Joe and I are voting Yes in the BC Transit Referendum for transit expansion because it is the right thing to do: for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren, for our city, and for our planet. For a relatively small annual cost to each household, we can expand transit and ensure that Vancouver continues to be a liveable region for years to come.
I am a rare commodity in Vancouver, in that I was born and raised here. I have proudly watched Vancouver grow from a well-kept secret to a world class city. I have also watched the traffic congestion grow exponentially and unpleasantly. I have had had two major collisions while cycling and am lucky to have not been killed both times.
As a teenager I cycled everywhere. I was 17 years old and cycling across the Lions Gate Bridge in the summer wearing cut-off shorts, sandals and a tee shirt. I was knocked off the totally unsafe shared sidewalk into the centre lane of traffic and was very lucky not to be killed. Joe writes about this accident in his post about the upcoming improvements to the Stanley Park Causeway. In the meantime, that unprotected sidewalk remains unchanged to this day and still represents a significant hazard to cyclists and pedestrians. Just two years ago a cyclist was killed there. Not surprising, considering it still looks like this today:
Last year I was hit by a truck on my morning bike commute. This happened eastbound on United Boulevard when my back was clipped by the side-view mirror of a passing truck. I was injured in both accidents, not seriously – however, I do realize how lucky I was. (Although the jury is still out on whether there will be long-term problems with my back due to being hit by the truck.)
I have watched the insanity of the “car culture” for decades. In North America a car has meant status, and my brother wanted status. I watched him go into significant debt at a young age to own a car. More than that, owning a car was a higher priority for him than getting a post-secondary education. I also watched my son rack up higher and higher loans due to cars before he was 20.
Contrast this with Joe’s daughters who are now 22, 20 and 14. None of them have expressed any desire to learn to drive or own a car anytime soon, nor have most of their friends. In an expensive city like Vancouver, this a good economic decision that will help them live affordably. However, only one of the three girls cycles, and Joe and I worry about her safety due to the lack of safe cycling infrastructure.
For anyone who rides transit, especially the Skytrain, it is evident that the system is maxed out during rush hours and rapidly approaching capacity during non-rush hour times. At rush hour, it is often very unpleasant as people squeeze in like sardines. Next year when the Evergreen line joins the system there will be added pressure on the Millennium and Expo lines for the new commuters coming from the Coquitlam and Port Moody corridors.
All this just makes me acutely aware of the need to provide adequate and safe infrastructure for all modes of transport – particularly human powered transport, in which human beings are usually very vulnerable.
And contrary to the misinformation spread by the No side of the BC Transit Referendum: Translink is not perfect, but it is actually doing a pretty good job. And with the added oversight of Jimmy Pattison there should be added confidence that the funds will be spent as promised. Remember Jimmy Pattison oversaw Expo 86, which was a huge success. Based on the creation of the Central Valley Greenway and the improvements in progress on the BC Parkway, it is clear that Translink is aware of cyclists’ needs and is working on them.
Transit will continue to be a great investment for all of the people of the greater Vancouver region. I can’t think of a better legacy for my grandchildren than the ability to travel in a healthy way without being injured or killed.
Following are all the details about the benefits a Yes vote in the BC Transit Referendum would bring. I am quoting the BC Cycling Coalition’s email sent on Earth Day:
“Winning the transportation referendum is critical to our environmental, social and economic health. A Yes vote will enable more people to choose cycling, walking and transit for their daily trips, reducing pollution, GHG emissions traffic injuries and death and congestion.
Encouraging 5 of your friends, family and colleagues to vote Yes is a great way to celebrate this Earth Day and make the next one even happier.
Only 22% of ballots have been received by Elections BC. With many ballots still sitting at people’s homes, it is critical that you let your friends, neighbours and coworkers how important it is for them to send their Yes votes.
So please spread the word by email, phone and in person. Focus on those who you think will be voting Yes. People who use transit, cycle and walk are more likely to vote Yes. No point in reminding those that would vote No to vote.
Let them know what the cycling and transit improvements will mean to you personally. If you have not received your ballot, have lost or damaged it or are not sure if you can vote, contact Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683 or elections.bc.ca/ovr before midnight May 15, 2015.
A Yes vote would bring:
- 2,700 km of cycling routes throughout the region including 300 km of bike lanes separated from traffic
- BC Parkway, Central Valley Greenway and Canada Line Bikeway upgrades
- North Shore Spirit Trail completion
- New cycling and walking paths along the Evergreen Line
- Cycling routes parallel to rapid transit lines in Surrey and Langley
- Much improved cycling and walking facilities on a new 4 lane Pattullo Bridge
- Secure parking at transit stations
- Badly needed transit expansion including 11 B-lines, LRT in Surrey, and the Millennium Line extension to Arbutus.”
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