October 23, 2010
…or a bike commuting adventure in Richmond
Richmond with its flat land should be a paradise for cyclists, and indeed it offers interesting trails on the dykes and elsewhere. Stephen Rees has extensively covered them and others Richmond related cycling issues in a serie of posts [sr1][sr2][sr4], so here is another view focusing more on utility cycling, that is basically cycling to go to work/study. Below is a snapshot of what makes such cycling an adventurous proposition in Richmond
The bike lanes or lack of…
It is not the least advantage of a cycle lane to behave like a legal, safe, and comfortable queue jumper, avoiding inhalation of polluted air by cyclists on congested road, and making this mode more competitive with other commuting choice.
|It makes little sense to promote cycling by asking cyclist to breath car exhaust in middle of traffic congestion |
… But Richmond replaces the bike lanes when it is most needed, by one of its avatar, the sharrow, as seen below:
As explained by New York City DOT engineers , when there is not enough right of way to implement a dedicated lane or traffic is light and calm enough to justify a shared street, a chevron marking (also called sharrow) could be used raise awareness of motorist…Richmond still has to learn how to use appropriate horizontal marking for bike facilities
The network or lack of…
Richmond city provides a cycling map, where the simple fact to draw a bike on a road, seems to justify the classification of it as a bike lane. A ground survey of the bike lane could lead to the more realistic map below:
basically, the Richmond city center is serviced by a a backbone of 2 bike lanes, the north-south bike lane,along the path of the former interurban (gardencity, Granville and railway) and on the east of Garden city by an East-West bike lane along Westmintser hwy.
In despite of some commendable effort in the right direction, like the raised bike lane on the road 3, bike lanes are still fairly disconnected and basically don’t provide much needed connections to the Canada line or the Kwantlen college.
Connection to the Bridgeport station
Nevertheless, Bridgeport station is reachable by a bike lane connected to the rest of the network… at least up to a certain point:
Connection to the Canada line bridge
A recent addition to the bike lanes netwok has been the connection of the Canada line bridge to the rest of the bike network through Van Horne road in an industrial precinct…but probably that the 12 meters wide road was judged still on the narrow side, so a bike lane takes place in only one direction! (opposite direction is a shared path).
Notice that in general cyclists use an alternative and more pleasant route via Riverport road.
Better to ignore the signage
At Great Canadian way and Sea island way intersection, cyclists are the object of less care than the landscaping, and a cyclist following sign could put himself in an uncomfortable if not outright unsafe spot.
First a satellite view of the situation
The cyclist travelling from West to East on Sea island Way will encounter a suite of sign designed to his attention. A first sign suggest he will have to do a right tun where the on ramp lane merge. The sign indicates that the cyclist should be still on the road:
A second sign seems to disagree with the first one, since it assumes that the cyclist should be on the sidewalk, and then suggest a very strange procedure to the cyclist obeying to the first one:
Law abiding cyclist need to be lucky…
or prepared to spend very very long time…at ever red light. This is due to the fact that most of the secondary roads have traffic light activated by induction loop…not triggered by bike
The right turn lane…
…or how to make a cyclist like a pin in the middle of a bowling lane
As the above picture illustrates, advanced right turn lane gives way to probably the most disconcerting disposition of bike lanes, de facto defeating the purpose of those bike lanes, which is to provide a secure environment to the cyclist.
Motorists seems unsure on the way to negotiate a right turn with a bike lane in the middle of the road: some will pass a cyclist on the right… some others on the left before tail gating the bike….
In Richmond, yield to cyclist is definitely not an option!
Needless to say, intersections in BC (most of them arranged as above), are especially treacherous for cyclist, where more than 60% of the accidents happen, and going straight seems the most dangerous proposition for a cyclist 
Obviously, there is some better way to implement bike lane with advanced right turn lane, and generally, they are implemented like below in Europe
because the “yield to cyclist” could be not obvious to the BC motorist  and horizontal “yield” marking less frequent here than in Europe could be not as well understood , additional vertical sign, nowadays rarely seen in Europe, could be required here
In cyclist friendly jurisdictions, Yield to cyclist is the only option!
