One last morning celebration station at RJH

Shot of the two tents
RJH celebration station tents
Today was the last 6 am morning for me this week and it was a cold one. The celebration station at the Royal Jubilee Hospital was shadowed by one of the buildings, which made standing around a little chilly. The good weather today certainly helped get people out, especially after yesterday. Seeing the near steady stream of riders come by wasn’t a huge surprise because the Vancouver Island Health Authority, that runs RJH, has over 600 cyclists registered, almost 10% of the total registrations.

Preparing to engrave bike
Preparing to engrave bike

Leona Gibbs came out again this morning, which was a great boon. She has done an amazing amount of work these past two mornings, getting up early and talking with dozens of people about Safer Cycling Oak Bay and Oak Bay Bicycle Master Plan. Between us we collected about another 20 maps of people’s bike routes, bringing the total to nearly 80.

I also had a great conversation with Ian Graeme of the Bowker Creek Initiative about a Bowker Creek Greenway (there is a map of the Richmond/Oak Bay Rec Centre section) crossing all three municipalities. A trail like this would be a great path for cyclists and walkers to travel north-west/south-east and would allow easier linkage in with the Lochside and Galloping Goose trails, a connection which is currently very difficult.

This afternoon is the last celebration station I will attending, at the UVic fountain again, which runs from 3:30 to 5:30pm. I also plan on attending the final BBQ at the north end of the Selkirk Trestle tomorrow, which starts at 3pm.

Tri-City News backs more bike infrastructure

The Tri-City News, covering Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge and part of the Black Press stable of regional newspapers that includes Oak Bay News, has published an editorial calling for governments and business to do more to support biking. They start:

Those road warriors who are taking to the streets in rain gear and helmets to take part in Bike to Work Week deserve congratulations. The roads are not yet safe, despite some efforts to install bike lanes and bike-friendly policies, and those folks who put their lives on the line to keep their greenhouse gas emissions down and heart rates up to get to work on two wheels deserve our respect.

The Tri-City News seems to be strongly in favour of many green initiatives, judging from their past editorials. Interestingly, the article they published on STV going down to defeat includes an image of a cyclist promoting STV on their bike. Guess somebody in the Tri-City News loves bikes…

Busy station at Oak Bay municipal hall this morning

Long shot of tents on the lawn
Tents on the lawn of the municipal hall

This morning’s celebration station on the front lawn was a busy time for me and my fellow Safer Cycling OB volunteers, Jane and Leona. We managed to get nearly everybody that came by to tell us where they bicycled by highlighting those roads on a map. Adding the 37 collected today, we have almost 60 responses already. Entering in all these data and then making sense of it is going to be a big job.

Tara Ney talk with Jane van Hoorn
Tara Ney talking with Jane van Hoorn

I was surprised and disappointed that the only member of council that came by today was Tara Ney, who dropped in and chatted with us for a good half an hour. She reiterated her support for what we are doing, which is always heartening, given the scale of the project.  Roy Thomassen, the Director of Planning, also made a quick appearance. He clarified that there is a slight change of plans with the covered bike shelter and it is being moved to right against the building.

Transit operator demoing how to load bike
Transit operator demoing how to load bike

Due to being busy, I didn’t get many pictures today, but there are lots more all the stations on biketowork’s photostream. This Friday is also Bike to Work Day and this is bringing lots of posts about how to making biking more
on, an aggregator of blogs about livable streets.

Tomorrow morning Leona and I are off to the Royal Jubilee Hospital, which I learned today will be by the old entrance to the hospital on the south side (map).

Biki launches and Akerley charged

Montreal’s pioneer bike sharing program, the first in Canada, has just launched with 3,000 bikes spread across 300 stations. This is only a small part of a very ambitious plan of stations across Montreal. Just take a look at the map of stations to get an idea. Like it’s inspiration Velib,the first 30 minutes are free, the rest of the day is $5 and frequent users can get monthly or yearly rates. They both also share cute contractions for names, bike + taxi in the case of Montreal and velo + liberte for Paris. Lastly, Velib is also not “dying”, so ignore all the hysteria.

