August 30, 2010

Why bikes are good for Vancouver

Bikes in Vancouver

Cyclists on Robson St. Photo by cabbit via Flickr.

As Vancouver’s City Hall proposes another separated bike lane, this time on Hornby Street which currently has just a regular bike lane, the usual bike vs. car debate fires up again. I don’t see it as a choice of one over the other; we all have to get along. But as a cycling advocate and addict (and the daughter of another — I like to joke that my father was practically born on two wheels), I’d like to share some ways in which bikes make our city a better place, without getting too much into the anti-car realm here. Certainly thinking of these benefits makes me even more resistant to ever using my driver’s license for its primary purpose. The last time I used it was to hand it over so I could test ride a bike!

1. Bikes are the ultimate zero-emission vehicle.

I think we all understand that clean air is vital. Cycling contributes to cleaner air by taking pollution-emitting vehicles off the road. Having fewer cars on the road results in less traffic congestion, which should in turn reduce pollution further. Because bikes require no fossil fuels to operate (let’s not get into a debate over what fuels the human because everyone eats regardless of their mode), there is reduced strain on our non-renewable resources. We all know oil extraction has catastrophic environmental impacts even without oil spills.

Bikes are extremely efficient and use less materials. On the other hand, “These 1,300-kilogram metal boxes carry on average one-and-a-half people, approximately 130 kilos — a mere 10 per cent of the vehicle’s weight” (Yves Engler, The Mark) and require 1,860 calories per mile, compared to 35 for a bicycle, according to the WorldWatch Institute.

2. Bikes take up less space.

Whether they’re parked in an apartment or on the street, riding on the road or a trail, bikes require less physical space than cars. And when you have more space available, this makes room for more useful and pleasant aspects of a city: restaurant patios, parks, street food, community gardens, street performers, art installations, and so on. A parking space is private space, not public, when a car is on it.

Continue reading Why bikes are good for Vancouver »

April 11, 2009

UBC Farm Trek: a huge, fantastic, musical success!

Save the Farm banner

Imagine, if you will, your favourite summer street festival or an indie parade. Add a joyous rallying cry, one amazing cause and 24 beautiful hectares of farmland in a wild corner of Vancouver. This mix of music festival and protest march made Tuesday’s Great Farm Trek to UBC Farm the highlight of my year so far, on the most gorgeous spring afternoon we could possibly hope for.

When I got off the bus at UBC, finding the Student Union Building wasn’t too difficult: I followed the drumming noises (percussion ensemble Sambata) and the hum of a thousand voices gathered in the square. I was pleasantly stunned to see how many people turned out.

The opening speaker began soon after I arrived. Ben recorded a video of the inspirational speech by Shane Pointe (Musqueam Nation). I recorded some of it but his view was better. The crowd exploded in cheers when he encouraged us. I fell into awe and silence during his song.

The gathering outside the SUB

Continue reading UBC Farm Trek: a huge, fantastic, musical success! »

February 22, 2009

How do you use (navigate) blogs?

I’ve been working for awhile on giving my blog design a facelift. As tends to happen with design projects that are drawn out at length (as is the case when it’s not my full-time work), I know more at the end than I did at the beginning. I mean, yeah, that’s supposed to happen, naturally, with any project, but these ones that would otherwise be condensed into a short time frame take place over the course of months that are packed with learning that occurs outside their context. That learning tends to fall into either design (look at how much better I’ve become!) or programming (look at what I’ve learned how to do!). Sometimes it’s outside influences like new technology that didn’t exist before, or of which I did not know. Well, this time around, it’s not so much my visual skills or my technological skills, but my thinking that has changed and grown since I embarked on this miniature quest. And it’s quite, quite recent.

Blogs and websites are constantly evolving. As a result one can probably expect users to be evolving too — in fact, with the presence of RSS readers, we hardly need spend time on people’s blogs in our web browsers save to comment. User behaviour changes with technology. This is clear. So when I have a model for my blog that is almost 3 years old, I have to wonder… what is still relevant? What features do users actually use and how do they find information?

I googled this already but Google help me I didn’t find an answer. That, therefore, is where you come in. The question I pose you is: how do you use blogs? When you arrive at a post, what helps you move on to another post (assuming you enjoyed the content or found it helpful)? How do you navigate the information — through tag clouds, categories, recent comments? Are lists overwhelming or redundant?

Your feedback will help me determine what features are of most use to you when you read my blog. Thanks in advance for helping me out.

A side note: in its next incarnation, I expect comments to appear immediately on thirteen cent pinball. Hooray! The facelift is a modernization, rather than a redesign, so the overall visual “flavour” of the blog, if you will, shall remain the same.

February 19, 2009

Press coverage!

The topic is grim, but my friend Paul Hillsdon got a large inside page photo and full-page article in the Province on the rally/gathering he and Trevor Loke have organized in Surrey this Sunday. (1 p.m. at the Central City Plaza, 13450 102nd Avenue, across from Surrey Central SkyTrain station.) We’re taking a stand together against gang violence. More info in the article.

