Happy Car Free Day!

Sunday, June 15 is Car Free Day in Vancouver. Celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary with your family, friends and neighbours.Car Free Day Vancouver 2014 posterVisit carfreevancouver.org for information about the Commercial Drive, Main Street and West End festivals and the Kitsilano block parties.

A Plea for Secure Bicycle Parking

We recently said goodbye to Kevin’s bicycle. It was stolen from our building’s “secure” parking garage. We really miss the red bicycle. With it, we travelled all around the city and also visited places like Point Roberts, Galiano Island and Salt Spring Island.


Photo credit: Matt Reimer

I’m fortunate to still have my bicycle because it was being repaired at a local bike shop at the time of the theft. Someone tried to steal my rear wheel a few days earlier while my bicycle was parked at work. I’ve never been so grateful for an act of vandalism.

Everyone knows bicycle theft is a big problem in Vancouver. Now that we’ve been hit by it, we’re puzzled by the messages around bike theft. HUB has this educational video about correct bicycle parking to prevent theft, but it focuses on parking your bike at a destination:

We haven’t found many resources on bicycle theft that examine the problem of theft while your bicycle is parked at home. We couldn’t even file a stolen bicycle police report because theft from a secure parking garage is considered a break and enter and not just a stolen bicycle. The number of stolen bicycles in this city must be much higher than the official statistics report.

Here is our situation, which I suspect will sound familiar to many of you:

We rent a condo unit where the bicycle storage room is small and full. When we moved into the building, we were informed that the only option for bicycle parking outside of our unit would be to rig up something in our unit’s two (!) motor vehicle parking spots in the parking garage. Off we went to Home Depot to buy the heaviest chain we could find. We tied this to the concrete pillar between our two parking spots and locked our bicycles with U-Locks to the chain. This worked well for a couple of years, but then someone came along with tools to cut the chain and removed Kevin’s bicycle. My bicycle now lives in our front hallway where it competes for space with a stroller; we have no room for a second bicycle. The strata that manages our complex doesn’t allow bicycles in elevators so I have to be sneaky when I transport my bicycle between our unit and the ground level. Proper bicycle racks and storage systems are not allowed in most parking stalls in the building’s underground parking. There are no immediate plans to expand the bicycle storage room and we learned from the strata that bicycles have even been stolen from that space.

So where can Vancouverites, particularly renters, safely lock their bicycles at or near their homes overnight?

TransLink provides some bike lockers and secure bike parking, but all of these facilities are intended for daytime use. TransLink lockers can be used overnight, but they are very limited and the cost of $10 a month adds up to quite a bit for a long-term rental. In addition to a bike share, perhaps Vancouver needs to look at developing hubs for secure around-the-clock bicycle parking throughout the city.

The Cycling in Cities project found the risk of bike theft to be a deterrent of cycling, so this need for secure all-hours bicycle parking seems pressing if the City wants to increase the cycling mode share.

Do you have any ideas to share? We’re listening.

Along a Long Road, by Frank Viva

Frank Viva’s Along a Long Road is a stylish children’s book about a long and (mostly) fast bicycle ride.

Along a Long Road cover

The cyclist travels along a sleek embossed yellow road that goes up and down, around a small town and through a city. He travels on a bridge, through a tunnel, around many corners, past shops and the library, and receives friendly waves as he goes along the long road. There’s one small road bump, but nothing deters the cyclist from his free and bold ride.

Along a Long Road

Frank Viva, an illustrator, designer, Toronto bicycle commuter and cover artist for The New Yorker, created Along a Long Road as a single, continuous 35-foot-long artwork, which has been shown in galleries. The use of only five colours for the illustrations is striking, and ensures that the cyclist and yellow road pop out on every page.

Along a Long Road was selected as one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2011, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2011, and a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration.

Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas – Choosing the Happy City

There will be a live webcast of the Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas lecture on Wednesday, March 26 at 7:00 p.m.

Happy City

Charles Montgomery will talk about Choosing the Happy City:

For years, self-help experts have told us that we need to do inner work in order to improve our lives. But new insights in psychology, economics and brain science suggest that our cities themselves have the power to make or break our happiness. In his new book, Happy City, Charles Montgomery shows how urban systems shape our emotions and behaviour in ways most of us never recognize. Can we build transportation systems that maximize future happiness in Metro Vancouver? It won’t be easy: In the complex modern world, humans have proved not to be experts at what economists call “maximizing utility” — or choosing what’s actually best for us. But there is hope. Montgomery will offer a powerful new vision of city life and novel strategies for how to get there.

Tweet your comments and questions to #happycity. This lecture is presented by TransLink in collaboration with the SFU City Program. Visit the lecture series web page to learn more about the series and to watch past lectures.

Trains Go, by Steve Light

Trains Go by Steve Light is an exhilarating introduction to trains and the many noises they make. We started reading this book when N was about two months old. N detested tummy time at that age, and I credit Trains Go with changing his opinion of tummy time. As soon as we started reading this book, N never seemed to mind spending time on his belly. The width of Trains Go and Light’s bright and colourful illustrations make it the perfect read for tummy time.

Trains Go Cover

Trains Go is still a favourite title in N’s book collection six months later. He never fails to laugh and smile when he hears the first SQUEAK of the freight train on the opening page. We now use the clangs, tings, bings, wo wooos and zooshes from Trains Go whenever we read other books about trains.

Trains Go Streamliner

This book has been such a hit in our home that we’ve given it as a gift to several friends, who seem to love it as much as we do.