Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Break!

Happy Holidays!

I'll be enjoying my BBQ Turkey from ReUp BBQ, skiing at Mt. Washington, and working on my knitting...

Meanwhile, I leave you with this, an amazing and beautiful video of our home planet, taken by the International Space Station as it flies over us. Check out the thin blanket that is our atmosphere. Check out the cosmic radiation causing the northern lights...

See y'all in January!

Monday, December 19, 2011

How to Advertise Car Sharing (not)

So here is a series of ads from ZipCar - these being run in the Washington DC area - which plug car sharing.

The idea is "sometimes you just need a car". Which is right! Sometimes you do! Now, think of your target demographic: mostly young, urban...appreciative of smart humour...Now, dream up an ad campaign which will appeal to this crowd...Ready?

So here are two of the ads:

What do you think?

I must admit I am a little perplexed.  For starters, it doesn't actually look like these folks actually need a car. It just looks like they're being dumb and unprepared. So I'm not sure I find either of the images above very convincing, or clever, or particularly funny. Just...well...dumb. In fact, I think it is kinda stupid to insult transit users and cyclists while plugging your car sharing business; after all, these people are your target audience!

Here's another set in the series:

OK, unlike the previous images, clearly the grumpy people in these two situations do in fact need a car to haul their equipment. So maybe a passing grade here. But still, not very funny. Maybe a Thule rack on the train with the canoe on top, or the bus with a trailer behind it, would've been a little more "over the top" and hence chuckle-worthy. This, though? Meh. In fact, it'd be interesting to know exactly how many ZipCars come with roof racks or trailer hitches in order to accomodate these two situations. Not very many, I betcha. So in all likelihood the proposed solution - ZipCar - won't even work for these folks. So not very well thought out.

This is the only one that I like:


Thursday, December 15, 2011

NWest Advisory Committees

The newly elected Council is already in full swing! The councillors have chosen which committees they are going to chair...have a look:

[straight off the City's website. Click on the eye-chart to enlarge it.]

This is just the advisory committees. There are external task forces and other external organization liaison postions as well. Have a look. I'd say the interests of the Council are pretty clearly delineated. It's also pretty clear who's doing the "heavy lifting"...

There's also a newly-minted Master Transportation Plan Advisory Committee. No surprise as to who is chairing this one: Councillors Cote and McEvoy, jointly.

I note that when I applied to sit on committee this year (right before the elections), this committee was not on the list. So I'm not quite sure how they are going to "staff" it...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Parting the Waters

Wow. This is cool. Those Dutch, at it again!

[be Moses!]

[the thing is made of some kind of impregnated wood]

This is a very modern "bridge" in southern Holland. It crosses a moat, which surrounds a historic fort with earth berms. The water level in the moat is low (chest height) and constant, making this construction possible. Too bad we can't get something like this between the Quay and Queensborough...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Conduca in italiano

We signed out the Cinquacento (aka Fiat 500) from Burnaby Green this weekend. Just to see what it was like. That's the Modo advantage: you get to drive around in all kinds of funky vehicles!
[this is one small car]

The Cinquacento is the Italian equivalent of the VW Beetle. It's got similar folk legend status, and, like the Beetle, has recently made a comeback with a retooling of the classic model. It's cute and curvy.

This is one small car. It appears sized for a slightly undernourished post-war Italian population. Yes, there's a back seat, but if someone of, say, Dutch build (that would be myself) uses it, the person in the corresponding front seat has to sit diagonally, because their knees hit the dash otherwise.
This particular Modo car is a convertible. My darling husband, trying all the buttons, wound down the roof (over my complaints - note the snow in the photos!). No, dear, turning the heat on full blast does not recreate the warmth of Italy!

[tiny tiny trunk]

The car gives new meaning to the word hatchback...the trunk door resembles nothing so much as a kayak hatch; a little flap that lifts up to reveal an oval hole. I miss the bungy cords! The space within is truly minuscule. What blows me away is that this trunk has one of those glow-in-the-dark escape tabs on it. Who could possibly fit in there??? As you can see from the photo, it doesn't even fit 2 grocery boxes end-to-end! Luckily you can fold down the rear seats, and then your groceries will fit. But access to the rear seat is really not very easy, so my d.h. started loading and unloading through the sunroof. OK, as a joke...but still...

