Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

You want ME to do what?

April 18, 2009

yikes

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Great Film Festival Jan 30-31st

January 12, 2009

See poster for details or visit www.freshoutlookfoundation.org.

Look for local cycling celebrities to be present.

Reel Change Film Fest

Road work and bicycles

September 8, 2008

Castanet.net has posted a story on road widening along Hwy 97. Whether you choose to use the highway or not I believe cyclists should advocate for an alternate bike route with some off road bike / pedestrian lanes along the east – west corridor in Kelowna.

While the story says this construction is “much anticipated” I would suggest that safe access to OUC – UBCO has been “much longer anticipated”. Not to mention a completed Rails to Trails project.

Grant

Hwy 97 widening finally announced

by Wayne Moore – Story: 41572
Sep 4, 2008 / 4:00 pm

The much anticipated six laning of a four kilometre stretch of Highway 97 between Gordon Drive and Highway 33 will finally take place.

The project has been on the books for a number of months.

The announcement of the $14.4 million project was made by Kelowna-Lake Country MP, Ron Cannan, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA, Al Horning and Kelowna Mayor, Sharon Shepherd.

The city will provide $4.1 million, with senior levels of government kicking in the remaining $10.4 million.

Horning says public safety is the number one reason for widening project.

He says six of the 10 highest accident intersections in the Okanagan are along that stretch of highway.

“ICBC has always been looking at having things fixed up on this highway because of those accidents,” says Horning.

“The main thing is to move traffic too, and the extra lane, the bus lane and HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) lane is going to make people take notice when they have to get in traffic with only one person in the car.”

Horning says it will be up to the city to determine whether the new lane will be dedicated to high occupancy vehicles and buses once it is complete.

The project is expected to start in the fall, with completion in the summer of 2009.

Cannan says the timing of the announcement is not due to the pending federal election announcement.

“We’ve been working on this for, like I said, a long time. The way we work as a federal government is we work with the local government, the regional transportation committee develops the strategies and the priorities and then sends it to the province,” says Cannan.

One concern for the project centered around the possible disruption of businesses along the busy Highway 97 commercial corridor.

Horning says that shouldn’t be an issue, because much of the work is expected to take place during evening hours.

“They are going to make every effort they can to make sure businesses are not impacted by this project.”

Shepherd says the new roadway will be designed with pedestrians in mind.

“The pedestrian component, even in front of the Parkinson Recreation Complex is not easy, so improving the sidewalks and lighting along this corridor will be very good for pedestrians walking and running,” says Shepherd.

She adds that cyclists have always been discouraged from utilizing Highway 97. Cycle paths are not planned as part of the widening.

“We are trying to look at alternative routes for cycling, that’s why we are looking at the Rails by Trails project, and we need funding in order to enhance that.”

This announcement comes just six weeks after senior governments unveiled plans to upgrade Highway 97 between Winfield and Oyama. That project is expected to be complete by 2012.

Guest Post on UBC-O Access

September 8, 2008

When we talk about UBCO bike access, we should also include the number of riders from the Quail Ridge Residential Community. This residential community which is linked by a perimeter trail to UBCO and a unauthorized private property gravel pit road (Hollywood Road alignment) does not have a safe bike access to the Rutland area. There are a number of recreational users in this area who until recently were able to use the short official bike section alongside the UBC overpass which ended alongside the RR tracks thence dipped under Highway 97, through an old rough private property connection that crossed the RR and connected to Bulman. This short unofficial section was closed off last week by a large gate noting that is was on private property. As mentioned this route allowed a rider to safely cross the RR tracks and ride along the Bulman, Hereron, Ackland, Old Vernon Rd, Rutland Rd alignments. While only the Rutland Rd alignment has a bike path it was a considerably safer route with open streets and its’ minimal industrial traffic.
The latest situation precludes the news that there will be a safe bike access to the UBC campus prior to the start of the fall term less than one month away. It also reinforces the isolation that Quail Ridge bike riders have in accessing our city safely. Highway 97 is not a safe route for a person riding a bike!
I trust that this unsafe situation will be noted and quickly addressed.

Glen Maddess

Wrap up

May 5, 2008

I have stepped away from the Kelowna and Area Cycling Coalition (KACC) and since this was to some extent a KACC blog, I will be turning it over to Grant. A few thoughts on the state of cycling advocacy in Kelowna.

Our town desperately needs an active cycling group, independent of the City and democratic in nature. Currently there are about a dozen KACC members who attend some KACC meetings (most meetings see about 6 or 8 people in attendance).

