Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mainstreaming Green Behaviors Demands Massive New Approach

This from Ogilvy & Mather, one of the world's leading advertising agencies.

NEW YORK, NY, April 18, 2011 – When it comes to motivating the mainstream American consumer to act, the messages and techniques offered by marketers, governments, and NGOs around sustainability have been missing the mark, according to a study released today by OgilvyEarth (www.ogilvyearth.com) a leading sustainability consultancy. The study, “Mainstream Green: Moving sustainability from niche to normal” provides new insight on how to close the Green Gap that persists between what consumers say and what they actually do around sustainable living. 
“Research shows that many of the environmental messages are not just failing to close the Green Gap, but are actually cementing it by making green behavior too difficult and costly from a practical, financial, and social standpoint,” explained Graceann Bennett, Director of Strategic Planning, Ogilvy & Mather; Contributing Strategist at OgilvyEarth; and co-author of the study. “Many of the world’s leading corporations are staking their futures on the bet that sustainability will become a major driver of mainstream consumer purchase behavior. Unless they can figure out how to close the gap, there will never be a business case for green,” added Freya Williams, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at OgilvyEarth and co-author of the study.
Closing the Green GapTo close the Green Gap, the study found, leading organizations should find ways to normalize sustainable behaviors. The twelve recommendations provided include:
  • Make it Normal: The great Middle Green is not looking to set themselves apart from everyone else. They want to fit in. When it comes to driving mass behavior change, marketers need to restrain the urge to make going green feel cool or different, and instead make it normal. 
  • Eliminate the Sustainability Tax: The high prices of many of the greener products suggest an attempt to limit or discourage more sustainable choices. Eliminating the price barrier eliminates the notion that green products are not for normal citizens. 
  • Make Eco-friendly Male Ego-friendly: Sustainability must strike a chord with male consumers by considering what works in traditional marketing. For example, automotive brands with alternative fuel vehicles are finding success by sticking to what has been shown to work — sleek ads with an emphasis on speed and design.  
  • Lose the Crunch: Just because a product is green doesn’t mean it must be packaged in burlap. For green marketing to succeed, it must be liberated from the traditional stereotypes to emphasize the most compelling personal benefits.
  • Hedonism over Altruism: The emotional tenor of sustainable marketing to date has been focused on appeals to Americans’ altruistic tendencies, but our research shows that this is to deny human nature. Wise brands are tapping into enjoyment over altruism.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Discover Downtown Vancouver by bike video launch

You may have heard that Vancouver has made great progress in recent years in becoming a cyclist-friendly city, and you may have been wanting to explore all the new bike routes in Vancouver, and even the new bike lanes in the downtown. Then you'll want to take a look at this: the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition and the Pedestrian Advocacy Network (PAN) have just jointly launched the video "Discover Vancouver with the VACC and PAN // April 2011".

You can find bike themed routes at www.discoverbybike.ca, with printable maps for self-guided rides, as well as promotions from lots of downtown businesses. Promotions will be available all year, and more will be added over time.

If you don't have a bike rack, don't have a car or don't drive, Translink can get you and your bike there. All Translink busses have bike racks mounted on the front of the bus, with space for 2 bikes per bus. If you're nervous about trying this option, go to the Haney Bus Loop and ask a bus driver who has some time to spare if you can practice and if he can show you how to do it. Here's some more information on putting your bike on the bus. Once you get to Braid station, you can either complete the rest of your journey on your own power by following the Central Valley Greenway, or hop onto the Skytrain with your bike to reach Vancouver. Check out the restrictions for the Skytrain before you head out though.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Federal party policies re cycling

The former President of the VACC, Arno Schortinghuis, has spent some time scanning the various party platforms to see what each party plans to do to improve cycling and walking in our communities.

A quick summary:

Conservative Party – Nothing

Green Party - 1½ pages of policy

Liberal Party – Nothing

New Democratic Party – One item in their separate BC party policy.*

Click here for a list of cycling policies. *

*this has been updated on Monday, April 25.

Thanks, Arno!

