There’s a nice hum of activity around the BEST office right now. And no wonder! At The Bicycle Valet we’ve been parking thousands of bikes and been part of a major initiative to combat bike theft at Granville Island. STAR is embarking on an exciting new project with Burnaby Community Services called Seniors on the Move. Living Streets continues to collect valuable information about what is happening on the streets of Surrey. And Parkbus has gotten off to a fantastic start, with the first 3 buses to the parks in the Sea-to-Sky corridor all sold out! We were also excited to see the launch in July of Mobi, which we think is a great addition to Metro’s sustainable transportation network.
First off, though, we have a story from Andy Telfer about the origins of Our Community Bikes. We know you will enjoy Andy’s tale of vision and determination! Sadly, this is the last in our acclaimed series of 25th anniversary stories that we have been offering over the past 8 months – though readers will be pleased to learn that all the stories are now available for on-line viewing and/or purchase as a special collectors’ edition zine.
|BEST's 25th Anniversary
Our Community Bikes: Hit the wall and just keep riding!
By Andy Telfer
In the early 90s Jeff Hohner and I were dedicated clean air activists. We’d rejected car ownership, organized direct actions and helped to create BEST. We also wanted, after visiting progressive bike projects from Toronto to Portland, to start our own program in Vancouver.
A few rejected proposals later, with a small Vancity grant we bought “Zen Bikes” at 17th & Cambie. With the help of friends we renovated it and opened “Our Community Bikes” (OCB).
OCB almost failed... twice. Our small grant was soon spent, we learned that volunteers alone could not run the shop, and our initial wave of customers declined. After an anxious half year, our proposal to the Vancity Environmental Grant succeeded, bringing $25,000 and renewed interest in the project. We hired staff. We recycled and sold even more bikes, ran repair programs, and shipped bikes and parts to impoverished communities in Central America. We were even noticed by hit recording artist John Mellencamp, who donated 100 copies of his “Human Wheels” CD to the cause!
And then, we hit the wall again. This time, a payment to Revenue Canada we almost forgot forced us to lay off staff; just two months’ rent remained. At the same time, Jeff moved to Nelson and I focused on the birth of my first child. The Vancouver Sun ran a story about OCB closing. Things looked bad! Luckily, two amazing people would not let OCB shut its doors: bike activist Guy Wera, and later Paul Bogaert, all but volunteered to keep it alive. BEST offered organizational help, and with the formation of PEDAL programs grew again. The rest is history.
Jeff and I spent four years developing OCB, but not alone. We are indebted to Richard, Po, Guy, Suzanne, Paul, Andrew, John, Tim, Gavin, Volker and others too many to mention. Well done!
(Editor's note: Our Community Bikes is now located at 2429 Main St, Vancouver, BC, 604-879-2453).
Today, Andy Telfer continues to work with charities, is Vice President at Volunteer BC, and lives with his family in Qualicum Beach, BC. And he still rides.
We hope you enjoyed reading our guest contributors' stories about the origins of BEST's programs as much as we did. All the stories you have seen in the newsletter have been combined into a special 25th anniversary zine which can now be viewed online, or you can purchase your very own hard copy for $5.00. We think you’ll agree that it’s a fascinating grassroots history of the early days of the cycling and sustainable transportation movement in Metro Vancouver!
The Bicycle Valet: Park your bike safely this summer!
These folks were happy to know their bikes were
safe and sound at the Pemberton Music Festival!
In July, The Bicycle Valet was there to take care of your bike, and wow there were a lot of bikes! We started the month off with a bang on Canada Day, parking over 1080 bikes in one day! We were also back at some of our favourite July events like Khatsalano and Pemberton Music Festival, and we were at all of the Whitecaps home games (BC Place at Gate C), as well as Granville Island everyday registering bikes with Project 529!
To wrap up, July was amazing. And the summer's not over yet! In August, we'll see you at:
August 6-7: YVR Food Fest
August 12: Whitecaps vs San Jose
August 12-13: SeaWheeze Half Marathon Start/ Finish Line
August 13: YVR Community Day Chill Out; Sunset SeaWheeze Festival; and Bike to Shop Day
August 13-14: Fun City Festival; RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party)
August 14: Cypress Challenge
August 20: Vancouver Mural Festival
August 21: Tseil-Waututh Cultural Arts Festival
August 23: Whitecaps vs Sporting KC
And more to come soon … for a complete list see our calendar!
Two of our favourite July events: Granville Island and Khatsahlano!
Updates from Granville Island!
If you've been down to Granville Island in the last few days you may have noticed the new signs on bike racks to warn against bike theft. Combined efforts on behalf of the VPD, Granville Island, and The Bicycle Valet are combating the problem of bike theft at the busy Island: local businesses are offering customers loaner locks, bait bikes observed by the VPD are being left on the Island, free Project 529 registration against bike theft is offered daily, and of course our free and safe bike parking is there every day! The goal is to ensure that even when The Bicycle Valet is closed for the night there will always be a safe and secure way to lock up your bike for free on the Island. We hope to create a Granville Island where no one has to think twice before hopping on their bike to come down and enjoy a lovely summer day, or evening!