The KACC is not a registered non profit group but is a member of the BC Cycling Coalition (I believe). It has not held an election of officers for at least two years. Such a structure is very limiting as the group has no legal status to enable it to apply for grants or to ensure that it has liability insurance in case of problems at events.

The KACC was started by the City. I think it is time that a group be formed that is independent of the City but prepared to work closely with all levels of government towards the improvement of cycling conditions in our area. There is no reason that such a group could not sponsor a few recreational cycling events over the year – it takes active members however and right now there are so few people involved that little gets done. It is unreasonable to expect a handful of people to continually step up to the plate to work at cycling events, write reports, attend meetings, lobby government and plan events.

A new group should have close ties with other local cycling groups such as the newly formed mountain bike group, COBRA, the cruisers, the bmx group and the triathlon and racing groups. Ideally, the coalition would have a democratically elected executive and this would include a director from each of the other cycling groups.

Regarding the UBCO access issue, students and faculty must become active if they are to get the cycling facilities required towards making the campus “sustainable”. They should not depend on outsiders to do the work for them. Students can have a lot of political power if they work for it – so far that has not happened. The UBCO cycling coalition has been inactive for the last year, while a very small number of us were working hard to get one safe access route onto the campus. Their assistance would have been invaluable.

On the positive side I have seen some very dedicated people at the City who are “bicycle friendly”. As these people work their way up the ladder into management positions I believe that we will see some real changes. I have also heard that the Province has made a big turn around in their attitude towards transit in particular and to a lesser extent, cycling.

Thanks for reading the blog over the last year,

Ride Safe,

John.

Geoff Greenwell on Kelowna as a “car defined city”.

May 3, 2008

I noticed this quote recently by Geoff Greenwell, a Lake Country Councillor. This was published in Okanagan Life Magazine some time ago and Geoff has been kind enough to allow me to use it.

"GREENWELL: I dont think Kelowna has neighbourhoods. I think whats
happened is, with consumerism comes inverse consumerism. People want
everything, but then they want to know, but where can I get it even
cheaper. I want all this but I also want it as cheap as I can possibly
get it.
So were about to see a 220,000 square foot Wal-Mart be built on
Westbank First Nation Lands so everybodys going to drive over there.
Were all driving over there. Gone are the days . When I grew up in
England, the neighbourhood was somewhere where you could walk to buy
anything you needed. You didnt drive anywhere. I didnt have a car when
I was a kid. My parents didnt drive. You didnt need to drive. You
walked to the store and you walked back and if you needed something big,
theyd deliver it for you. Not everybody needed a pick-up truck because
they would bring it to you. But now you go to buy things at most stores,
people dont even want to deliver it any more, no, no, you have to take
it away.
So were not developing neighbourhoods, were making people our
landscape here is defined by the automobile. Our urban planning is
defined by the automobile. We have everything you go to the mall
where you can park a thousand cars. Is there any transit to the mall,
no. So I think our landscape in Kelowna is completely defined by the
automobile."

It appears that I am not alone in thinking this way.

John.

A blue print for improving cycling in Kelowna

April 30, 2008

Portland Oregon has just been recognized as a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

This is an extremely high level only received by one other much smaller city, Davis California. Since there is no need for us to “reinvent the wheel” lets take a look at what Portland has done to be so recognized.

Portland made a concerted effort several years ago to achieve this level. They put together a comprehensive plan and acted on it. They set goals and then worked hard to achieve them.

You can find the link here:

http://www.commissionersam.com/sam_adams/2006/02/platinum_a_nine.html

Here are a few of the nine items quoted verbatim – please take a look at the rest. This is truly a model that we could use if the political and bureaucratic will existed in our fair town.

“Significant enhancement of Portland’s existing bikeway network, including installing 700 markings on bicycle boulevards and installing bikeway destination signs and maps across town, funding more bicycle staple racks, installing two to five bicycle oases in Hawthorne, and addressing missing links in the bikeways.”

“A comprehensive update of Portland’s Bicycle Master Plan, including incorporating innovative techniques, such as advance bicycle boxes and shared lane markings, and a refinement of the bikeway network priorities.”

“Expanded programs with law enforcement, including police handing out free bicycle lights, the creation of a web site to report bicycle thefts, and bicycle crashes and near misses, and neighborhood bicycle safety committees that address local bicycle safety issues.”

Below the nine points at the web page mentioned above is a comments section. If you look down the list a bit there is a critical comment by Terry Parker – well stated but making the point that cycling infrastructure is expensive and does not solve congestion problems. Right below that is a reply by Commissioner Sam Adams (seems to be the boss in this endeavor but I don’t know his actual job).

