Archive for January, 2015


Debunking Common Vancouver Transit Referendum Myths

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

By AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton

Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane

Last week, we gave a broad overview and introduction to the upcoming Metro Vancouver transit referendum. This week, we’ll be answering some common questions, as well as debunking some myths, and responding to some concerns. Keep an eye out for further posts on this contentious and important issue.

How do I register to vote?

Elections BC will be administering the vote, so if you’re registered to vote in the province, you should be covered. If not, you can register by calling 1-800-661-8683, or online here.

Is the vote binding?

No it is not. The vote will take place under the South Coast Transportation Act, not the Referendum Act, which means the province could vote to turn down the results. This could mean good or bad new depending on the vote outcome (and your opinion on the matter). BC premier Christy Clark has lauded Metro Vancouver mayors for putting the referendum together, but has yet to explicitly state her support of a yes vote.

The sales tax increase will cost me over a hundred dollars a year! That’s huge!

It’s been reported that the sales tax would cost the average lower mainland household $125 yearly. This is averaged out from families of 5+ and single budget conscious university students—it will be significantly less for many UBC students a year to fund transit. It will cost me, a frugal UBC graduate student, approximately $35 a year in sales taxes if the referendum gets a majority yes vote.

People say Translink is a corrupt company… why should I trust them with more of my hard earned money?

Some people feel as though Translink has mismanaged their funds. They will point to the wages of the Translink security staff, or the bonuses staff get for working Sundays, or even the whole Compass Card fiasco as proof of the corporation’s lack of fiscal responsibility. Some of the problems with Translink are undeniable, but there is a clear need to fund transit in the area more broadly. The accountability issues with Translink’s budgeting and the need to provide infrastructure for the projected population growth in Metro Vancouver are two separate issues. Accountability should be given to residents regardless of the referendum’s outcome, and the proposed transit improvements in the referendum are needed regardless of what arm of government will be able to fund and provide them.

Will a proposed tax increase hurt small businesses?

The sales tax will minimally increase prices of goods in Metro Vancouver. Car dealers in particular have spoken of concerns that the sales tax will increase car prices by several hundred dollars (0.5% on a $40,000 car is an increase of $200). Advocates in favour of the referendum have pointed out that the 0.5% will make little difference (in other words, what is $200 when you’re already spending $40,000?), and the business community has spoken in favour of the referendum generally. The tax changes will have minimal impacts on small business owners.

We’re getting overtaxed in Metro Vancouver already—lets not make it worse!

The tax will still be competitive, or even significantly less, than sales taxes in other major Canadian cities. Sales taxes in BC are composed of 7% provincial tax and 5% federal tax, with a total of 12%, or 12.5% if the referendum is put through. Sales tax in Toronto is 13%, Montreal is 16.5% and Halifax 15%. BC has the third lowest provincial sales tax, after Alberta and Saskatchewan, with or without the referendum.

Will a YES vote mean we get a Skytrain out to UBC?

Unfortunately, the transit referendum does not cover the proposed Skytrain to UBC. It does pledge to improve B-line service and Skytrain service on the existing Canada, Expo and Millennium lines. The referendum also isn’t just about interventions that will help serve UBC and the City of Vancouver. The new Pattullo bridge, for example, is an intervention that will help connect New Westminster to Surrey.

Addendum: 

Although the Skytrain will not be expanded to connect directly to UBC, the transit referendum proposes an extension of the Millennium Line connecting VCC-Clark to Arbutus. This will greatly reduce the amount of congestion coming to and from the UBC area. The final expansion to UBC has not yet been planned.

 


 

Send us your P&Y pics!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

The Purple and Yellow Bike Project is a fleet of used bikes that are available for use on the UBC campus. Bikes are locked with same keyed locks. Whenever you see a bike, you are free to unlock it and ride it away; the person that left it there will have to find another one. Every Tuesday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., volunteers are welcome to drop by the Bike Kitchen to work on the P&Y fleet to earn a Bike Co-op membership and a P&Y key.

We’re running an I <3 P&Y campaign in February, and we want your pics!

IMG_1696

Send them to communications@bikecoop.ca or post them to Instagram and tag @bikecoop for your chance to win an AMS Bike Co-op gift pack, consisting of a T-shirt, water bottle, patches, and a certificate for free shop time.