The Real Reason Why Bicycles are the Key to Better Cities

We all know the talking points. The benefits of bicycles have been tirelessly elaborated upon; bicycles improve health, ease congestion, save money, use less space, and provide efficient transportation with zero fuel consumption and zero carbon emissions. All of this is great, and the culmination of a population on two wheels can have a drastic impact on the overall wellbeing of a city.

However, none of these come close to the most meaningful aspect of cycling, a factor that cannot be quantified but has endless value to those fighting to improve their communities.

The most vital element for the future of our cities is that the bicycle is an instrument of experiential understanding.

Read full post...

Federal election / MR-PM-Mission candidates on cycling

We asked all four candidates for the federal election in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Mission riding about about what their party's platform says about cycling and what they plan on doing to improve cycling infrastructure and promotion.

We will be adding their replies to this posting as they come in.

Here's the first reply, from the Green Party candidate, Peter Tam:

"The Green party and I will absolutely support a National cycling strategy. Quoting from our Platform in Transportation Policy

“Support pedestrian, cycle and car-sharing infrastructure in towns and cities”

We support the national cycling strategy per verbatim.

The first thing I would do is to eliminate the HST from the purchase of the bicycle and any accessories relating to the operation and maintenance of the bicycle. At the local district level, I would push for bike lock ups around downtown and shopping area. I will be working with VACC to create events to build awareness and promote cycling locally."

Reply #2, Craig Speirs, NDP:

"I have been an advocate for cycling infrastructure improvements for the past twelve years as part of my municipal work. I was the council liaison to the bike committee many years ago and was convinced of the wisdom of making room on our roads for this healthy form of transportation. When I was first elected cycling infrastructure was at best an afterthought when we planned our roads and now its front of mind for our engineers and planners. I like to think that I had some small influence in this increased awareness. There is much to do but at least its a start.
To me this is also about peak oil and how all communities need to transition out of car dependency. Oil isn't going to get cheaper anytime soon and senior governments need to encourage this transition through legislation and funding targeted to alternatives to the car.
I like your list of things the federal government could do as part of a National Cycling Strategy. I would love to make it one of my "to do" lists. The NDP supports cycling and I would certainly lobby to establish such a strategy if elected."

Reply #3: Mandeep Bhuller, Liberal Party:

"Cycling is an important part of Canadian culture, both for recreation and for transportation. The passion and commitment to cycling by its proponents is an inspiring example of what Canadians can accomplish when we work together.

The Liberal Transportation and Infrastructure plan, mentioned in our Policy Platform, will focus on sound investments that will reduce pollution and ease congestion in our cities. While Cycling is not specifically mentioned in the plan, I can assure you that as a Member of Parliament I will work to ensure that cycling takes its rightful and integral place in our Transportation and Infrastructure program."

If you would like to ask the candidates some questions, there will be an all-candidates debate on Wednesday, April 27, just a few days before the election. Time: 7 - 9 pm. Location: Whonnock Lake Centre, 27871 - 113th Ave. Candidates each will have 5 minutes for a speech, followed by question and answer.

For those who have time during the day, there's another one on Thursday, April 28, at 9:40 am. Location: Thomas Haney Secondary School, 23000 116 Ave.

Update May 1: At the all-candidates meeting on April 27, I had a chance to ask Randy Kamp for his input as to how he thinks he might be able to help cycling in our communities. He said that "I am not able to set policy", and "cycling is not the jurisdiction of the federal government". After the meeting I again asked him to submit his comments for our blog, but there has been no response so far, so I have not been able to find out from him whether or not he is willing to work on funding for cycling projects if he gets re-elected, as well as to set the wheels in motion to help develop a national cycling strategy in co-operation with the provincial governments, which are definitely things that the federal government would be able to commit to.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller"

Jeff Rubin, former Chief Economist CIBC World Markets talks to CBC's George Stroumboulopolous about his new book. It's all about peak oil, the end of globalization and increasing gas prices making the whole world SMALLER AND MORE LOCAL.

