Monday, September 22, 2014

Do bicycles need to become registered? Vancouver Courier September 17, 2014



A number of Vancouver area patients had their long-awaited surgeries postponed earlier this month.

Their surgeon was hit by a cyclist as he crossed the road and was unable to work. He suffered three broken ribs, a black eye and other scrapes and bruises.

Fortunately, he is now back at work and will not likely experience any lasting physical effects from the accident. But as a small group gathered around him at a recent dinner party where he displayed his wounds, the question came up as to what would have happened had he not been able to return to work?

Had he been hit by a motorist, ICBC would have likely compensated him for his injuries and loss of income. However, since he was hit by an uninsured cyclist, although he could sue, he would likely be out of luck.

This prompted a question that is frequently voiced in cities around the world: “Should bicycles be registered?” 

I promised to do some research on the pros and cons of registration. However, having once proposed the idea myself to former city councillor Gordon Price following a personal incident involving a cyclist, I knew the cons would likely outweigh the pros.

In my case, I was driving at the time and not injured. What made the accident remarkable was that I did not hit a cyclist; a cyclist hit me as I was waiting for someone to vacate a parking space.
As the cyclist lay motionless on the pavement, I feared he was seriously injured. I also feared that no one would ever believe that a well-dressed middle-aged real estate developer driving a large Lexus SUV was somehow not responsible for his injuries.

Fortunately a witness came forward and told the police he saw the whole thing. The cyclist was a courier and apparently had been “bunny-hopping” down the sidewalk before hitting my car.
Fortunately he recovered. However, I had to pay to repair the damage he did to my car.
As a child growing up in Toronto, I had a licence plate on my bicycle because it was a legal requirement from 1935 to 1957. However, the law was discontinued because, according to Toronto authorities, “it often resulted in an unconscious contravention by young children and poor public relations with police officers.”

Toronto considered bringing back bicycle registration in 1984, 1992 and 1996 to address bike theft, riding on sidewalks and traffic law compliance, and couriers. However, each time registration was rejected since the costs were estimated to be far greater than the revenues.
 
Other countries around the world have either implemented bicycle registration programs or considered doing so.

Until recently, it was compulsory to register a bicycle in Switzerland as a way of getting cyclists to purchase third party liability insurance. However, earlier this decade, the Swiss parliament abolished the licences since the costs far outstripped the revenues.

Japan is one country that does require all new and resale bicycles to be registered with the local government. This is done as an anti-theft measure. New bicycles are registered at the time of purchase.

Resale bicycles are registered at a neighbourhood police station with appropriate documentation to prove they have not been stolen.

In Vancouver, arguments in favour of bicycle registration are: it will help ensure cyclists pay their fair share towards road improvements; licensing and registration programs will make cyclists more lawful; bicycle registration will reduce theft; and as the surgeon pointed out, increase the likelihood that third-party insurance is in place.

Arguments against a registration program are: rather than raise money, it would cost money; it would discourage people from cycling at a time when we want to do the opposite; and it would be difficult to enforce.

For these reasons, I do not expect bicycle registration in Vancouver’s immediate future. However, we do need to do a better job of preventing bike theft and discouraging reckless and unlawful behaviour by cyclists.

After all, none of us wants to have our surgery cancelled because our doctor has been hit by a cyclist and is lying in a nearby hospital bed.

michaelarthurgeller@gmail.com
twitter.com/michaelgeller

Here are a few of the responses I received:

Dear Mr. Geller,
I am a cyclist and I believe that bikes should be registered. Furthermore, I think that an annual registration fee of $25 would be appropriate. I save hundreds of dollars in gas and parking and transit fees using my bike, so can easily afford a small annual registration fee.
 
The advantages of bike registration are manifold. Tags should be available through ICBC agents who would presumably raise the complaint the ‘there isn’t enough money in it’ to make it worth their while. The government should advise them that auto insurance is the only insurance people can’t buy online. Unless they embrace bike registration, auto insurance could and should be made available for purchase online.

