus should have put their fantasies totally to rest. The coronavirus has crushed the major drivers of urban car services demand, including business travel and discretionary urban entertainment (clubs, restaurants, etc.). Their customers remain highly concerned about the health risks of all forms of public transportation.”

If you are at all concerned about the future of transportation in our region – or any other – you really need to go read the rest of that. And add to that Uber Eats is now wrecking the business of restaurants that managed to get through the Covid19 shut down.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 10, 2020 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Transportation

Tagged with

I have now left Facebook

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I clicked on that blue button on the bottom left of that screenshot. Nothing happened. I did not get any kind of confirmation. What is supposed to happen – according to Facebook is “Enter your password, click Continue and then click Delete Account.” but I didn’t get to that page where I can do that.

This blog started to get neglected as Twitter and Facebook began to get much more attention. But I increasingly got more concerned about the direction that Facebook was taking. Not the people I was following or the ones who followed me (and those were easy enough to quietly ignore when necessary). More disconcerting was the attitude of Mark Zuckerberg as described in this Mother Jones article.

I did contact Facebook help and, of course, I didn’t get any.

So I have now removed the Social Media widgets from the right hand column, and I have also deleted Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) and Messenger from all my devices. When you are on a “service” which is “free”, you are the product. So simply saying you are not going to patronize the advertisers doesn’t actually change anything. Facebook still gets revenue for serving you the ad. Only by leaving Facebook can you change anything – but the first thing is that you will not any longer be going down that rabbit hole. If you miss the people you used to enjoy seeing posts from, there are other ways that you can contact them. And all the rest was fluff anyway.

UPDATE June 16

I am pleased to report that I have found a solution. I had installed a Facebook app called “Fluff Busting Purity” which ran as an extension on Chrome. Simply removing that enabled me to get to the account deletion. But then I discovered that the password – as recorded by Chrome – did not work. So I changed the password then deleted. I now have 30 days before the account finally disappears.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 7, 2020 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Transportation

Don’t Bail Out Cruise Ship Companies

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Eurodam at Vancouver BC
my photo

Capt. Don Marcus, President

International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots 

(representing U.S. sea captains, deck officers and other mariners)

Opposing a Federal Bailout to Cruise Ship Industry

“We should not give one dime in stimulus money to 

‘flag-of-convenience’ party boats…”

President Trump has floated the idea of providing financial assistance to the cruise ship industry, hard hit by the spread of COVID-19. We should not give one dime in stimulus money to ‘flag-of-convenience’ party boats; they should be the last on the list for a federal bailout.

The major cruise lines have owners who live in the United States, but they register their vessels in foreign countries and sail under foreign flags. They utilize flags-of-convenience laws to avoid hiring American crews and adhering to American labor laws and standards, as well as environmental codes. These “operators” depend on the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard for protection while avoiding paying taxes to the U.S. Treasury.

Over the weekend, Vice President Pence described the cruise lines as “great companies.”  They’re not. American taxpayers should not be sending their hard earned dollars to an industry that freeloads off of our government and is notorious for exploiting low-cost foreign crews.

If Congress and the White House want to protect American interests, foster an economic recovery, and help the maritime community, monies would be better spent assisting ferry systems such as the Alaska Marine Highway System now taking a double blow from the economic downturn and the decline in oil revenue. Assistance also should be offered to commuter ferries such as the Washington State Ferries and Staten Island Ferry that have suffered a loss of commuter traffic. The domestic ferry systems employ American workers, and they are an essential part of our transportation infrastructure.

The virus crisis and our dependence on foreign trade also highlights our nation’s overreliance on foreign cargo fleets, especially those of China, Hong Kong and South Korea. Congress should increase incentives for cargo vessels that fly the American flag for reasons of both national security and the free flow of commerce.

For more information on the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, please visit www.bridgedeck.org

Written by Stephen Rees

March 16, 2020 at 11:59 am

Posted in Transportation

Upper Levels Highway Study

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Corridor study launched for Upper Levels Highway
Upper Levels Highway BC MOTI photo from flickr Creative Commons license

Bowinn Ma isn’t interested in ad hoc highway expansion. So she has commissioned a study.

“Under the scope of the work, Parsons will assess how the highway is doing under current volumes as well as project demand up to 2050, including what local government priorities are and how a potential expansion of the B.C. Ferries terminal at Horseshoe Bay would funnel more cars onto the road.”

