Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘trucks

Road side blitz finds 13 of 30 trucks checked unsafe

with 5 comments


This is not news. Every time there is a spot check of truckers – or taxis – there are vehicles pulled off the road

for defects that, police said, should have been detected during the pre-trip inspection.

Some of the trucks didn’t have brake fluid. Some had bald tires or tires with loose nuts. Others were considered overloaded.

In fact this is actually a better result than some others that I have seen in recent years. What worries me is that only 30 trucks were pulled over, and that inspection stations seem to be closing. At one time there was a weigh scale at the north end of the Massey Tunnel. That has been closed for some time and the roadway is now used as an exclusive bus lane as the HOV (now 2 plus) is cut back to the Steveston Highway off ramp.

And since I was on the road in the last few days I have had far too much opportunity to see trucks driven in a way that would be dangerous even if everything was working properly. Poorly secured loads seem to be very common, especially for grossly overloaded farm trucks. Unsheeted loads spraying gravel – and worse – on following vehicles were also common. And much of the road was littered with truck tire treads. These are shed when retreads are used on improperly inflated tires.

What is new is the excuse

But with the cost of fuel rising, some owner-operators or small trucking companies may put off minor repairs in order to save money, he said. It could be the choice between new tires or eating, he said,

He, in this case being a trucker Gord Foster who works for Reimer Express Lines. And it must be stressed says that there is “no excuse for putting off safety”

Sgt. Tim Kravjanski of the West Vancouver police traffic section said

“Our current system isn’t a deterrent to these drivers and we need new tools to deal with this …One of the things that was being looked at is the ability to impound repeat offenders.”

I think he means impound the trucks of repeat offenders. I am amazed that this is not already the case. I would also suggest that licenses be cancelled of truckers who have more than a certain number of penalty points for ill mainitained trucks.

Trucks already get very generous treatment. They do not pay for the roads or the right of way the roads are built on. And the cost of damage that they do to the roads and bridges far exceeds the revenue that is collected from them. The amount of damage rising geometrically to the axle weight. Enough! It is time to take action to reduce the costs that the truckers impose on society – and to stop pretending that building more and faster roads will make matters any better

Written by Stephen Rees

September 12, 2008 at 11:16 am

Posted in freight transport, Road safety

Tagged with

Today’s Sun Stories

with 4 comments

There are a number of things reported today that fit the brief of this blog. But most do not require much commentary. I have already updated the recent post on truckers as another crackdown, this time in Vancouver, reveals more neglect and danger to us all.

Carol James has an opinion piece on the carbon tax.

there’s a right way and a wrong way to price carbon. The right way is to listen to the people affected, address their concerns and take action. The wrong way is to work in secrecy, ride roughshod over concerns, and lash out when people dare to complain.

But that’s what they do on everything else. The one exception appeared to be health. (And by the way have you tried to watch tv news at 6pm here lately? The CBC is of course given over to hockey, and Campbell is all over Global and their fund raising drive for Children’s hospital. I am quite sure there are some advanced western countries that manage to build an adequate hospital system without resorting to fund raising telethons.)

Kevin Falcon thinks he cannot tell BC Ferries to roll back the huge pay increase for their Board members. Vaughan Palmer disagrees

Spirit of Vancouver Island Active Pass BC 2007_0909_0755

Spirit of Vancouver Island Active Pass BC 2007.09.09 07:55

Ecodensity is going to get affordable housing added. Well they had better get a move on as the landlords in Vancouver seem to be intent on pulling the same trick that worked so well in Richmond. (A long running story in our local press last year was of an apartment building on Gilbert Road, opposite the hospital, where tenants were evicted and harassed for the same purpose, and there were several successful appeals to the provincial regulator. So far as I can tell these local freebies don’t have on line archives)

2600 block W4th Ave
A one bedroom apartment in this condo building on West 4th listed yesterday for over $450k. A good example of higher density mixed use development but not exactly affordable. But the coffee is really good in Cornerstone: regular cappuccino $3

And Translink police are going to be added to the Taser enquiry. Of course: they are armed now, and they use their arms, so it is absolutely proper that they be made accountable for their use. The copper they use as a PR flack did not handle this one well. Or at all.

UPDATE 2:06PM There is a much better account in the Globe and Mail

and (4:20pm) more criticism on CBC

Written by Stephen Rees

April 16, 2008 at 11:13 am

Tax will hurt, truckers say

with 6 comments


Well that is because it is supposed to change the way we do things. There has to be some incentive to change – and that needs both encouragement to do the right thing and a bigger reason to stop doing the wrong thing.

I have little sympathy for the truckers. Because they are putting our lives at risk, and they know that, and yet they want “help from government” to continue to do what they always have done. I have been trying to find a link to a story that was on Global tv last night, but so far with no luck. There was another one of those random crackdowns on trucks in West Vancouver over the weekend. As usual a very high percentage of trucks were found to be unroadworthy due to lack of basic maintenance. I think the figure was 50% of trucks being pulled off the road until they fixed basic things, like brakes.

Big Truck

Photo by Danny Brinkley

The trucking industry has been one of the least responsible of corporate citizens. In recent years the pressure has been put on the drivers, as companies have moved to make them contractors – “owner operators” – rather than employees. This shifts the burden of responsibility on to the shoulders of the driver, who now carries all of the risk, for very little reward. As diesel prices have risen, the rates for truckers have not increased, with inevitable results. I do not see that “throwing money” at this problem will solve it, it will merely perpetuate it.

