Vancouver Cycling, Translink Trolley Buses

Biking near Stanley Park, I stopped for a break and took a few shots of the beach on the south side of downtown. Surlac leans to on the metal contraption, or artwork, or whatever it may be called.

Near Stanley Park.

Near Stanley Park.

After this I grabbed some noodles, home made and totally awesome. While there I also had a tea while sitting outside, Surlac in the distance.

Outside for some noodles.

Outside for some noodles.

Next up I rode up on the Brurrard Bridge and got a shot of the shipping in the waterway.

Overlooking the shipping in the bay.

Overlooking the shipping in the bay.

A little further along I found a giant bird!!

A giant bird!

A giant bird!

Stopping on the Viaduct to get some pictures.

On the Viaduct, in the protected bikeway.

On the Viaduct, in the protected bikeway.

note, I am in the bikeway, where I’ve stopped and have set my bike in the picture. I’m stepping over into the pedestrian sidewalk on the bridge, and the cars go way over there beyond the concrete barriers. A TRULY separated bikeway. Vancouver might not have the bike culture in Portland, but it absolutely is working toward being as world class as Amsterdam is! It’s truly impressive what they’ve done in a mere 2-3 years! Vancouver is one of my favorite cities to visit in North America hands down.

Looking into the city from my first stop on the Viaduct I took a few shots, here’s one of the one’s that turned out pretty good. Completely unedited.

Translink Skytrain heading into downtown.

Translink Skytrain heading into downtown.

…and then another…

Translink Skytrains Passing...

Translink Skytrains Passing…

…and looking the complete other way I saw two cyclists riding up with the Skytrain heading toward us in the background.

Skytrain & Cyclists on the Viaduct.

Skytrain & Cyclists on the Viaduct.

Last but not least, one of the venerable trolley buses of Translink.

A Translink Trolley Bus!

A Translink Trolley Bus!

For more of the images from this collection check out “I Bike About” and “Monday in Vancouver“. That’s my tour for now. Enjoy!

Vancouver Translink

A few shots from my recent trip to Vancouver.

Skytrain Station. One inbound, one outbound, and one in queue. Click for full size image.

Skytrain Station. One inbound, one outbound, and one in queue. Click for full size image.

A lone cyclist along the viaduct.

A lone cyclist. Click for full size image.

A lone cyclist. Click for full size image.

I-5 Bridge Collapse, Update From Amtrak Cascades #516 North Bound

UPDATES 10:24pm

We’ve left our spot and are pulling into the station of Mount Vernon.
There has been a report of no fatalities!  Yaaa!
The Amtrak Crew has been absolutely great, they’ve even brought us extra snacks to tide us over.
ETA into Vancouver is now about 12:30… but being the railroad is practically shut down we’ll see.

UPDATES 1:02am

We finally arrived at Pacific Union Station in Vancouver. That was a trip and a half!  o_O

As it stands now the I-5 Bridge over the Skagit River has collapsed with vehicles, people and the bridge plunging into the river. No news or anything on fatalities, injuries or the like. However one thing is very clear for this train riding individual.

Amtrak Cascades #516 is sitting about a mile south of Mount Vernon with about 200 passengers that can’t get on or off the train (because of laws & such) and can’t get off at Mount Vernon. From what I gather and have been informed of by the Amtrak staff (they’ve been great) is that the railroad bridge is being inspected. Through other means, passengers calling other connected people and via contacts of my own I’ve collected this much information.

  • The Governor is en route (Why I have no idea, it’s not like he’ll hold the bridge up – i.e. that’s a waste of his time)
  • The NTSB I have been informed is on the way.
  • BNSF Dispatch (that thing in Texas) has held us here while the railroad bridge is inspected.
  • Nobody seems to know who is actually inspecting the railroad bridge.
  • WSDOT thinks a truck – oversized load (probably something that should have been on the railroad) hit the bridge and caused it to collapse. However this is not entirely confirmed.
  • No reported fatalities.
  • People & cars are in the river.
  • Boats & rescue is underway.

Here’s how far away from the railroad bridge the Interstate Bridge is…

Distance between I-5 Collapsed Bridge and BNSF Railroad Bridge

Distance between I-5 Collapsed Bridge and BNSF Railroad Bridge

…and here’s where they (BNSF/WSDOT??) forced the train to stop.

Where Amtrak Cascades 516 has been forced to stop.

Where Amtrak Cascades 516 has been forced to stop.

Love how the passenger rail, as always gets creamed while they’re re-routing cars onto redundant infrastructure. It’s a good thing they provide all those massive hand outs to auto drivers and stop the trains so nobody gets confused about where the US’s priorities are.  :-/


Tactical Urbanism, 18-Wheeler Drives into Streetcar…

Recently I was curious about one of the streetcar disappearances  To put it more simply, why did it say “technical problem” on the reader board with no known streetcar arriving or operating. Streetcars and electrical motors that power the streetcars are some of the most reliable, capable, powerful and long lasting components that humanity has ever put in a motorized vehicle. So why had the street had “technical problems” again? It seemed this happens on a somewhat frequent basis, contrary to the fact that the streetcars (and most electrical rail vehicles) are some of the most reliable vehicles on earth!

