On the eve of the Olympics, right on the front page of BBC News is a story about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The story is lovingly titled Vancouver: ‘Drug Central’ of North America and recounts many of the horrors of the DTES including rampant drug use, homelessness, and prostitution. It also brings in the gang wars in the suburbs of Surrey and other places, quite correctly tying those drug wars into what is happening in Vancouver proper. With that little show known as the Olympics coming to town, expect a great deal of stories like this in the near future. And on a hopeful note, the BBC story ends with this little tidbit:
Vancouver’s problems will last long after the Olympic spirit has left.
It occurs to me that if Vancouver were a politician or a sports celebrity, right about now is when they would be making their tearful apology to the world, as we realize they are not so holy than thou after all.
The world keeps turning, even if I have been crazy busy with various non-bike relating things. So I present a grab-bag of fun links and commentary on news stories:
- Packed in like sardines. It is a cliche and yet our buses (and public transit across the world) often feel more like a can of fish than a pleasant way to travel. To drum up political support for fixing the problem, a couple of Swiss decided to ride around dressed literally as sardines.
- After dropping off my grandmother at a ferry today I got caught by this accident on Cordova Bay Rd. Apparently the cause was an 82 year old man having a heart attack. Why are we still building cities that require 80+ year old people to drive?
- Speaking of my grandmother, two Saanich workers scared the crap out of her the other morning by walking into her back yard, looking for a storm drain cover. Turns out they were looking for the source of this oil leak into Douglas Creek, a salmon-bearing stream which runs through Mount Doug Park right behind her house.
- Arthur Erickson, Vancouver architect, has died. He had a bit a love for concrete and brutalist buildings but also did a lot of good work including a building in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
There has also been a whole host of news about community planning today:
And lastly,Transportation Alternatives, a bike and ped advocacy group in New York City that has gone from guerilla activism to advising the city’s Department of Transportation, has launched “Biking Rules: A new street code for NYC Bicyclists” campaign that is coupled with a slick website that also allows users to show safe biking routes they have found (via Streetsblog). The map is driven by data from OpenStreetMap. More of that free data empowering people and communities again.