Charter of Seville 2011 / federal election and cycling

Planners and politicians from 47 countries recently came together at the 2011 Velo-City Conference in Seville, Spain, from March 23 - 25. This is an international conference on cycling and cycling policies that started in 1980, and has been held in Europe every two years until 2009, after which it has been held annually. In 2010 the Conference "went global". 2012 will be the first year that it will be held outside Europe, and Vancouver has been chosen as the host city! We have a wave coming our way, and hopefully we'll be able to ride it!

The conference in Seville concluded with the signing of the Seville Charter. This Charter comprises a 15-point list of advantages and benefits of cycling, and aspires to convince all Ministers of Transport that attend the International Transport Forum (ITF) in Leipzig in May of the fact that cycling simply makes sense.
This year the representatives of 53 countries attending the ITF will focus on “Transport and Society”. In light of this theme, the “Charter of Seville” asks these Ministers of Transport to recognize and acknowledge the documented advantages and benefits of cycling as a daily alternative mode of transportation. One of the dignitaries that signed the Charter was Bob Paddon, our very own President of Translink. (Correction: Bob Paddon is TransLink Vice-President, Customer and Public Engagement. TransLink has a CEO, Ian Jarvis).

This Charter is important for Canada to pay attention to. Many countries are finally realizing the huge potential of cycling and are dramatically increasing their funding for cycling infrastructure and education. The U.S., while lagging somewhat behind Canada in cycling participation, is definitely stepping up to the plate. Between 1988 and 1990, annual funding for cycling and walking in the U.S. was about $5 million per year. Between 1992 and 1998 this rose to an annual $150 million. From 1999 to 2005 funding increased to about $360 million per year. Between 2006 and 2009, almost $1 billion per year has been spent federally on cycling and walking in the U.S.*

In contrast to the U.S., there is no regular federal funding for cycling infrastructure in Canada, so financing depends almost entirely on provincial and municipal funding.*

With the federal election coming up, it's a good idea to ask the candidates what they are planning to do to make sure that the federal government does its share to assist municipalities in their quest to become more sustainable and to provide true multi-modal transportation systems that serve people of all ages and abilities. With the price of gas expected to continue to rise, cycling will undoubtedly become a lot more popular and can provide a low cost way of getting around to a broad range of people, including those do not now own a car, those who can't afford to and those who cannot or do not drive.

In hilly east Maple Ridge as well as in Silver Valley, the electric bicycle will be a very viable solution, being a much more energy-efficient means of transportation than the private car. Safety is paramount for many people though whether riding a regular or electric bicycle, and investing in safe infrastructure is essential if we want to be able to "ride the wave"!

*Data from "Bicycling Renaissance in North America? An Up-Date and Re-Appraisal of Cycling Trends and Policies"
Transportation Research A, Vol. 45, 2011, by John Pucher, Ralph Buehler, and Mark Seinen

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Awarded for Excellence in Urban Landscape Design

The MR/PM Cyclist would like to take this opportunity to recognize the owners of the "Liquidation World Mall" (living somewhere in Florida - name to come),  for their efforts and achievements in urban, environmental improvement. The lone pine tree in the centre of the vast parking lot, has surely set the standard for civic beautification projects. Not only that, but the knowledge and sensitivity it demonstrates to the mitigation of the  "urban heat island effect", makes the owners doubly deserving of recognition. Keep up the good work folks, and we'll keep the rent cheques going south and toward the upkeep of your lush, private gardens!

North Alouette Greenway Bridge Crossing

Construction appears to be close to complete on the bridge over the North Alouette just north of the Equestrian Centre located on 132nd Ave. The approaches and span foundations on both sides of the river appear complete and if the span itself is being pre-fabricated, it looks like a crane could have the job done in half a day.