Start Sending Them: Now, if you like!
Stop Sending Them (AKA, Deadline): Friday, February 27, 2 p.m.

We’ll Post Em: February 1 to February 28
We’ll Announce the Prize Winner: Tuesday, March 3

 


 

We’re hiring a Purple and Yellow Coordinator!

Monday, January 26th, 2015

We are seeking a Purple and Yellow (PnY) Coordinator to run this program until mid-May, at which point the position will become a part-time summer position. The PnY Coordinator collaborates with the Purple and Yellow Mechanic (a staff member and fully trained mechanic from the Bike Kitchen) to ensure that volunteers feel supported while contributing to the program’s growth.

Overview

The Bike Co-op’s Purple and Yellow bike share program, which has run for nearly 15 years, exists to provide members of the Bike Co-op with cost-free access to bikes, fosters volunteerism, and teaches bike mechanics in an informal and fun setting. Every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. is our Volunteer Night, where volunteers help fix, build, paint and even name our Purple and Yellow fleet!

Hours per week: 4
Compensation: $12/hr
Application deadline: February 4th at 9 a.m.
Anticipated start date: ASAP

The PnY Coordinator will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Attend Volunteer Night each week
  • Greet volunteers – provide brief orientations to new volunteers and help other volunteers identify a bike to work on for the evening
  • Pair up newer volunteers with experienced volunteers to work together on bikes
  • Circulate to answer questions, help instruct and troubleshoot mechanical problems
  • Order pizza for volunteers and coordinate the meal break announcements
  • Ensure PnY bikes are inspected for safety before being released from the shop
  • Record repairs, the use of parts at PnY, volunteer hours and the number of bikes in circulation in order to compile statistics
  • Coordinate the repair, stripping, painting and temporary storage of bikes, in response to the needs of the active PnY fleet
  • Liaise with Bike Kitchen staff in terms of use of the space and tools, choice of bikes for stripping or building as PnYs
  • Monitor the program and seek areas for improvement

Qualifications

  • Strong teamwork skills
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Experience with data entry and spreadsheets
  • Knowledge of anti-oppressive values and a desire to promote a positive space
  • Knowledge of the Bike Kitchen and how the shop functions
  • Knowledge of the Bike Co-op’s mandate and values
  • Previous participation in PnY Volunteer Night considered an asset
  • Experience with volunteer coordination considered an asset
  • Basic bike mechanical skills (intermediate to advanced mechanical skills considered an asset)

To apply for this position, please submit your cover letter and résumé by email to programs(at)bikecoop.ca.

 

 


 

Quick facts on the Metro Vancouver Transit Referendum

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

By AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton

Lots of buzz has been going around on the upcoming transit referendum in the Lower Mainland. As a commuter school, UBC students and staff will directly be impacted by the funding offered to improve Translink services. At the Bike Co-op, we’re especially interested in increases to funding for cycling and pedestrianization.

vancouver-traffic

Quick Facts:

  • The referendum question asks whether or not you support a 0.5 % sales tax increase in order to fund transit.
  • The referendum will take place through mail-out ballots. They will start being sent out March 16, 2015, and voting will stop May 29, 2015.

If the majority vote YES, it will allow the following initiatives to proceed:

  • fund new buses in existing and new communities
  • increase SeaBus, West Coast Express, Handydart, and Nightbus service
  • improve and maintain major roads
  • increase SkyTrain service on the Expo, Millennium and Canada Lines
  • build new light rail transit in Surrey
  • extend the Millennium Line, tunneled along Broadway in Vancouver
  • build a new Pattullo Bridge
  • fund pedestrianization and cycling initiatives

If the majority vote NO, municipal planners, councillors and Translink employees are back to the drawing board to try to find funding for these initiatives. This means it will likely take much longer for them to occur, if they do at all.

At the Bike Co-op, we support improvements to cycling infrastructure and transit. Next week’s blog post will answer common questions, debunk myths, and address concerns about the transit referendum.

 


 

Connecting Bike Mobility: Ungap the Map with Hub!

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

By AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton

Metro Vancouver has a plethora of designated bike lanes. Although still lagging behind Copenhagen, Berlin and even Montreal in kilometers of protected bike lanes offered, Vancouver has been successful marking certain quiet residential streets for cyclists. This success has a lot of to do with Vancouver’s relatively simple grid overlaid on low density residential neighbourhoods from Point Grey to Commercial Drive.

