8.31.2007

Cycling in Kamloops

We have learned a few things about living without a car here in Canada.

1. Public transportation here is really cheap. We can ride the bus for as long as we want anywhere in the city, we can transfer to a different bus and go for as long as we want on that bus too. And it will only cost us $2. The kids are $1.50. I suppose my taxes are paying for something good. In Japan, 200Y would get us one or two stops on the bus or train. No transfers.

2. It is good to be close to shopping and other amenities when you do not have a car. Living downtown certainly helps with that.

3. If you want to live downtown, you will pay through the nose for accommodations. We are paying way too much. And we live in the seedier side of downtown, I can't imagine what people on the west end are paying.

4. Cycling downtown with kids is a bad idea. My new policy is that if we are north of Seymour Street, we walk the bikes on the sidewalk. Having been a bike courier in downtown Calgary (for all of two days...story for 'nother day) I have the confidence needed to ride with traffic in downtown. The kids, well, not so much.

5. Off-Street bike paths are necessary to promote cycling for families in cities. I know that there are arguments against them, but there is no better way to get families commuting to and from school and work than to remove much of the risk from vehicles. After all, the thing that makes cycling dangerous in the city is not cycling, it is drivers of cars.

6. Kamloops drivers seem to be pretty decent folks. More often than not they will stop to let us cross a crosswalk when they don't have to...that is cool.

7. The current trend towards urban planning that includes multi-use zoning allowing for retail space directly adjacent to or mixed in with residential space is a good thing. Allowing people to live much more locally would be good. Walking or cycling to get your groceries, take your kids to school, go to work is good for many things. My Dad's commute has changed a little, I think he would agree that it has improved. Gone are the days of car-pooling in to Surrey everyday. Now he just walks out his front door and he is at 'work'. Although, as a newly retired teacher, I am not convinced he considers building his house to be terribly tedious. School starts next week...congratulations on your retirement, Dad.

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