…and not surprisingly, those jurisdictions have usually much safer road safety record than BC.
Richmond BC, is like a child learning to bike. It seems to be full of good intention, but lack of understanding and method. European cities was not much different a quarter century ago, it is just that Richmond needs to work much harder in order to not fall behind.
 While, it is generally the law to yield to cyclist, like to pedestrian, on a right turn in Europe, law seems to be far less consistent across North american jurisdictions which usually don’t treat cyclist as a vulnerable user of the road, see bike lane and right turn difference in Oregon and California or, for a more awkward regulation, the Ontario MTO explicitly indicates that right turning vehicles have priority on cyclists.
 European countries, and more generally country adopting the Vienna convention road signage, use thick dashed lane as a horizontal “yield line” marking, the equivalent in North america is usually a line of triangle, used in New York City as illustrated in the video of the NYC DOT.
 number from www.bikesense.bc.ca
 It is what is required by the BC motor vehicle act section 158
August 30, 2010
Steveston can offer a bucolic retreat, step of the city, easily accessible by bus from Richmond brighouse (like pretty frequent 410)
some warehouse asking for restoration on the south dike. the beefs you can see pasturing when on the west dike, come from the Steves farm
But the main reason to come there will be to stroll and shop on its fishermen wharf, which can be pretty busy when fish is announced as abundant like in this season for the sockeye.
To be sure it is not Sai Kung next to Hong Kong, but it is probably the best place in BC, where to buy fish directly from the boat, or for that matter to be able to buy local sea-food in a BC fishing community, what can be very challenging, when not possible, legally, at all, in other BC fishing localities.
Apparently, disregarding the catch of the day, the Vancouverite will like to head here to enjoy a fish and chips. Nevertheless, the Steveston food scene has matured a bit in the recent years and you will be able to find some more decent food proposition, like at the Tapenade restaurant which could be to the fish and chip, what the DB bistro is to the hamburger. In the meantimes, local learn happily how to make the best use of their resource what is certainly promising for the future of the community.
But there is still some strange things in Stevenson. the urban landscape, while showing historic potential, seems to be under exploited and the pedestrian seems to be object of little if any consideration. Indeed, in some instance sidewalk, right in front of the fishermen wharf can be lacking. That is not inviting to stay a bit longer, to explore other streets.
The streetscape could be significantly more friendly, for the good of the community. Bayview street at the fishermen wharf could be more inviting to ‘soft mode’, like pedestrian and cyclist, using maybe a more shared streetscape.
the transit rider will arrive via the depressing Chatham street. Used mostly as a parking lot, this street present no interest : folk will head quickly south toward the riverside, and will be relieved to find Moncton street enroute, which seems to do fairly well, thanks to having a critical mass and combination of keys business, and looking more a rural “main street”. but it is still not as appealing as it should be
Asphalt has became the dominant element of Moncton street: may be narrower lanes to the benefit of more comfortable sidewalk and tree lining could improve the street experience, in addition to provide some traffic calming….also burying the electric wires could help. (credit photo KwantlenChronicle.ca).
May be, synonym of “bohemian sophistication”, Steveston has a real baker at RomaniaBread, making probably one of the best bread around (he bakes real pain de campagne what is pretty rare to find, especially good one which can last several days). he got a good day.
March 5, 2010
recently the BC government made some budget announcement concerning transportation  and transit observers will have noticed a shortage of funding for “number one priority” transit project when the deep unbalance between transit and road investment could call for a better equilibrium as we have already noticed…but to add insult to injury, the government is not hesitating to make up the number for transit…and the Gordon’s Lanes illustrate how.
These Gordon’s Lanes are the bus lanes announced with great fanfares (and funded at 50% by the provincial government):
- 16$ millions for a “bus lane” on highway 7 in Pitt Meadows  where there is no bus route
- 13$ millions for a “bus lane” on Highway 99 in Surrey  where there is only one regular bus route serviced every 15mn  and little congestion
Every one in Lower Mainland, with a little sense of observation, can easily think of way better transit investment : If the government was serious about transit it could have easily found some investment bringing more bang for the buck!