We also know that the diesel exhaust is a human carcinogen. And that people who live along major truck routes are exposed to much higher levels of diesel particulates. While there has been loud and sustained pressure on transit operators to reduce emissions, I have seen very little activity from the private sector truck industry. Of course not. They work down to a price not up to a standard. And our children have elevated levels of asthma as a result. In my opinion this is not a good trade off.

The carbon tax does not have a big effect yet – it does have one special impact on BC however. Other jurisdictions do not have it – yet. And there is a penalty for being first. If the government is wise, it will start to encourage measures to reduce diesel use by truckers. There is a lot that can be done, just by upgrading the trucks and their maintenance standards. In fact cleaning fuel injectors is the easiest way to stop unburned fuel going up the exhaust stack. That plume of black smoke you see is just money being wasted. The sort of people who cannot be bothered to look at their brakes regularly, are not likely to do something technical and time consuming like engine maintenance. Port officials have been pointing out for a long time the number of empty trips that truckers are forced to make because terminal operators expect them to drop off a container, but not pick up a full one in the same trip. This is not rocket science!

The story talks about biofuels too, but I think there is a lot more that can be done to reduce truck fuel consumption rather than look for alternative fuels. Engine efficiency in European diesels has been much improved because of regulations by the EU: North America listens too much to truck makers and operators who have fought similar legislation here. Trucks in Europe all carry recording equipment, to ensure that truckers stick to the rules – about drivers hours, speeding and a number of other issues. Originally designed to level the competitive playing field, the consequences have been far reaching. Road safety being one major beneficiary. And we share the roads with these things.

I hope that for once Paul Landry does not have the ear of the provincial government. His activities through the Gateway Council have pushed the trucking agenda at our expense, and much of that turns out to have been a misrepresentation. The Gateway program is very bad for this region for a number of reasons, not least of which is the misperception that we “need” to invest in more infrastructure for truck movement, and not look at ways to make our transportation system more efficient and effective. And one of those things is looking at other ways of moving freight that are more energy efficient. Or reducing the amount of truck movement (and idling) by better scheduling. Do you think that those long slow moving line ups of trucks along Deltaport Way shut down their engines while they are waiting?

UPDATE  April 16

VANCOUVER SUN – Drivers caught behind the wheels of poorly maintained or neglected commercial trucks are facing fines of $100 to $1,300 in a two-day inspection blitz by Vancouver police, city and port officials and the Greater Vancouver transit authority.

Drivers are being ticketed for defective brakes, steering, structural defects, bald tires, and broken lights.

At Terminal Avenue and Carolina Street on Tuesday, the group inspected 54 trucks, pulling 24 out of service. It also suspended one driver who was impaired by drugs and issued more than $15,000 in fines.

A slightly better rate than the one reported in the original story, but still disgraceful. And this is not unusual or a recent phenomenon. The trucking industry must clean up its act, and that means taking responsibility for truck maintenance and replacement. The reliance on owner operators is very much against the public interest -a s well as the poor suckers who were persuaded to invest in their own trucks. Essentially, truckers, like taxi drivers, are forced to buy their jobs. This is, quite simply, wrong.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 14, 2008 at 6:27 am

Local consultations

with 2 comments

Two stories in the Richmond News today show how much attention is paid to community input in Richmond.

On the north side of Lulu Island the stretch of land north of the railway and east of No 6 Road is pretty grim. Most of it is still zoned agricultural but there is a lot of other activity of other kins. And on the 16000 block of River Road most of it is illegal. Mainly vehicle and other commercial storage.

At an open house in October, the majority of respondents filling out feedback forms opposed the rezonings. Traffic safety issues resulting from increased truck traffic topped their list of concerns.

“Many respondents also questioned the performance record of property owners in the 16,000 block of River Road, which were undertaking activities in non-compliance with zoning regulations,” a staff report says.

The city wants to legitimize the businesses, but as a condition of rezoning, it wants some concessions, like road dedication for a future industrial road access.

Now the actual decision would have been made last night after the paper went to bed. But the principles here are worth thinking about. Zoning is supposed to achieve something that the market would not produce left to itself. The zoning of this land maybe should have been changed, but wasn’t. And now the city seems to be on the point of allowing a change in land use which will certainly increase the value of the land for the current owners. But may make the current nuisances that the neighbours complain of worse. And the owners do not appear to be doing much to meet the city’s perfectly reasonable requests to try and reduce traffic impacts of truck movements now and in the future. But staff are recommending that they be given approval anyway.


Meanwhile over at YVR – another one of those unaccountable, “professional” organizations, are trying to enlarge their fuel storage and have more of it shipped by barge. Which may or may not be a good idea: barges are certainly better in terms of diesel exhaust and ghg emissions than trucks. But then there is the risk of spills. So it is always going to be controversial. So YVR comes up with a way to deflect it. Would you like the tanks green or white?

The expansion was the subject of two open houses Jan. 31 and Feb. 2.

The Fraser River Coalition says the open houses were not well advertised and did not provide a forum for dialogue.

“This whole public input process is flawed,” coalition member Judy Williams told the media. “Why did they limit public input to two three-hour open houses without the benefit of a panel or an open mike so people could listen to other people’s concerns?”

[Member of the Richmond Advisory Committee on the Environment Gordon] Kibble said he was not even aware of the proposal and open houses. Neither were Councillors Harold Steves and Bill McNulty.

McNulty called the open houses “typical YVR consultation method.”

The deadline for public comment is February 15

Fans of the H2G2 will find a ring of familiarity about this.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 12, 2008 at 12:52 pm