Tags should take the form of a 3” x 4” aluminum plate and be fastened on the left front hub; there should be space provided for an annual decal. Prior to issue tags should be cycled through a shelter workshop, where the registrant’s bike serial number should be stamped on it, This would reduce possibility of switching tags between bikes and it would help to reduce bike theft by making it difficult to get a tag for a bike that already had been issued with one. Tags would also assist law enforcement apprehend and ticket offenders.

Registration along these lines would do much to reduce the animosity that exists between some motorists and cyclists. The motorist’s perception seems to be ‘I’m paying for everything and getting nothing whereas the cyclist is getting millions spent on infrastructure and paying nothing for it and at the same time, breaks every rule of the road without consequence’.  To that specific point maybe all police officers should be required to do at least one patrol per week on a bike.  
If you would like more of my thoughts on this matter…please let me know.




Hello Michael.
Yes. Yes. Yes. It is time for a bike registry , with a cute, little, but visible, license plate on every bike. Bikers must be responsible for their "vehicular" behaviour. And when they do damage they should have to pay.  I believe there is a paralyzed tourist due to a cyclist who was unidentifiable as he raced off along the seawall.  If she was hit by car she would have recourse. I would like to be able to
report cyclists on the sidewalks who are sideswiping seniors and  bowling over baby buggies. I think we should raise our "expectations" about a registry/licensing and use civic election to promote the issue.  Seems like the main crime that keeps growing is bike theft.

Ps. I remember VPD sticker on my childhood bike.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kirk LaPointe easier to know than Gregor Robertson: Vancouver Courier September 10, 2014



As a result of his limited participation in electoral debates and media interviews, I think most Vancouverites do not really know a lot about Mayor Gregor Robertson's views on most issues other than bike lanes and being green. Photo Michael Geller

I will never forget the first time I met Sam Davis, a former mayor of Saint John, New Brunswick. I had just been introduced to him as the new federal government project manager for his city’s Market Square Project when he looked at me and said “10D.”

“I beg your pardon” I replied.

“10D, that’s your shoe size. I used to be in the shoe business.”

I have not forgotten the first time I met Gregor Robertson. He had just won the Vision mayoral contest and a mutual friend invited us to meet over breakfast at Paul’s Omelettery on Granville Street. I have no recollection of what we discussed, but I remember what he ate.
 
While my friend and I ordered omelettes, the future mayor ordered pancakes with whipped cream and fruit. But first he enquired whether the fruit was fresh. The server returned to say the fruit had been frozen, but he ordered it anyway.

Subsequently, I have run into the mayor at various occasions and found him to be a pleasant person, but cannot say I have gotten to know him.

Media acquaintances who have often interviewed him over the past six years have told me the same thing. Despite their interactions, they, too, do not feel they know him at all.

I first met Robertson’s opponent Kirk LaPointe at his summer NPA mayoral announcement. We have subsequently been together on a few occasions. I attended a session he organized to discuss housing affordability with neighbourhood planning and housing experts, and one of the many breakfast meetings being arranged so others can get to know him.

I invited him to speak to a lunchtime discussion group I belong to — the Vancouver Roundtable — which has been meeting every Tuesday since 1926. Yes, 1926! There he did not need to be introduced. He knew most of the people in the room.

I greatly enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink and like many of the characters in the book, think I can generally assess situations and people from first impressions. However Kirk LaPointe is not so easy to typecast.

My first impression was of an intelligent, urbane guy who probably grew up in an affluent neighbourhood. I subsequently learned he is quite cerebral but was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was raised by a single mother and did not meet a brother who was put up for adoption until later in life.

I was also surprised to learn he coaches girls’ softball, which did not quite fit with my first impression.  I should add this was a pleasant surprise.

Just prior to our recent breakfast meeting I heard Bruce Allen ranting about bicycle lanes and asked LaPointe if he knew Allen. “Quite well” he replied. “I met him when I was writing for Billboard Magazine.”

