Friday, July 18, 2014

Why are big companies so short-sighted? It's time they learned to maximize their prophets!

Q:  What do bicycles and airplanes have in common?
A:  Bike seats!

You might think that business class travellers wouldn't stand for such seating arrangements, but really, they have nothing to complain about, because for the money they have to shell out, surely they will be upgraded to Brooks saddles. 

If they implemented recumbent technology, they could just stack the seats on top of one another! Imagine how many more passengers you could fit into a plane that way!  And what's that?  Bit of turbulence causing issues?  No worries. There's always the old shark fin saddle.  The soon to be released ribbed version will add an extra dimension of pleasure to any turbulence you may encounter along the way.

Yeah, ok, so the future of air travel is nothing to rave about, but have hope.  There are still bikes.

And if you happen upon a bike rave in Vancouver, you'll find thousands upon thousands of them.

What's that?  You've never  been to a bike rave?  Lighten up!  You're sure to love it.

Let go of your pre-conceptions.  It's not all about the glow-schtick. 

Actually, Vancouver has lots of things to rave about these days.  Like the Point Grey bike lane, for example.

Have you ever noticed how the level of resistance to new bike infrastructure is directly proportional to the affluence of the neighbourhoods involved?  This particular lane created unprecedented opposition and controversy before it was built, though it sure is popular now.  This used to be a very dangerous, difficult road to travel, a congested and fast-moving thoroughfare, and now it is a pedestrian and bicycle paradise.  The houses along Point Grey used to have to deal with endless heavy traffic, twenty four hours a day, and now the road is almost like their own private drive.  It's really hard to understand just what all of the fuss was about.
Resistance = no place like ohm.

And don't I know it.  Ohm sweet ohm.  

And in other current events, Kinder Morgan wants to build a tunnel through Burnaby mountain to triple the amount of oil they transport to their  Burnaby tanker terminal, and they can't understand why Vancouverites don't dig it.  Never mind that an oil spill in this harbour would be devastating.  Never mind that ramping up petrochemichal production is counterproductive to planetary health and the greater good of its inhabitants. Kinder Morgan has to placate its shareholders and we all know that's really what matters. As the Canadian Pacific railway demonstrates, people don't count.  The environment?  Poohey.  Who cares?  Sacrifice it on the altar of profit.

And me?

After spending some time in Alberta, home of the tarsands, and where Car is King, I am just happy to be home.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Playing in the face of defeat.

News Flash!

Vancouver's carbon footprint went through the roof this week when somebody torched the train bridge over the mighty Fraser river. You know, the bridge that feeds the Arbutus Corridor which I was railing on about the other day?

It's pretty convenient, don't you think, that opening the corridor to rail traffic is off the books for the foreseeable future?

For the record, I didn't do it, though it certainly is a victory for Vancouver's guerilla gardeners. I was no-where near that bridge at the time.  I was downtown, where an oblivious race official was smoked by a pace car. When that fire was set I was all set to watch the women's Gastown Grand Prix...

It was BC Superweek, and I did my best to support the girls at every turn. Superweek's organisers claimed that there would be pay parity for the women this time round, and while it's true that the podium winnings were equal, there sure was a discrepancy between the amount the women could win in a prime lap, and what the men made.  The girls had a few $200 laps sprinkled evenly throughout the race, and the men's race started out the same, but they had a lot more primes, and the men's laps paid better, with a few $500 primes and even one $1200 lap!

Still, it did my heart good to see the girls giving it their all like that.  It was great.  I spent a lot of time hanging out at the races,

dreaming of riding fast...

as everybody went whizzing past.

That was last week.  It was a pretty good time, all in all. It was happy, and it was fun. I spent a bit of time outdoors under the sun,

and some time indoors with friends, too. 

Then I heard that my dear, sweet Auntie Em is gravely ill.   We quickly made our way across the Rockies to spend some time with her in Edmonton while she has time to spend, and that's where we're at.   Horace Mann advised us to "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity," and perhaps he was right.  I aspire to improve this world for sure, but perhaps I'd best take a page from Emily's book.  She lived a simple life. She served the greater good. Her kindness, her cheerfulness and her helpfulness made the lives of the people she touched much more beautiful for having known her.  That spells victory in my books.

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.” 

Here's to the divinity in humanity, and to a life well lived.  Thanks for checking in.  Talk to you soon!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fit to be tied: railing on over the Arbutus corridor.

Gidday, Peeps! What do you know? It's time to train again! You know that old saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same"... ? 

Don't believe it for a minute.  This photograph, looking south-west at Granville Island from downtown Vancouver in 1946, shows the Granville Bridge, the Burrard Bridge, and the old railway bridge over False Creek, which ended at the old Canadian Pacific (CP) railway yard on the north shore of the creek. All that's left of that yard today is the Roundhouse, Yaletown's community, arts, and recreation centre.

False Creek looks quite a bit different today.

Notice how the train bridge has disappeared?  See any train yards?  Funny, that.  They've been gone for yonks.
At the south end of the Burrard Bridge today you'll find the terminus of the Arbutus Corridor, a hotly contested tract of land running through Vancouver, from the Fraser River to False Creek.  In 2000, Vancouver City counsel passed a bylaw which determined that the corridor should be a public thoroughfare. CP contested the bylaw, but the Supreme court upheld it.  Since then, they have made an awful lot of noise about selling that land to develop it.  Since the public, the city, and the country all object to their plans, they have decided to pretend they are planning to re-opening that corridor to rail traffic.  Never mind that it goes no-where, dead-ending at a marina.

