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Category "Metro Vancouver"

1Oct

Open letter outlines Metro Vancouver seniors’ transportation needs

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Three women who are members of a seniors committee pose in front of a SkyTrain.


Brenda Felker (left), Anita Eriksen and Farideh Ghaffarzadeh are members of the seniors advisory committee Seniors on the Move, which released an open letter about transit and transportation on Tuesday, the International Day of the Older Person.


Jennifer Saltman / PNG

Brenda Felker is dreading the day when she won’t be able to use her car to connect with friends and family, and still get where she needs to go.

“That’s huge, losing your licence,” she said. “It scares me that I would lose my independence.”

That is why Felker joined an advisory committee of Seniors on the Move, which represents seniors who use different modes of transportation to get around Metro Vancouver.

On Tuesday, the International Day of the Older Person, the committee released an open letter signed by 225 people outlining changes to the transportation system that would make it more welcoming for seniors. The letter was the culmination of three years of work.

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said transportation is arguably the most important concern for seniors, and was the focus of a report — which included 15 recommendations — that came out of her office in May 2018.

“Your efforts, I think, are starting to resonate,” Mackenzie told the committee. “I think that local governments, regional governments, provincial governments, federal governments are all understanding this need around transportation and this huge group of people that is growing who can’t drive their cars any longer, but they still need to get out and about.”

Mackenzie noted that at age 65 about 90 per cent of seniors have a driver’s licence in B.C., but that number drops to less than half by age 85.

The letter has suggestions in a number of key areas, including walking, mobility aids, public transit, HandyDART, taxis, transitioning drivers to other transportation modes and volunteer ride programs.

“We think these changes would be a great place to start. Our cities may not have been built for an aging population, but we can adapt them,” said Anita Eriksen, a committee member who gave up her car when she turned 65.

Transit users are looking for a long list of changes, many of which concern bus travel. In addition to real-time information at bus stops and covered bus stops with seating, seniors are looking for drivers who make courtesy announcements, get closer to the curb, and wait for seniors to sit or get stable before leaving a stop.

Accessibility alternatives when elevators and escalators are out of order, and more community shuttles with ramps and kneeling capability are also important.

HandyDART users want a payment system and pricing that integrates with the rest of TransLink, coordination and integration with the medical system and better education about the service.

Kathy Pereira, director of access transit service deliver for Coast Mountain Bus Company, said TransLink is looking to address a number of concerns outlined in the letter, and promised to bring the concerns back to the transit agency.

“We do the things that most people do that are obvious … but sometimes we don’t think far enough. So I think that’s one of the big messages I’ve heard here,” Pereira said. “We’re on the right track, but maybe we’re not going far enough.”

Walkers and those who use mobility aids are looking for better-maintained, wider sidewalks, more benches, better street lighting, functional curb cuts and more time to cross the street.

Drivers looking to leave their cars behind need more information on other ways to get around and resources to make the change, as well as medical services plan coverage for required medical exams.

Taxis need to be given incentives to pick up seniors and those with mobility issues, and seniors need more information about taxi savers.

The letters says there should be ways to assess the fitness of volunteer ride program drivers and the suitability of their vehicles, and there should be standardized training along with more drivers.

Beverley Pitman, the seniors planner at United Way of the Lower Mainland and self-identified “young senior,” called the list of suggestions comprehensive, visionary and highly practical.

“By stepping up and taking this on, in effect you’ve made visible a whole bunch of other seniors who haven’t had the opportunity or maybe are really socially isolated because they don’t have access to at transportation system that enables them to get out and about,” Pitman said.

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11Jul

Metro Vancouver to aim for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

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Vancouver city councillor Adriane Carr.


Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

Vancouver city councillor Adriane Carr wants Metro Vancouver to reach a goal of 100-per-cent net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades.

On the road to 100 per cent, Carr says the region should set an interim target of reducing GHGs by 45 per cent by 2030.

Carr will be asking the regional governing body to support the 100-per-cent goal so that Metro Vancouver is in alignment with a special international report on the climate crisis.

“Scientists say that’s exactly what’s needed,” Carr said Thursday. “The world’s leading scientists issued a report in the fall of 2018 that implored governments to act with urgency. The climate is changing faster than they earlier predicted.”

Cutting GHGs by 100 per cent in Metro Vancouver requires updating the Climate 2050 Strategic Framework, which calls for an 80-per-cent reduction.

On Friday, Carr is bringing her amendment to the regional Climate Action Committee of which she is chair.

If approved, it would go to the full Metro Vancouver board for a vote on July 23.

A 100-per-cent net decrease in GHGs would bring the region into alignment with the Special Report on Global Warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which provides the United Nations with a scientific analysis of climate change.

The panel’s report said if global warming is not kept to 1.5 degrees C, it could lead to more periods of drought, increased wildfires, and place entire ecosystems at risk.

To reach the 1.5-degree target, it would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” the panel’s report stated.

Carr admits that becoming carbon-neutral requires systemic change in Metro Vancouver.

“The first step is reaching out to the public in the development of roadmaps to get to these kind of reductions,” she said. “I’m counting on the public and stakeholders to get us to where we’re aiming to keep global warming at a level that avoids catastrophe.”

Carr pointed out that the 100-per-cent net reduction in GHG emissions recognizes that not all fossil fuels will be eliminated by 2050. What it means is that any GHG emissions by then will be offset by methods such as sequestration, a form of long-term storage of carbon dioxide by reforestation and wetland restoration.

The 2030 target of 45 per cent is important, Carr said, because it’s an interim measure which allows public bodies to assess how they’re doing over time.

Vancouver set a goal in 2010 of a 33-per-cent drop in GHGs by 2020. Part of the reason why Vancouver is now only at seven per cent, she said, is because there were no interim targets.

Climate change has already had an affect on Metro Vancouver, the Climate Action Committee report said.

“As one example, the region has been impacted by smoke from unprecedented wildfire activity in western North America in three of the past four summers,” it said. “Expected future climate impacts include more wildfire smoke, an increase in rainfall intensity by 20-45 per cent by 2050 and 40-75 per cent by 2100, and at least one metre of sea level rise.”