It turns out he was Canadian editor of Billboard in 1983 and stayed for eight years, reporting weekly on the music industry. I did not ask if he played the tuba, but somehow doubt it.

While Vancouver media may not feel they know Gregor Robertson, they know Kirk LaPointe. After all, many worked for him when he was managing editor of the Vancouver Sun. Others know him from CTV where he was senior vice-president, news or the CBC where he was host on Newsworld in the early ‘90s, and more recently the network’s ombudsman.
 
Given his very impressive background in Canadian media and other activities, one of the questions LaPointe is often asked is why he decided to enter politics. He responds that politicians and the media have much in common in that they both want to change society. They just go about it in different ways.

Moreover, many media personalities have gone on to be very successful politicians including Rene Levesque, Ralph Klein and Winston Churchill.

I am sure we will all learn much more about Kirk LaPointe in the coming months. Hopefully we will also learn a more about Gregor Robertson. But first we need to end the school strike which unfortunately, but quite rightly, is dominating the news.

© Vancouver Courier
- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-kirk-lapointe-easier-to-know-than-gregor-robertson-1.1349447#sthash.nmr80ADQ.dpuf

Passions flare over parking problems: Vancouver Courier September 3, 2014

At SFU's UniverCity the university did away with expensive parking meters and replaced them with wall mounted ticket dispensers

When I started working at Simon Fraser University a colleague asked if I knew what a university was. “Tell me,” I replied.

“It’s an assembly of people brought together by a common love of learning and a common concern over parking,” he said.

I thought about this last week when a Vancouver journalist sparked a vigorous debate on Facebook by applauding her gay, childless friend for parking his large van in one of Ikea’s family parking spaces.
It was his way of protesting Ikea’s policy to give preferential parking to families, but not gays or non-traditional family households.

While I thought both parties demonstrated bad judgement, the many online comments highlighted the very passionate feelings we all have about parking. (Except of course for cyclists and pedestrians.)
Our joy at finding time left on a parking meter (somewhat rare since pay-by-phone was introduced) or our anger after receiving a parking ticket are often out of proportion with the amount of money involved.

We know this is irrational, like extreme frustration over slow Internet service or disgust with cyclists who do not respect stop signs.

Some of us get upset when others continually park their cars in front of our houses.

I get upset when cinema parking lots charge for each two hours, knowing full well the commercials, coming attractions, and films will last two hours and fifteen minutes.

I also hate parking at a major downtown hotel that sets it rates not by the hour, or half hour, but in 20 minute tranches. It is their sneaky way to charge a higher hourly rate.

I am also upset with its multi-level parking garage since it only has a pay machine at P1.
If you are parked on levels P2 or P3, you have to make your way back to P1, or fumble with payment at the exit. Occasionally I complain to hotel management, but they claim these are the operator’s decisions. It is not true. 

In Spain parking lot operators charge by the minute, not the hour or half hour
While I object to this hotel’s 20 minute tranche, I would be happy if Vancouver parking garages and lots followed the practice in Spain where car parks are obliged to charge by the minute rather than the hour. That way if you park for an hour and four minutes you do not have to pay for another full or half hour.

Recently Vancouver has been installing very fancy parking meters. While you can use a credit card or pay-by-phone, they are extremely expensive to install and predetermine the size and number of parking spaces.

Why does the city not do what European cities and commercial lots do and install communal ticket dispensers?  Also, why not adjust parking rates for different times of the day or week? It’s foolish to charge $6 an hour on Sunday morning.  Also, why are there parking meters on one side of 1500 Block Alberni, but not the other?
Many of us get quite upset when others park their cars in front of our house!
Residential street parking is a major irritant for many Vancouverites. Increasingly we find resident-only parking where we would like to park for a nearby restaurant.
It is not as if residents are paying a lot for these spaces. In most neighbourhoods, a parking permit costs $36.70. In the West End the fee is $73.40. This is not per month.
This is per year.