This is a very exciting prospect for horsemen and off-road cyclists as the new bridge will permit safe, tranquil and scenic transit essentially from the new Silver Ridge subdivision westward along 136th Avenue, then connecting up with the extensive dyke network in Pitt Meadows. Cyclists and horsemen could transit all the way to the Pitt River Bridge entirely off road. This is providing a much-needed alternate, recreational, east-west route to the now overcrowded and speed-prone 132nd. Avenue and the death-trap which is 128th Avenue (with no paved shoulder at all).
MR/PM Cyclist will keep an eye to the progress and post the opening here as soon as known.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Earth Day - April 16

Grab your bike and head over to Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge and cruise all the booths - 10am to 2pm. The VACC will be providing FREE VALET PARKING.
Earth Day is a free community festival to celebrate and acknowledge the earth and our environment. This is a family oriented festival that takes place at the Maple Ridge Memorial Peace Park. There will be plenty of performances, activities, exhibits and a silent auction.
This year's theme is "The True Cost of Stuff". We will be exploring the hidden costs of different products, so come find out how much your stuff really costs!
Last year, the VACC hosted a short (symbolic) group ride from Maple Ridge to Pitt Meadows and back. Among the participants were VACC members as well as two Maple Ridge Councilors, Linda King and Cheryl Ashleigh.
Drob by the VACC booth! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kick conventionally-fueled cars out of Europe's centers by 2050, European Commission urges

Electric car parking
Electric car parking
Will become the norm under the new rules. Source: Daily Mail

Philip Langdon
New Urban Network

The European Union is not thinking small. On March 28 the European Commission, an executive branch of the EU, announced a set of proposals that would dramatically reshape the continent's transportation patterns by 2050. Among the goals:

• Use of automobiles powered by gasoline or diesel fuel would be cut in half by 2030 in urban areas, and would be phased out altogether in cities by 2050.

• Thirty percent of the road freight traveling more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) would shift to other modes — basically rail or water — by 2030. By the middle of the century, more than 50 percent of the road traffic traveling that 186 miles or more would shift to the alternative modes, aided by the development of "efficient and green freight corridors."

• The current high-speed rail network would triple in length by 2030, and "a dense railway network" would operate in all of the EU's member states. By 2050, a high-speed rail network for Europe would be completed, and the majority of medium-distance passengers would travel by rail.

• Except for long hauls (of which there would be many), there would be far fewer passengers traveling in Europe by air. And the use of "low-carbon sustainable fuels in aviation" would rise to 40 percent by 2050. By that time, the plan also envisions that all "core network airports" would be connected to the rail network — preferably to high-speed rail.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Our First "Discovery Bike Ride"

Last Saturday morning a group of 16 people met at Big Feast Bistro in downtown Maple Ridge for a little cycling adventure. It was the first of a series of Discovery Bike Rides that the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Chapter is organizing this year to explore Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows neighbourhoods and surroundings, as well as visit interesting businesses, coffee shops and restaurants. These bike rides are also a great way to make some new, like-minded friends.

On this bike trip we had some minor obstacles to overcome, but somehow if things don't go quite as smoothly as expected, that makes it more of an adventure and even more memorable. Even before we left, Lucy, one of the participants, found she had a flat tire. Rick, one of the co-chairs of our VACC Committee who was there to see us off, helped her quickly fix it, so that we could be on our way. We started off mostly on quiet neighbourhood streets in eastern direction, crossed Kanaka Creek at the Rainbow Bridge, and followed an off-road gravel path along the Albion Flats, continued behind Planet Ice, and via the parking lot at the Albion Sports Fields we reached 240th. We crossed Lougheed Highway to visit a small company, Rainforest Design, that's located just south of the railroad crossing. The owner of the company, Steve Schleicher, was attracting a fair bit of attention as one of the participants of our ride. That was because he wasn't riding just an ordinary bicycle, he was riding his bright yellow velomobile, which is basically a tricycle with a fiberglass encasing built around it. Steve's company designs and manufactures these sleek-looking, aerodynamic, nifty, human-powered vehicles, as well as high-end kayaks. Steve kindly gave us a very interesting tour of his workshop and explained in short the process he uses to make his velomobiles and kayaks.

