This is a common scene in Europe. Not so much in Vancouver.
It’s no secret that Mayor Gregor Robertson is a big fan of Vancouver’s vocal and politically active cyclist lobby movement. Before he became the City’s top politician, Robertson even participated in something known as “Critical Mass”, an event that regularly causes traffic mayhem on downtown streets. Unfortunately for some, the Mayor’s support for two wheeled modes of transportation doesn’t appear to extend beyond bicycles. At least that’s what a new lobby group organizing a rally on Saturday is claiming.
The Vancouver Scooter / Motorcycle Parking Initiative group is planning to take to the streets and raise awareness of the inaction on the part of City Council when it comes to providing low or no-cost parking for enviro-friendly modes of transportation. A copy of their news release was sent to CityCaucus.com and they make it very clear they’re upset that little has been done to increase the availability of parking for scooters and motorcycles. Event organizer Ian Tootill states:
To see the way we (riders) have been treated, one might logically conclude city officials are encouraging divisive politics…however we will not be drawn into a Critical Mass style battle between cyclists, pedestrians, automobiles and motorized cycles. We motorcyclists have the right to use the road like everyone else and it is our intention to inform the public about our treatment and the failure, thus far to do the obvious, this Saturday. I am still waiting for a return phone call from Mayor Robertson initiated last summer.
The City of Vancouver currently forces scooters and motorcycles to park in regular full length parking spots. According to Tootill, the group believes having a tiny scooter occupy a big parking spot is not only a waste of space, it’s also causing additional costs to ICBC.
Vancouver City has just 42 on-street designated parking spaces for motorized cycles in thereby forcing riders to park between cars and other quasi legal locations. The result has so far been, among other negatives, increased insurance costs for all motorists due to damage as motorized cycles, forced to park between autos, regularly get knocked down while they endure punitive arbitrary ticketing and towing by Vancouver City.
A report came to council last January, but after some negative media stories, it was yanked and staff have been “studying” it ever since. This lack of activity or communication on this file from Vancouver’s civic politicians has some convinced that organizing a rally on Saturday will help to convince the politicians they should move forward on this issue.
CityCaucus.com contacted Tootill yesterday and he advises us that he anticipates about 100-200 people will show up to the rally.
We are gathering at around 7:45 am at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre east parking lot. We’ll then be heading out around 8:15 to an undisclosed location downtown. We then plan to legally occupy as many parking spots as we can to help raise awareness for this issue.
When asked why he thinks council is dragging their feet on providing better parking options, Tootill claims it has everything to do with the Mayor’s green thumb:
I think this is going nowhere because some people at City Hall don’t see motorcycles and scooters as environmentally friendly enough. They are only interested in looking at zero emission bikes.
Tootill noted that he was particularly frustrated with councillors Heather Deal and George Chow who either refused to meet with him or did not return his calls. He in turn praised councillor Ellen Woodsworth who put forward the motion he had drafted for her.
According to Tootill, prizes donated by local dealers will be handed out on site and they hope to make the whole event quite a festive affair. They plan on tipping a scooter over and demonstrating the impact of what happens when vehicles back into them. The rally is expected to run through to 11 am.
If you’re interested in participating in the scooter/motorcycle day of action, you can find out more by clicking here. If you want to join the over 350 people who have already signed up on Facebook, here's their page.
- post by Daniel