Meanwhile, nearby apartment garages built at the city’s insistence often have vacant spaces since it’s so much cheaper for tenants to buy a permit and park on the street.

While most of us understand the city’s need to tow cars off busy streets during rush hour, why must it be so outrageously expensive and inconvenient to get a car back?

Why should private parking operators be allowed to charge exorbitant penalties if you are five minutes late? Especially at medical building parking lots where doctors may keep you waiting. Patients don’t need the additional stress.

On Nov. 15 Vancouver will have a municipal election. I suspect many would vote for candidates who care as much about improving city parking practices as improving bicycle lanes.

And if a candidate can convince Impark to treat its customers fairly he or she could win the election.
We are that passionate about parking.
As more of us drive electric cars, it is going to create new problems, especially for those living in condominiums
 See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-passions-flare-over-parking-problems-1.1338592#sthash.r9hNusNK.dpuf

Opinion: Passions flare over parking problems

Michael Geller / Vancouver Courier
September 2, 2014 02:33 PM
At SFU's UniverCity the university did away with expensive parking meters and replaced them with wall mounted ticket dispensers
When I started working at Simon Fraser University a colleague asked if I knew what a university was. “Tell me,” I replied.
“It’s an assembly of people brought together by a common love of learning and a common concern over parking,” he said.
I thought about this last week when a Vancouver journalist sparked a vigorous debate on Facebook by applauding her gay, childless friend for parking his large van in one of Ikea’s family parking spaces.
It was his way of protesting Ikea’s policy to give preferential parking to families, but not gays or non-traditional family households.
While I thought both parties demonstrated bad judgement, the many online comments highlighted the very passionate feelings we all have about parking. (Except of course for cyclists and pedestrians.)
Our joy at finding time left on a parking meter (somewhat rare since pay-by-phone was introduced) or our anger after receiving a parking ticket are often out of proportion with the amount of money involved.
We know this is irrational, like extreme frustration over slow Internet service or disgust with cyclists who do not respect stop signs.
Some of us get upset when others continually park their cars in front of our houses.
I get upset when cinema parking lots charge for each two hours, knowing full well the commercials, coming attractions, and films will last two hours and fifteen minutes.
I also hate parking at a major downtown hotel that sets it rates not by the hour, or half hour, but in 20 minute tranches. It is their sneaky way to charge a higher hourly rate.
I am also upset with its multi-level parking garage since it only has a pay machine at P1.
If you are parked on levels P2 or P3, you have to make your way back to P1, or fumble with payment at the exit. Occasionally I complain to hotel management, but they claim these are the operator’s decisions. It is not true. While I object to this hotel’s 20 minute tranche, I would be happy if Vancouver parking garages and lots followed the practice in Spain where car parks are obliged to charge by the minute rather than the hour.
That way if you park for an hour and four minutes you do not have to pay for another full or half hour.
Recently Vancouver has been installing very fancy parking meters. While you can use a credit card or pay-by-phone, they are extremely expensive to install and predetermine the size and number of parking spaces.
Why does the city not do what European cities and commercial lots do and install communal ticket dispensers?  Also, why not adjust parking rates for different times of the day or week? It’s foolish to charge $6 an hour on Sunday morning.  Also, why are there parking meters on one side of 1500 Block Alberni, but not the other?
Residential street parking is a major irritant for many Vancouverites. Increasingly we find resident-only parking where we would like to park for a nearby restaurant.
It is not as if residents are paying a lot for these spaces. In most neighbourhoods, a parking permit costs $36.70. In the West End the fee is $73.40. This is not per month.
This is per year.
Meanwhile, nearby apartment garages built at the city’s insistence often have vacant spaces since it’s so much cheaper for tenants to buy a permit and park on the street.
While most of us understand the city’s need to tow cars off busy streets during rush hour, why must it be so outrageously expensive and inconvenient to get a car back?
Why should private parking operators be allowed to charge exorbitant penalties if you are five minutes late? Especially at medical building parking lots where doctors may keep you waiting. Patients don’t need the additional stress.
On Nov. 15 Vancouver will have a municipal election. I suspect many would vote for candidates who care as much about improving city parking practices as improving bicycle lanes.
And if a candidate can convince Impark to treat its customers fairly he or she could win the election.
We are that passionate about parking.
- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-passions-flare-over-parking-problems-1.1338592#sthash.r9hNusNK.dpuf

