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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
Tel (250) 881-1304
Executive director of The Solutions Project
No. 84 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - June 1999
MAKE THIS ISLAND A CYCLISTS' HEAVEN
What would it take to make the
our Island a cyclists' heaven ? We have a relatively flat landscape and an
all-season climate - but for most cyclists, our roads are still a relatively
With Bike to Work Week in full
swing, I should be saying how easy it is to cycle in Victoria, how everyone
should do it.
But that would be lying.
There are roads that suddenly
narrow, tempting the driver to whip by, squeezing you far too close for comfort.
There are motorists who open their
doors or pull out in front of you without looking. What did they ever read
about cyclists in their training manuals ?
There are roads like McKenzie,
where a cyclist has to believe herself invincible to ride without fear.
Yes, we have the Galloping Goose
- but even stuck-in-the-winter Ottawa has more bicycle trails than we do.
There are schools, of all places,
which don't have safe bicycle lock-ups. How can we encourage our youngsters
to cycle, if our schools treat cycling so poorly ? No wonder the students
want their parents to drive them to school, and demand their own cars as soon
as they are 16.
We've got to shake out of it once
and for all, and understand that cycling is an essential means of transportation.
What other means of transport (aside from walking) produces no C02 emissions
? When did you last hear of someone being killed by a cyclist ?
What other means of transport
increases your health as you travel ? The research shows that the health benefits
of cycling outweigh the accident risks by 20 to 1, when the longer life-span
due to the extra exercise is factored in.
When it comes to decisions about
roads, buildings and land-use, every planner, engineer and councillor should
be asking the question "Does this promote and encourage cycling?"
(Hats off to Saanich)
In Oxford, England, the council
provides bicycles for its staff, not cars. In Saanich, there's a bylaw which
says that all new developments must provide showers and bicycle parking -
but not in Victoria or Esquimalt. We should reduce the mandatory parking requirements,
as a trade-off.
Imagine being able to cycle all
over the region on long-distance trails, safe from the noise and danger of
cars. The CRD's Blue/Green Spaces Strategy lists dozens of potential trails
we could enjoy, if there was the will to make them happen. The CRD has a planning
responsibility for the region, but it doesn't have a transport budget, and
it doesn't have a full-time cycling coordinator.
Imagine being able to get across
town on a network of priority bicycle boulevards, using quiet streets where
many of the roads were closed to through traffic. They could even be numbered,
to emphasis their status.
Imagine knowing that every major
road had marked bicycle lanes, where cyclists had a space they knew was theirs.
The region is full of 4-lane roads, where two lanes are used for parking.
Let's remove the parking on one side, to create two new bike lanes. Some residents
will complain - but a road is a public facility paid for by all our taxes,
not a private parking space.
"This will all cost money",
someone will say. Of course it will ! We spend money ever year making roads
nice for motorists - now it's the turn of the cyclists. Maintaining a road
system for motorists is far more expensive than doing the same for cyclists.
Every $1 invested in cyclists and pedestrians saves $2 invested in motorists.
This being so, are our councillors being financially negligent, if they fail
to make the cycling investment ?
Each new parking space costs $12,000.
If a network of safe cycle routes persuaded 3,000 commuters to trade their
cars for bicycles, that could save $36 million.
Let's have free bicycles on all
the ferries, giving the signal that we're a cycling province.
Let's expand Victoria's Blue
Bike program, with free bikes parked in their own blue parking spaces.
Let's have a wagon for bicycles
on the E & N Railway, opening up the beauties of the Island for cyclists.
Let's deliver more goods by bicycle,
as BikeCartAge has started doing.
Let's see those glorious baseball
and soccer leagues encourage their youthful members to cycle to their games,
instead of expecting their parents to drive them there.
Let's see long-distance bicycle
trails and greenways all over the Island.
The bicycle is a glorious machine
- the most elegant and energy efficient ever invented. At a time when our
planet is beset with danger from greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution fills
the air, when we yearn for a simpler life, it's time to celebrate the bike
- Guy Dauncey
Published as a monthly
service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature
and community, funded by your donations.
A very big thankyou to
Gail Schacter, Darcy Ambler, Elizabeth Cope, Nancy McMinn, Kathleen Johannesson,
AD McKend, Roger Colwill & Unlimited Possibilities.
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* Eco-Paper : Reach for Unbleached! and Paper Choice are doing a Bulk-Buy
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* House-share 3 honest and communicative women looking for 1 or 2 women to
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n/s. Come over for tea to meet us & see the house. July 1. 388-9993 Sandra,
Carolyn or Susan.
* The Garden Path Nursery is on the move. Last chance to visit Carolyn's oasis
in the city, with its greenhouse and garden at 1834 Haultain St; and a great
time to stock up on organically grown veggies, fowers and herbs for your garden.
