Sunday, December 07, 2008

Surrey Residents "Cancel" Gateway

As part of the International Day of Action on the Climate Crisas, residents of Surrey, BC modified a sign advertising the Gateway program. Light duty vehicles are already the largest source of ghg emissions in the lower mainland and the the Gateway program is projected to increase those emissions.

Two signs on either side of the Pattullo Bridge were modified.  The banner added to the signs reads, "CANCELLED, Funding Diverted to Transit Improvements by LiverSmater BC, www.livesmarter.bc 'helping the Province go green'"

The group also created a new website, www.livesmarter.bc, which parodies an official government program designed to help citizens reduce their ecological footprint.



Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fewer Roads = Less Congestion

World Changing has an article about few roads can result in less congestion.  To bad Kevin Falcon isn't reading this.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Open Letter to Gateway Contractors

Transtoll Inc., The Macquarie Group, Flatiron Construction Corp., Kiewit Corporation,

I am writing to ask that you cancel your participation in the Metro Vancouver (Canada) “Gateway Program” as it is currently planned. Instead you should negotiate with the public and provincial government to create a new program that is environmentally sustainable and financial viable. Highway expansion does not fit these criteria.

Here are a few reasons to withdraw from the Gateway Program:

1. Reduced revenues as a result of carbon reduction programs.

Programs like BC's carbon tax are designed to encourage people to drive less. Fewer vehicle trips means less revenues for the private partner.

2. Reduced revenues as a result of peak oil.

We are already seeing people reducing their vehicle trips as a result of recent spikes in gasoline prices. As the price of a finite resources increases we will see further reductions in potential revenues.

3. Increased costs.

Rising oil prices also means increased costs for pavement – a basic component of highway construction.

4. Public Opinion.

There is widespread opposition to the Gateway Program in BC and participation in that program could be a public relations nightmare.

5. Protests.

Two recent highway expansion projects (Sea to Sky and Bear Mountain) were delayed for months by protests.

6. Financing.

The current situation in the global financial markets makes financing the project extremely difficult.

7. It is the right thing to do.

The Gateway Program will increase emissions from the sector that is already the highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in this region. It will also increase pollution that is responsible for health problems. Climate change has been called the greatest moral issue that our generation faces.

Sincerely,

Rob_

(For contact info to send your own letter: http://www.ecocascadia.org/BCCC.shtml )

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Open Letter to Gordon Campbell

I would like thank you for setting a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia by 33 per cent by 2020. This is an important step (although the science seems to indicate that we must reduce emissions even more quickly – 90% by 20301). As well, I thank you for introducing a carbon tax that is also small step towards reaching that goal.


In planning to meet these goals it would make sense to tackle the largest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions first.


As you may know here in the Lower Mainland the largest source of green house gas emissions is light vehicles. If we are going to meet the targets you have set out we will have to dramatically reduce the amount of single-occupancy vehicles (SOV) trips and replace those with trips on public transit (preferably electric powered). The mainstream available technology for light vehicles, such as hybrid propulsion, will not make enough of a difference to meet your targets even if the majority of car users purchase new vehicles immediately.


Given these facts the Gateway Program as it is currently planned does not make any sense. Why build more lanes on Highway One if we are going to have to reduce SOV trips so significantly that those lanes are no longer needed? Once SOV trips are reduced there will be plenty of room for transit and the 8-10% of current traffic that is trucks.


All experts agree that Gateway Program as currently planned will actually increase emissions. The Gateway Program should be revamped and all plans for highway expansion (with the exception of transit queue-jumper lanes) should be removed.


Please don't respond by telling me that transit is included in your plans. The 17% target for the distant future is too little too late. Many world-class western cities already have transit modal shares of 20-50%. We should striving to match these numbers as soon as possible.


Please don't respond by telling me that we need highway expansion to expand transit. Studies have been done that show queue jumpers would allow buses to easily move over the bridge – especially if traffic is reduced once people have the option of using transit.


Please keep your promise to fight climate change and redesign the Gateway Program.


Sincerely,

Rob Baxter

1As described by Monbiot in Heat based on a paper by Chris D. Jones et al., published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rally

There will be a rally for sustainable transportation in Surrey on Saturday, Sept. 24th. In our region transportation is the largest contribution to green house gas emissions and this is an event that directly deals with that issue. Some of us will be cycling to the event. View the proposed route here or below:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cyclists interacting with Motorists

I just read this rather frightening account of a NY State Senator almost crushing a cyclist and then threatening him.  It reminded me of a similar experience I had on Pacific Boulevard in Vancouver.  An SUV driver veered into the cycling lane, hit my arm which I had instinctively stretched out and then yelled at me not to touch his vehicle.


But there is also a much more heartwarming account on No Impact Man's Blog where a confrontation ends with a handshake.  And that too reminded me of an incident here in Vancouver.  I was legally using the new bike box on the Carrall Street Greenway.  A delivery van driver started shouting and swearing at me because I was in the bike box.  I tried to explain what the bike box was but he just continued to yell at me telling me that what I was doing was wrong.  I followed him to his next stop and started to phone the number on the side of his truck.  He suddenly became much more resonable and I was able to explain to him how a bike box works.  The conversation ended with an apology from him and a handshake.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Low CO2 Trip to Victoria


Using public transit, ferries and a bike I did a low C02 trip to Victoria for the Labour Day long weekend.

The trip included some great examples of sustainable transportation infrastructure.

A photo essay of the trip can be found at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30261607@N00/sets/72157607167791879/

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lynn Valley PV


Lynn Valley PV
Originally uploaded by Rob__
Work began last week on what will be the largest photovoltaic (solar electric) installation in the Lower Mainland. Located at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, BC the system will generate about 9 MWh of electricity per year. Installation work is being done by Vancovuer Renewable Energy (http://www.vrec.ca/ ).