After the tour it was just a short distance to Kanaka Creek Coffee, our next destination. This is a neat neighbourhood coffee shop, where they may just serve the best coffee in town. After coming in from the cold it sure tasted heavenly to me. The yummy pastries and the cozy atmosphere also contributed to the fact that none of us was in a hurry to get up and get going again. But with our tummies filled and our hands and hearts warmed, and ready for the rest of our adventure, we finally mounted our iron steeds again to discover what else was ahead of us.

We rode through some newer neighbourhoods that made some of us realize that Maple Ridge has been expanding farther and faster than we thought. We started heading back, taking a different route with several unexpected gravel-path short-cuts, where we encountered some more obstacles. At some point a big log on our path had to be moved, and at another Steve needed some help manoeuvering his velomobile to get around some staggered gates to get onto a short steep path going down to a small bridge crossing Horseshoe Creek. He managed to follow us everywhere we went. Sometimes I already have a bit of a problem on my regular bike, with my mirror sticking out of my handlebar, and my big paniers that I purchased a few years ago in Holland, which serve me really well to carry my groceries, but sometimes make it more difficult to navigate between gates or poles that are supposed to keep motorized vehicles out.

We continued in northern direction along Creekside, through the Cottonwood area, crossed Dewdney Trunk Road, and then got onto the signed "123 Route" in eastern direction. This route leads all the way to 203 St., north of Dewdney Trunk Road. We didn't go that far though. After about 20 kilometers of pedaling we were ready for lunch, and so we stopped where we had started, at Big Feast Bistro on 227th Street, where Chef Mike Mulcahy was ready for us. One problem with his menu is that there are so many interesting and delicious dishes that it's difficult to make a choice. So far I've thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes I've tried though, so it's not a big problem. Just close your eyes and pick one!

Some of the feedback received after this ride: "Today's cycle in MR was super"..... "Had a GREAT time! Looking forward to the next one already."

Anyone who would like to join any future Discovery Bike Rides is welcome. We're catering to the average cyclist, and try to ride mostly on quieter neighbourhood streets and off-road paths. There is no cost involved, and you don't need to be a member of the VACC. We will be planning our next ride in May in Pitt Meadows. In June we will be organizing a ride exploring part of the Central Valley Greenway, which connects all the way from New Westminster to Downtown Vancouver. For those who would like to be on the e-mail list of our local chapter of the VACC - so that you can be kept informed of any planned rides and other events or issues of possible interest to Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows cyclists - please contact Jackie at jchow23708@yahoo.ca. Our Discovery Bike Rides will be announced in the community events calendar of both The Times and The News as well.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What is the Most Important Lesson I Have Learned as a Town Planner?

By Dom Nozzi, AICP

What is the most important lesson I’ve learned in my 25 years as a town planner?
American communities tend to beat around the bush or otherwise mince words when their spokespeople proclaim they would like to “improve the quality of life.” But we are often left hanging by such proclamations.
How do we promote quality of life? What are the details?
To me, my work as a planner has made it crystal clear, for me, how a community achieves and maintains a quality of life.
The most profound influence on community quality of life is directly related to how much effort the community puts into catering to cars. And the astonishing fact is this: Most all of us either don’t realize, or are too timid to point out, that there is an inverse relationship between happy cars and happy people. That is, the happier we try to make cars by building wide, multi-lane, high-speed roads, creating enormous (and unpriced) parking lots, and setting buildings an enormous distance away from these now hostile roads, the worse conditions become for people – at least for those people seeking a more walkable, sociable lifestyle, and to some extent, for those who seek a more drivable lifestyle.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coquitlam office supplies business finds a transportation niche

For the delivery drivers at Coquitlam office supply business Costless Express, the introduction of dedicated bike lanes in downtown Vancouver was not welcome news.
But while others complained about snarled traffic and depleted parking, Costless CEO Calvin Johnson decided to look for an opportunity and, eventually, he found one.
Since last fall he and his colleagues have been working on the EcoYIKE, a solar-electric hybrid pedicab the company hopes will help reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. Because the motor is electric the city permits the vehicles to be used on the bike lanes, enabling delivery drivers to move quickly through the traffic-clogged downtown core.
"Being environmentally friendly, we are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon emissions," Johnson said. "Here we have a super highway for bicycles right downtown."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Discovery Bike Ride, Sat. April 9, 10:00 am

Time to get your bike tuned up, if you haven't already done so, to get ready to join us for the Discovery Bike Rides we're planning to organize in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows this year!