Dedicated bike throughway in Kitsilano, Vancouver.

Dedicated bike throughway in Kitsilano, Vancouver.

Although these implementations are fairly successful, there are gaps between connected bike networks. No matter how many kilometer of which ever style of bike routes implemented in the Metro Vancouver area, these routes defeat their purpose if they are not properly connected.

HUB has mapped Metro Vancouver’s existing bike lanes in order to identify gaps in connecting route. Check out the map:

UnGap The Map: The grey lines in the map represent existing cycling routes, while the pink lines represent gaps between the routes.

UnGap The Map: The grey lines in the map represent existing cycling routes, while the pink lines represent gaps between the routes.

Due to the designated bike paths provided on quiet residential streets, the City of Vancouver is fairly well connected. Once you look beyond the City of Vancouver, the pink lines start to overshadow much of the grey lines. Richmond and North Vancouver are particularly poorly connected. The University Endowment Lands, which houses UBC, also lacks infrastructure connecting the south side of campus to the existing bike infrastructure perpendicular to it.

HUB identifies the gaps it sees as most urgent to address. These include linking South Vancouver to the Tsawwassen ferries and the US Border, creating north-south connections in central Burnaby, and linking Coquitlam Centre and Port Mann Bridge to existing cycling infrastructure.

Although there are some sites that require more immediate attention, all of the gaps in cycling infrastructure need to be addressed. Notably this is most pertinent outside of the City of Vancouver. In the upcoming transit referendum, Translink pledges to improve cycling and walking infrastructure. Although the language around what that will specifically entail is unfortunately vague, if the majority of people vote in favour of the referendum, Translink will be accountable to making some positive changes in cycling infrastructure and beyond. Evidence like the ungap the map data compiled by HUB demonstrates where the need for cycling infrastructure exists. Share #ungapthemap on social media, and tell your local government representation how you would like to see consistent connected cycling infrastructure in Metro Vancouver!

For more information and images, check out the HUB website.

 


 

The UBC Human-Powered Vehicle Team

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

The UBC Human-Powered Vehicle Team (HPVT) is a group of about 26 undergraduate engineering students who are building a recumbent tricycle for competition in the 2015 ASME Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge (West), which will take place in San José, California, from April 24 to 26, 2015. Late last year, we visited team co-captain Yotam Fogelman to talk about the team’s plans and see last year’s tricycle.

The tricycle fairing, which fits over the frame of the tricycle and reduces wind resistance.

The tricycle shell, which fits over the tricycle and reduces wind resistance.

Could you tell me about the tricycle, and the UBC HPVT team?

We started the team just over two years ago, and last year was the first year that we actually managed to finish designing and manufacturing a bike for competition. Which is the one you see right here. We have a recumbent tricycle – it’s a bit rusty because of a lack of a paintjob – basically to compete you have to pass a number of safety requirements, so we have a roll-bar in the back so that you don’t hit your head, and a harness as well. We have steering side-to-side here, and as well, shifting, two disc brakes in the front, and of course we have the drivetrain, with the chain going all the way to the back wheel.

UBC HPVT chassis.

UBC HPVT tricycle.

That’s a really long chain. Did you have to put multiple chains together?

Yeah, we just connected the links.

I see you have the bottom bracket up at the front there.

Some pieces are just purchased, right: the drivetrain, the cranks, the chain, the wheel assemblies, and the brakes as well. But basically the entire chassis, and everything else, is custom-made. It all has to be high-performance, and safe enough for competition.

Is the chassis made out of steel?

It’s a steel alloy. This year, we want to use aluminum to make it a bit stiffer and lighter. Now that we have more experience, we can allow ourselves to try something new and a little more expensive. It’ll be worth it in the end.

What are these metal bits sticking up from the frame?

These sort of sticks here, coming out from the vehicle – two in the back, bent outwards, one in the bottom here, two on the sides, and one on the very front – hose actually attach to our fairing. A big part of competition is having something on your vehicle that reduces the drag, because that’s how you can go much much faster.