The report goes to say that achieving carbon neutrality requires Metro Vancouver to not only reduce GHG emissions as much as possible, but also to commit to using “100 per cent renewable fossil fuel-free energy by 2050.”

Across the country, more than 250 local governments have declared climate emergencies.

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28Jun

Smoky summers: Health experts extend their warnings to pregnant women

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When wildfire smoke enveloped Metro Vancouver last summer, Nikki Rogers noticed soot collecting on the walls of her White Rock condo and closed her windows to keep the bad air out.

“I tried to stay inside because I did not enjoy being outside,” recalled Rogers, who works in a hair salon. “I would never do any kind of exercising or jogging or walking outside because anything that promotes heavy breathing outdoors would be terrible.”

This summer she will take even greater precautions because she is pregnant. And this is the first year that Vancouver Coastal Health and Metro Vancouver have included pregnant women on their list of people especially vulnerable to wildfire smoke, along with asthmatics, the elderly, and people with chronic heart and lung conditions.

Rogers said she will research the best way to keep herself and her baby safe, but laments that wildfire smoke is one more thing expectant mothers will likely need to worry about this July and August.

“We shouldn’t have months of just smoke in the air. That’s just awful,” she said. “Every year it gets worse and worse. It is just getting out of hand.”


Nikki Rogers, who is pregnant, will keep the windows of her White Rock condo closed this summer to keep any wildfire smoke out.

Experts believe British Columbians are about to experience another hot, smoke-filled summer, basing their prediction on the higher-than-average temperatures and drought so far in 2019 — a trend that is expected to continue.

“We expect increased wildfire and smoke risk, and that includes in the southwest where we are,” said a Metro Vancouver air-quality engineer, Francis Ries.

Just in the last week, a stubborn wildfire on steep terrain near Lions Bay snarled traffic on the busy Sea to Sky Highway for days, and a fire broke out Monday near Pender Harbour on the Sechelt Peninsula.


A helicopter dumps sea water on June 23 on a wildfire near Lions Bay.

NICK PROCAYLO /

PNG

Fires started earlier in 2019

Hotter, drier conditions contributed to fires in early spring, far sooner than in other years. Since April 1, the B.C. Wildfire Service has recorded 377 fires that have burned more than 110 square kilometres.

The summers of 2017 and 2018 were the worst on record for smoky skies — a provincial state of emergency was declared both years over wildfires — and much of the haze in Metro Vancouver drifted in from big fires in other parts of B.C.

The smoke led officials to issue a record number of air-quality advisories, and give extensive advice on how residents should try to remain healthy.

This year, local health and municipal agencies added pregnant women to the list of those most vulnerable to the smoke after lobbying by Sarah Henderson, an environmental health scientist at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

She advocated the change based on an “evidence review” and academic research that showed mothers exposed to extreme wildfire smoke give birth to smaller babies.

A University of California, Berkeley study found that pregnant women breathing in wildfire smoke during their second trimester in 2003, a terrible fire season in Southern California, had babies that were about 10 grams lighter than women not exposed to smoke. The results were small but “significant,” researchers found, because they showed “climate change can affect health.”

Ten grams would be enough to “push some babies into a low-birth-weight category,” added Henderson, noting undersized infants can face challenges.

Based on pregnancy and population statistics, Henderson predicts a repeat of last summer’s smoky skies could lead to 20 babies in B.C. being born a bit smaller. It’s not a big number, but one that could hurt 20 families.

“And that is kind of the tip of the iceberg in some ways because nobody has looked at preterm birth or malformations, if that smoke exposure happens to pregnant women,” added Henderson, who is also an associate professor in the UBC school of population and public health.

She has applied for funding to do her own study of the outcome of women who were pregnant in B.C.’s Interior, where the smoke was the thickest during the last two summers.


Sarah Henderson of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Wildfire smoke is a toxic, chemical soup

Wildfire smoke contains many pollutants, but the most dangerous to human health is fine particulate matter, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets that are generally 2.5 micrometers or less in size — about one-30th the diameter on a strand of hair.

“The very small particles can be inhaled deeply into your lungs and then get into your blood stream, and irritate and lead to inflammation,” said Emily Peterson, a Vancouver Coastal Health environmental health scientist.

A typical summer day in Metro Vancouver would feature 10 or 15 micrograms a cubic metre of these fine particulates, but during the height of last summer’s smoky skies the quantity jumped tenfold.

Smoky air makes it harder for lungs to get oxygen into the blood stream, and it can irritate the respiratory system and cause inflammation in other parts of the body. Common symptoms include eye irritation, sore throat, coughing, wheezy breathing and headaches, and there is an increased risk of infections for some, such as pneumonia in older people and ear infections in children.

At-risk people — including those with chronic lung or heart conditions and now pregnant women — should “pay attention to the smoke much earlier” this summer, said the VCH medical health officer, Dr. James Lu.

“We do start with the vulnerable population, but if the smoke (concentration) is high enough we do encourage people who are normally healthy to take precautions as well,” Lu added.

Among the precautions backed by medical experts: Stay inside places with filtered air, such as most community centres, libraries or malls; drive with the windows up, the air conditioning on, and the recirculate-air button activated to reduce the amount of smoke getting into your car; and drink lots of water.

One expert calculated that people doing exercise or working outside during the height of the wildfire smoke could inhale the equivalent of two packages of cigarettes a day.

Because most people typically spend 90 per cent of their days indoors, Henderson highly recommends buying a portable air cleaner, which plugs into a wall socket and can be moved from room to room. These purifiers remove 40 to 80 per cent of the fine particles found in smoke, but people with respiratory conditions are encouraged to buy higher-performing HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, the Centre for Disease Control says.

If people are outside and want to wear a mask, Henderson said the best option is a well-fitted N95 respirator. A surgical mask can offer limited protection. A cloth mask is close to useless at keeping out the fine particles in smoke.