So what is the real reason of those bus lanes?
Not that there is something wrong with it, but what is certainly wrong is to tout an investment as “transit” when the obvious reason is only to create more road capacity, which will be marginally used by public transit services if any.
Where the cynicism of government proves to be boundless is that it will fund this road investment from earmarked “transit money” 
The Gordon’s bus lanes fallacy shows how our shameless government is willing to ostensibly burn our tax money on complete useless project while it refuses to address real pressing public transit need. This strategy will accredits the idea in the general public that public transit is no more than a waste of tax payer money…
It shows that the contempt of our Government for the public transit matter is even worse that most could suspect
 it is the bus 351, Crescent Beach, Bridgeport. route 352 and 354 are peak service only
 Examples of sounder investment include the Surrey 399B line (which has been ditched due to lack of funding) or improvement of the bus traffic on Highway 99 in its Richmond part : for example the Hy 99 North bound doesn’t have bus lanes south of Westminster highway, there is no queue jumper at the Bridgeport exit, used by all suburban buses connecting with Canada line, ..investment here could benefit to the existing bus route targeted by the government funding among other converging to Bridgeport station. One could also give a look at the 699B line idea to foster an attractive transit presence in our suburbs…
 Eventually the government will deny it (remember the HST?), but there is no doubt on the fate of under used lanes
 The Blog follower will have also noted that the “hydrogen bus” experiment is funded from transit “earmarked money”…
February 15, 2010
Number 3 is still dotted by numerous strip malls , where the viaduct doesn’t necessary help to improve the visual experience, except at night (picture at lansdowne mall). the space below viaduct is also used to exhibit some sculptures.
On daytime, the pedestrian experience can be particularly pleasant, with the viaduct pillars contributing to form a buffer zone with the motorized traffic. Note that a bikpath is also sitting under the viaduct (photo credit: Richard).
thumbs up for Richmond!
And the stations
The Canada line station have got their fair share of critics, too short, blend architecture,…But they seems to past the test of heavy usage, thanks eventually to deep platforms, and also present numerous positive upside: let’s see below:
The viaduct pillar is here used as an advertising opportunity, cyclists take advantage of the weather protection provided by the viaduct, and visibility from a station offering lot of transparency and safety feeling (for bike parking also)
The station platform offer a pleasant waiting experience. warm and good quality material is contributing toward it. Transparency provide a safety feeling as well as keeping the station in symbiotic with its urban environment.
The Canada line stations are short (40m), but paradoxally this eventually help to their integration in the environment: their footprint is small, and couldn’t be larger than a “tram station”. The complete transparency of the station doesn’t separate the waiter of its surrounding
The entrance of Aberdeen at night: The station is right along the street, the pedestrian is supposed to contourn it by the East (left side of the picture): this aspect doesn’t work that well: pedestrian tend to walk on the bikeway, eventually because the experience is otherwise quite unpleasant (lack of lighting, construction site), eventually the extension of the Aberdeen Mall will correct this issue (the location of the bike rack behind the entrance is also questionable since it doesn’t provide the safety feeling of the passer-by eye looking at the bikes like we have at Brighouse but provide weather protection).
February 4, 2010
It is a tale of two approaches:
- Identify a break through technology, find an application for it and pour money toward a demonstration project, hoping to find a demand
- Identify a demand, then pour money to develop technologies and synergies to enable an answer to the demand
Both can work, but one involves more risks than the other.
The train’s world example
In the later case, we find the “conventional” High Speed train: the demand is to travel “from down town to to down town” in a “time competitive with air travel” and at a “price competitive with the automobile“: that was roughly the French TGV project requirement back at the end of the 60’s, when the French railways company was also considering to address the congestion on its Paris-Lyon railway line.
There is no really break-through technology in the French TGV, or its direct competitors: they are all trains moved by traditional century year old electrical motor concept, and running on centuries old rail track concept …but there is a combination of incremental advance making the whole product a break through advance in the railway world.
In the former case, we find the magnetic levitation technology. A break through technology associated mainly with train demonstration projects.
