Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peer-to-Peer Pioneer Sees New York Bicycles Pier-to-Pier

Mark Gorton is perhaps best known for founding the peer-to-peer service LimeWire. But his real passion is transportation — specifically bicycles, and making cities friendlier to them.
Gorton makes no bones about his disdain for the automobile and its impact on cities, and he’s used his passion, and money, to promote more-equitable transportation policies. He founded OpenPlans, a nonprofit focused on promoting transparent government and civic engagement, and he’s tried to bring an open source approach to urban planning. He also launched Streetsblog.
Complete article from Wired Magazine

Monday, August 22, 2011

photos of Greenest Household Discovery Bike Ride, Aug. 20

The weather was super, the company was great, and the destinations were awesome! It would have been nice of Casey to pull me up the hills, but oh well, I did get my exercise for the day!

Thanks for Geoff and Liz for being such wonderful hosts, and telling us all about their admirable efforts to make their household as green as possible. We really enjoyed strolling around in their vegetable garden and learning about companion planting and other details about growing your own food. Liz does lots of canning throughout the summer as well, so their pantry is well stocked for the winter. Geoff tries to take advantage of every bit of sun we get here in Maple Ridge with his solar panels. Liz doesn't just have a green thumb, she's also a skilled artist, and their house is adorned with her wonderful paintings and sketches.

After biking up and down the hills in east Maple Ridge, Liz's blueberry squares and refreshing lemon barley water tasted superb!

Click here and here to see the photos of this latest Discovery Bike Ride.

GETI Fest, September 24, 2011

You may wonder what this is all about: "GETI Fest". What is GETI? It stands for "Golden Ears Transition Initiative". GETI tries to raise awareness in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows about global warming, peak oil and the impact of our continued unsustainable lifestyles on our planet, and help to prepare ourselves for a less fossil-fuel dependent economy. Check out GETI's website to find out more.

This event is one of the many that are being organized worldwide on September 24, under the name "Moving Planet". During the afternoon, from noon till 4 pm, you can wander around Memorial Peace Park, meet some of the people of the various action groups of GETI, see some displays and interactive workshops, and find out more about what we are all doing.

Our local Chapter of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition is one of the action groups of GETI, and we're very excited to be part of this event. We will have a bus rack at the event for people to practice putting their bikes on, so that they won't have to fumble while the bus driver is waiting impatiently.. Between 1:30 and 3:30 we will also have a bike decorating station for the kids, followed by a fun bike rodeo. Of course we will provide a free bike valet between noon and 9 pm, so that you won't have to worry about your bike while you're exploring all the different GETI-groups and the artisan fair and enjoying the live music.

And of course we want cyclists to come out in big numbers to be part of the non-fossil-fuel powered parade, which will take place between 4 and 5 pm! Everyone is welcome. If you can't bring your bike, bring your rollerblades, your dancing shoes or hiking boots, your stilts, your unicycle—anything human-powered. The parade route will be very short: just around the Memorial Peace Park Loop, because this is the very first time that we're doing this. We hope to be able to fill up the whole loop with people. If we can all can make that happen together, we will promise you to make next year's event into an even bigger, car-free street event, with people, not cars, occupying a section of Dewdney Trunk Road!

After the parade, dinner will be served (for meal tickets - cost $8 per person - contact Jackie at jchow23708@yahoo.ca), and there will be music and dancing until 9 pm. Fun, fun, fun!

Lastly, but certainly most importantly, I would like to appeal to all the children and youth in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. This is your chance to have your voices heard!  Be part of the parade! Outnumber us old folks, parents and grandparents! So much of this is about YOUR future, and you have to let all of us adults know that we need to listen to you. Tell us that you want us to act NOW and that you want to be part of it! You do have a voice. So be there! On September 24! Please pass on the message.

We would like to have an idea how many people are going to join the parade. So please send an e-mail to blakehandford@shaw.ca to let us know you'll be there. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Comprehensive Cycling Map of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to be Updated

Members of the Bike Advisory Committee, the VACC and interested citizens met Tuesday night to begin the process of updating the Municipal Bike Map. With the direction of Russ Carmichael from the District of Maple Ridge about 15 people from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows attended a meeting to clarify the strategy for rating existing municipal roads and pathways from the perspective of cyclists. Also, part of the exercise will be to try to identify other possible route additions and suggest improvements. A list of rating criteria had been borrowed from neighbouring municipalities and the object is to have our routes rated on broadly accepted scale. Part of the instruction to the riders was to view themselves as an "average" cyclist when assessing the routes. 
It has long been thought that the existing cycling map of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows was out of date and even erroneous in its designation of many routes. What might have been a quiet country road, suitable for a Sunday family cycle 20 years ago is now a major commuter route, busy at all times of the day with vehicle traffic. This is the reality of 132nd Avenue and 232nd St north of Fern Crescent for instance, given the patterns of suburban sprawl in these areas. An example of "error" in the previous map was its designation of Dewdney Trunk Rd. as an "acceptable" bike route - NOT!
For the next month or so people will be riding the streets of MR and PM taking careful notes and with the information gathered create a true picture of the current state of cycling infrastructure in our towns. It is also hoped that from this, specific priorities will be determined and a concrete to-do list created.
Anyone interested in assisting with the assessments can still participate by contacting Russ Carmichael at the city of MR at rcarmichael@mapleridge.ca.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Column The News: Nice to See Kids Riding Bicycles

Our second column in the Maple Ridge News:

Nice to see kids riding bicycles

Published: August 12, 2011 7:00 AM

It was quite inspiring to read in last week’s article Hill Street blues: must keep barriers, (The News, July 29) about how residents on Hill Avenue are trying to convince the District of Maple Ridge not to remove the barriers on their street. The district feels it’s desirable to offer their street as an alternate route to cars to the 102nd Avenue and 240th Street arterials.