On the last weekend, Sat June 5th & 6th, all plants will be 50% off. Details
about hte new location in the next EcoNews.
* Building a sustainable community, street by street - that's the goal of
the Street Volunteers. Our next training is on Saturday June 5th (see Diary),
when you'll find out how it works, how to organize a local Block Party, and
how we can change the world from the bottom up, starting with our own neighbours.
For information, call Guy, 881-1304 or Susanne, 385-8487.
* Firewood. Halfcords for sale, ecoforestry practiced woodlot fir trimmings.
Call Peter, 652-2613.
THE BICYCLE IS THE "FASTEST" VEHICLE
It's Bike to Work Week ! So it's
a good time to ask the question - is your car really so fast ? When you divide
the number of miles you drive per year by the hours you spend working to pay
for your car, plus the hours spent driving to work, your average commute speed
drops to 17 mph - less than the typical cyclist. If you travel in a busy metropolitan
area, your true speed drops towards 4-5 mph. Now let's look more closely at
that poor cyclist slogging along the road. She isn't wasting time commuting
- her exercise machine just happens to take her to work, as if it was bolted
onto the bed of a co-worker's pickup. In the long run, cycling is as cheap
as any fitness endeavor. If your pedal to work or the library is four parts
valuable fitness and one part transport, your effective speed quadruples to
60 to 80 mph. On top of that, the cardiovascular workout will keep your heart
in good condition, giving you extra quality years. So all in all, that bike
is pretty fast ! (Adapted from Robert Haston)
WITH A BABY ?
If you've got one of those cute
little organisms that squeals, gurgles and wails, or know someone who is about
to have one, have we got good news for you ! It's a new book called 'Mothers
and Others for a Livable Planet Guide to Natural Baby Care' (Wiley, $26.50),
and if you follow its advice, you'll be able to protect your baby from the
host of chemical monsters that lurk not just under the bed (in carpets), but
in the actual bedding and baby clothes you thought looked so cute. Since World
War II, some 75,000 new chemicals have been released onto the market, and
very few are properly tested - least of all for babies. Here are four quick
tips : (1) Avoid wall-to-wall carpets. Not only are they laced with fungicides
and other chemicals which your baby will ingest as she crawls around, but
they are home to a mass of dust, and the leading suspect when it comes to
the explosion of asthma among children. (2) Avoid doing any renovations while
you're pregnant, and don't be around wet paint - the toxins which paint offgasses
are BAD news for you and your baby. (3) Don't smoke ! And don't be around
anyone who is smoking, especially while you're pregnant. Tobacco is just packed
with nasty chemicals. (4) Beware of synthetic baby clothes, bedding and mattresses
- they are treated with fire-suppressants and fabric conditioners which contain
formaldehyde's. Oh, it's a grim life ! On the other hand, this gem of a book
will tell you how to create a green nursery and all sorts of other goodies
which will protect the apple of your eye from becoming another cancer statistic.
And baby-shower invitees ? Go buy it !
What's good for baby is good
for all ! The brand new, locally produced Green Home Guidebook is packed full
of information on how to make your house a greener and safer place to live
in. Produced by City Green Victoria, and funded in part by the Ministry of
Environment E-Team, it sells for $10, and each book contains $500 worth of
coupons. Look for it in local bookshops, or call Melanie Ransom at 360-0852.
You can help spread the word by selling it door-to-door, if you want to earn
some money. Later this summer, Capital City Green will be launching Green
Home Visits, starting in Fairfield.
That's the website
address for the Victoria Green Pages, the one-stop directory for every environmental
organization and initiative in Victoria. It also contains a comprehensive
Local Media Guide, and all sorts of other goodies. The next goal is to get
every green business on board - if you run an environmental business, just
fill in the form and send a donation. Now that we have the Greenpages, there
are many other ways we could use them, such as listing volunteer vacancies,
or research needs which students could pick up on. If you find that a group
that you're involved in is not listed yet, please chase them to fill in the
form ! Congratulations and thanks to Dave Shishkoff at Random Web Design (598-0734)
for doing this.
THE BIKE CART AGE !
Actually, that's BikeCartAge
- all one word - and it's a long overdue 'Made in Victoria' "Zero Pollution
Delivery Solution". You might have seen the cyclists pulling their long,
attractive, aluminum bicycle carts around Victoria, delivering Monday Magazine
- and now delivering prescriptions and deli trays for James Bay Thrifty Foods
(groceries coming this fall). BikeCartAge is a project of the Victoria Centre
for Appropriate Responsible Transportation, a non-profit organization started
by Steve Balyi. BikeCartAge has 6 full-time and 4 part-time employees (assisted
in part by the Ministry of Environment's E-Team) who spend 80% of their time
in the saddle, reducing carbon dioxide and other pollutants with every push
of the pedal. Coming soon - a parcel dispatch delivery service, and possible
bicycle deliveries from a printshop, a bakery and a deli. The V-Cart is available
for purchase - Freshpiks Organics and Newton's Shirtmaker are first off the
mark. The trailers are locally made in Victoria, zero maintenance and virtually
indestructible, for light industrial uses - they'll haul 300 - 350 lbs. For
details, call Steve at 480-7285. www.bikecartage.com
YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM ?