In Sam Adam’s reply he mentions “People who drive alone to get from one point to another when they have another viable travel options are my lowest priority for speed of travel.” What a novel idea. We need this fellow in Kelowna!!

How do you think Kelowna compares?

John.

KACC meeting this coming Thursday – 1st May

April 29, 2008

A reminder of the Kelowna and Area Cycling Coalition meeting – at the Bean Scene on Bernard at 4 PM – in the back “conference room”.

John.

Transportation – moving cars or people?

April 28, 2008

I have written about this in the past but here we go again. The thought behind this post arose last week at a Glenmore Valley Community Association meeting. Councillor Carol Gran was kind enough to address the people at the meeting and inevitably the topic of transportation came up.

While addressing this topic Carol alluded to the City’s responsibilities towards ensuring that motor vehicle traffic was routed in an efficient manner – of course this leads to more and more roads and pavement in a valley such as ours, dominated by huge amounts of development and big increases in population.

I got the distinct impression from Carol that she (along with many others) equates transportation with moving motor vehicles rather than transporting people – there is a huge difference. If you wish to move motor vehicles efficiently in an area such as ours, then you must build more and more roads. The end result is that there is no more room and the grid lock that the City has been trying to prevent will happen anyway. Many cities have reached that point and found that they have no choice but to take drastic measures – one example being congestion charges for busy areas and another is toll roads and bridges, a measure that is not likely to make motorists happy.

The City budget has been squeezed enormously in the last couple of years by huge increases in the costs of building roads and related infrastructure. Not only are commodities such as steel, concrete and asphalt seeing huge increases in price but the price of obtaining land for these road building efforts has gone up along with the price of houses and other real estate.

I find it exasperating that we (taxpayers) spend huge amounts of money to build roads which to a considerable extent are taken up by single occupancy vehicles. It just does not seem fair and equitable to pay huge amounts for this purpose and then reserve a tiny fraction for “single occupancy bicycles”. Why is the motorist automatically taken care of while to a large extent the cyclist is ignored. Both pay taxes yet the motorist uses by far the biggest amount of resources and causes the most problems in relation to safety, noise, pollution, GHG’s and budgets.

If a jurisdiction concentrates on moving people efficiently then progress can be made. Such a change in philosophy would result in better transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and more people friendly cities.

Unfortunately the City continues to hire engineers and engineering techs for their transportation department. This is a mistake as engineers exist to building things. Perhaps they should look at hiring social workers to find solutions that do not involve more pavement.

John.

Are we facing higher gas prices soon?

April 25, 2008

I won’t make any pretence at predicting gas (and oil) prices. However, Jeff Rubin, an economist with the CIBC has made accurate predictions in the past and is now predicting that gas will increase to $2.25 per litre over the next four years. If this happens, you can imaging the effect on the economy and people’s driving habits. It might even lead to more people on bikes.

The article can be found here:

http://www.financialpost.com/story.html?id=469426

There is a big concentration on bio fuels now, with western governments putting huge emphasis (and subsidies) towards the production of ethanol and bio diesel. Predictably, when food products (grains and vegetable oils) are used to fill our gas tanks, the cost of food goes up. Recent increases in the price of flour, oils, rice and the like are due in part to the increasing production of bio fuels. For this reason I am hesitant to believe that bio fuels will “solve” our gas price problems although the moral implications of this don’t seem to be on the radar screen for those of us in the West.

This is a lot of doom and gloom but there are solutions. None of them are rocket science. Here are a few ways to reduce our “mortgage payments” to the gas companies:

– plan trips – this can make a major reduction in use of a vehicle. Get groceries and other goods all at one time. Pick up big bulky items when using the car so that small items can be carried on foot or on the bike.

– use an electric bike (scooter style) for local trips (easily used 8 months a year) to pick up groceries and get around when cycling isn’t attractive.

– use a bicycle and walk as much as possible for shorter trips and when this isn’t practical use transit and share rides with others.

– Kelowna does not have a car share program – maybe it is time for a few concerned people to get together to form one.

– consider getting rid of the car and renting one when needed. It may seem an expensive option but add up the yearly costs of ownership and it can amount to a considerable number of weekend rentals. We found that we coped quite well when the car wasn’t insured – when it sits in the driveway ready for use it is amazing the number of short (and generally unnecessary) trips that can be justified.

– when looking at a new car choose the smallest most fuel efficient vehicle that will do the job. We use a utility trailer and that negates the need for a pickup or larger vehicle.

– if moving, choose a location close to services, schools and jobs. If gas prices continue to climb, out of the way properties are likely to take a price hit as the market for these properties will be reduced to those who can afford higher and unpredictable gas prices.

John.