I passed this thought back of my mind. I was on my bike, it didn’t matter to me or prevent me from doing the things I needed to do at that very moment. So I continued onward, unobstructed. Then a few nights later I stumbled across this blog entry by Hart Noecker “Veloprovo: Flower Petals and Parklet Fun – Round One” (read his blog entry, as it contains a lot of great info that pertains to the rest of my blog entry). I then find this video and pictures of why the streetcar was out of service!

…and the pictures…

18-Wheeler smashed into Streetcar

18-Wheeler smashed into Streetcar

Smashed up Streetcar

Smashed up Streetcar

…and keep this in mind. This is EXACTLY why I took this photo a few mornings ago and labeled as I did. Some might have thought, “oh you’re such a jokester…” but no, seriously. The majority of incidents in Portland over the last decade have been almost entirely related to trucks killing cyclists. Sure there is the errant car, but considering trucking is a small percentage of traffic (7-15% depending on day, hour, etc) but contribute to about 50-80% of fatalities for the year…  that’s pretty messed up.

Murder Wheels of 18-Wheeler

Murder Wheels of 18-Wheeler

I wrote this “murder wheels” somewhat tongue in cheek. But in reality, more than a few people have been crushed by large trucks in Portland. The fact  is that in the last decade pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, children & others have all been killed by these big trucks – and often because of this very inability they have to NOT be able to maneuver  Many of these trucks do NOT even need to come downtown. Many of them are NOT actually even delivering something to downtown. They’re risking everybody’s lives. Entire cities, vastly bigger and more active than Portland exist that do NOT allow these trucks. Instead the focus in those cities is on people and what people actually want and need. What we don’t need is these massive trucks traversing downtown.

In this case above that Hart captured, how much damage is that? I’d bet it is somewhere between 10-25k dollars of repair damage to the individual streetcar, the truck also didn’t make its delivery, is probably a $1000 loss, it stopped traffic which could have caused somewhere between 5-20k in delay costs, and the riders that couldn’t travel, probably several thousand in revenue for the streetcar and even more in loss effort and revenue for local businesses. Overall, it was easily a quarter of a million dollars when one thinks of the holistic problem that occurred because someone couldn’t handle their truck.

How much has to come out of the city budget now? What would have happened if someone was on a bike when that driver screwed up like they did and smashed into the streetcar? I’ll tell you what would have happend. Your son, or daughter, mother or father, grandpa or grandma, whomever was on that bike would be dead. D. E. A. D. Horrible enough for you yet? Well, I got to feeling a little bit better by watching the exasperated and exuberant Jason Roberts. He actually helped to fix a part of Dallas. Yup, that’s right. A city that is known for being wretched on so many levels, unlivable in many place and downright inhumane by most civilized nation’s standards. But he helped to start bringing livability back into a neighborhood.

The simple fact is, we shouldn’t be putting up with things like massive trucks charging around downtown. We can live better, safer and healthier without this nonsense. If Robert can do it in Dallas, Texas we can sure as hell fix this issue in Portland! As Robert says, SHOW UP!!! Per Hart’s blog entry, come help with tactical urban parklets! Until next time, I’m off to sleuth up some more history, more ideas & plan the next move towards better living.


Transit Sleuth

Joining Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Velo Cult and Night Time Wild Ride Race vs. Bus #75 & Bus #4…

I joined the BTA finally, after meaning to for years. Met Carl & others at Velo Cult. I needed to meet a fellow coder, cyclist and cool guy Benjamin Van der Veen over there to wrap up some business. I noticed that Velo Cult was having happy hour, he’d mentioned he wanted to check it out, so we setup to meet there at 6:00pm.

I rode out Multnomah, cutting around through the bike boulevards toward the Hollywood District where Velo Cult is on 42nd Ave just off of Sandy. I got there just a few minutes early and locked up my bike in the bike corral out front. As I walked in the door I realized that a special guest appearance by retired road racing cyclist Nelson Vails would be in store tonight! Call me stoked, and here’s a little background.

• 2009 Inductee to the US Bicycle Hall of Fame

• 1984 Olympics: Track – Sprint Silver, 1984

• First African-American to win an Olympic Cycling Medal

• 1985 World Championships: Tandem Sprint, Silver

• 1984, 1985, 1986 National Tandem Sprint Champion

• 1984 National Sprint Champion

• 1983 Pan American Games: Gold Medal

• 1980s and 1990s competed professionally in the 6-Day circuits in Europe and the Japanese Keirin events.