Doctors’ visits, asthma prescriptions skyrocket

Most people can manage irritations from smoke without medical attention, but those with severe symptoms should see a doctor.

Wildfire smoke caused a slight rise last summer in the number of people visiting Vancouver Coastal Health emergency rooms, although the increase wasn’t even across all communities: North Vancouver and Richmond had more hospital visits, while other cities did not, said Lu.

“What we did see were increased visits with respiratory symptoms, asthma and people short of breath,” the medical health officer told Postmedia.


Dr. James Lu of Vancouver Coastal Health.

The B.C. Health Ministry could not provide information about higher traffic in emergency rooms in other health regions, saying its data does not let it differentiate between treatment specifically for wildfire smoke and other respiratory issues.

However, Centre for Disease Control statistics suggest medical services across B.C. were harder hit when wildfire smoke was heavy. In the summers of 2017 and 2018, 45,000 extra doses of asthma medication were dispensed and there were 10,000 extra visits to doctors for asthma-related conditions in B.C., Henderson said.

“It does stack up, the impact is quite extreme,” she said. “On a very smoky day in Metro Vancouver, there were 350 extra doctor visits.”

The Centre for Disease Control tabulates this information daily in the B.C. Asthma Prediction System, which was launched after previous severe wildfire seasons. The surveillance system tracks asthma-related doctor visits and the prescriptions filled for lung conditions, and is used to warn health officials about the anticipated effects of wildfire smoke.

This summer is also expected to experience a boost in asthma treatments, given what happened in May after a significant wildfire near Fort St. John. “We had this one day of smoke in Fort St John, and the asthma visits skyrocketed,” Henderson said.

During the past few years, Vancouver Costal Health has sent reminders to family physicians to help their patients get ready for smoke expected in July and August — such as ensuring medications for patients with chronic heart or lung disease are up to date.

“I think what we are hoping for is to perhaps educate the public and primary-care physicians in helping people to be prepared so that they don’t really need to come to the emergency,” Lu said.

More than 3,000 ‘smoky skies’ bulletins issued

The provincial Environment Ministry issues “smoky skies” warning bulletins when wildfire smoke gets bad in all areas of the province except Metro Vancouver, which releases its own air quality advisories.

In 2017, 1,646 air-quality advisories were issued across B.C., and that jumped to 1,742 in 2018. There have been 69 warnings so far this year, but that number will likely increase as the majority of 2018 bulletins were issued between late July and late August.

The province monitors 63 regions, and six of those have had 100 or more smoky skies bulletins since 2017 due to bad fires nearby, including Quesnel, Penticton, Prince George, Williams Lake and Kamloops. Other communities in B.C.’s Interior and the Cariboo region have also been hard hit, with just under 100 bulletins issued in the last two years in Vernon, Kelowna, Cranbrook and 100 Mile House.


A wildfire near Fraser Lake in May.

Submitted /

B.C. Wildfire Service

Only Haida Gwaii, off B.C.’s northwest coast, has had no smoke-related air quality warnings since 2017.

The Environment Ministry was unable to provide information about how many advisories it issued in years with far fewer forest fires than 2017 and 2018. But statistics from Metro Vancouver indicate those two years were off the charts.

There were 22 days in Metro Vancouver last summer with poor air quality due to forest fires, mainly between late July and late August. In 2017, it was 19 days of unhealthy amounts of smoke.

The region’s figures, dating back to 1996, showed no other years with near that number of hazy days, the closest being 10 days in 2009 and 2015, when there were also some forest fires. In several years, including 2011, 2013 and 2016, there were no days with poor air quality.

Metro Vancouver’s advisories show much of the air pollution came from forest fires in other parts of the province, but the air was also affected by some local blazes, such as a bog fire in Richmond and a barge blaze in Surrey.

No air quality advisories have been issued so far in 2019; Metro Vancouver said the smoke residents smelled earlier this week from the Lions Bay fire was “below advisory thresholds.”

Ozone pollution rises due to wildfires

Metro Vancouver’s summer 2019 outlook warns of the potential for increased ozone due to higher temperatures and wildfires. Ozone is described as “good up high; bad nearby” — ozone in the atmosphere protects from UV radiation, but when lower to the ground it damages lungs and destroys ecosystems according to a Colorado State University academic paper, Ozone Levels Elevated in Presence of Wildfire Smoke.

“We’ve seen high ozone levels at monitoring stations which we never, under normal circumstances, expect to have high ozone,” said Metro Vancouver’s Ries. “We almost never have high ozone in the western part of the valley, downtown Vancouver and through into Burnaby,” he said, except in 2017 and 2018 when “the highest ozone levels we received were in that part of the region.”

Ries said more studies, including ones that focus on B.C., are making a strong link between climate change and the exacerbation of wildfire seasons.


Francis Ries, Metro Vancouver air quality engineer, and Roger Quan, Metro’s director of air quality and climate change.

In 2017, 65,000 British Columbians were evacuated and 509 buildings burned during wildfires that scorched 12,000 square km of land. The 2018 forest fires were even more destructive, consuming 13,500 sq. km — although fewer people were evacuated (6,000) and fewer structures lost (158).

Over the last two summers, the provincial government grossly outspent its wildfire budgets — by 10 times in 2017, when it cost more than $650 million to fight the fires. This year, the NDP is trying to be better prepared for the unknown by nearly doubling its wildfire budget, boosting it from $64 million in 2018 to $101 million.

Smoky summers in Vancouver may become “the new normal,” if not every year then at least every other year, VCH’s Lu predicted.

“We do not expect this to go away. This is going to be a way of life, unfortunately,” he said. “So I think the need to include that in your consideration of how to stay healthy is important.”

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18Jun

Will this be another summer of wildfire smoke and poor air quality in B.C.?

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Shell Road in Richmond was hit by a wildfire on July 27, 2018.


Francis Georgian / PNG

All indications suggest British Columbians should prepare for another smoky summer this year, experts warned today.