There has been a LOT of fantastic media coverage about the issue of bike theft at Granville Island recently; this coverage highlights the efforts of The Bicycle Valet, Granville Island, VPD, and Project 529 to solve the problem. Check out a couple of these stories at CBC and Global!
Interested in volunteering or having us out to an event? Know of an event where you’d like to see us? Want to be a sponsor? Have random questions about The Bicycle Valet? Get in touch with Sinéad Stinson at email@example.com or 604-669-2860 ext. 207 for more information.
STAR: Introducing "Seniors on the Move"
As you know, BEST's STAR program has been working on transportation issues and services for seniors for several years now. With the demographic shift towards an aging population, we know that getting seniors to where they need to go, sustainably, is going to be more important than ever. With that in mind, we are pleased to announce that we are coordinating a three-year project, led by Burnaby Community Services, with the objectives of:
We are excited to work with partners and stakeholders around Metro Vancouver, including Burnaby Community Services, City of Burnaby, Collingwood Neighbourhood House, the United Way, Silver Harbour Seniors Centre, Share Society, the Bus Co-op, MVT Canada, and other partners.
- Helping seniors plan for age-related changes to their transportation needs and connect them to the appropriate transportation options;
- Building upon the transportation services that are working well in communities;
- Testing new modes of sustainable transportation services that advance innovative partnerships; and
- Sharing learnings with other transportation providers and decision-makers to promote systemic change.
The project, Seniors on the Move, has been funded by the Government of Canada, through New Horizons.
For information, contact Stephanie Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-669-2860, ext 212,.
Conducting Street Audits in Central Surrey
BEST's Living Streets program is running full steam ahead for July and August, and BEST staff and volunteers will be busy hitting the streets to collect information about what’s happening on Surrey’s streets. Living Streets participants are on the lookout for good street features, such as benches, garbage and recycling cans, well-maintained sidewalks, and separated bike lanes, as well as bad street features, such as missing sidewalks and crosswalks, dangerous road conditions, and poorly cared for streetscapes.
One of the most recent Living Streets events took place in central Surrey, where Arlene, Zoe, and Anna worked with the Surrey YMCA to evaluate the good and bad things happening on central Surrey Streets. In addition to gathering data about sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes in central Surrey, YMCA participants took photos and videos that will be compiled into clips describing the challenges and opportunities that exist for Surrey’s streets. Look out for these awesome videos on BEST’s Youtube channel, as well as on the Living Streets webpage!
A Living Streets participant points out the abrupt end of a sidewalk in central Surrey (left). Because there is no sidewalk along this stretch of Surrey’s City Parkway, Living Streets participants must walk on the road (right).
Living Streets is still recruiting volunteers and partners for summer 2016, so if you would like to get involved or participate in an audit, you can reach Arlene at email@example.com or 604-669-2860, ext. 201.
Parkbus: Getting you back to nature!
BEST is pleased to announce that demand for Parkbus, a new express bus service to BC Provincial Parks in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, has so exceeded expectations that we’ve had to add a third bus! Now all three buses -- August 20, August 27, and September 11 -- are sold out and will be helping people escape the city and explore the outdoors, all without needing a car!
We’ll be launching the first run on Saturday, August 20 with a short media launch at MEC Vancouver in partnership with BC Parks, and then we’ll be bussing up to popular destinations including the Chief, Shannon Falls, Alice Lake and Garibaldi Park. BEST is very excited to bring this innovative service supporting sustainable transportation to BC!
For more information about Parkbus, and to add your name to a waiting list in the event more runs are added, please visit here.
Mobi joins local sustainable transportation scene
Sparkling new bikes at the Mobi station beside
the False Creek Community Centre.
Mobi, Vancouver’s new bike share program, was launched on July 20 with an initial offering of 250 of the distinctive turquoise and silver bikes available to people who had purchased founding memberships.
While the service area will begin by including downtown Vancouver bordered by Arbutus Street, West 16th Avenue and Main Street, a second phase of the program could extend this area east to Commercial Drive and west to MacDonald Street. Eventually 1500 of the bikes will be in service.
Some Vancouverites who already cycle and use transit and carshare may wonder what Mobi has to offer them. We asked one BEST Member/early adopter when she thought she would use Mobi, and she gave us a whole bunch of possible scenarios:
“When it's raining and I take the bus in the morning, but want to ride to home.”
“When I'm transferring to another mode of transportation and won't be picking up my bike for a while (i.e. overnight).”
“When I'm heading to the bar and don't want to ride home afterwards.”
“When I'm feeling energetic in the morning but might want to bus home.”
“When I'm worried about leaving my bike somewhere for fear of its being stolen (and there's no Bicycle Valet set up!)
All good reasons to consider signing up! Mobi is simple to join and use -- it operates much like a carshare, with ride costs and annual memberships being based on the amount of time bikes are used. For more information visit their website.
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Thank you for your continued interest in BEST!
To advance the transformation to sustainable transportation
Vibrant, healthy communities built around sustainable modes of transportation
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