“Transportation systems have to be treated as systems. It’s important that we have these long-term plans in place if we actually want to start to address the problem.”

Well yes having a long term plan is a good start – but only if you stick to the plan. And a transportation plan by itself is actually counter productive. There has to be a land use plan as well and that has to fit into a broader regional perspective. If anyone has been reading this blog over the years knows, we used to do regional plans like this at one time – and then the BC Liberals got elected – and re-elected – over 16 years and those plans were simply ignored.

Developers like Jack Poole got a lot more attention than people who had been talking about what “increasing transportation choice” might mean. And while SkyTrain was expanded – a bit – much more got spent on moving congestion around. The North Shore has a railway – but it was essentially given away to CN. It might have served as both a connector to the rest of the region over the Second Narrows Bridge and improving travel options up Howe Sound to the interior. The needs of the Olympics at Whistler would have been more than adequately met – but that got sidelined when the developers insisted that this was an opportunity to increase car commuting into Metro from places like Squamish – directly in contradiction to the long term strategic plans of both regions. The idea had been to limit sprawl and reduce car dependency but that did not suit the paymasters of the BC Liberals.

Since Bowinn Ma does not believe in that policy she will have to do more than just have a highway study

“Most studies have shown adding new lanes for general traffic use only invites more people to drive, quickly negating the expensive project’s sought-after improvements, a concept known as induced demand, Ma said.”

I would not say “most” – I think it is all – or at least every one with any credibility. But it is not enough to talk about other modes – you also have to talk about what creates the demand for trips – and that is land use. Because North American planners are still stuck on separating out land uses and resisting mixed uses – and are wedded to zoning – trips are much longer than they need to be. You are simply not allowed to live over the shop in most of the region – which is the way urban humanity has always lived right up until the invention of the internal combustion engine. And a few decades after that when cars were viewed with skepticism. The attitudes of the vociferous in Ambleside show that there is going to be an uphill struggle to change attitudes about what sort of land use changes are essential to reduce motorised travel demand. And the topography of the North Shore is also going to be an issue. Note that Ms Ma bought herself an ebike. I trust it was one that will provide power when starting from rest on an incline. Because that gets defined as a motor vehicle by our legislation.

And if we are changing legislation, lets get rid of mandatory adult cycle helmets while we are about it – and provide lots more protected, separated bike lanes, which actually provide some real safety results.

By the way, it is worth comparing the Ministry’s picture (above) with that used by the North Shore News.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 12, 2019 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Transportation, Urban Planning

Tagged with

Arbutus Station

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Translink has released its first “preliminary conceptual design” of what the proposed station on the Broadway Subway is going to look like. They put it on the BC Ministry of Transport flickr stream which makes it easy to display here.

Arbutus Station looking northwest

“Arbutus Station looking northwest

Artist’s rendering of preliminary conceptual Broadway Subway Project station design. Final streetscape and potential development will be subject to the City of Vancouver’s Broadway Plan. Learn more: engage.gov.bc.ca/broadwaysubway/stations/

Arbutus Station looking southeast
Looking South East from 8th Avenue

My bet would be that there will be some additional use of the “air rights” above the station. Either with a building – equivalent to what happened at King Edward on the Canada Line. Or perhaps it will stay like this and square footage will be added to something in the vicinity.

This is what the same corner of Broadway and Arbutus looks like now

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/45184182172/

Written by Stephen Rees

October 31, 2019 at 8:45 pm

Posted in transit, Transportation, Vancouver

Tagged with

A Picture of Progress

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I have been following the Washington State Department of Transportation on Flickr for quite a while. They are a remarkably progressive organisation and their photographers have captured some amazing images. But this evening they excelled themselves.

I am not going to comment I am just going to post the picture and their text.

Before and After photo of the I-5 and SR 16 interchange
Before and After photo of the I-5 and SR 16 interchange

“It’s easy to forget what the I-5/SR 16 interchange looked like before efforts began to widen the interchange. We found two photos that really show the comparison. The historic Nalley Valley interchange first opened to traffic in 1971. At the time, the average daily traffic volumes for both directions of SR 16 were 40,000 vehicles. Fast forward to 2018, and that number has tripled.”

And because I did not know where this is, here is a map

I5 SR16 Intersection Tacoma

Written by Stephen Rees

August 15, 2019 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Transportation