On the inside, the seats are very high so it is easy to get into the front seat. The window space is small, though, and you feel a bit like you are in a submarine. Visibility is, unfortunately, not very good, and doing a shoulder check through the side windows is very difficult.

The car is zippy enough, but has a very short wheelbase. This makes it remarkably maneuverable in parking lots but rather "swimmy" on the highway.

In short, cute car, but probably not your best choice for family grocery runs or IKEA trips.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cyclists and Liability

Another common thread in the VACC questionnaire responses was a misunderstanding about cyclists and liability.

In BC, a cyclist has a legal right to ride on the road. Cyclists may take as much lane as required to ride safely - this means, if there is no shoulder, or if there are parked cars, the cyclist is legally allowed to ride in the middle of the lane. And yes, this sometimes slows traffic. For brief stretches (a few blocks) there is nothing illegal about this, the cyclist is supposed to pull over and let vehicles pass as soon as it is safe to do so. In places where the road is marked with "sharrows", there is no obligation for the cyclist to pull over. It is shared space.
It is certainly not dangerous (or even seriously inconvieniencing anyone) to cycle down the middle of the lane down the business strip of Columbia Street in New Westminster (either in Sapperton or downtown). These are 30km/h zones and cars shouldn't be going faster than a cyclist in these areas anyways (bikes ride at 25 km/h).

From recent statistics, in about 98% of accidents involving bikes, the cyclist is the one who gets hurt, and vehicle damage is small. So the burden on the liability insurance system from "dangerous cyclists" is very low. A cyclist involved in an accident usually damages only him/herself.

In fact, most cyclists are covered by liability insurance. Home insurance policies (or renter's insurance) covers cyclists' victims in case the cyclist is held liable for causing the accident. In addition, some motor vehicle insurance policies cover cyclists (ie. drivers who on occasion ride bikes!). Because these liability costs are so low, insurance companies throw this coverage in as a freebie!

Again from the statistics, the most dangerous cyclists is one who:
  • is male, between 30-50,
  • rides on the wrong side of the road, or
  • doesn't pay attention
Ignoring a "traffic control device" is only a cause of about 7% of the bike collisions. Bikes blowing through stop signs isn't causing a ton of accidents.

If the cyclist is not riding against traffic or being inattentive, then chances are the driver is the problem. The most common driver fault is being inattentive (ie. yakking on a cellphone). The next-most common fault is not yielding to the cyclist by:
  • passing them and then turning right, cutting them off;
  • turning left in front of a through-going cyclist
  • crossing an intersection - usually residential - without stopping for the cyclist who has the right-of-way.

Suggesting that a cyclist who is slowly and carefully towing a trailer through New Westminster's business zones, hogging a lane, requires liability insurance, demonstrates ignorance of some basic facts.

Claiming that said cyclist is endangering others is nonsense, as demonstrated by ICBC statistics.

Claiming that this person is endangering themselves may well be true, but this is blaming the (law-abiding and fully insured) victim for the faults of the driver.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New West's Transportation Survey

As you may know, New West is starting on a transportation plan. Here is the information. There are no open houses planned yet, but stay tuned. Meanwhile, fill in the survey! The deadline has been extended to Dec 16.

The link on the main city page doesn't seem to work. I had to dig a bit to find a door into the survey. Click here to participate.

Some possible things to consider:

- enhance bike facilities (complete the network!), including some dedicated routes to major destinations (high school, library)
- limit freight transport (dedicated times and/or routes)
- shift freight to other modes (eliminating use of New West streets for transport between Port nodes)
- advocate for better transit connections between Uptown and Columbia, as well as increasing service levels to and from SkyTrain stations to 10 minute intervals
- implement pedestrian malls along shopping streets; alternatively, slow traffic to a crawl along these routes by implenting the "red wave", narrowing the road, putting in more crosswalks, and giving pedestrians priority (using such things as "instant reponse" crosswalks, stopping traffic in all directions, and longer crossing times)
- maintain industrial river access as part of future planning
- improve and increase connections to and from Queensborough for non-drivers
- reduce parking requirements for developments
- put the City on an "asphalt diet" - no net increase in asphalt
- set mode share targets for the City to measure and improve the shift from driving to alternative transportation
- encourage City workers to leave their cars at home (by removing car subsidies and free parking from City Hall) - give bus passes (employer pass) and car-sharing in return
- promote car sharing throughout the City as a way to improve affordability, reduce parking needs, and reduce traffic

Add your own!