Pedestrian Power — At Last!

November 3, 2014

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It may come as a surprise, until you stop and think about it, that all of us, 100%, are pedestrians for at least some of our travels to work, to shop, to recreate. It is the only mode of transport where that is true.

Walking is also the healthiest, most accessible form of regular exercise for every one of all ages, all abilities.  And it is free, with no equipment or specialist clothing costs of any kind.

The City’s Transportation 2040 Plan claims to put pedestrians as the number one priority. But is that true in reality?   All we ever hear about are cycling, transit, and cars, each of which is supposed to be of lower priority than walking.  The cycling lobby has dominated Vision Vancouver’s thinking, giving them insider status through the ActiveTransportation Committee (ACT).  This is true even though the 2% of folks who cycle to work are a tiny fraction of those who walk.

I am certainly not against promoting cycling; that is a far better option than more cars.  However, it seems that pedestrians are generally the forgetten ones. We are even mocked and sometimes abused when we complain about cyclists illegally invading the sidewalks and threatening the safety of seniors and children. The police, perhaps under orders, seem disinclined to help in enforcing safety on the sidewalks.

Luckily, the OneCity campaign of R.J. Aquino wants to come to our rescue.

“Walking as a mode of transportation is central to public health, economic development, and social equality and inclusion,” City Council candidate RJ Aquino says. “But in its rush to develop pockets of the city, Vancouver is falling behind other jurisdictions that have made walkable, connected neighbourhoods a priority.”

Aquino and OneCity believe a Pedestrian Advisory Council, based on successful models such as Portland’s PAC, is the best tool to address City Hall’s current stop-and-go approach to walkability … The advisory council will help the city better integrate pedestrian and walkability policies, programs and long-term plans as Vancouver evolves.

Having a Pedestrian Advisory Council is a great idea.  Perhaps, to save confusion and overhead, we could meld a PAC with the ACT with the numbers on the Committee reflecting the true balance between those who walk and those who cycle.

Well done OneCity for this innovative and exciting idea!

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Vision’s Rejection, and OCOP’s Transparency

November 3, 2014

After a lot of hard work over the weekend, and before, a couple of important information releases were made today.

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has issued a press release about Vision Vancouver’s refusal to endorse collaborative planning in the City.  Mayor Robertson’s response, on behalf of Vision, notes that the Coalition’s Principles & Goals document “doesn’t align with the city’s existing policy”.  Well, no. That’s because we believe the current top-down autocratic we-know-best approach has failed decisively.

We need to return to respectful collaboration rather than the shove it down our throats take it or leave it approach the current Council insists on, and the Coalition is proud to have every other municipal party on board with trying to improve the way we do planning in Vancouver.

The Mayor also seems to be opposed to citizens having a voice. To quote the Coalition’s release:

“We are also concerned that the Mayor, in the same interview, said our members come too often to present their opinions to Council. “We conclude that Mayor Robertson does not want to hear alternative views,” said Co-Chair Fern Jeffries. “He wants citizens to refrain from presenting their views, and the opinions of their neighbourhood associations, to our elected officials. We represent a more democratic perspective.”

After all the discord and tumult that Vision’s planning policies have caused over the last few years, with marches on City Hall, and endless complaints from community associations right across the City, one might have hoped for a better response. Sadly not to be.

Turning to more immediately local affairs, the Chair of the Grandview-Woodland Citizens’ Assembly sent a series of questions about planning and development to the Our Community, Our Plan (OCOP) group last week.  After a laudable exercise in collaboration between its members, OCOP has today submitted its response to those questions.

The responses provide a significant insight into some of the concepts and policies that drive OCOP’s resistance to the current Community Plan process. They are worth the read.


A Paean To The Big Mac

November 3, 2014

I am now more than 65 years old, and I have never yet eaten anything from McDonalds.  I always joke with the everloving that I’ll have a Big Mac on my 100th birthday — but not before.

I hasten to note that my aversion to McDonalds has little to do with healthy eating.  I’ll demolish an A&W Teen Burger, or a couple of BK’s bacon double cheeseburgers as quick as anyone.  No, the problem with McDonalds for me is the smell.  That special McDonalds smell spreads a block each way from every McDonalds store and lingers.  I hate that.

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Still, McDonalds is incredibly popular and, from this review of the Big Mac from Fast Food Critic, you’d expect it to be.  Rarely can something so formulaic and manufactured have been honoured with such praise!

I’m happy to report the burger and overall experience was great. The special sauce was creamy, distributed evenly, and as intended was the perfect complimentary flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. I had forgotten how satisfying the Big Mac really is. Growing up, it was my staple burger. Once in a blue moon, I would attempt eating two of them (keep in mind I was just a kid and eating 2 would be quite an accomplishment), but I’d only be able to handle one. The Big Mac is still the same as when I was a kid, and most of you probably remember the ingredients by singing that famous old song that’s still floating around in your head… “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”

The bun of the Big Mac has 3 pieces, and the center bread splits the burger into two sections, each with it’s own beef patty and toppings. The top of the bun is coated with sesame seeds, and all the pieces are lightly toasted. It’s a good bun, and even though it has 3 parts you never feel overwhelmed by having too much bread …

With only 1 slice of cheese (American), you might think they skimped on this burger, but that’s not the case. It’s all part of the plan, and everything is in balance. Each ingredient makes a solid contribution, blending together to create a winning combination of flavors. There’s nothing to add or cut. Just order a Big Mac, and eat it the way it was intended. You won’t need extra cheese or anything else.

Now, doesn’t that make you want to put a peg on your nose and run right out to the neighbourhood McDonalds? I’ll be there myself in 35 years or so.