Update on Bike Lanes

February 26, 2014

I just had a furious call from Sarah Fiorito who organized the bike lanes meeting on Monday night.  She claims my report completely misrepresented the meeting.  I told her that I stick by my report. Anyway, she said they would soon be posting the video of the meeting (I assume she meant audio as I don’t recall there being any video cameras in the room).  I told her that was great because then people could make up their own minds.

In her call to me she said there was only one isolated mention of a campaign against businesses and the BIA. That is certainly not my recollection. It is true that she was pushing for a positive campaign to change the minds of anti-bike lane businesses, but she wasn’t the only one speaking and others were more negative in their attitudes.

The only complaint of hers that I take seriously is my mention that “safe for all ages” bike lanes means ugly concrete slabs.  I had asked her about that after the meeting and she had indeed said that their preferred method of separation was to have a lane of parking between bike lane and traffic — not the blocks.  Fair enough, but my comment about “safe for all ages” being code for concrete blocks (as opposed to painted lines) was based on the general discussion of physical separation methods that predominate on bike lane chats on Twitter and elsewhere.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have my own concerns about the parking lane separation design on a two-way street like the Drive where buses and bus stops are so important.

Her extremely aggressive tone with me on the phone today certainly got me riled up.  However, we are all entitled to our own opinions and views about what happens and what we see.  When she posts the audio of the meeting, I will be glad to post a link to it.

Four More Years? God, No!

February 26, 2014

In a move that surprises no-one that has been following the muncipal scene, the Provincial Liberals will table legislation this year to elongate civic terms to four years.  In other words, the Vancouver election in November this year will be the last one until the end of 2018.  Whoever we get this year will rule us for what will seem like an eternity. And, if it is the wrong crew, Vancouver will never be the same again, with huge towers approved throughout the City and disrespect for neighbourhoods and residents becoming even more the norm than it is today.

Vision Vancouver personnel lobbied the Union of BC Municipalities hard to get the UBCM to change their previous position and vote for four year terms.  Their pals in the Liberal Party listened to them.

This extension to municiopal terms is a part of a much larger plan to move power away from the people.  We have the unelected Translink Board being given powers over transportation and land use in our city, and the unelected Metro Vancouver controls a wide range of other important services.  Being unelected, neither of these bodies see any reason to listen to the voice of the people.  The benefits of municipal government are best seen when the people retain a close control and can influence officials; yet we are moving ever farther from that ideal.

We will get longer terms but we will have to wait for finance reform because Vision doesn’t really want it.  In other words, fat wallets will still be able to fund the parties without limit for another five years and Council will remain beholden to the paymasters for the forseeable future.  NPA, NSV, the Greeens, and COPE have all issued formal statements in support of expense limits.  Vision hasn’t.  Why is that?

Another issue:  Why has the media not been covering the extension of municipal terms, thus enabling the public to have their say before the fait acommpli?  A number of civic groups advised local reporters weeks ago that this was likely to happen, but have you seen ANY stories about this in the run-up to the announcement?  None. Why the blackout on this story?  Does it have anything to do with who pays the big real estate ads in the main newspapers?

In some countries, corruption involves public officials putting public monies into their own bank accounts.  The corruption that money has on our system is far more subtle and impersonal, but just as insidious and damaging.