B.C. Wildfire information shows the province has so far this year seen increased drought and higher-than-average temperatures, which are expected to continue. Experts are predicting a greater risk of wildfires and smoke in the province this summer, particularly in the southwest, which includes Metro Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver air quality engineer Francis Reis said more studies are making a strong link between climate change and the exacerbation of wildfire seasons.

“As we continue to see further warming, we can expect the patterns we are seeing now to continue or even get more extreme,” he said.

Residents are reminded to try to stay indoors when air quality bulletins are issued.

The summers of 2017 and 2018 were the worst on record for smoky skies in B.C., caused by wildfires. This led to warnings that people take caution when outside, especially those with asthma, lung conditions, the elderly and pregnant women.

The hot, dry spring has many worried that 2019 could also bring hazy skies that are bad for residents’ health.

More to come…

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6May

New B.C. study links chronic disease, health care costs to where you live

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People who live in walkable neighbourhoods and have access to parks in Metro Vancouver save the health-care system tens of millions of dollars each year, and have lower rates of chronic illness than those who don’t, according to a new study.

The report, called Where Matters, used data from two existing studies — the My Health, My Community Survey, and the B.C. Generations Project — and clearly shows the correlation between health and neighbourhood design, said study lead Lawrence Frank.

“That’s unusual. Then, we monetized all those results and showed wildly reduced health-care costs, relatively speaking, across the continuum of place types — from the most sprawling, exurban, car-dependent to the most walkable urban. That’s never been shown before, no one’s ever had that,” said Frank, who is a professor in sustainable transport and the director of the Health and Community Design Lab at the University of B.C.

Direct health-care costs — such as medication and hospital visits — for diabetes are 52-per-cent less for those living in walkable areas than in car-dependent areas. The cost for hypertension is 47-per-cent less, and for heart disease is 31-per-cent less.

Walkability is a measure of the physical characteristics of neighbourhoods that support walking, such as a higher concentration of housing units, a mix of land uses and smaller block sizes.

The direct health-care costs for those living near parks are also significantly lower. The spending on diabetes is 75-per-cent lower for people who live near six or more parks than those who live near zero to one park. The costs are 69-per-cent lower for hypertension and heart disease.

Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, said at the report’s unveiling on Monday that containing costs is important in the health-care system, but it shouldn’t be the only reason to create healthy environments and improve the health of the population.

“We need to do this because our citizens value this. They value their good health, the good health of their family, their friends and their loved ones,” Daly said. “When municipal, provincial governments and other decision makers are thinking about what work needs to be done, they should be keeping this in mind.”

Daly said she hopes the report will give those decision makers good data to make healthy decisions.

The report also shows, unsurprisingly, that people who live in walkable areas and near parks get more exercise and are healthier.

Those living in a somewhat walkable area or a walkable area are 20- and 45-per-cent more likely, respectively, to walk for transportation than those living in car-dependent areas. They are also more likely to meet the weekly recommended level of physical activity.

People in walkable areas are 42-per-cent less likely to be obese and 39-per-cent less likely to have diabetes than car-dependent people. Those in moderately walkable areas are 17-per- cent less likely to have heart disease.

Living in a walkable area means people are 23-per-cent less likely to have stressful days. They are also 47-per-cent more likely to have a strong sense of community.

People living in an area with six or more parks are 20-per-cent more likely to walk for leisure or recreation, and 33-per-cent more likely to meet the weekly recommended level of physical activity than those living in an area with no parks.

They are 43-per-cent less likely to be obese, 37-per-cent less likely to have diabetes, 39-per-cent less likely to have heart disease and 19-per-cent less likely to have stressful days. Those living near six or more parks are also 23-per-cent more likely to have a strong sense of community belonging.

Frank said he hopes that the study will make those in power more comfortable acting on making investments in active transportation and developing policies around growth and development that support physical activity and active living.

Andrew Devlin, manager of policy development for TransLink, called the work “cutting edge” and said the onus will be on governments and agencies like TransLink to take the information and use it to create policy.

“I think what’s really unique to this piece of work, besides being a local data set for us to draw from to make decisions, is really the monetization element of it,” he said.

James Stiver, manager of growth management and transportation for Metro Vancouver, said the information will help with the future development of regional plans.

“This work is critically important to the work we do at Metro Vancouver and ties really nicely into the theme of the work we do connecting transportation to infrastructure to build complete communities,” said Stiver.

The project was a collaboration between Metro Vancouver, the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., the City of Vancouver, and TransLink, which contributed a total of $320,000 to the project, and the University of B.C.

“What makes it really cool is that all of these agencies are working together, and that’s what could make this region a better place,” said Frank.

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3May

TransLink launches consultation on 30-year regional transit plan

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Kevin Desmond is the CEO of Translink.


Jason Payne / PNG

For the next four months, TransLink will be asking those who live and work in Metro Vancouver for their ideas for how the region’s transportation system should be developed over the next 30 years.

It will be the largest public engagement in the transit authority’s history.

“We want to hear from people across the region, of all ages and backgrounds,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a news release.

“Regardless of how you get around, we want to hear from drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. With Metro Vancouver experiencing rapid growth, the impacts of climate change, new technologies, and shifting demographics over the next 30 years, we want input from the broadest cross-section of people possible.”

The 30-year strategy, called Transport 2050, will lay out the region’s transportation vision, strategies and priorities. Previous regional strategies were adopted in 2013, 2008 and 1993.

The outreach campaign will involve soliciting feedback from those living in the 23 jurisdictions in Metro Vancouver and adjoining regions; meeting with First Nations, students, multicultural communities and new Canadians; and roundtables with elected officials, businesses, accessibility groups and the goods movement sector.

There will also be exhibits at public events and social media campaigns.

People will be asked about their values, concerns and priorities, ideas about the future of transportation, key issues affecting the region, and opinions on new modes of transportation.

“Transport 2050 is a great opportunity for people to have their say on decisions that will help shape communities and the Metro Vancouver region for many years to come,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson in a news release.

The public engagement will last until September, after which staff will evaluate the ideas and, in late 2020, create the final plan.

