Posts Tagged ‘British Columbia’

Against the call that property taxes cannot be increased, people are supporting increased taxation for transit.

A principle: Growth of cycling as a mode of transportation is stimulated with quality transit services.  For people, cycling is an effective and appealing feeder mode to transit stops.  For people, cycling extends trip distances and increases transit ridership when cyclists can take their bicycles on transit vehicles.

Politicians are telling us that the level of property tax has hit the pinnacle.  Politicians are telling us that property tax cannot be increased.  Maybe the public, the taxpayers of the property tax, are telling us something else?

In a number of municipalities in North America, residents are supporting initiatives for more taxation for transit if the taxation is linked directly to improvements in transit availability.  With their pocketbooks they are supporting transit levies of various forms.

In a recently released document, again resident of a municipality are supporting greater availability of transit.  This time, the question dealt with an increase in property taxes for that purpose.  Only a small portion did not support any increase.  Half of the respondents supported an increase of $25 to $75.

From the Transit Future Plan, Sunshine Coast, Draft Nov 2013


The Sunshine Coast Regional District is a region located on the northern side of Metro Vancouver with a population of 28,000 that swells in the summer months.   The SCRD covers an area of 3.780 sq. km.

The message:

Majority of survey respondents were willing to support an increase in taxes to implement increased transit service on the Sunshine Coast.

From the study:

Survey - Willingness to Pay for Transit through Property Tax

Survey – Willingness to Pay for Transit through Property Tax Increases

Highlights from the report:


Sunshine Coast Transit is an essential component of our sustainable community and a preferred method of travel. It enhances mobility by providing a convenient, reliable and affordable alternative to the car that is aligned with sustainable land use decisions and fully integrated with other transport options.


The Transit Future Plan sets a transit mode share target of 5.4 percent for all trips by 2038, which will require the Sunshine Coast transit ridership to grow from 0.5 to 1.8 million trips per year. This target aligns with the Provincial Transit Plan’s transit mode share target for regional centres in British Columbia.


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Bike rack storage on Amtrak Cascadia train that runs along the Northwest Pacific Coast. Sept. 2009.

Bike rack storage on Amtrak Cascadia train along the Northwest Pacific Coast. Sept. 2009. Photo by HJEH Becker. Bike and luggage storage train car is only on certain scheduled trains across the rest of the US.

In British Columbia, why is it important to keep the Canadian Pacific’s Armstrong Subdivision  in rail operations and prevent CP from selling it off for non-transportation use?  Why is it important that all abandoned rail lines be turned into bike trails?  Why is it important that all operational rail lines also have bike trails within their right-of-way where mountain cliffs are not a hindrance?  Look at what is happening in Toronto and Ontario into Québec. ( www.biketrain/ca ).  For rail-trails and rail with trails, Québec’s La Route Verte touring cycling routes and findings in an economic report prepared by a Montréal university, has shown a clear, positive impact on local retail economies.

How inspiring, a bike train operating out of Toronto.  A bit of Europe brought into our land.  It is the work of Justine Lafontaine and Transportation Options.  In the first year, Justin had to put a bike rack on a VIA train luggage car and then personally loaded the bikes.  In 2009, I had finished putting my folding bike into 

Cyclist tying up bike in bike storage rail car. Cesky Krumlov June 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Tying up bike to rail in bike storage train car. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic June 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker. Aging, rusty but clean Czech trains usually provided a bike storage car per train.

its soft case and went to the VIA check-in agent in Toronto on my way to Montréal.  He looked at the bag and told me that they had a bike rack on the train I was going on.  What a surprise. 

Germany's Deutsch Bahn train system in Germany. June 2010.

Germany's Deutsch Bahn trains often provide at least 1 bike storage car per train. June 2010. Reservations are recommended since cyclists use them often.

 In 2010, Transportation Options and its partners, VIA Rail, Ontario Northlands, Go Transit and others, have a suite of routes that are serviced with capacity to carry bikes on train.   Some of these services take cyclists and their bicycles 500 kms and more to their Ontario destinations.  Also pilot trains are being run to destinations such as Huntsville, Bracebridge, and South River north of Toronto.

Imagine if the bike train concept were brought to British Columbia. It would open up such destinations as Whistler and farther north municipalities, the Fraser Valley to Salmon Arms and south to Kelowna, Osoyoos and east, Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and other destinations.  Already we have capacity to travel south to Seattle, Portland, and Eugene, Oregon with the two train services each day on Amtrak that have bike racks.

Bike secured to metal bracket on Swedish train. June 2010

Bike secured to metal bracket in rail bike storage car on Swedish train. June 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

 Imagine the flexibility that would be provided for touring cycling for a day, for a weekend, or for longer trips, not only from Vancouver outward but also by bringing people from the B.C. interior to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.  Image the new business and revenue that smaller centres in BC would enjoy from the cycling touring trade.  Now if this were Europe, Kelowna would only be 2 hours or less from Vancouver with high-speed trains.  One could leave Vancouver in the morning, cycle the wine country of the Okanagan, and return home the same day.  A dream or a reality someday?  Time will tell.

Loading up bikes onto Amtrak's Cascadia train with a bike and storage car. Fall 2009. Photo by HJEH Becker

Loading up bikes onto Amtrak's Cascadia train with a bike and storage car. Fall 2009. Photo by HJEH Becker

  A bike train — is it something Vancouverites and British Columbians would use?  Well for me, the answer is yes.  I have just returned from a bike and train trip in Europe.  What a joy to push a bike loaded with panniers and too much stuff onto train cars.  Just remember to make bike rack reservations for the bike on trains or you may be disappointed.  By the end of August, I will be off on my next bike and train trip.  This time the trip will be to the eastern part of North America.  This time it will not be as convenient as 

Bike storage rail car inside Germany's Deutsch Bahn trains June 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

Inside bike storage rail car for Germany's Deutsch Bahn trains June 2010. Photo by HJEH Becker

 pushing a bike on a train.  At each stop, the folding bike will be taken out or put back into its soft bag.

When we lived in Toronto, we made good use of the GO Transit trains to get out of the city for a day, a weekend, or longer.  Train stops such as Kingston, Cobourg, and Cornwall were frequent destinations.  The VIA Rail station staff would thoughtfully keep our bike boxes until we returned.

Czech national train car --with roll-on bike storage June 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Czech national train car --with roll-on bike storage June 2010. Photo by J. Chong

 So, we should rally our governments to ensure that rail lines stay for transportation uses, either singularly for cycling or for bike trails and operational trackage within the same right-of-way.

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