Other friends have had letters in the Province published recently, and finally it’s my turn to get some ink—not in the Province, but in what apparently is even more important: the Surrey Leader. My letter is copied below in the format in which it was published.

In related articles, there’s a link to a Surrey Leader article about Paul, which I had not noticed before!

Continue reading Press coverage! »

December 10, 2008

New Democrats slam Campbell’s plan to bulldoze prime Delta farmland

[Via Donna Passmore]

Dec. 9, 2008

DELTA – The Agricultural Land Commission’s decision to reluctantly hand over prime Delta farmland to Campbell government bulldozers reveals the extent to which the integrity of the farmland protection process has been destroyed, say New Democrat MLAs Charlie Wyse and Guy Gentner.

The commission has reluctantly agreed to remove 90 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve so the Campbell government can proceed with its preferred route for the South Fraser Perimeter Road, despite widespread public opposition. The commission said it “deeply regrets that suitable highway alignment alternatives to the use of prime agricultural land were found not to be acceptable from transportation and environment perspectives.”

The news follows last week’s discovery that construction along two sections of the proposed route started before any decision had been finalized.

Continue reading New Democrats slam Campbell’s plan to bulldoze prime Delta farmland »

June 16, 2008

Car-Free Vancouver Day

Car-Free Vancouver Day on Main Street

Photo by Rob_ on Flickr

Yesterday I joined my sister and my little nieces to one of several Car-Free Vancouver festivals. It was almost surreal to see a chunk of Main St. filled with people, “dancing in the stree-eet,” with absolutely no cars. The warm air was filled with various music, voices, children’s laughter, and sometimes the crashing and bumping noises of skateboarders on the half-pipe. We enjoyed a live performance from a guitarist/singer + DJ/violinist duo that would probably be called lounge jazz pop? The kids had some fun dancing to it. While the next band set up some dancers moved to, I think it was flamenco music, with various dance props (ribbons, etc.) The girls had their faces painted — a butterfly and a lovebug (ladybug on one cheek, heart on the other) — and posed for some adorable photos!

Continue reading Car-Free Vancouver Day »

April 13, 2008

How the oil crisis will change the face of Fraser Highway

Increasingly, the news in the blogs I read has focused on climate change, biofuels and alternative energy for fueling transportation… and with good reason. We’re faced with a crisis, and we all know that. Many of the solutions already exist, in the past before depedence on oil became the norm for most transportation, and gave us solid plastic, plastic bags, chemical fertilizers, fat-free ice cream (propylene glycol, anyone?), and the American Dream: a big house on a big lot in suburbia. Well, Canadians have made that dream as much of a reality as our neighbours to the south, and in greater Vancouver, the hidden evil of it is present in perhaps no stronger a form than in the suburbs of Surrey and Langley.

Continue reading How the oil crisis will change the face of Fraser Highway »

April 6, 2008

Community solutions for food security and urban health, Part 1

This is first in a series of posts I’ll be making over the next couple of weeks about food security and the current food crisis, permaculture, and community spaces. (This post replaces the usual Monday lunch blog as I have a lunchtime meeting tomorrow.)

On a brief walk around the neighbourhood today, I told Paul about my idea for a community garden on a vacant, grassy lot. He urged me to write a post about it, and given that I have a few other related issues to bring up, I decided to split it over a few posts.

Vacant lot 1st view

Brown at the time of this photo, the grasses are growing greener now that it’s spring

Continue reading Community solutions for food security and urban health, Part 1 »

February 23, 2008

Another indication there’s something wrong with us

Posted today to “Michigan restaurateur makes 61-kilogram burger and hopes for world record”

The “Absolutely Ridiculous Burger,” made with beef, bacon and cheese, was delivered on a 23-kilogram bun, The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press reported. It sells for $350, and orders require 24 hours’ notice.

How much water, corn/other feed, cow’s meat, cow’s milk, gasoline, energy and waste products went into making that? How much of it was meat? Moreover, how many third world people would it feed? How many of them would be shocked that humans consume crap like that?


“Where’s the Beef?” Signals Design Group / Coast Paper at Canstruction 2005.

Meanwhile, in our corner of the continent, Canstruction® Vancouver starts showing tomorrow. I wonder if we beat any records for numbers of cans this year? All cans/food packages go toward nourishing the people who rely on the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. There, they appreciate the value of food!

October 19, 2007

Canstruction Vancouver website relaunch

Canstruction Vancouver website

Canstruction® Vancouver has had their website redesigned and the fun, new site is now live! Highlights include image galleries of canstructions from their 5 annual events. The next one happens February 24th – March 2nd, 2008 at Canada Place.

Canstruction® is an international event to support local food banks. Teams led by design professionals, architects, and engineers build amazing sculptures from full cans of food. The Vancouver event benefits the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, to which all cans used and donated are given. Join in the fun and support this great cause! Get involved by joining or entering teams, attending the exhibit, volunteering, or becoming a sponsor. See you there!