Take the survey at Transport2050.ca.

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7Apr

Popularity of electric bikes growing on city roads and bike paths

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At first, David Mallory thought riding an electric bike was the equivalent of cheating.

Things started to change when his wife Deb bought one about nine years ago. She decided it was the best way to conquer the hill to their home on West 10th in Vancouver.

As she zoomed up the hill, Mallory remembers pedalling on his 21-speed bike as fast as he could, trying to catch her. She won every time.

So he took her bike for a ride. When he engaged the motor, he felt like he was defying gravity.

Mallory was hooked.

“It’s hard to believe I’ve had an electric bike for that long — since 2011,” he said. “Not once have I gone: ‘I wish I hadn’t bought a bike.’ I would never go back to a regular bike. It’s just so much more fun.”

The experience Mallory and his wife have had with their electric bike isn’t unusual in Metro Vancouver. As the number of cyclists riding bicycles for commuting and recreation continues to increase, the kind of bikes they are using is also changing. More people than ever are riding electric bicycles, which also have functional pedals.

Both David and Deb are 63 and very active. Not only do they ride their e-bikes, they swim, play tennis and golf.

David has become particularly conscious of the importance of staying active as a way to keep his symptoms of multiple sclerosis at bay.


David Mallory has an electric bike that he rides everywhere he can with his wife Deb.

Francis Georgian /

PNG

This year, for example, he couldn’t wait for the snow to melt so he could use bigger panniers (a pair of bags or containers) on his bike to carry groceries. He estimates he has ridden 200 km this year — including a couple of trips to Richmond.

The Mallories have just upgraded their bikes to new German-made Kalkhoff bikes from Cit-E-Cycles. They bought them on sale for about $4,000.

“You see a lot of older people, a lot of seniors, riding electric bikes,” said Mallory, who retired five years ago on disability. “We ride as much as we can. We’ll ride to Granville Island to pick up something and come back. It’s really been a huge thing for us.”

The growth in the sale of electric bikes around the world is the “largest and most rapid uptake of alternative-fuelled vehicles in the history of motorization,” according to the Transport Reviews article E-bikes in the mainstream.

China leads the world in e-bike sales, followed by Netherlands and Germany. In 10 years, more than 150 million e-bikes have been sold worldwide.

The article concluded that since market penetration is low in most countries, there is little evidence to suggest that the sale of electric bikes will slow in coming years.

One example of the growth in e-bikes in Metro Vancouver is Cit-E-Cycles. Since opening its first location in 2011, the company has expanded to four outlets in Vancouver, Surrey, Langley and Victoria.

Doug Sutton, sales and service manager at the West Broadway store, said e-bike technology has improved in the past few years.

A big part of the market used to be conversion kits to adapt regular bikes to electric bikes. More recently, the location of motors has moved from the front or back wheels to the centre of the bike, which provides power to the wheel via the chain drive. Batteries have become more efficient as well.

The top price for an electric bike in his store is $10,000, although Sutton said he recently had a special order for a $20,000 bike. He said the sweet spot for most e-bike sales is between $3,500 and $5,000.

Everyone from grandparents to college students are buying e-bikes, he said. One growing segment is parents buying large, extended “cargo” bikes to pick up their children from school.

“Most people are looking for all-rounders,” he said. “They’re looking to ride to work, or ride on a gravel track, and people who are on a budget looking for the least expensive bike.”


Doug Sutton, a manager at Cit-E-Cycles, with a Riese and Muller electric bike in Vancouver. Cit-E-Cycles is one of the larger electric bike retailers in Metro Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Erin O’Melinn, executive director of bicycle advocacy group HUB Cycling, said while e-bikes represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the transportation market, she knows of no systemic estimate of their share of the overall bike numbers in Metro Vancouver.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of people cycling to work increased from 4.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent, according to 2017 statistics from the City of Vancouver. More people ride to work in Vancouver than any other major city in the country.

Overall, the 2017 report card on walking and cycling said that “56 per cent of Vancouver residents are interested in cycling more often.

“This marks a significant increase citywide in a short period of time. In 2014, only 30 per cent of Vancouver residents were interested in cycling more often.”

O’Melinn said research into electric bikes and other micro-mobility devices such as scooters, mopeds and electric skateboards is in its infancy.

“HUB’s members have indicated a strong interest in this area and we are ramping up our efforts to understand how such technologies may be effectively encouraged and regulated to increase access to cycling to a broader range of ages, abilities and trip types,” she said by email.

Lon LaClaire, director of transportation for the City of Vancouver, believes electric bicycles have huge potential to create more cycling trips.

“We’re seeing it already with goods movements,” he said. The worker co-operative Shift Delivery in East Vancouver, he said, uses e-bikes.

“For others who don’t have the strength or don’t want to get sweaty, an e-bike is an option that previously wasn’t practical for them. … We’ll be looking at ways to support e-bikes.”

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Biking in Metro Vancouver

• The City of Vancouver has a bike lane and path network of 322 km, 25 per cent of which are classed as top-AAA, which means for all ages and abilities. The longest segment is the 31.5 km seawall.

• Mobi, the City of Vancouver’s bike share, started in 2016 with 250 bikes at 23 stations. It now has 1,250 bikes in 125 stations. The goal is 1,500 bikes at 150 stations.

• Bike sharing has spread around Metro Vancouver. Locations include Richmond, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam, and soon in Burnaby. On the North Shore, the City of North Vancouver is part of an initiative with the District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver to introduce electric bike share by this June.


What is an electric bike?

In B.C., an electric bike is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with a seat, functional pedals and an electric motor of up to 500 watts. It can’t be gas powered or travel faster than 32 km/h on level ground without pedalling. Anyone riding an e-bike has to wear a helmet and be 16 years of age or older.


Biking in Vancouver: By the numbers

The City of Vancouver maintains automated bike counters at 10 locations around town, and reports monthly volumes rounded to the nearest thousand.