Well, it ain't local ! 90% or
more is shipped in from off-island, burning up fossil fuels to get here, while
local fields lie empty. To help rectify this sorry state of affairs, LifeCycles
is launching Common Harvest, which will deliver a weekly or biweekly brown
box full of fresh, local organic produce to its customers, June to October.
Call early, as space is limited. Tara or Kelly, 383-5800.
PESTICIDE-FREE CITY ?
A U.S. National Cancer Institute
study shows that children are up to six times more likely to get leukemia
when pesticides are used in their homes and gardens. Dogs, too, who live in
homes where lawns have been sprayed with herbicides have a higher than average
rate of the canine equivalent of lymphoma. In Hamilton, Ontario, Local 5 of
the Canadian Union of Public Employees has asked local councils to ban the
cosmetic use of chemical weed killers, restrict the use of insecticides in
residential areas and on public property, and educate residents about ecological
alternatives to pesticides. Here in Victoria, the occasional outbreak of weeds
along the roads has been kept under control by the mechanical action of the
brush-sweepers and manual spraying with chemical pesticides. The city recently
decided to purchase a new machine which sprays the sidewalks with a chemical
pesticide as it sweeps. When the road sweepers went on a pesticide application
course, however, they learnt about such things as LD 50 tests, where liquid
doses of a chemical under test are put in the eyes of rats or rabbits until
50% of them go blind. At least one became a conscientious objector, refusing
to operate the machines. "Children often leave their toys out on the
sidewalk," he said, "they get sprayed, then taken back into the
home. What happens then ?" The city is now looking into the use of hot
steam to do the job instead.
The world added 2,100 megawatts
of new wind energy generating capacity in 1998, an all-time record, 35% more
than was added in 1997. Wind power is now the world's fastest growing energy
source, and one of the most rapidly expanding industries. The 1998 boom was
led by Germany, which added 800 MW. Spain also emerged as a major player,
adding 395 MW, increasing it capacity by 86% to 850 MW. Here in Canada we're
lagging way behind, with just 24 MW (mostly at Pincher Creek in Alberta),
but a new 100 MW project in the Gaspé, Quebec will increase that. Overall,
wind power is a far larger potential energy source than most people realize.
In the USA, the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas have sufficient
wind capacity to provide electricity for the entire nation. In the long run,
wind power could easily exceed hydropower, which supplies 23% of the world's
electricity. The key to progress is laws which guarantee access to the grid
for wind generators at a legally set price, establishing a stable market and
overcoming the resistance of coal and nuclear-dependent utilities to the new
competition. (WorldWatch Institute)
THE CYCLISTS PROVINCE ?
You've heard of the
Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (of course you have !). Now let's extend
a warm welcome to the British Columbia Cycling Coalition (BCCC), formed last
year in Nanaimo as an umbrella organization for Cycling Coalitions across
the Province, to lobby at the provincial level for transportational cycling.
BCCC's mission is "to represent the interests of cyclists provincially
and to secure their recognition in policy and programs affecting transportational
cycling". Its mandate also includes helping others to form coalitions
modelled on the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. The BCCC represents around
3,000 people around the province. Among other things, it is working on B.C.'s
Cycling Network Program (making sure the program continues and is improved),
highway maintenance and access issues, driver and cyclist training, a government
cycling policy, motor vehicle driver training manuals, and changes to the
Motor Vehicle Act. For details, call Francis van Loon, 370-0428.
Visit them on the
OF THE MONTH :
of B.C.'s FORESTS
The BC government has announced
its intention to give the ownership of crown lands on Vancouver Island to
MacMillan Bloedel and Timber West, in exchange for lands designated as parks.
This involves tens of thousands of hectares which would be outside the Forest
Practices Code, posing a huge threat to biodiversity.
Action : Write, phone or fax the
Premier and explain how strongly you feel about giving away public forest
lands to timber corporations as "compensation deals" for the new
parks. Explain how important you think it is to have a stronger Forest Practices
Code that protects fish, wildlife and water quality on both public and privately
The Premier, Legislative Buildings, Victoria V8V 1X4
Tel 387-1715 Fax 387-0087.
out the Victoria Green Pages !
for July: June 24th
Green Diary has moved! Click HERE
to see whats happening!
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