scooterists unite

The City of Vancouver is finally trying to do something about the scooter parking situation in this town. They’ve come up with a couple of options and are asking for feedback from the public – if you ride, please take a second to read through the page and send in your thoughts. I wrote an email to the city earlier this week with my opinion on the two options outlined: the first one sucks balls, rewards those idiotic and dangerous electric scooters, and leaves out anything above 50ccs; the second is only viable if they open up far more than 42 spots in 4 lots and call it good.

Obviously you’ll have your own opinion on these, but I urge you to email the city: the more riders they hear from, the sooner we could have a city that isn’t a complete joke in the scooting world.

I am too stressed to be funny today.

 

bad ideas

Things that are a bad idea:

  • A bigger-looking guy (think of your health!)
  • Riding a Honda Jazz (that scooter is too small for you!)
  • That was rented from BC Cycles (their scooters are notoriously poorly maintained!)
  • With a passenger (those are 1-person scooters!)
  • Heading north over the Lions Gate Bridge (you’ll be slow!)
  • During rush hour (everyone else will be fast!)
  • When it’s down to one lane (oh god no!)

.. everything on that list would otherwise be okay – maybe not the best idea, but okay – if the passenger wasn’t there. The Jazz is a 1-person bike, let alone 1 big guy and another body. They’ll be lucky to get 30km/h out of the scooter, and they’re (probably) scooter newbies, and they’re going against traffic (cars won’t be able to safely get around them) on a 3-lane bridge. Bad! I hope they’ll be okay.

Things are changing. I am trying to be upbeat about it because it’s no fun being sad when everyone else is excited, but sometimes it is tough. I will wax poetic later – I’m in training – but I have MANY THINGS TO SAY. I know, I know – you can’t wait.

Oh, one more thing that is a bad idea: answering a friend’s IM message about birth control while at work, in a training session, while your screen is currently being projected on the wall for everyone to see.

Oops.

unsatisfactory

When last I ranted about the pathetic state of scooter parking affairs in the city of Vancouver, I made special effort to not appear crazy or be myself in any way. My intention was to write something that I could send to the city and to the local papers to try and bring attention to the major hypocrisy regarding two-wheeled vehicles, but ultimately, I wasn’t happy with my post and didn’t forward it anywhere else.

Enter Darren, who apparently felt otherwise. He took it upon himself to write a letter to the Mayor of Vancouver, quoting parts of my post and linking them to the site. Darren is awesome! He copied me on the letter he wrote, and he was far more eloquent and coherent than I could have been:

I’ve been debating buying a scooter for commuting to work but downtown seems less than friendly towards scooter parking. A local blogger put it quite well in a post today:

Other cities are doing their part to encourage people to consider alternate forms of transportation. In Toronto, scooters are allowed to park on sidewalks. In San Francisco, entire blocks of the downtown core are reserved for motorcycles and scooters at $0.25 an hour, for a maximum of ten hours

https://blog.deliciousjuice.com/2009/08/10/4-wheeled-respect/

I’m glad to see more bike options opening up such as the recent Burrard Bridge bike lanes but I’d like to see more encouragement for scooters and motorcycles since they help cut traffic congestion and CO2 emissions. Are there any plans to address the inadequate scooter parking situation in downtown?

He sent the email on August 10th, the day I wrote the post. I’ve never written to the mayor before, so I wasn’t sure of the protocol – do they usually respond to email from their constituents? Would anyone notice that I totally didn’t swear in the post? Would the lack of pop culture references end up costing me credibility?

The mayor and his people work on a different calendar than the rest of us do, and finally on August 28th, Darren received a response to his email. It was interesting to note how many people it bounced to before a response was written, but even *I* usually respond to things sooner than 18 days out.

At any rate, the Parking Programs Supervisor of the Parking Management Branch of the City of Vancouver responded to Darren’s email and my post:

Thank you for your email which was forwarded to my attention for review and response. We welcome feedback from the public as this can often provide the opportunity for us to improve our service to the community.

I would like to assure you that the City of Vancouver recognizes the use of scooters as a viable means of transportation.  Although scooters are smaller than cars, they are still subject to the same traffic and parking regulations as automobiles.