Understandably, residents worry that traffic will increase on their quiet street once the barriers are gone.
Motorists may use their street as a rat-run, trying to avoid the traffic lights at the 102nd Avenue and 240th Street intersection. They organized a big street party and a petition to show how passionate they are about keeping their neighbourhood safe and quiet.

Only two months ago, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition did a Bike to School program – the first in Maple Ridge – at Albion elementary, right across 240th Street from Hill Avenue. This program was funded by the District of Maple Ridge. As part of the program, a Family Bike Festival was held. The kids learned about traffic rules, how to manoeuvre their bikes around pylons, how to properly use their helmets, and they decorated their bikes. At the end of the afternoon, a group of about 60 kids biked through the neighbourhood. I was helping out on that day, and I thought it was the greatest sight, all those kids cruising down Hill Avenue. You could see how thrilled they were to be in control. Quite a different experience for a lot of kids from being strapped into a car seat when being driven to school every morning.

I was hoping that this Bike to School program would be the start of an important road to independence and learning for many of these kids. Many kids these days don’t learn much about how to behave in traffic, since their parents drive them everywhere. Once they turn 16, if they manage to correctly answer some multiple-choice questions about the rules of the road, suddenly they’re allowed to be in control of a three-tonne vehicle … and all those years we tried to keep them safe by not allowing them to bike other than in our quiet cul-de-sac or on the sidewalk!
I wonder how many drivers have asked the district to remove these barriers. I suspect none. I doubt too many residents – if any –on either side of the barriers want them gone, because everyone wants to live in a quiet neighbourhood. Neighbourhood streets shouldn’t be used for through-traffic if it can be avoided – only for local traffic. Leaving the barriers in place may encourage more parents to allow their kids to bike to school. As more development takes place in east Maple Ridge, sooner or later there will be traffic lights at the Hill Avenue and 240th Street, which would make Hill  an attractive alternative for drivers. And once the barriers are gone, it’ll be much harder, or perhaps impossible, to get them back. So I say: kudos to Hill Avenue residents for standing up for their kids and their neighbourhood!

Other things that I’d like to mention:
• The Summer Cycling Photo Contest organized by the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows bicycle advisory committee. You can find details at mapleridge.ca (click on “contest” under “What’s New”). Check out the awesome prizes!

• Our Discovery Bike Ride for this month will be Aug. 20 to the Greenest Household in Maple Ridge. Suitable for cyclists of all abilities. Check out details on our blog: rmcyclist.info/. Note that our rides are unguided.

• An exciting event is being organized for Sept. 24 by the Golden Ears Transition Initiative, of which the VACC is part. I’ll tell you more about it in next month’s cycling column.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Discovery Bike Ride #5: Greenest Household in Maple Ridge, Sat. Aug. 20

Our next Discovery Bike Ride will be on Saturday, Aug. 20, to the Greenest Household in Maple Ridge. This will be an 18 km ride, with some hills, but we'll take it easy. There is a short stretch of horse trail included in the route as well where we may have to walk, so don't put on your best shoes!

We'll start the ride at 11:00 am at Starbucks at 240th Street and Dewdney, which is right along the 123 Bike Route. Here's the suggested route, which we'll ride counter-clockwise. Our first stop will be at the Bell Irving Fish Hatchery (B) for a picnic, so bring your lunch!

The second stop will be at Geoff and Liz Hancock's place on 244 Street (A). In August 2009 they won first prize in a "Greenest Household Contest" organized by the Metropolis at Metrotown Green Team, and were featured in an article in the Vancouver Sun. Let's go check it out and see for ourselves what we can learn from them.

If you like to do this ride, please send an e-mail to Jackie at jchow23708@yahoo.ca.

Please note that our rides are "unguided", and cyclists following the suggested route do so at their own risk.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New column on cycling in Maple Ridge News

Here's the first one:

Go Dutch: start riding your bike

The dikes in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are pretty awesome, built by the Dutch after the Second World War. I think they are one of the best things that ever happened to our area north of the Fraser River.
Apart from the valuable farmland that was created, many people now use the dikes that protect the farmland from flooding for leisurely strolls, bike rides or horseback riding.

It was a smart move by the City of Pitt Meadows and the District of Maple Ridge to build trails on the dikes.
The Dutch have more clever ideas and skills than just building dikes, though. They also design and build great cycling infrastructure.