Around town: Six shots from the weekend
The single most important issue facing cyclists today is the absence of proper infrastructure to allow cycling to prosper, as it should, as it must, in a civilized community. If we accept as a general proposition that our societies would be healthier if they had fewer cars and more cyclists, then it follows we need to dedicate our resources to infrastructure, change and development.
Accidents do not happen because cyclists were not wearing a helmet. Accidents happen because there is an unacceptable proximity between automobiles and cyclists. Until this changes, and our particularly North American consciousness evolves so that our minds can better anticipate the presence of a cyclist on a roadway, we will continue to see an unacceptably high level of cycling casualties.
We need to embrace physically separated bike lanes designated bikeways with traffic diversion, bike paths not shared with pedestrians and reduced speed limits on residential streets. These are but a few examples of progress achieved in jurisdictions with much lower rates of cycling casualties and fatalities
Above are few paragraphs from bike injury lawyer David Hay’s recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun, ‘The great debate over bike helmet laws’. There’s been quite a controversy stirred up over recent months here following news from that Vancouver will be joining more than 165 cities worldwide in getting a bike sharing system in 2013. The concern on the part of a lot of people here is that we have a provincial mandatory bike helmet law and in the two cities with bike shares and mandatory helmet use, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia, the systems have not been very successful. Mexico City had a mandatory helmet law, but provided an exemption after the first year of their bike share system. There have been some workarounds proposed here in Vancouver, but nothing that seems like a sure thing at this point. That said, I think Hay makes a good point that the critical factors for improving safety for cyclists and making cycling a more mainstream way to get around is through better infrastructure and a change in thinking on part of drivers and cyclists alike.
(Photo source: Open File)
A Jericho Beach summer evening here in Vancouver. It’s amazing how the city comes to life when the sun comes out in this normally rainy burg.
Here’s a days old shot of the thriving community garden just west of the Southeast False Creek neighbourhood/ 2010 Olympic Village.
The City of Vancouver’s website explains that:
Southeast False Creek (SEFC) is a leading model of sustainability in North America, incorporating forward-thinking infrastructure, strategic energy reduction, high-performance buildings and easy transit access.
Our changing climate: ’Extreme weather events increased over past decade, study says’
Building Green: 'Lessons in Sustainability: Avoiding 100-Year Mistakes'
From the Vancouver Sun:
Since retrofitting buildings to make them sustainable is both more expensive and less effective than building them right in the first place, we create 50- to 100-year consequences when we construct buildings without consideration for sustainability.
Such buildings are leading sources of greenhouse gases, guzzle up our natural resources and are expensive to maintain for their century-or-so-long lifespan. The encouraging news is that many of these 100-year consequences are avoidable. Next-generation green buildings can be built now with mostly off-the-shelf technology at a cost similar to equivalent conventional buildings over their life cycles (in other words, higher construction costs are offset by lower operating and capital renewal costs). The University of British Columbia’s new Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) is one such example.
CIRS captures energy from the sun, the ground and a neighbouring, less-efficient building. In doing so, it not only covers its own heating requirements, but returns energy to the less-efficient building, thus reducing the campus’ natural gas consumption. Its wood structure — much of which utilizes pine beetle-affected wood from B.C. and Alberta — sequesters more than 600 tonnes of carbon and offsets greenhouse gas emissions from other non-renewable materials used in the building’s construction. It satisfies its own water needs by collecting Vancouver’s abundant rainwater and treats it on-site, leaving it cleaner.
Why are such best practices, increasingly adopted in Europe, still not universally adopted by developers and construction companies in North America? The barriers are not technical and rarely are they purely economic. Rather, they are institutional: codes of practice, regulatory requirements, performance criteria, even job descriptions push us toward less sustainable choices. To give one example, it is very difficult institutionally to transfer the benefits of lower operating and capital renewal costs from the operating side of the ledger to the capital side. As a result, sustainable buildings that have higher capital costs but actually cost less on a total cost of ownership basis are typically not built.
Check out the rest of the article here.
(Photo credit: Inhabitat via UBC)