In other good yet tragic news, Daniel Marc Akerley has been sentenced to just over a year and half of jail time for his hit-and-run of Byron Harris in Port Alberni. Sadly he only got convicted of one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Sorry, but this was attempted murder or at a very least, assault with a deadly weapon. Why, when they charged him with attempted murder, did they let him plead guilty to such a minor offence? And more importantly, will this guy ever be let back behind the wheel? I am not exactly holding my breath for that. But I have beat this drum in the past.

Pictures from the morning UVic station

Another shot of the food and coffee table
The food and coffee tent

On this, the second day of Bike to Work Week 2009, I dragged myself out of bed at a very early hour of 6 am to attend the morning celebration station at UVic’s main fountain. As UVic is the single largest destination for bicyclists in the CRD, this has been a well attended station in the past and it was certainly no different today. The good weather this morning undoubtedly helped, although most of the people today looked like long-time commuter bikers.

Long shot of celebration station
Long shot of celebration station

Beyond just having fun early in the morning, I was also there to find out where people are biking in Oak Bay. So armed with a clipboard, lots of maps and highlighters, I managed convince almost 20 people to colour on the lines. After the week is done, I get the unenviable task of collating all that data and posting a map of popular biking routes.

Parked bikes
Parked bikes
Oak Bay Bikes fixes a bike
Oak Bay Bikes fixing a bike

For more pictures of yesterday’s station in Sidney and will be adding more as the week goes on from other stations in my Bike to Work Week 2009 flickr set.

See you all tomorrow morning on the lawn of the Oak Bay Municipal Hall.

Pictures from Sidney’s celebration station today

long shot of celebration station from the north
Long shot of celebration station from the north

To celebrate the first day of this years Bike to Work Week, I made the trek up to the most northerly celebration station in south Sidney. Today’s big story ended up being the weather, with a little bit of rain, sun and just about everything in between.  We were right along the water near the Anacortes ferry terminal. This meant there was a very stiff breeze from the south, so much so that at several points the half dozen of us all had to hold down the tent to literally keep it from blowing away.

I ended up staying just over an hour and in that time we saw about a half dozen bicyclists. Amongst that group was a recumbent, who along with his partner, were on their way to Tijuana and a tandem heading south. I am not certain if it was the distance or the cold weather but every cyclist we had come was seriously equipped. Hopefully we get some better weather over the next few days to get those occasional riders out.

See you all tomorrow at the UVic fountain between 6:45 am and 8:45am.

Tent of the celebration station in Sidney
Tent of the celebration station in Sidney
Tandem riders leaving celebration station
Tandem riders leaving celebration station
Pumping up the tires on a recumbent
Pumping up the tires on a recumbent

Bike to Work Week starts today

Today marks the first day of the annual Bike to Work Week. This years is two weeks early, to coincide with events across North America. The kick off this morning at the south end of the Selkirk Trestle. That was only the first of a whole host of celebration stations across the city over the next week.

Safer Cycling Oak Bay plans to be at a few of them promoting the bike master plan and asking people what routes they commute by in Oak Bay:

Morning (6:45 am – 8:45 am)

Tuesday – UVic Fountain

Wednesday – Front lawn of the Oak Bay Municipal Hall

Thursday – Royal Jubilee Hospital (uncertain exact location)

Afternoon (3:30 pm – 5:30 pm)

Thursday – UVic Fountain

There are lots of other stations. Check out the complete schedule (PDF).

I will also be heading up to Sidney this afternoon to the celebration station in Tulista Park between 3:30 and 5:30:

View Larger Map

I am hoping to get to a few more, just to talk with people and get inspired. Happy Bike to Work Week everybody!

Quick note about the map: It is from the , a user-editable map of the world. Although the map is incomplete, the Canadian government with its Geobase project has released much of its data under a free license and this is now being imported into OSM.

Why is free data important? It allows different views of the map, such as the cycle-specific version embedded above, which shows bike routes, parking and lanes. Sadly Geobase lacks any of this bike-specific data butyou can help.