In your email, you ask “Are there any plans to address the inadequate scooter parking situation in downtown?” I’m pleased to inform you that the City of Vancouver launched our ‘Motorcycle Parking Program’ downtown back in 2006.  We have installed 40 on-street parking spaces designated for motorcycles/scooters only.  These spaces have been installed within existing marked oversized corner clearances and are identified with special signage and road markings.  The cost to park a scooter in one of these authorized spaces will be ½ the cost charged to automobiles in adjacent meter spaces. Please note these spaces are intended for short term parking and therefore, they will be metered for visits of 2 hours or less. They can be found at the following locations:

1600 Alberni
1600 Davie
500 Cardero
1100 Burrard
400 Hornby
500 Hornby
1000 Hornby
900 Cambie
1000 Dunsmuir
400 Howe
800 W. Cordova
900 W. Cordova

In addition, the vast majority of downtown curb-side spaces are allocated to short-term parking (for visits of less than 2 hours).  Vehicles used by persons looking for ‘all day’ parking are encouraged to purchase off-street parking all day or monthly parking. In this regard there are a number of options available.  ‘EasyPark Vancouver’ (jointly owned by the City of Vancouver and the Downtown Vancouver Association) offers discount parking to motorcyclists.  Working together with the British Columbia Coalition of Motorcyclists, Easy Park encourages motorcyclists to park downtown by offering discounted parking at three of their locations (150 W. Pender, 535 Richards, and 520 W. Georgia).  There are plans to expand this program to other locations in the future.  Motorcyclists using the ‘Unattended/Meter Lots’ and parking in motorcycle stalls can save over 50% off regular vehicle rates.  All these designated motorcycle stalls are covered, clearly signed, and most are located near the parking lot entrance. Motorcyclists can pay the meters by using coins or credit cards.

Should you have any additional questions or concerns regarding our ‘Motorcycle Parking Program’, please call Leanne Toderian at 604-873-7340.

Let’s look at this more closely, shall we:

I’m pleased to inform you that the City of Vancouver launched our ‘Motorcycle Parking Program’ downtown back in 2006.  We have installed 40 on-street parking spaces designated for motorcycles/scooters only.

Well, that sounds promising – 40 spaces is quite a few.

The cost to park a scooter in one of these authorized spaces will be ½ the cost charged to automobiles in adjacent meter spaces.

That’s fair; we range in size from tiny to almost car-sized, so half price is a good medium.

Please note these spaces are intended for short term parking and therefore, they will be metered for visits of 2 hours or less.

Wait, what?

This in no way addresses Darren’s emailed concern, or my blog post. He specifically said he was looking at a scooter as a means of getting to and from WORK. Who works a 2 hour work day? Perhaps the city does; that would definitely explain the 18-day response time. This is NOT a solution, it’s a joke. They did this in 2006 – what has been done since then?

The email goes on to address the longer-than-2-hour parking issue that currently has me swearing in Klingon:

Vehicles used by persons looking for ‘all day’ parking are encouraged to purchase off-street parking all day or monthly parking. In this regard there are a number of options available.  ‘EasyPark Vancouver’ (jointly owned by the City of Vancouver and the Downtown Vancouver Association) offers discount parking to motorcyclists.  Working together with the British Columbia Coalition of Motorcyclists, Easy Park encourages motorcyclists to park downtown by offering discounted parking at three of their locations (150 W. Pender, 535 Richards, and 520 W. Georgia).

These three locations are on the far east side of downtown, and not in the core (where most of the office buildings are).

Assuming you wanted to park there (all three locations are a 20 minute walk to my office), how much would it cost?

Motorcyclists using the ‘Unattended/Meter Lots’ and parking in motorcycle stalls can save over 50% off regular vehicle rates.  All these designated motorcycle stalls are covered, clearly signed, and most are located near the parking lot entrance. Motorcyclists can pay the meters by using coins or credit cards.

Well, that’s nice – discounts are good.

How much will it REALLY cost you, though?

Easy Park Vancouver’s website has two sets of information for motorcycle parking. The first is for metered or unattended lots – we can park for $.50/h, up to a maximum of $4. However, this only applies to the FOUR lots that have motorcycle stalls:

Lot 2 – 150 West Pender (GM Place) – 10 stalls
Lot 3 – 535 Richards (Harbour Center) – 6 stalls
Lot 5 – 520 West Georgia (White Spot) – 10 stalls
Lot 21 – 688 Cambie (QE Theatre) – 4 stalls

So we get discounted rates at 4 lots, for a total of 30 spots. 30 spots for all of the GVA’s motorcycle and scooter riding population. I can practically taste the love!

Easy Park also allows us to park at attended lots for a discount:

Lot 1 – 535 Hornby – $9/day
Lot 7 – 180 Keefer – isn’t actually downtown
Lot 19 – 900 West Cordova – $11/day
Lot 27 – 775 Hamilton – $4.50, if the 50% discount applies
Lot 31 – 160 Water Street – $4.50, if the 50% discount applies

Maybe some of you can use these spots, but I can’t.