Science World

July 2013: 167,000

July 2014: 187,000

July 2015: 195,000

July 2016: 193,000

July 2017: 227,000

July 2018: 239,000

Union and Hawks

July 2013: 101,000

July 2014: *

July 2015: 115,000

July 2016: 111,000

July 2017: 120,000

July 2018: 127,000

Burrard Bridge

Jan 2010: 46,000

Jan 2011: 41,000

Jan 2012: 35,000

Jan 2013: 35,000

Jan 2014: 54,000

Jan 2015: 62,000

Jan 2016: 53,000

Jan 2017: 40,000

Jan 2018: 47,000

* Data not available due to technical problems with counter

Data from City of Vancouver’s automated bike counters are available online


A move to fill ‘gaps in the map’

Burnaby’s decision to eliminate an unsafe bottleneck for cyclists is an encouraging move toward creating a connected bike network in the region, says bicycle advocacy group HUB Cycling.

HUB says safer bike routes will in turn persuade more people to start riding bikes.

The big change coming for cyclists in Burnaby is on the Gilmore Overpass above the Trans Canada Highway. Built in 1964, the overpass is one of 400 spots in Metro Vancouver identified by HUB as obstacles that discourage an estimated 40 per cent of people from riding their bike.

Burnaby council recently approved spending more than $2 million to add to about $900,000 from TransLink to build a protected bike path on the west side of the overpass by the end of the year.

Joe Keithley, a Green Party councillor, said Burnaby has been able to act quickly on the project because a plan for the overpass came before council more than three years ago but was shelved.

Keithley said he and Mayor Mike Hurley, both elected last fall, wanted to do something as soon as possible to encourage cycling and sustainable transportation in Burnaby.

“We have to get more north-south and east-west bike paths in Burnaby,” he said. “We’re way behind Vancouver.”

The permanent changes to the road mean restricting motor vehicles to one north bound lane to create a 3.5-metre-wide path for pedestrians and northbound and southbound bikes. The lane closure would stretch from Myrtle Street to Dominion Street.

Keithley said the city lobbied the province to replace the overpass, which has been hit several times by trucks since the Trans Canada Highway was widened, but Victoria said it wasn’t going to spend millions of dollars on a new overpass for another 20 to 25 years.

“We thought this would be an expedient and economical way to help people,” Keithley said by phone.

“If you want to encourage a generation of cyclists, start them early. If you want to ride with your kid or grandson, you’d feel totally safe with this new plan.”

Erin O’Melinn, executive director of HUB Cycling, said research has shown that unsafe spots, such as the one on Gilmore, are the top reason that people are discouraged from riding a bike.

HUB calls them gaps in the map — specific locations where bike routes end abruptly without any safe alternative for cyclists.

Citing data from TransLink’s trip diary survey, O’Melinn said many people want to ride their bikes but are held back by unsafe and disconnected bike routes.

“There are gaps all over the region where people do not feel safe and there is no reasonable way to get from A to B,” O’Melinn said.

“Imagine if there were streets for cars that ended abruptly and you couldn’t get to where you had to go, and had to get out and walk your car.”

“It happens all the time when you’re on a bike. When we ungap the map, the region will have safe, direct, paved bikeways that will allow people of all ages and abilities to get where they want to go.”

HUB Biking has an interactive map identifying gaps in the cycling routes in Metro Vancouver. People can adopt gaps in their neighbourhood by making a $50 contribution to help “ungap the map,” or commuters can tell a story about why the gap matters to them.

HUB’s recent successes in eliminating some of the gaps in the map include a one-way protected bike lane along 80 Avenue from 128th Street to 132nd Street in Surrey and a commitment from Langley Township to match TransLink’s $500,000 to expand commuter bike lanes to include Murrayville.


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7Apr

Popularity of electric bikes growing on city roads and bike paths

by admin

At first, David Mallory thought riding an electric bike was the equivalent of cheating.

Things started to change when his wife Deb bought one about nine years ago. She decided it was the best way to conquer the hill to their home on West 10th in Vancouver.

As she zoomed up the hill, Mallory remembers pedalling on his 21-speed bike as fast as he could, trying to catch her. She won every time.

So he took her bike for a ride. When he engaged the motor, he felt like he was defying gravity.

Mallory was hooked.

“It’s hard to believe I’ve had an electric bike for that long — since 2011,” he said. “Not once have I gone: ‘I wish I hadn’t bought a bike.’ I would never go back to a regular bike. It’s just so much more fun.”

The experience Mallory and his wife have had with their electric bike isn’t unusual in Metro Vancouver. As the number of cyclists riding bicycles for commuting and recreation continues to increase, the kind of bikes they are using is also changing. More people than ever are riding electric bicycles, which also have functional pedals.

Both David and Deb are 63 and very active. Not only do they ride their e-bikes, they swim, play tennis and golf.

David has become particularly conscious of the importance of staying active as a way to keep his symptoms of multiple sclerosis at bay.


David Mallory has an electric bike that he rides everywhere he can with his wife Deb.

Francis Georgian /

PNG

This year, for example, he couldn’t wait for the snow to melt so he could use bigger panniers (a pair of bags or containers) on his bike to carry groceries. He estimates he has ridden 200 km this year — including a couple of trips to Richmond.

The Mallories have just upgraded their bikes to new German-made Kalkhoff bikes from Cit-E-Cycles. They bought them on sale for about $4,000.

“You see a lot of older people, a lot of seniors, riding electric bikes,” said Mallory, who retired five years ago on disability. “We ride as much as we can. We’ll ride to Granville Island to pick up something and come back. It’s really been a huge thing for us.”

The growth in the sale of electric bikes around the world is the “largest and most rapid uptake of alternative-fuelled vehicles in the history of motorization,” according to the Transport Reviews article E-bikes in the mainstream.

China leads the world in e-bike sales, followed by Netherlands and Germany. In 10 years, more than 150 million e-bikes have been sold worldwide.

The article concluded that since market penetration is low in most countries, there is little evidence to suggest that the sale of electric bikes will slow in coming years.