We are hoping that with these Discovery Bike Rides we can help you discover neighbourhoods that you haven't visited, and routes that you may not have considered before, as well as to highlight local businesses that are doing their share to create a better community for us all. Cycling is a great, healthy and fun way to get around in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, whether it's for shopping, to go to school or work, visit friends, to pedal over to a local farm to get your organic, free range eggs, or whatever.

For each Discovery Ride we'll have some interesting and/or tasteful stops planned. We're sure that there are lots of local farms and other businesses, restaurants, coffee shops and perhaps some picnic sites that many of us don't know about yet. We have some ideas, but we also hope that you have some suggestions! We would like to pick destinations in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and we can be flexible with our start and finish points. Preferably we should finish at some type of eatery, coffee shop or ice cream parlour, because the "après-vélo" is part of the fun!

Our first Discovery Ride will be on Saturday, April 9 at 10:00 am. We'll be leaving from BIG FEAST BISTRO, 11920 227th street in Maple Ridge. Some of you who participated with our bike ride last year introducing part of the "123 Route" may have tried some of the finger licking delicacies by Chef Mike. I've got my favourites, but then, so far everything I've tried at Big Feast is my favourite, so I'll keep trying new items on the menu. Check out Big Feast's website: http://www.bigfeast.ca/. Big Feast is a very community-, and environmentally friendly business. Mike tries to buy his ingredients locally whenever he can and is big on re-using and recycling. These initiatives are certainly worthy of our support!

But, let's not forget about what's actually the most important part of the event: the ride itself. You can find the approximate route at the following link: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/30759128/. This route will be close to 20 kms. With some hills. We'll be taking it easy, so don't worry if you have to get off your bike and walk up a hill if you're not in the greatest shape or if you're just a little tired. It's supposed to be enjoyable, and we're not in a rush!

This ride's first stop will be at RAINFOREST DESIGN, at #5 - 9903 - 240th Street (close to the old Albion Ferry), a very interesting local company that designs and manufactures kayaks and velomobiles. You may have seen, in a flash, a yellow velomobile somewhere on our local roads, without knowing that that's what it is. That would have been the company's owner, Steve, who uses his velomobile to get to and from work, for fun, to stay in shape, and to stay dry. Check out Steve's websites: http://velomobiles.ca/ and http://www.nimbuskayaks.com/

From Rainforest Design it's only a short ride to KANAKA CREEK COFFEE, a nice neighbourhood coffee shop, owned and operated by long-time Maple Ridge residents, that's worth a visit. They offer quite a nice variety of coffee, tea and other drinks, including healthy fruit smoothies if that's what you're looking for. Their website: http://www.kanakacreekcoffee.com/. Note that on Wednesdays between 4 and 8 pm there's live music!

We should be back at Big Feast Bistro around lunch time. It's up to you if you want to stay for lunch or head home.

Please note that we will need to ask all participants to sign a waiver at the start of the ride. Please arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to allow us to get the waivers signed. Kids under 18 are welcome to participate, however they will need to be accompanied by an adult, who will be responsible for their safety. Please ensure that any participating children are physically able to complete the ride. On our rides we will try to avoid busier roads as much as we can, however sometimes we may have to ride on a short stretch of a somewhat busier road to connect to quieter streets.

These Discovery Rides are free for participants. However, we will happily accept donations, which will help us to promote cycling in various ways in our communities.

Finally, just a reminder: cyclists are by law required to ride single file on roads, and also to wear helmets.

Please send an e-mail to Jackie at jchow23708@yahoo.ca if you're planning to participate. Also, please let us know if you have any suggestions as to destinations for our Discovery Rides.

Hope to see you on Saturday!