The last section on Easy Park’s website is my favourite: Monthly Parking! Motorcycles receive a 50% discount at 5 downtown lots (out of 39), subject to waitlists and availability. Even with the discount, these lots START at $125/m. What a deal!

This is such a joke.

Hey, Vancouver. How about some affordable, usable parking options for 2-wheeled riders? Offering us 10 spots in a lot 6 blocks from the downtown core is not acceptable. 2-hour parking options are not acceptable. Graciously allowing us to pay $1500 a year or MORE on parking in 5/39ths of your lots is not acceptable. Refusing us entry in the majority of your lots, even when we are willing to pay, is not acceptable. There’s got to be a better way – other cities have figured it out; why can’t you?

Fail.

head out on the highway

Shan and I and half of Josh went on an epic ride yesterday:

martini check points

martini check points

Josh has a bunch of days off and decided to take his new motorcycle down south for a couple days. Shan and I thought this sounded like fun, so we rode along with him as far as Bellingham. After a delicious lunch at Mi Mexico, Josh continued south towards Oregon while Shan and I went to Trader Joe’s and Target before heading back home. The ride out was fantastic, but we hit a storm on the way back with crazy winds and rain – it sucked, but being able to ride with the speed of traffic was pretty damn awesome. Many ccs for the win!

The blue line is the route we took to the states, and the pink line is our return route. We took the Aldergrove crossing for the first time yesterday, then cut across H Street Road in Washington to return via the Pacific-X Truck Crossing. Total ride: 213.7km, and one thing checked off my “Adventures to Have” list. Hooray!

are you the legal guardian of john connor

This week has been an enormous disappointment to me. Everything is going wrong:

  • my iPhone woes are further from resolution than ever (read the ongoing saga here)
  • I’m waiting for a bunch of things in the mail that are way overdue and my inquiry emails are going unanswered
  • my plan to scandalize the office has failed because the police haven’t shown up to question me at the office

Sometimes you just need to create a little drama to make the day more exciting.

The police were supposed to visit me at work this morning, but no one has come for me yet. I received a call yesterday afternoon advising me they would be here just after 9am, and I wanted to have some fun with it: I *could* have told the receptionist about it and how it was totally innocent and not to worry, but there is little fun to be found in reassuring people that you are not a criminal mastermind. It is much more entertaining and hilarious to let people be shocked and wonder amongst themselves exactly what I did to cause the police to come hunt me down at work. Things get boring around here sometimes; it’s good to shake up the status quo.

A lovely-sounding gentleman called me up yesterday afternoon, asking if I had reported my license plate stolen in April. I said that I had, and he let me know that my plate had been found.

By him.

On a stolen motorcycle.

That ran him over.

He needed to meet with me to get an official report so he could present it to the Crown Royal (as is my understanding of our judicial system) to prove his case against the criminal(s) that ran him over with my stolen plate. I offered to meet him somewhere, but he said it would be easier for him to come by my office if I didn’t mind a cop in full uniform showing up asking for me. I immediately saw the potential for awesomeness in this situation, and jumped at the chance for a cop visit because I am a shit disturbing trouble maker.

One thing I’ll always be amused at is my need to detail every aspect of my life on the internet for people – but mostly myself – to refer to later. They need to know exactly where my scooter was parked and when I reported the plate stolen. I have all this information – I wrote about it as soon as I got home, meaning I have a very definite time stamp and memory of what happened that day. I would make an excellent witness for all things, and I’m totally not even Harrison Ford.

No one has come, though. I can’t call and ask because the number is blocked from my caller ID, so I’m left .. waiting. It’s sort of the story of my life. I hate waiting. I’m sad, too – I wanted to have an excellent story to share with you this morning about how the police came and took me away and people were thoroughly flabbergasted by it all, but no. Not even THIS can go smoothly for me. It’s not FAIR.

True to my nature though, I’m now concerned that the phone call I received yesterday was in fact a diversion and there is a 24-esque plot afoot and REAL criminals are going to come get me and beat me to get the secret launch codes, or that I inadvertantly gave the “policeman” my credit card information and Social Insurance Number and now I’m going to be frauded.

