Driving is risky; walking, even more

Poco 1

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s most recent crash statistics attracted scant notice from the media, despite the finding that 281 people died in automobile-related crashes in B.C. in 2012. This is in a population that carries 3.2 million operating licenses.

From 2008 through 2012, we lost an average of 331 people per year to traffic fatalities, the equivalent of having a packed airliner fly into Burnaby Mountain every Christmas Eve. This is an urgent matter for British Columbians, and for local governments in particular; but we tend to devote our attention to slighter issues, such as the unproven risks attached to the blips emitted by the electric company’s metering equipment. Continue reading

To the origin of settlement in Fraseropolis

A stone marking the site of the original Fort Langley, B.C., founded 1829The Golden Ears Bridge forms part of the Trans Canada trail. As you cycle south, it takes you over the Fraser River and over a Metro Vancouver poop processing station, and lands you in a terrain of mills and warehouses. Do not despair.

Derby Reach, looking to Maple RidgeFive minutes to the east, staying on the trail, the industrial lands give way to agriculture; fifteen minutes later you’re at Derby Reach, a fine regional park on the river that contains a marker for the original Fort Langley, the first point of white settlement on British Columbia’s coast. Continue reading

A tour to Port Hammond

Port Hammond, the most extensive neighbourhood of heritage residences in the District of Maple Ridge

The Hammond brothers arrived from England in 1862, an early date for white settlement on the B.C. coast. The Cariboo gold rush of the late 1850s had brought a small influx of settlers to the Fraser Valley, and a few farms had been established on the Albion Flats in the future Maple Ridge; at New Westminster, the seat of colonial government, Her Majesty’s soldiers were still living in tents.

The plan for Port Hammond Junction subdivision, registered 1883.  Most of it was never realized. By 1883, with the railroad’s arrival, the Hammonds prepared to subdivide their farm on the Fraser into urban plots and sell them. Their subdivision was registered as “Port Hammond Junction.” Development was slow until the early 1900s, when a mill was established next to the railway line. The Hammond Cedar Mill still dominates central  Hammond, and is one of the largest private-sector employers in Maple Ridge. Continue reading

Creating cycling routes for the cautious majority

In the years between 1995 and 2005, governments spent about $100 million creating pathways for cyclists in Metro Vancouver. Census figures show this spending failed to increase cycling’s share of work trips outside Vancouver City; cycling’s slice of the pie held to a near-invisible 1.0 per cent.

Even so, governments have continued to spend — on separated pathways, such as those around the new Golden Ears and Pitt River bridges, and on marked routes along city streets.  Metro Vancouver’s cycle route maps are becoming more and more elaborate.  Continue reading