One example of the growth in e-bikes in Metro Vancouver is Cit-E-Cycles. Since opening its first location in 2011, the company has expanded to four outlets in Vancouver, Surrey, Langley and Victoria.

Doug Sutton, sales and service manager at the West Broadway store, said e-bike technology has improved in the past few years.

A big part of the market used to be conversion kits to adapt regular bikes to electric bikes. More recently, the location of motors has moved from the front or back wheels to the centre of the bike, which provides power to the wheel via the chain drive. Batteries have become more efficient as well.

The top price for an electric bike in his store is $10,000, although Sutton said he recently had a special order for a $20,000 bike. He said the sweet spot for most e-bike sales is between $3,500 and $5,000.

Everyone from grandparents to college students are buying e-bikes, he said. One growing segment is parents buying large, extended “cargo” bikes to pick up their children from school.

“Most people are looking for all-rounders,” he said. “They’re looking to ride to work, or ride on a gravel track, and people who are on a budget looking for the least expensive bike.”


Doug Sutton, a manager at Cit-E-Cycles, with a Riese and Muller electric bike in Vancouver. Cit-E-Cycles is one of the larger electric bike retailers in Metro Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Erin O’Melinn, executive director of bicycle advocacy group HUB Cycling, said while e-bikes represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the transportation market, she knows of no systemic estimate of their share of the overall bike numbers in Metro Vancouver.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of people cycling to work increased from 4.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent, according to 2017 statistics from the City of Vancouver. More people ride to work in Vancouver than any other major city in the country.

Overall, the 2017 report card on walking and cycling said that “56 per cent of Vancouver residents are interested in cycling more often.

“This marks a significant increase citywide in a short period of time. In 2014, only 30 per cent of Vancouver residents were interested in cycling more often.”

O’Melinn said research into electric bikes and other micro-mobility devices such as scooters, mopeds and electric skateboards is in its infancy.

“HUB’s members have indicated a strong interest in this area and we are ramping up our efforts to understand how such technologies may be effectively encouraged and regulated to increase access to cycling to a broader range of ages, abilities and trip types,” she said by email.

Lon LaClaire, director of transportation for the City of Vancouver, believes electric bicycles have huge potential to create more cycling trips.

“We’re seeing it already with goods movements,” he said. The worker co-operative Shift Delivery in East Vancouver, he said, uses e-bikes.

“For others who don’t have the strength or don’t want to get sweaty, an e-bike is an option that previously wasn’t practical for them. … We’ll be looking at ways to support e-bikes.”

kevingriff[email protected]


Biking in Metro Vancouver

• The City of Vancouver has a bike lane and path network of 322 km, 25 per cent of which are classed as top-AAA, which means for all ages and abilities. The longest segment is the 31.5 km seawall.

• Mobi, the City of Vancouver’s bike share, started in 2016 with 250 bikes at 23 stations. It now has 1,250 bikes in 125 stations. The goal is 1,500 bikes at 150 stations.

• Bike sharing has spread around Metro Vancouver. Locations include Richmond, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam, and soon in Burnaby. On the North Shore, the City of North Vancouver is part of an initiative with the District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver to introduce electric bike share by this June.


What is an electric bike?

In B.C., an electric bike is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with a seat, functional pedals and an electric motor of up to 500 watts. It can’t be gas powered or travel faster than 32 km/h on level ground without pedalling. Anyone riding an e-bike has to wear a helmet and be 16 years of age or older.


Biking in Vancouver: By the numbers

The City of Vancouver maintains automated bike counters at 10 locations around town, and reports monthly volumes rounded to the nearest thousand.

Science World

July 2013: 167,000

July 2014: 187,000

July 2015: 195,000

July 2016: 193,000

July 2017: 227,000

July 2018: 239,000

Union and Hawks

July 2013: 101,000

July 2014: *

July 2015: 115,000

July 2016: 111,000

July 2017: 120,000

July 2018: 127,000

Burrard Bridge

Jan 2010: 46,000

Jan 2011: 41,000

Jan 2012: 35,000

Jan 2013: 35,000

Jan 2014: 54,000

Jan 2015: 62,000

Jan 2016: 53,000

Jan 2017: 40,000

Jan 2018: 47,000

* Data not available due to technical problems with counter

Data from City of Vancouver’s automated bike counters are available online


A move to fill ‘gaps in the map’

Burnaby’s decision to eliminate an unsafe bottleneck for cyclists is an encouraging move toward creating a connected bike network in the region, says bicycle advocacy group HUB Cycling.

HUB says safer bike routes will in turn persuade more people to start riding bikes.

The big change coming for cyclists in Burnaby is on the Gilmore Overpass above the Trans Canada Highway. Built in 1964, the overpass is one of 400 spots in Metro Vancouver identified by HUB as obstacles that discourage an estimated 40 per cent of people from riding their bike.

Burnaby council recently approved spending more than $2 million to add to about $900,000 from TransLink to build a protected bike path on the west side of the overpass by the end of the year.

Joe Keithley, a Green Party councillor, said Burnaby has been able to act quickly on the project because a plan for the overpass came before council more than three years ago but was shelved.

Keithley said he and Mayor Mike Hurley, both elected last fall, wanted to do something as soon as possible to encourage cycling and sustainable transportation in Burnaby.

“We have to get more north-south and east-west bike paths in Burnaby,” he said. “We’re way behind Vancouver.”

The permanent changes to the road mean restricting motor vehicles to one north bound lane to create a 3.5-metre-wide path for pedestrians and northbound and southbound bikes. The lane closure would stretch from Myrtle Street to Dominion Street.

Keithley said the city lobbied the province to replace the overpass, which has been hit several times by trucks since the Trans Canada Highway was widened, but Victoria said it wasn’t going to spend millions of dollars on a new overpass for another 20 to 25 years.

“We thought this would be an expedient and economical way to help people,” Keithley said by phone.

“If you want to encourage a generation of cyclists, start them early. If you want to ride with your kid or grandson, you’d feel totally safe with this new plan.”