Today, there are 1850km of High speed train lines in revenue service in France only . From the original speed of 260km on the first line (Paris-Lyon), the train has accelerated to 320km/h on its later extension toward Strasbourg. To not embarrass anyone, we will not mention the line mileage of commercial “maglev” train .
Hynovis is a concept bus, output a of a french program called “affordable and clean vehicle” from the french government agency PREDIT which has benefited of €120 million in total on the period 2002-2008, the Hynovis bus being only one project in that program covering most mode of transportation.
the Hynovis program mandate is to answer to a demand: cleaner bus for sure but must also answer to the need of “fund starved” transit agencies, so the bus cost must be economically justified by
- the saving on the bus consumption
- improved operation like
- reduction of dwelling time
- improvement of the loading capacity
- improved social role, like better accessibility for disabled people, improved attractiveness…
This program has teamed the Paris transit agency with a bus manufacturers and bus part providers  on the conception of the bus. As you can see (click for video), the Hynovis design try to answer to all requirement without “break through” technology but presents nevertheless a new product by incremental step on numerous fronts:
- the improved consumption is provided by an hybrid engine and light weight material
- reduction of dwelling time is provided by a better circulation inside the bus:
- A back door moved further toward the rear of the bus, allowed by a rear axles moved under the rear bench, allowing more smooth flow on an enlarged low floor area
- A twin steering axle fitted with low-profile tires, allowing the central corridor to be enlarged to ~4 feet alongside the front wheel housings, compared to ~3feet for a standard bus (note how this can accelerate the boarding of wheelchair and other strollers)
- the reorganization of the wheels allow an increase of capacity of 8% 
To be sure, the Hynovis innovations don’t come for free, and the Paris agency experiment will tell whether the return on investment worth it or not, but more certainly, the lesson learnt of the experiment will improve the future bus design over the foreseeable years.
The Canadian Hydrogen bus fleet is only one application of a technology in which the federal government has invested $215 million since 2003 . The sole demonstration project will cost more than $110 million taxpayer money for 20 buses , and address only one issue (GHG), at the eventual expense of the others.
There is honestly more chance that the hydrogen bus share the fate of the Maglev train than the one of the TGV. In the meantime, incremental improvment in the bus technology allowed by project like Hynovis will allow sustainable (not only in term of CO2 emission, but also financially!) expansion of public transit, at the expense of less environmentally friendly transportation mode, and at the end of the day, the Hynovis concept will have probably a better impact on the environment that the Hydrogen bus .
What is the best approach?
A subsidiary question could be: Is it the role of a government to gamble with the tax payer money or to address the concern of its citizens?
 This as a part of the Climate Change Technology and Innovation (T&I) Program, for the development and demonstration of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies
 $45 million from the province and BC Transit, $45 million from the federal government, and $23 from the city of Whistler. Andrew Mitchell, B.C. Transit celebrates hydrogen fleet, fuelling station, Pique newsmagazine, Jan 27, 2010
 number from wikipedia in french
 the agency budget is in fact of 360 million, from which ~35% are allocated to the affordable and clean vehicle” program. (see predit publication (in French))
 and that is discounting the fact that the province consider the Hydrogen bus as part of its much touted “$14 billion Provincial” Transit plan
 Worth to mention that it seems also to be the position stated by Stephen Rees in some of its posts and others disgressions and obviously the viewpoint is not aimed at fuel cell, but at technology driven choices rather than economically grounded ones, and could apply to CNG buses as well
 Preferably where you think you can develop a competitive advantage.
February 3, 2010
The latest draft of the Regional Growth Strategy Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our future was released for public comment in November 2009 and Metro Vancouver is seeking comments until February 5, 2010.
Reading this document, it appears that the zone defined as “agriculture area” by the regional Growth Strategy doesn’t encompass all of the Agricultural Land reserve set by the Province, so in that instance, the Region set a let ambitious goal for itself than the Province set for it.
More of concerns are the Richmond’s Garden city lands -an 136 square foot block sitting next to Garden city Road and Westminster Highway- and the National Defense lands connecting the former to the Richmond Nature park, both zoned as ALR by the Province, become the object of no specific zoning under the regional Growth Strategy.