The Arbutus Corridor terminus: an overgrown patch of grass.
CP's letter to area residents this week states that 

“The Arbutus corridor is a valuable asset for CP; therefore, as with all our assets, we must optimize its use on behalf of our shareholders,” CP said in a recent letter to area residents. “CP has discussed the future of the Arbutus line with the City of Vancouver for several years. Unfortunately, discussions have now ended without compromise. CP remains open to further discussions but, failing that, we must move forward with our operational options.”

The overgrown track runs along under those power poles.
According to the Globe and Mail, CP's "letter says all personal items, such as sheds, structures and gardens, within CP land are to be removed by the end of the month. Survey stakes have been placed along the route and CP has also posted a map of corridor boundaries on its website.

CP has not yet decided whether trains will be reintroduced on the route, CP spokesman Ed Greenberg said on Thursday.
“This is the next stage of reviewing operational options for this corridor,” Mr. Greenberg said, adding that the encroachments need to be cleared so that engineers can determine what needs to be done to bring tracks up to federal regulatory standards." But what for?!  What could they possibly run a rail line TO? 

There are a lot of gardens along the corridor, 



productive spaces.

Lovely Gabriel gave me a turnip and some greens, bless his heart.

He called what he does Guerilla Gardening.  Draft me, Uncle Sam. I am all for that kind of Guerilla Warfare. In fact, in my imagination, (where you know I spend as much time as possible) I have tons of cash at my disposal. I use it to grow vertical gardens (with symbiotic fish farms) on every available southern facing surface in town. Sigh... always the dreamer... :D

As it stands now, you can walk, or ride a bike all along the tracks, making your way through the city in the most peaceful possible way.  

And hey!  If you ride from the Fraser River to False Creek along the corridor today, you can stop right near the end for a cuppa coffee to enjoy along with the view once you reach the grassy terminus.  And really, you might as well stop, because the route takes you right THROUGH the Starbucks at Granville Island.

Do you suppose that means the structure will have to be removed by the end of the month?

You'll find the corridor flush with all sorts of interesting gardening ideas.

That's probably because it goes through all sorts of Vancouver neighbourhoods.

Including some of the hoods up in the hills...

Oh, I know!  Maybe they can re-open the railway line to serve the new McLaren dealership down there on second ave, right across from Lamborghini, and down the road from Lotus.  

What with the cost of living here in Vancouver, we're all growing tremendously, unbelievably wealthy and are in need of a fuckload more high end, luxury cars.  Across the board.  All of us.  We'll need train loads full of 'em.  For sure.  Yeah that's it.  

Where were we?

Oh yeah... the line also crosses its fair share of roads, arterial and otherwise.  

Can you imagine Broadway, 

-already the busiest transit corridor on the continent- ground to a halt to make way for pointless rail traffic? 

 Sure, that'll go over well.

I never thought of Bea as a track bike before, but you see?  Sometimes things change.  When the Arbutus corridor line was built, there was a tangible, viable commercial purpose for the track.  You simply cannot say the same thing today.  What does CP intend to move through here today?  Bitumen from the Tar Sands? They could unload it at the dock by the farmer's market on Granville Island. That's certain to be a very popular choice.  Or maybe they intend to move Vancouver's  water treatment chlorine along this corridor. What could possibly go wrong with that?  Orrrrrr they could use it to haul crushed ice to the yachtsmen at the marina. Ah yes, that MUST be it. Prolly the very same fellas about to make a killing off developing that corridor....

Let's be serious for a minute. It's just greed, pure and simple. CP is doing this because they want money. The bosses in the 'C' suite offices, along with the rest of the major shareholders, want money for it, despite the fact that they paid absolutely NOTHING for the property in the first place.  The province granted it to them in 1886, presumably because what suited CP's interests at the time also suited the province.

Ha! It looks like I was dead wrong. CP doesn't have a very good track record, and they're not doing anything to improve it. This nation was built on greed, and the appropriation of territorial and community lands for the benefit of a few specific individuals, and at least in that respect, nothing has changed.

PS.  Hello!

Strangely enough, the bridge at the bottom of the Arbutus corridor burned down this week.... 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Canada's birthday suits Babble.

July 2013
Can you believe it's that time of year again already?!  Independence day.  Canada doesn't have one, of course, cause it's still In-depends.  But the season remains the same, cause we're all in-continent together. Those Americans get to blow things up the same time of year we Canadians celebrate the true north strong and free beaver.  Not to be confused with the stooopid, stoned, yet still somehow free Bieber.

His pinata - sure to garner as many hits as his website!
Yep.  Independence day.  Here Canada, that amounts to Free Beaver Day. Poor pussy gets stuck indoors as we prepare to leave.

We've planned to free an independent beaver up at Wreck beach, and we've almost everything we need.

After a quick trip to the liquor store, that is.

Supplied by the Red Truck Beer company.  You've gotta love the curves on that baby!

And we're off! In this town, sometimes you've got to go down before you head up, so that's what we did.

Free the beaver season is also prime time for sewer maintenance, and bike routes are not exempt, though you  can see that I'm not putting up with that crap.

What's all the stink about anyway?

I skirted the issue and began the day's first real ascent up towards Wreck Beach through BC's well-endowment lands.  And it was very reassuring to see that BC still puts the provincial in province.  

In New York the Hipster Highlock is a thing of the past, but it's alive and well in Vancouver.

The trail head. Welcome to the top of the 483 steps up from Wreck.

And at the bottom you emerge from under the shade of the temperate rain-forest into a whole different space altogether.  This is the place where Vancouver's free spirits come to hang out.

It's where the free beavers come out to play.

Clothing is optional, but for me the sling is still par for the course.

And when we're done with the sun for the day, its up, up and away!

You'll find all sorts of folks down on that beach, even the most laid back cyclists.

It's a bit of a climb getting back to the bike, but at the end of the day, you get to look forward to a lovely ride back down the hill to get home again.

Every day should be a free the beaver day.