So you’ve seen top half of our fairing. It’s not too heavy. It’s made out of fiberglass and it has windows as well. Then we have the bottom half, which attaches to the chassis. The top half sticks on the bottom half with velco. This year, we want to make it out of carbon fibre, again so that it will be stiffer and lighter.

What’s the team composition like? Will last year’s team be competing again this year?

We have a lot of returning members from last year, but some members graduated, and others have just joined this year. Most of our members are in mechanical engineering, but we also have members from computer engineering, chemical engineering, and some art students. Whoever wants to learn how to design something cool, or to machine metal, or who just loves bikes, is welcome to join us.

Is this for a class project, or is it extra-curricular?

It’s actually not for a school-related project at all. All the teams you see in Engineering Design spaces around campus – it’s all just completely extra-curricular. It’s all on our own time: to learn, to challenge ourselves, to do something fun.

How long has the human-powered vehicle challenge been taking place?

It’s been around since the early 90s, I think. So some of the teams there have been around for a long time, and have a lot of experience and a lot of history with human-powered vehicles. So we’re one of the youngest teams in the competition, and one of the only Canadian teams.

What’s the gender split on the team like?

It’s about 60/40. Generally engineering has a larger presence of males than females, but our team generally has a pretty good balance, I think, and it’s something we definitely try to encourage.

How did you fare last year? Does the team have goals for this year’s competition?

Last year we came in 9th out of 26. The score is based not only on your race – how fast you go – but also how well you craft your design report, which showcases how you designed your vehicle, and made decisions about how to put it together.

Part of it is also about innovation. There needs to be something about the vehicle that’s innovative, that no one has done before, that helps improve performance. Last year we were concerned about adjustability for different riders. Our shortest rider, Laura, is about 5 feet tall, and our tallest rider, Mike, is about 5 feet 11. Most teams will move the seat back and forth. We did a lot of testing on the angle of the rider and positioning on the cranks, to see what would be the optimal distance and angle for each rider. In order to preserve the correct geometry, we ended up using custom-made seat cushions in order to bump the rider up into the correct position. It’s really quick and adjustable and comes in handy for the relay portion of the event.

Because last year was our first year, we saw lots of other vehicles and really learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work. We’re looking at every single aspect of the vehicle to try to improve it for this year. Last year one of the biggest problems we had was a lack of rigidity in the frame. We’re also changing our steering to make it more stable.

The UBC Human-Powered Vehicle Team will be manufacturing their new aluminum and carbon recumbent trike over the next few months. We plan to catch up with them in late April to see how they did at this year’s competition!

 


 

Meet our Programs Manager: Aida!

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Aida is the AMS Bike Co-op’s new Programs Manager. Born in Toronto, she considers herself a Vancouverite at heart. She is an outdoor enthusiast and a proponent of living an active and healthy lifestyle, which is what got her involved in cycling. Aida completed her undergrad at UBC in Political Science and Economics, and she holds a Masters Degree in Ecological Economics.

Aida riding a cruiser.

Aida riding a cruiser.

Could you talk about what drew you to the AMS Bike Co-op?

I’ve always been really into the outdoors in general – skiing, hiking, backpacking – and in the last three or four years, I’ve started becoming a really active cyclist. I basically biked everywhere, and then realized that I needed to learn a little bit about bikes, so I started doing that. Bicycles just came to be a part of my life.

I was drawn to the Bike Co-op because I was specifically looking for different ways to get more involved in the Vancouver cycling community and to learn more about the way bicycling co-ops function, and to contribute to something I believe in.

Do you have any plans for the Bike Co-op now that you’ve joined us as a Programs Manager?

So, I’ve only been around for about three weeks now, and I’m still trying to get a handle on everything, and I’m still trying to see what direction everyone wants the Bike Co-op to go in. So I can’t say that I have any greater plans beyond trying to help the Co-op grow, and to continue to provide useful services to the community and to facilitate cycling on campus and off campus.

Could you talk a little bit about the bike you ride around?

My current bike is a little bit sketchy. It’s a really adorable Raleigh Citation, with an 18” frame, and 24 3/8 fractional wheels, which basically means they’re impossible to replace. And I have steel wheels, which is super dangerous in Vancouver because they’re very slippery. So I was hoping that I’d just be able to swap out my wheels and replace parts on my bike as needed, but it seems like it is destined to be a somewhat dangerous rain bike. So I’m currently looking into getting a new bike that is maybe a more standard size.

