Thursday, September 22, 2011

Urge Your Mayor to Vote for Transit and Cycling Funding

On October 7, the Metro Vancouver Mayors Council will be voting on the funding package for TransLink’s Moving Forward Plan. This package includes an increase in cycling funding from $3 million to $6 million per year, a key step to the $23 million per year that TransLink is proposing to met regional transportation goals. Please email or phone them (contact information is below) and urge them to vote for this plan.

It also includes badly needed transit improvements all over the region that will benefit cyclists. In particular, the Evergreen Line will make it much easier to access the TriCities from other parts of the region. According to TransLink "By 2014, annual bus and SeaBus service will increase by 415,000 hours, or 7%, providing more service around the region to improve reliability, reduce crowding and serve new demand from population growth and the expanded U-Pass BC program."

As an interim measure to allow these improvements to go ahead, the Moving Forward funding package contains a provisional small increase in property taxes that will go into effect next spring if other sources of revenue are not found. Even if new sources are not found, the property tax increase involves only a commitment for 2012 and 2013.
Source: TransLink

As shown in the chart in red as New Revenue Source, this represents only 13% of the total revenue. While this is a concern, the Provincial Government has committed to working with the mayors to develop alternate funding sources including road pricing, tolls on existing bridges vehicle levies and carbon tax revenue. Depending on the implementation, in addition to raising revenue to fund better transportation choices, these funding measures can reduce demand for driving and thus help existing roads to be used more efficiently thus reducing pollution and congestion.

Transit is Good for the Whole Region
While not all cities in the region get the same levels of transit improvement, these improvements benefit everyone in the region. Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions do not observe city boundaries. Residents of the region also travel between cities in their daily lives. The region’s economy depends on cost effective sustainable transportation to give people transportation choices and to enable for the efficient movement of goods by reducing the need for travel by automobile. As well, the cities whose mayors haven’t yet committed to voting for Moving Forward have benefited more from past improvements paid for by all taxpayers.

Email or Phone Your Mayor
Please email or phone your mayor and urge them to vote for the Moving Forward funding package. Consider including:
-       What transit and cycling improvements mean for you, your family and community
-       A statement that you will encourage the province to work with the mayors find other sources of revenue

Letter Writing Tips
Mayor Derek Corrigan,
Mayor Malcolm Brodie,
Langley Township - Rick Green,
Delta - Mayor Lois Jackson,
Mayor Darrell Mussatto,
Pitt Meadows - Mayor Don MacLean,
Lion's Bay - Mayor Brenda Broughton,
New Westminster - Mayor Wayne, Wright
Port Coquitlam - Mayor Greg Moore,
White Rock - Mayor Catherine Ferguson,
Maple Ridge - Mayor Ernie Daykin,
Surrey - Mayor Dianne Watts,
Coquitlam - Mayor Richard Stewart,
Vancouver -  Mayor Gregor Robertson,
W. Van - Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones,
Langley City - Mayor Peter Fassbender,
N. Van District - Mayor Richard Walton,

Join the Facebook Page Supporting Moving Forward
More Info
TransLink’s Moving Forward website:

Details on the Moving Forward Plan can be found at:

Media and BLOG Coverage

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing Letters to Elected Officials

Letters can be a very effective way of convincing public officials to address an issue. For each letter received, They often assume that several hundred other people feel the same about the issue. Here are a few tips.

Addressing Elected Officials
  • Politicians need to concern themselves more with the big picture and are interested in how your ideas will affect the larger community (and its voters)
  • Be less technical and more anecdotal 
  • Get to the point and be brief:
    • Keep letters under a page (use appendices if you really need to add some technical detail). 
    • Exceptions are when you are suggesting language for a plan or policy. In these situations, it may be necessary to spell everything out, but these are the exceptions. 
  • Try to provide something before asking for something in return. For instance, instead of protesting to raise the issue of poor cycling facilities, ask the leader(s) responsible to take a tour of the facilities in question with you. That way, you can incorporate leaders in the solution. Also, if they agree to a tour, you’ll have engaged them in the process and begun to hold them accountable.
Letter Content
  • Confine your letter to a single issue.
  • Write in a natural style.
  • Letters should be factual and polite
  • Take special care not to sound threatening, aggressive or offensive. You want to win a friend, if not now, then on other issues in the future.
  • Be positive and constructive - make a clear request and write as if the reader is open to reasoned argument.
  • Carefully plan your opening sentence; make it short and interesting. Particularly if you are communicating to criticize, it helps to start with appreciation or praise for the recipient’s past activities.
  • Don't plead.
  • For problems, personal accounts of how this issue has impacted you and your family, friends and community can be very persuasive.
  • For improvements, describe the benefits for you and your family, friends and community
  • Relate experiences elsewhere that demonstrate the effectiveness of improvements you want
  • Say a little about yourself if you want to - for example something about your occupation or background.
  • If there is a problem that requires remedial action, (if possible) request a specific action from the official and show your own willingness to work for a solution. Don't merely be critical; close with constructive suggestions and a positive tone.
  • If any follow-up is planned, let them know the time frame.
  • Use a conclusion that encourages a reply
Use Email
  • As most people have mobile devices, email tends to be more effective than pen and paper.
  • Include the text of letter in the body of the email and not as an attachment if possible. This makes it easier to read on a smart phone.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Urge Your Mayor and Council to Support Cycling Resolutions at UBCM

There are a couple of important cycling policy resolutions recommending bike lane sweeping and safe routes along highways that will be voted on at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention September 26 - 30 in Vancouver. Thanks to Delta and the Sunshine Coast Regional District for proposing them.

Please contact your mayor and council and urge them to vote for these resolutions.

From page 101 of the Resolutions:
WHEREAS highway corridors such as the South Fraser Perimeter Road provide important linkages for both commuter and recreational cyclists;
AND WHEREAS in many communities the current cycling infrastructure provided along these corridors consists of shoulders without physical separation, which is considered unsafe and discouraging to cyclists:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province be requested to provide parallel routes, physical separation, and safe facilities for cyclists along highway corridors.
This proposal proved quite popular in an on-line poll in the Georgia Straight article Union of B.C. Municipalities will look at highway bike lanes.

From page 28 of the Resolutions:
WHEREAS governments invest in the provision of cycling lanes adjacent to provincial roadways to promote healthy lifestyles and provide alternatives to single occupancy vehicles;
AND WHEREAS gravel and other debris on the cycling paths pose a risk to cyclists and act as an impediment to the use of alternative modes of transportation:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM urge the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure to amend road maintenance contracts to increase the frequency of bike lane and highway shoulder sweeping.
This one from page 77 of the Resolutions is not cycling specific but as a lot of cycling collisions occur at intersections, general improvements to intersection safety should reduce cycling collisions.
WHEREAS intersection safety cameras have the potential to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of crashes at highway intersections regardless of pavement markings;
AND WHEREAS current Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) policies do not allow for the installation of intersection safety cameras on approaches without marked crosswalks, such as the intersection of Highway 17 and Ladner Trunk Road in Delta:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM work with the Province and ICBC to interpret and apply the current legislation to allow for intersection safety cameras to be installed at crash-prone locations where marked crosswalks are absent.