Pictures and notes from the East Saanich Rd. open house

Mayor and councillor talk at open house
North Saanich Mayor Alice Findall and Councillor Peter Chandler at open house

I had heard the rumours of bike lanes and sidewalks on East Saanich Rd., so when I learnt that North Saanich was hosting an open house to display the plans, I decided to check it out. The open house took place over three hours in room just off the lobby in the Panorama Rec. Centre. With 60 people trickling through over the course of the evening, it was well attended event, always good for getting as much feedback as possible. On hand to answer questions and take comments North Saanich engineering staff, engineering staff from Declan, the consultant, as well as Councillor Peter Chandler. Mayor Alice Findall also stopped in for a few moments in the early parts of the evening.

Display from People for a Pedestrian-Friendly Dean Park
Suzanne Mophet with display from People for a Pedestrian-Friendly Dean Park

Outside the map room was the People for a Pedestrian Dean Park, a group seeking to make the Dean Park neighbourhood safer for walkers and bikers. Suzanne Mophet, who founded the group, had setup a large board with a map of the neighbourhood and was asking people about where they would like to see pedestrian paths, sidewalks and other amenities. She and I ended up having a long conversation about the challenges of traffic calming in the newer suburbs, especially with regards to getting political and popular support.

While I got a sense during the night that most people were supportive, I was confirmed with I spoke to Baohua Duan, one of the North Saanich Municipality’s engineering techs the next day. She is responsible for compiling all the myriad feedback from the 37 response forms. She confirmed that the overwhelming impression was very positive.

All in all, it was a very well run event. Kudos to North Saanich for giving the public the opportunity to give feedback. The Declan and North Saanich engineering staff were great at answering nearly any question and having a councillor on hand was a nice bonus. I am looking forward to early fall when all the construction (North and Central Saanich) should be done.

East Saanich Rd. bike lane Open House tonight

Proposed East Saanich Rd. bike lane
Proposed East Saanich Rd. bike lane

I will be at the East Saanich Rd. bike lane project Open House tonight. It is being run the Municipality of North Saanich and is being held at the Panorama Rec. Centre and runs from 5pm to 8pm. On hand will be North Saanich engineering staff to discuss the proposed plan.

This project ties into a similar Central Saanich project that was funded by the Federal and Provinicial governments (press release – PDF & LocalMotion projects page). According to this news story, the work on that should start in June and be done by October.

Maddeningly, I couldn’t find any information about Federal gov. money in the North Saanich portion. The above linked LocalMotion page lists $361,284 of Provinical money, which is cost shared 50/50 with the municipality.

Regardless, this is a much needed project. It provides yet another north-south route to complement West Saanich Rd. and the Lochside Trail. Hope to see some familiar faces there!

Wordle on Sunday’s raindrops and rainbows

It is no secret that I like tag clouds. They provide a great way to see what people are saying by popularity. They have really taken off in the past few years. Even the CBC was gotten into the act, with a tag cloud of the platforms of the three major parties in the 2009 election.

Creating them is a bit of an art with funky algorithms and the like. There are quite a few tools out there, but Wordle seems to be the most common. I used it for my announcement of my candidacy in the 2008 municipal elections, for example. So I figured I would run the raindrops and rainbows from the Safer Cycling Oak Bay table at the fair on Sunday and see what I got:


Rainbows from comm. fair
Things people liked about biking in Oak Bay


Raindrops from Community Fair
Things people disliked about biking in Oak Bay

A few things pop out at me: There was a strong current of environment and community running through the likes. Nice to see that bikes not only help the environment, they help everybodies health and help build community as a nice side benefit. The dislikes centred around two themes: respect and lack of infrastructure. People wanted to see more respect between drivers and cyclists, especially with regard to both needing to follow rules of the road. Bike parking and lanes were much talked about, as well as the growing number of potholes in roads.

As I said yesterday, I am very pleased at the amount of feedback we got and that people took the time to think about what they wrote. I am truly looking forward to the next few months. If you wanted to give us feedback in person, the next time to do so will likely be at Bike to Work Week coming up from the 11th to the 17th. When details are worked out, I will post more.