Maybe I should go hide.

i met her in a club down in old soho

Meet Darth Lola:

vroooom vroooooom

vroooom vroooooom

She’s a 2009 250 GTS Super, and she’s *amazing*:

beep beep boop its the future

beep beep boop it's the future

Darth Lola is my dream scooter. I was always heading towards the Vespa 250; I just didn’t expect to upgrade so soon. Vespa Vancouver had exactly the model I wanted in stock, for $1200 off and a lot of extras (gloves, helmet, extended warranty, watch, meat):

s is for super

s is for super

Riding Lola is like riding butter. Smooth, expensive, delicious butter made by fancy Italian cows. I’ve always thought that buying Vespa meant paying extra for the brand name, but this machine is *incredible*. I can’t even really describe it; she’s such a glorious ride. I stand by what I said with regards to 50cc scooters – don’t get a Vespa, you can do better for half the price – but as Lola is my Forever Scooter (there is nowhere for me to upgrade to that I’m willing to consider), she’s worth the insane price tag.

welcome to the dark side

welcome to the dark side

I’m still a little shell-shocked about it all.

we are hilarious

we are hilarious

haunted playgrounds and squishy things

Whee! Adventure!

Yesterday I finally managed to drag Ed out for an epic scooter ride. I had never been to Ioco, so I wanted to check it out. We scooted a total of 82km, went to a bunch of different places, had lunch at my favourite chain restaurant, and looked at gross things. This was our route:

vroom vroom

vroom vroom

We were out for almost 6 hours, and by the time we got home we were exhausted. It was a beautiful day, and I got to explore places I’ve never been before – I couldn’t ask for a better Sunday!

Sunday evening was quiet and good. I watched cartoons and crafted all evening, getting ready for Got Craft this coming Sunday. Miranda and I are sharing a table, and I’ve been busy making Purl Necklaces to sell. I’m having a really hard time with the pricing – it seems silly for me to charge money for my pretty things, but I suppose that’s the whole idea. Miranda’s stuff is really cool and my stuff has a funny name, so you should come by and say hello. It’s $2 to get in, there’ll be so many awesome things you won’t know what to do with yourself, and the first 30 people in the door get crazy swag bags filled with all kinds of fun. This’ll be my first ever craft show, so I’m a little nervous – what if people hate my things and call me names? That would make me very sad. I’ll have to borrow morale support that day, because Ed is flying to Toronto again on Thursday and won’t be back until next week so clearly you need to come to Got Craft on Sunday and say nice things to me and also bring me some Diet Coke because I’ll be there all day.

I can’t believe it’s almost May. I have so many things I want to do, but I’m booked for every weekend from now until June. My calendar to the right shows what’s coming up for this month – it’s going to be a busy one, what with the VACATION coming up and various things tucked in here and there. I really want to drag the gang out to Belcarra or Buntzen Lake for a picnic one weekend, but there no *time*. I think I’m going to steal Monica’s idea from last year for my own birthday and have a scooter picnic at Kits Beach, but that’s a long time from now. I don’t want to be at my desk; I want to be outside. Spring is terrible for my productivity.

I did not see any ghosts at Ioco, but next time I’m going to bring some ghost bait.

if you hear children laughing, RUN

if you hear children laughing, RUN

boo hiss

I had to cancel/postpone the Lo-Fi Scooter Workshop that was scheduled for Sunday. The weather is just not cooperating – the forecast says it’s going to be 8 degrees with a 90% chance of rain, which is just unpleasant all around. I’m really disappointed that the weather is going to be such crap, because I was really looking forward to it – hopefully the revamped version (which I think may just be a general picnic/meetup somewhere that also happens to be inundated with scooters) will go off without a hitch. It’ll definitely be a lot less formal, at any rate – I fail at planning things.

I did create a flyer for the Scooter Workshop that has a bunch of information on our particular rides. You can download it here – it’s a .PDF, and it’s meant to be a three-fold brochure type thing. I had forgotten how much I enjoy desktop publishing, so I had a bit of fun with it. Check it out, if you will – I kind of love my brochure. It’s just so .. nerdy.

Today is the only good day we’re going to see out of this weekend, so I’m going to shower and dress then go outside and ride. Oscar needs some new stickers, so I’ll decorate him like an 8-year old and be on my way.

Damn you, weather.

grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloud

upgrading oscar

I had to take the Sea Bus this morning because I am without a scooter for two days.

Ed decided he would buy me a present he knew I would never buy for myself, no matter how much I wanted it: a Stage 2 Vino 125 Power upgrade. After work yesterday I dropped Oscar off in Richmond, and I’ll go pick him up tomorrow afternoon. He’ll have some shiny new parts:

  • New pulley
  • 2 sets of new rollers
  • New belt
  • New Exhaust
  • High camshaft
  • New cylinder

.. I don’t know what any of those things are, but I’ve been promised that Oscar will have a faster acceleration and a higher top-end speed. Speed I can understand. Speed is good.