Monday, June 30, 2008

on the meaning of life

Quote of the day...

"....is difficult to answer if giving meaning to life and our activities in the world is precluded by a philosophical predisposition to mistrust human action and human desire as flawed, duped, cancerous, and even the point of origin for our collective unhappiness."
Chris Carlsson from here

Monday, June 16, 2008

car free vancouver day


car free vancouver
Originally uploaded by Rob__
last year - one street
this year - 3 major streets, and 21 side streets
next year - the whole city?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Burrard Bridge Bike Lane myths revisited.

With the Burrard Bridge bike lanes in the news again recently and today the start of bike month, it might be a good time to review the myths about the Burrard Bridge bike lanes.

And I thought I would add another myth.....


Myth: Vancouver is too cold / rainy / hilly and we will never have the large percentage of the general population cycling like they do in some European cities.

Reality: Tronheim, Norway is one of the top cities in the world for cycling. 18% of the population uses a bike as a daily means of transportation. The city ranges in elevation from sea level to 565 metres (1850 ft). It experiences moderate snowfall from November to March. There are an average of 14 days each winter with at least 25 cm of snow cover on the ground.

Other examples of hilly cities with high cycling populations:
- hilly Aarhus, Denmark's second city (25% modal share);
- Gothenburg
- Berne, Switzerland, where 25% of the population ride each day through a Alpen landscape.

And  Kristiansand, Norway.has a 9% modal share with more rainfall than Vancouver.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bike to Work Week


Bike to Work Week
Originally uploaded by Rob__
It's bike to work week in Vancouver! Sign-up on-line, track your commute and win a bike: http://www.vacc.bc.ca/

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Breakfast Quotes

Some interesting quotes from this morning's Metro Vancouver Sustainability Breakfast:

“We have today the most road and parking capacity that we will ever need”
- Bryn Davidson, Executive Director, Dynamic Cities Project


"We need to redesign Gateway...[if we continue with the current design]...we will have wasted that money...we will have sunk it into a design that was inappropriate."
- Anthony Perl, Professor and SFU Director, Urban Studies Program

Monday, April 14, 2008

Come Clean on Gateway


Gateway Message
Originally uploaded by Rob__
This message, "cleaned" into the cement, appeared at various spots around Vancouver on Monday. It makes reference to the province's Gateway Program - a green house gas emitting monster project of highway expansion.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Falcon Misinformed on Truck Traffic

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon claims the we need to expand the Port Mann to accommodate “commercial-goods–movement” (Jan 24 Georgia Straight). But according to his own department's figures, only 8% of the traffic on the bridge is truck traffic. Clearly the current bridge has plenty of capacity for commercial-goods-movement.

The vast majority of the traffic on the bridge is single occupancy vehicles and these drivers need to be given the option of transit now, not years in the future. Falcon does get one thing right - tolls will help induce people to take transit. But we need to start congestion pricing on the current infrastructure not future infrastructure. That is what other cities that are taking sustainable transportation seriously are doing. Why is Metro Vancouver falling behind?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More thoughts on the new BC Transit Plan

Speaking about the new Provincial Transit Plan, Premier Campbell said "Our transit mission is nothing short of being a global leader in terms of public transit and transit usage."

Unfortunately, the plan will get us no where near to being a "global leader." The new transit plan has ridership reaching 17% by 2020.

But in Stockholm 70 percent of peak period trips are by public transit. In Berlin it is 40% with a goal of 80%. Paris and London are both over 20%.

Other European cities :

Utrecht - 40%
Helsinki - 30%
Zurich - 40%
Copenhagen - 31%

Even some American cities seem to be ahead of us (note: these numbers are for percentage of commuters not total trips):
Washington - 33%
New York - 53 %

I would like to see us be a global leader in public transit. But unfortunately, this plan is too little too late. Maybe if we cancelled all the highway expansion projects and made transit a priority we could start to make progress towards that goal.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thoughts on the new transit plan

The BC government has announced a new Provincial Transit Plan.

Finally something that addresses transportation, one of the biggest contributors to ghg emissions in BC. But is it enough?

It appears the first of the new projects announced won't be finished until 2014. This is after the Gateway Program highway expansion. This indicates to me that highway expansion is still the priority, not mass transit.


The goal of the plan is to increase ridership by 1-5% (depending upon the region) by 2020. This doesn't seem to be enough to meet the 33% ghg reduction that the province has set for 2020.

The plan has a goal of reducing ghg emissions by 4.7 millions tonnes "cumulatively" by 2020. I assume by "cumulatively" they mean over the course of the 6 years that the plan is rolled out. This number seems high given the 1-5% ridership change but if we assume it is correct that works out to about 0.78 million per year.

However, our current annual ghg emissions from light duty vehicles in BC are over 11.1 tonnes. That means that this plan will only reduce emissions by 7 % ! Not even close to the government's target of 33%.

Update: It turns out that 4.7 million tonnes figure is actually spread out over 12 years so the plan is even worse than I thought. It will reduce by less than 4% the emissions from light vehicles in BC.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Another City with a Congestion Charge

Milan, Italy has instituted a congestion charge. It joins other cities that already have implemented or tired congestion charges such as London, Singapore (the first scheme in the world, started in 1975, upgraded in 1998), Rome, Valletta, and Stockholm. With all the talk about Vancouver being a leader in sustainability why are we falling behind the rest of the world on this very effective measure?

Peter Ladner has an interesting post on why we might want to follow Singapore's example.


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