Opinion: Passions flare over parking problems

Michael Geller / Vancouver Courier
September 2, 2014 02:33 PM
At SFU's UniverCity the university did away with expensive parking meters and replaced them with wall mounted ticket dispensers
When I started working at Simon Fraser University a colleague asked if I knew what a university was. “Tell me,” I replied.
“It’s an assembly of people brought together by a common love of learning and a common concern over parking,” he said.
I thought about this last week when a Vancouver journalist sparked a vigorous debate on Facebook by applauding her gay, childless friend for parking his large van in one of Ikea’s family parking spaces.
It was his way of protesting Ikea’s policy to give preferential parking to families, but not gays or non-traditional family households.
While I thought both parties demonstrated bad judgement, the many online comments highlighted the very passionate feelings we all have about parking. (Except of course for cyclists and pedestrians.)
Our joy at finding time left on a parking meter (somewhat rare since pay-by-phone was introduced) or our anger after receiving a parking ticket are often out of proportion with the amount of money involved.
We know this is irrational, like extreme frustration over slow Internet service or disgust with cyclists who do not respect stop signs.
Some of us get upset when others continually park their cars in front of our houses.
I get upset when cinema parking lots charge for each two hours, knowing full well the commercials, coming attractions, and films will last two hours and fifteen minutes.
I also hate parking at a major downtown hotel that sets it rates not by the hour, or half hour, but in 20 minute tranches. It is their sneaky way to charge a higher hourly rate.
I am also upset with its multi-level parking garage since it only has a pay machine at P1.
If you are parked on levels P2 or P3, you have to make your way back to P1, or fumble with payment at the exit. Occasionally I complain to hotel management, but they claim these are the operator’s decisions. It is not true. While I object to this hotel’s 20 minute tranche, I would be happy if Vancouver parking garages and lots followed the practice in Spain where car parks are obliged to charge by the minute rather than the hour.
That way if you park for an hour and four minutes you do not have to pay for another full or half hour.
Recently Vancouver has been installing very fancy parking meters. While you can use a credit card or pay-by-phone, they are extremely expensive to install and predetermine the size and number of parking spaces.
Why does the city not do what European cities and commercial lots do and install communal ticket dispensers?  Also, why not adjust parking rates for different times of the day or week? It’s foolish to charge $6 an hour on Sunday morning.  Also, why are there parking meters on one side of 1500 Block Alberni, but not the other?
Residential street parking is a major irritant for many Vancouverites. Increasingly we find resident-only parking where we would like to park for a nearby restaurant.
It is not as if residents are paying a lot for these spaces. In most neighbourhoods, a parking permit costs $36.70. In the West End the fee is $73.40. This is not per month.
This is per year.
Meanwhile, nearby apartment garages built at the city’s insistence often have vacant spaces since it’s so much cheaper for tenants to buy a permit and park on the street.
While most of us understand the city’s need to tow cars off busy streets during rush hour, why must it be so outrageously expensive and inconvenient to get a car back?
Why should private parking operators be allowed to charge exorbitant penalties if you are five minutes late? Especially at medical building parking lots where doctors may keep you waiting. Patients don’t need the additional stress.
On Nov. 15 Vancouver will have a municipal election. I suspect many would vote for candidates who care as much about improving city parking practices as improving bicycle lanes.
And if a candidate can convince Impark to treat its customers fairly he or she could win the election.
We are that passionate about parking.
- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-passions-flare-over-parking-problems-1.1338592#sthash.r9hNusNK.dpuf