Erin O’Melinn, executive director of HUB Cycling, said research has shown that unsafe spots, such as the one on Gilmore, are the top reason that people are discouraged from riding a bike.

HUB calls them gaps in the map — specific locations where bike routes end abruptly without any safe alternative for cyclists.

Citing data from TransLink’s trip diary survey, O’Melinn said many people want to ride their bikes but are held back by unsafe and disconnected bike routes.

“There are gaps all over the region where people do not feel safe and there is no reasonable way to get from A to B,” O’Melinn said.

“Imagine if there were streets for cars that ended abruptly and you couldn’t get to where you had to go, and had to get out and walk your car.”

“It happens all the time when you’re on a bike. When we ungap the map, the region will have safe, direct, paved bikeways that will allow people of all ages and abilities to get where they want to go.”

HUB Biking has an interactive map identifying gaps in the cycling routes in Metro Vancouver. People can adopt gaps in their neighbourhood by making a $50 contribution to help “ungap the map,” or commuters can tell a story about why the gap matters to them.

HUB’s recent successes in eliminating some of the gaps in the map include a one-way protected bike lane along 80 Avenue from 128th Street to 132nd Street in Surrey and a commitment from Langley Township to match TransLink’s $500,000 to expand commuter bike lanes to include Murrayville.


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17Jan

Most Canadians favour smoking ban in multi-family buildings: poll

by admin


Practically nine-in-ten Canadians agree with banning smoking in indoor public spaces, public transit facilities and workplaces.


Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Most Canadians are in favour of prohibiting residents from smoking in apartment buildings and condominiums, a new Research Co. poll has found.

An online survey found that almost seven-in-ten Canadians (72 per cent) support banning smoking (tobacco and marijuana) in multi-family buildings, while one-in-four (25 per cent) are opposed to the prohibition.

Almost 74 per cent of women supported the ban as did Canadians aged 55 and above. About 75 per cent of  Quebecers and 74 per cent British Columbians were also in favour.

The poll also found that more than two thirds of Canadians agree with the federal government’s decision to implement plain and standardized tobacco packaging. This was one of several areas covered by Bill C-5, which also established guidelines for vaping products.

Almost 90 per cent per cent of Canadians agree with banning smoking in indoor public spaces, public transit facilities and workplaces, including restaurants, bars and casinos.

Additionally, three-in-four Canadians also agree with banning smoking in private vehicles occupied by children.

“The regulations that have been in place for years to deal with smoking across Canada remain popular,” said Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “There is a high level of support for bringing multi-family dwellings to the list of places where people should not be allowed to smoke.”

The survey was conducted earlier this month among 1,000 adults in Canada. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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6Dec

Public washrooms coming to Metro Vancouver transit system

by admin


Laura Mackenrot, the former vice-chair of the City of Vancouver’s persons with disabilities advisory committee, outside TransLink headquarters. The board approved a policy that will see washrooms added to stations along the transit system.


Jennifer Saltman / PNG

TransLink customers looking for public restrooms on Metro Vancouver’s transit system could soon find relief.

The transit authority’s board of directors on Thursday approved a recommendation from management to increase the number of washrooms available for public use.

“This is a very big change from where we’ve been in the past, and I’m really pleased to see us moving in this direction,” said board member Larry Beasley.

Public washrooms have been a hot-button topic over the years, and TransLink did not previously have a policy. The new one was developed during 2018.

In the past, TransLink has cited the high cost of maintenance, and passenger safety and security as reasons to avoid adding washrooms on transit.

Currently, the only public washrooms are found at both SeaBus terminals and on West Coast Express trains, and they are required by federal transportation regulations.

A survey conducted as part of the review asked more than 2,000 people about washroom availability, and 72 per cent said that more washrooms would improve their transit experience. About 25 per cent said they would use transit more often if there were more washrooms.

“We do see this as an important ridership growth, ridership development objective,” said Andrew McCurran, TransLink’s director of strategic planning and policy.

Laura Mackenrot, the former vice-chair of the City of Vancouver’s persons with disabilities advisory committee, said four city committees had appealed to TransLink to add more washrooms to the transit system.

“How can you deny people the ability to do a basic human need every day?” Mackenrot asked the board. “This is not just a disability issue, it’s an accessibility issue that affects us all — all ages and all abilities.”

Mackenrot said she knows people who don’t use public transit because they have no access to washrooms, and urged TransLink to make sure any washrooms it adds are universally accessible and gender neutral.

According to a staff report, washrooms should be placed at major transfer or connection points for a high number of transit passengers, in places where there will be many passengers who have long journey times and evenly spaced on the system.

TransLink will look at existing spaces within stations, adding washrooms during upgrades or construction of new stations or partnering with developers, municipalities or private businesses.

An implementation strategy will be brought to the board for consideration next year, which will include potential washroom locations, costs and a timeline.

Mackenrot said after the meeting that she was very happy with the board’s decision.

“We worked really hard on this for the last couple of years and I think it’s a great first step in the right direction to be including washrooms in our stations,” she said.

One TransLink policy that won’t change is related to pets on transit.

Currently, TransLink allows pets — other than certified service animals — if they are in small, hand-held cages that fit on your lap. Transit operators can refuse a pet if there is a concern for safety or comfort of other passengers, or if there is standing room only.

It was anticipated that allowing more pets would negatively affect people travelling without pets, worsen safety and well being of passengers and staff, hurt system efficiency and increase administrative costs.

Management recommended that TransLink maintain its current policy, but continue to monitor industry trends and public sentiment to see if changes are needed in the future. The board endorsed that recommendation.

“Our current policy strikes a reasonable balance, providing an option for individuals who travel with pets without unreasonable, negative impacts to other transit riders,” said Andrew Devlin, manager of policy development.

Margaret Halsey has long advocated for allowing more dogs on transit. She said that if the board won’t consider changing the policy, then there should be a pilot project to see how it might work to have more pets on board.

“I’m certain that dogs that are allowed only at set times or on specific trains or buses would alleviate a considerable amount of challenges,” Halsey said.

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