I feel like it’s a common thing for people – you stumble across a bicycle, you start riding it, you ride it around town, and your needs sort of grow beyond the bike, and that’s when it’s time to invest in a new bike.

For me that happened in a big way when I started working here because I live on Main Street and I try to bike every day, when I feel it’s safe, and I just realized that it wasn’t safe on my current bike.

What do you think the largest barrier is to cycling in this city, and how do you think that barrier can be ameliorated?

So I think that there are obviously different barriers for different people. I think that there are some barriers that we can’t get around, like the hills in Vancouver, and the rain in Vancouver – those are pretty hard things to get around. I think that there are still ways to help facilitate cycling, given the geography and the climate of Vancouver. I think a lot of people find themselves in situations like I did, with a bike that I really liked that had steel wheels on it. A lot of people don’t realize that steel wheels are super slippery, and it’s not a problem with their brakes. So they feel unsafe riding in the rain because their bike is not really designed to be ridden in the rain. So increasing awareness about how to bike in Vancouver would help a lot of people. I think there’s still the hill factor, and sometimes it’s a commitment, depending on where you’re going.

I think it’s more a matter of trying to make cycling accessible. The more people do it, the more other people see it’s a growing community and it’s not crazy to bike across the city every day.

I also think that there are barriers in terms of the gaps that exist in infrastructure. Depending on where you’re going, there are sections that can be kind of dangerous, where there isn’t a designed bike lane, and your only choice is to cross the street somewhere where you don’t have a stoplight, or a stop sign, even.

You can be super-safe on a bike, but if there are motorists who are unaware of your presence, then it doesn’t matter how safe you’re being. So I think we need to increase motorists’ awareness as well.

Tom was talking about how he doesn’t really believe in bicycle safety. He feels like if he’s going to die while cycling, it’s going to be a sunny day, and he’s going to be doing everything right, and it’s going to be someone who’s looking at their GPS screen.

I’ve been hit by cars when I’ve been doing things that have been perfectly safe. I was once hit by a drunk driver, for example. It was a rainy, dark night, so conditions weren’t ideal. But it’s super-common to get into accidents when you’ve done nothing wrong. But I do believe in bicycle safety. And I do believe in wearing a helmet, because it’s still reduces your risk of death or serious head injury.

 


 

BikeMaps.org: a super-useful tool for cyclists

Monday, January 5th, 2015

By AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton

Ever consider how many accidents occur on your most commonly used bike routes? How about how many bikes are stolen in your neighbourhood? Maybe you are traveling to another city and are wondering if this unknown big place has significant bike ridership?

BikeMaps.org can help answer those questions and more! In Metro Vancouver alone, BikeMaps.org has over 3000 incidents of collisions, hazards and bike thefts that are mapped out by region (you can contribute to this growing number by adding your own collisions, near-misses, and bike theft incidents):

Map of West Coast Cycling incidences

Map of west coast cycling incidences

Map of Metro Vancouver cycling incidences

Map of Metro Vancouver cycling incidences

Another neat feature of BikeMaps.org is the ability to turn the different map layers on and off. You can see just rider volume or incidents, or even just check out the bike routes. There is also a heatmap feature which highlights where the incidents of collisions, hazards and thefts take place:

Heat Map of incidents in Metro Vancouver, where red communicates a greater number of incidents, and blue communicates a lesser number

Heat Map of incidents in Metro Vancouver, where red communicates a greater number of incidents, and blue communicates a lesser number

Don’t let the heat map and incident reports deter you from biking! Bear in mind that in areas with a high frequency of riders, and other traffic, there will be more collision and thefts. However, the map does show city planners, cycling activists and any anyone else viewing the map where infrastructure needs exist for better roads and bike parking to accommodate dense traffic conditions.

North American incident heat map projection

North American incident heat map projection

The BikeMaps.org project was created and has been supported, so far, primarily by organizations and universities on the west coast – so it’s no wonder the heat map seems so significant near the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island part of the North American projection.

Take a look at BikeMaps.org, and share it with your friends and family in other cities. The only way open source GIS projects like this can work is if people like YOU participate and add your data! It’s super easy and fun!