I fully confess to being a complete idiot when it comes to cars and bikes. I can probably build a computer with my eyes closed, but when it comes to anything more complicated than buying gas and checking the oil, I’m hooped. I have to rely on Ed to dumb down the details of the upgrade for me – what does that shiny thing do? Ooh, look at those little orange things! You mean I’ll be able to go FASTER? This calls for new shoes! And so on and so forth.

Even though I’m angsty at not having Oscar for TWO WHOLE DAYS (yes, that IS a tiny violin you hear), I’m excited to get him back. I’ll have to restrain myself for a while – I don’t know much about engines, but I DO know that a new cylinder has to be broken in properly. I’ll be limited to 60km/h for at least 300km, if not more. Ed promised he’ll help me break Oscar in, so if the weather holds I imagine there will be a lot of evening rides around the North Shore. Once everything is properly lubricated and broken in, then I can go fast. Hooray!

My pathetic whining at not having a scooter for two days is being met with nothing but disgust and eye rolling from the rest of the gang. I’ve had the least amount of trouble with my scooter over the past two years – in fact, this is really the first time I’ve had to go without a ride for more than one day. Ed has been without his Dio for weeks on end because of multiple snafus – Josh’s Ruckus is dead and awaiting a new carburetor – Shan’s Scarabeo was in the shop for almost 3 months last year – Sally is running intermittently and Reilly hasn’t had time to figure out what’s wrong – and that just leaves Miranda’s ride, which is fine but also hasn’t been upgraded at all (and keeps getting knocked over by idiots). I’ve been extremely lucky with Oscar, and I have to admit that I *am* nervous that this upgrade will cause some problems down the road – but I will take extra care to ensure he’s treated right and running smoothly, so I shouldn’t have anything to fear. Right? Right.

Yesterday I had at least 5 people tell me I looked just awful. It would have been very damaging to my self esteem if they weren’t so right – I looked *terrible*. I’m feeling better today – the world doesn’t seem quite as tilty as it was – but this shiny new ebola has moved into my chest, and I rattle when I breathe. It’s totally hot. How people are stopping themselves from making out with me this instant I will never know.

crushing disappointment vs desktop publishing

As far as weekends go, I’ve had better – this one had far too much Crushing Disappointment for my liking.

  • The fun I was determined to have on Friday afternoon never materialized and instead Ed and I spent the weekend playing hermit
  • The smutty book I bought at the book sale had NO SMUT and it was just awful, even by crappy period romance standards
  • We watched the 4th and last Futurama movie, and it *sucked*. We love Futurama, but Into the Wild Green Yonder made us laugh exactly twice and only at the very end
  • I went black and almost immediately regretted it, wishing to go back – I dyed my hair black in a fit of misplaced teen angst, and I kind of hate it and want to go back to red
  • I got out-cocked this morning and now my pants are wet
  • I picked up two cute shirts for spring only to realize that I can’t wear them to work – far be it from me to show any sort of boobular modesty, but these shirts give me porn star rack and that is just not appropriate at the Lab
  • Did I mention that I hate my hair? I really hate my hair.

We managed to pry ourselves out of the house for breakfast with the Gang on Saturday, but the rest of the weekend was spent in solitude. It was certainly not the plan, but I guess we just needed some down time after last week’s turmoil. I am resolved to have some Good Times this week though, and my weekend is actually looking to be pretty insane – a party on Friday, OPERA on Saturday, and brunch Sunday followed by the Lo-Fi Scooter Workshop (weather permitting).

I’m attempting my most ambitious Event Planning to date with the Scooter Workshop. Spring is coming fast and furious, and we know a lot of people who have expressed interest in buying a scooter to move around town on the cheap. Since the 6 of us have 5 different scooters between us and a lot of knowledge, I came up with a brilliant plan while I was dying at Northern Voice: we could hold a WORKSHOP!

Next Sunday after brunch, we’ll be gathering in an abandoned lot somewhere with our scooters and inviting people we know to come down to check them out. It’s pretty much the only place you’ll ever get this kind of variety, since our 6 scooters have three different manufacturers and a handful of different price points. We’ll be on hand for questions and demo rides, all in (relatively) safe pressure-free environment – no sales people, and we certainly aren’t making any money off this (although please feel free to bring us drinks). I really hope the weather cooperates, because I’m very excited about this. I love talking about scooters, I really want to increase the size of our scooter gang, and best of all – I GET TO MAKE A FLYER!

The event is up on Facebook – if you think you might be interested and are not a scary stalker or axe murderer, look me up to request an invite (or leave a comment here).

SCOOTERS!