• Media Cycling commentator involved in cycling commentator for major TV networks and cycling safety programs.

• Starred with Kevin Bacon in the Columbia Pictures release of “Quicksilver”, a movie about the tough world of bicycle messengers in New York City.

Yup, this guy has ripped it up over the years. He showed a few of his races and gave some commentary about his insight, strategy and approach in each of them. Overall, great to hear about his races from him personally.

Benjamin showed up and we snagged a beer, finished the business we had to do and commenced to just hang out. The BTA was taking memberships and since it’d been years that I had intended to join, I figured today was the day. I went over and met Carl handling registrations and got signed up in just a few minutes. Now I’m a proud member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance!

Joining the BTA

If you’re curious what the BTA does, besides simply helping to make America not suck so bad at life, here’s a few of the cool things…

Walk + Bike to School Network : You know how you hear about police arresting parents for letting their kids ride their bikes to school? You know how in most of America now kids can’t ride their bikes to school, often can’t even bike or walk to school, because it’s just too dangerous. Well, the BTA works diligently to make sure that is never going to happen in Portland!

Walk + Bike to Work : Not sure how to bike to your office? The BTA has workshops to help people figure out how to get to work, in one piece, in good fashion, and generally be awesome while doing it!

…and much more!

The Race Begins

After Velo Cult dinner was had and then a race began. Kristen and I were here, in Hollywood area and home was many blocks away in southeast Portland. We went to wait for the bus at 42nd and Sandy. I of course was going to end up riding and she was going to take the bus, since she was bike-less and I was bus pass-less. The #75 route bus arrived and she boarded.

The bus make the green light and I was stuck behind at a red light. I saw it disappear a block away around the corner. The light turned green and I tore through the intersection cranking hard. I dug into the turn that the bus had just gone through seconds before. There was the bus stuck at the next red light. I pulled up behind it. The bus slowly moved forward and I sprung around it to the left as it turned right into the Hollywood Transit Center.

I rode up to the 3 story flight of stairs and jumped off my bike, slung it upon my arm and started hoofing it up the steps. The #75 started to pull away behind me to get back on the main road. I got to the top of the steps and rode across the Interstate on the biking & pedestrian overpass, turned hard onto the switchback on the other side. It was entirely empty. I stay safe and don’t want to injure anyone, so go super slow when pedestrians are around or if there is auto traffic.

I made it around the switchbacks and into the north south bike boulevard and immediately started cranking hard. I ripped through the neighborhoods in the darkness. I could feel the breeze and dryness of my eyes as the wind whipped around me. Through the ups and downs in the road I swerved in and out keeping a smooth line. I made it to the main arterials; Belmont and then Hawthorne. I then got the Lincoln street bike boulevard and cut down to 39th, where I figured I would see the #75 coming.

Sure enough here comes the bus and I have a red at the bike boulevard crossing! Arrgh the bus is going to get ahead of me again! I wait, impatiently, and the bus passes. As soon as the light turns green I rip into 39th, with no traffic I go bold and follow directly behind the bus. I actually catch up and am traveling faster than the bus. I have to brake. Then it actually starts to brake too for the upcoming stop, the stop were Kristen will get off the bus to transfer to the Division #4 route. It stops and I pull up, standing there as if I’d been at the stop for ages.

Kristen gets off the bus and gets a little confused as to which direction is which, we figure out we’re going to the stop westward. At first it seems like it’ll be a short distance, but we quickly realize it is closed. We keep walking and get to the next stop. I wait with her for the next bus which pulls up just a few minutes later. I again take off behind the #4 bus (I NEVER like to be anywhere near the front of the bus).

After barely a half block I cut off to the left, south to the Clinton Street bike boulevard. I turn onto the clinton street boulevard hard. I can hear my tire gripping the road. There are a few tweaks in the bike, kind of like hearing the bike itself moan under the force of my pushing it into this hard turn. It’s a Surly 4130 cromoly CrossCheck, so I know it’ll hold up though.

I continue to push hard, cranking against the chain hard I can feel things flex on the bike. I had not ridden this hard in a while. I tend to ride fairly easy and take care of the bike. But today I’m having fun, I’m pushing the envelope, I’m tasting the speed and the fresh air and the night. Blazing down the bike boulevard I make it down the street super fast and then turn at 12th (having just ridden from 39th to 12th in just a few minutes). At 12th I come upon Division, the street the #4 travels down and see it pulling away from the 12th and Division stop. I blaze by the stop on 12th and continue toward home…

I’ve won, while being good company while waiting for the buses, with a solid 30+ seconds to spare!  😉

Of course, if I’d ridden straight through, I’d have been about 10-15 minutes ahead of the bus. But it was a game of wait and go tonight. Fun for all, a great day, great ride, great new people and a new BTA membership and beer run to Velo Cult. Cheers