You could think it is a simple omission of Metro Vancouver, which should be corrected in the final version…
When the issue has been raised at the Richmond public meeting held by Metro Vancouver, the answer given by the Metro Vancouver Chief Administrative Officer, Johnny Carline, has been that “Metro Vancouver includes land in -agriculture area- at the request of the municipality [not the ALC]“, so the puck come into Richmond city Hall. The Richmond’s mayor, Malcolm Brodie, then attending the meeting didn’t commented on the issue…
In fact it could be possible that the city of Richmond has some plans not very compatible with agriculture or park land use for the said area.
Previously, it has floated the idea of an Trade and Exhbition Centre. Thought that the area is central in Richmond, it is neither
- in the immediate, walkable, vicinity of the Canada line stations,
- in the immediate, walkable, vicinity of Richmond’s major hotels
- and in the immediate access to highway 99 or other highways servicing Richmond
so one could have think of a better location for such a development to minimize the traffic impact, Fortunately this plan died in front of the ALC which declined to rezone the ALR , but Richmond could have others plan in the card,…if not why not accept the ALR classification?
This land, still central, associated with the National Defense land has the potential to be part of a green corridor, or greenway, to the more widely open agriculture area of Richmond. Green corridor concept is an important one from an ecological and social perspective:
- it presents an ecological continuum, allowing species to frequent an area otherwise not vast enough to sustain them (think of deer or other large mammal for example, but also smaller species)
- The point above allow the urban population to interact more naturally with their surrounding environment. The nature presenting itself in the city invite the citizen to explore further unlimited area, by feet or bike (read “instead to drive to bike in nature”)
- The preserved and sustainable nature, here mostly bog, creates a sense of connection with the original place (in this following the good example of the Terra Nova rural park)
- the preceding points foster a new relationship with our surrounding environment able to enhance the livability of the city
Fortunately, some People  in Richmond having some goods ideas for the future Garden city land have organized themselves around a coalition to save Garden city land of human predation and expose all the intricacies of the problem on their site and blog. Visit them and don’t forget to give your feedback to Metro Vancouver before Friday!
 Richmond meeting on the Regional Growth Strategy, Thursday, January 21, 2010
 We should also mention Olga Tkatcheva’s letter alerting the Richmond council of the unfortunate “omission”.
February 1, 2010
Illustration of the WhiteCaps training center project (credit: VancouverSun)
Saturday January 16th, 2010, the South Fraser Action Network was organizing a Town Hall meeting on “The True Costs of the South Fraser Perimeter Road”  in Delta, BC. A crowd in excess of well above 100 came, if not to get answers, to have at least an understanding at it…Thought invited, the Delta Council as a whole, ostensibly refused to listen the concern of their constituents…
When it happens to bring support to unsustainable development, the Delta council is always present.
Again recently, it was supporting the development of an also called “National soccer training centre” proposed by the Vancouver WhiteCaps club. To be sure, there is nothing against supporting the development of sport facilities, but there is something wrong to support such development in an area
- not well serviced by transit , and
- in the middle of reserved farm land (ALR) as stated by the Agricultural Land Commission
Illustration of the Delta council insanity: Extract of the Translink map with the ALR zone in overlay with the training center project location highlighted
It is even more wrong to use the taxpayer money to finance  development occurring into the ALR zone, and which will involve further taxpayer money spending in public amenities like transportation infrastructure or service in order to serve the development.
Eventually interesting project, but wrong place
So there is a reason to cheer, but there is little reason of pride in Delta.
 the nearby route 10 is serviced by a rush hour bus only, 311, and a low frequency community shuttle, C76. see Translink for further detail.
 In a failed attempt to gain a MLA seat for Wally Oppal at the last provincial election, the liberal government has tried to buy votes by promising to subsidize this training center, (“Liberals promise $17.5-million soccer centre in Delta”, VancouverSun, May 2, 2009). For the record, the seat has been won by the independent MLA Vicki Huntington whose was present at the Saturday January 16th, 2010 meeting on the South Fraser perimeter road (as long as the MLA Guy Gentner)